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The Humble Gathering Presenters
Presentation topics are listed on the schedule page.
Learn more about the series on the main page of the series.
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Season Two Presenters
Susan Campbell (she, her, hers) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a distinguished lecturer at the University of New Haven’s Department of Communication, Film, and Media Studies. She is also a columnist for Hearst newspapers in Connecticut, and a frequent contributor on issues of housing and homelessness to WNPR, and the political website, The Hill, as well as the newspaper, The Guardian. She is an award-winning author of Dating Jesus: Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl, and the biography, Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker. Her latest book, Frog Hollow: Stories From an American Neighborhood, was published by Wesleyan University Press in March 2019.
Lucille Sider Dayton, PhD
Lucille Sider Dayton (she, her, hers) is a retired clinical psychologist and clergywoman, and the author of LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS: My Healing Journey Through Sexual Abuse and Depression. Read a review of this book on Christian Feminism Today. She holds degrees from Messiah College, Yale Divinity School and Northwestern University where she earned a PhD in psychology and religion. In her clinical work, she has worked with a variety of people, especially those who live with severe mental challenges. For ten years, she was the executive director of The Samaritan Pastoral Counseling Center in Evanston, IL.
Additionally, Lucille helped found Daughters of Sarah (a Christian feminist magazine) and the Evangelical Women’s Caucus.
While she grew up in rural southern Ontario and is Canadian, she currently resides in Chicago, IL. Post retirement, she enjoys indoor flower gardening, knitting and writing short stories for publication.
Reta Halteman Finger, PhD
After editing the Christian feminist magazine, Daughters of Sarah, for 15 years, Reta Halteman Finger (she, her, hers) received her PhD in New Testament Studies and taught Bible at Messiah College from 1995 to 2009.
Now retired, Reta lives near Harrisonburg, Virginia, adjuncts at Eastern Mennonite University, and does freelance writing. Reta is the author of Reta’s Reflections, the Christian feminist Bible study blog on Christian Feminism Today, and she has written many other articles and book reviews as well. Reta has two sons and four grandchildren.
Linda Kay Klein
Linda Kay Klein (she/her/hers) is a storyteller for social good best known for her work on purity culture. She is founder and president of Break Free Together, a nonprofit storytelling organization dedicated to helping people release shame and claim their whole selves, and a purity culture recovery coach. Her work in this area was born out of 16 years of research for her award-winning book, Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free.
Linda has spoken around the world from the TEDx stage to The Apollo’s Women of the World Festival.
Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey
Dr. Pamela Lightsey (she, her, hers) has a stellar history as a senior administrator and scholar in higher education. She currently serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Meadville Lombard Theological School and Associate Professor of Constructive Theology. Before her appointment at Meadville, she was Associate Dean at Boston University School of Theology.
Lightsey is also an ordained elder in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Her several publications include: Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology (Wipf and Stock, 2015); Transforming Service: Reflections of Student Services Professionals in Theological Education with co-editor Shonda R. Jones (Wipf and Stock, 2020); and “I’m Black. I’m Queer Lesbian. I’m Methodist. I’m Thriving, Irregardless.” in I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist (Abingdon Press. 2020).
She is the mother of two adult children and one adult grandson.
Follow Rev. Dr. Lightsey on Twitter
Review of Our Lives Matter on Christian Feminism Today
Oral History Interview on LGBTQ Religious Archives Network
Dalaina May (she, her, hers) moved to Bali, Indonesia in 2014, where she volunteered for a local non-profit operating a shelter for teen survivors of sex trafficking. Her role was to train and develop the staff in better standards of care. At the urging of local colleagues, she created Dark Bali to offer the same support to other organizations.
Dalaina holds a BA in Intercultural Studies from Biola University and a MA in Global Leadership with an emphasis in Children at Risk from Fuller Seminary.
Shirley Paulson, PhD
Shirley Paulson’s (she, her, hers) academic work focuses on early Christian texts, especially those relating to healing practices and theology. She is the principal producer of Early Christian Texts: The Bible and Beyond, a website that includes her online teaching, blog, and podcasts.
Her forthcoming writing includes a book, Illuminating the Secret Revelation of John: Catching the Light and a chapter in Westar’s After Jesus Before Christianity.
Prior to this work, Shirley served as the first Head of Ecumenical Affairs for the global headquarters of the Christian Science Church and served on the Board of the North American Academy of Ecumenists.
Website | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | YouTube | Podcast
Deborah Niederer Saxon, PhD
Deborah Niederer Saxon (she, her, hers) is the author of The Care of the Self in Early Christian Texts (Palgrave Macmillan, Oct 2017). Read a review of the book on Christian Feminism Today.
She did her BA at Baylor University, a dual MA at Indiana University, and her PhD in the Joint Program of the Iliff School of Theology/University of Denver.
Currently an Affiliate Professor of Theology at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, her research re-conceptualizes the history of early Jesus followers. She focuses on examining discourses of “orthodoxy” and “heresy” and lifting up women’s roles in newly discovered writings that have been lost or neglected through the centuries.
As a member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Indy’s Center for Interfaith Cooperation, Christian Feminism Today, and the Westar Institute, she is also involved in ecumenical and interfaith education, partnership, and collaboration.
Julia Stronks, JD, PhD
Julia K. Stronks (she, her, hers) is a professor of political science at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. Her work focuses on the intersection between faith and public policy.
Julia is the author of Law, Religion and Public Policy: A Commentary on First Amendment Jurisprudence (2002) and the forthcoming book So You Want to Be a Christian Lawyer. She is co-author (with her mother, Gloria Goris Stronks, a professor emeritus at Calvin College) of three additional books: Christian Teachers in Public Schools: A Guide for Parents, Teachers and Administrators (2000), Living in the Fabric of God’s Faithfulness: Parents and Children Explain What Works, and Teaching to Justice, Citizenship and Civic Virtue (2015).
She has written several articles for Christian Feminism Today and was a plenary presenter at the 2018 CFT Gathering.
A graduate of Dordt College, Julia Stronks earned her J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law and her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. In 2003, she was honored with Dordt College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez (she/her/hers) is an IndoLatinx mujerista offering education, coaching, consulting, writing, and art — all intended to assist people in building an interlocking framework for justice.
She is the founder of En Conjunto — a collective of People of Color working independently at the intersection of justice and spirituality. She is also the Co-Creator of the Digital Dine-In Project — a virtual dining and learning experience bringing people together from around the world.
She is an independent practitioner but partners as a co-coordinator with Liberation School South and serves on the board of the Festival Center in Washington, DC.
Season One Presenters
Tara J. Hannah
Tara J. Hannah is the founder of YOGATHEA® and author of Pink Sunglasses and Yoga Pants: 31 Reflections on Biblical Feminism. She is a women’s clinical occupational therapist in private practice and spends her days rehabilitating pelvic floor impairments. In the evenings, she and her husband, Joe, operate an Uber, dinner, and counseling service for their four children. She prays to grow into a very old woman who doesn’t wear a bra and is still teaching yoga.
Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison
Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison is a listener, a friend, and a voice for the voiceless (until they find their voice!). She is the pastor of Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Riverton, NJ, and has worked as an addictions counselor. Passionate about helping people live into their dreams and purpose, she currently works as a hospice chaplain. She realizes life is not about the quantity but the quality of those last days of life. In 2018, Rev. Harrison received her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern University. Leslie is a former Coordinator of the CFT Executive Council.
Rev. Mary Lokers
Rev. Mary Lokers graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Psychology and minor in Bible from Bryan College and completed Master’s level marriage, family and group counseling courses through Liberty University. She was deeply entrenched in her fundamentalist religious belief system, but was very angry due to her perception of the patriarchal Old Testament system, specifically regarding Jacob, his sons, and the inequality shown to his daughter, Dinah. After years of struggle, wrestling with God, personal study and personal healing, she rests in the beautiful picture of redemption of the Daughter of Zion. She has had a well rounded extensive professional career as a family systems therapist, licensed social worker, school teacher, national sales manager, wellness consultant, certified life coach, foot reflexologist, and Level II EFT practitioner. She founded and facilitated the Indianapolis Religious Recovery group from 2014 to 2017.
Ally Kateusz, Ph.D.
Ally Kateusz is research associate at the Wijngaards Institute of Catholic Research in London, where she specializes in the intersection of gender and religion in early Christian art and texts. Her new illustrated book is Mary and Early Christian Women: Hidden Leadership (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). Ally has published articles in the Journal of Early Christian Studies, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, and other venues, and is co-editor of Rediscovering the Marys: Maria, Mariamne, Miriam (Bloomsbury, 2020). Some of her research on early Christian women was featured in the 2018 documentary, Jesus’s Female Disciples: The New Evidence, and a paper she read in July 2019 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome was reported internationally in over two dozen news sources, from the Daily Mail to the Daily Beast to the National Catholic Reporter. That paper was about the three oldest artifacts to depict people at the altar tables of a real church, all three of which depict women either in parallel with men, or women only.
Dr. Jamie Marich
Dr. Jamie Marich describes herself as a facilitator of transformative experiences. A clinical trauma specialist, expressive artist, writer, yogini, performer, short filmmaker, Reiki master, and recovery advocate, she unites all of these elements in her mission to inspire healing in others. She began her career as a humanitarian aid worker in Bosnia-Hercegovina from 2000-2003, primarily teaching English and music while freelancing with other projects. Jamie travels internationally teaching on topics related to trauma, EMDR therapy, expressive arts, mindfulness, and yoga, while maintaining a private practice in her home base of Warren, OH. Marich is the founder of the Institute for Creative Mindfulness.
Her bibliography currently includes: EMDR Made Simple (2011), Trauma and the Twelve Steps (2012), Creative Mindfulness (2013), Trauma Made Simple (2014), Dancing Mindfulness: A Creative Path to Healing and Transformation (2015), EMDR Therapy & Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care (2018, with Dr. Stephen Dansiger), and Process Not Perfection: Expressive Arts Solutions for Trauma Recovery (2019). She has also written guest chapters and contributions for several other published collections. North Atlantic Books is publishing a second and expanded edition of Trauma and the 12 Steps, due for release in the Summer of 2020.
Diann L. Neu, D.Min., LMSW
Diann L. Neu is co-founder and co-director of WATER, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual, in Silver Spring, Maryland. A feminist liturgist and licensed psychotherapist, Diann lectures, teaches, and conducts workshops in many places. She has published numerous articles on feminist approaches to liturgy, spirituality, and therapy as well as books of rituals.
Dr. Neu holds a Doctor of Ministry in International Feminist Theology from the San Francisco Theological Seminary; a Master of Divinity and a Master of Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley; and a Master of Clinical Social Work from The Catholic University of America.
She is the author of many works, including Women’s Rites: Feminist Liturgies for Life’s Journey and Return Blessings: Ecofeminist Liturgies Renewing the Earth; and co-author with Mary E. Hunt of New Feminist Christianity.
Diann’s most recent book is Stirring WATERS: Feminist Liturgies for Justice (Liturgical Press, 2020).
Janene Cates Putman
Janene Cates Putman grew up the daughter of a Southern Baptist pastor. She says, “After 20 years of raising kids and failing miserably to measure up to the ideal woman of Proverbs 31, I stepped out of the conservative box and into the person God created me to be.” She enrolled in Bible college in her forties and began to rewrite her life. She enthusiastically describes how life has changed: “I now live my dream, writing about faith and feminism on a little slice of heaven in the east Tennessee mountains I share with my ‘Hot’ Husband.”
Alena Ruggerio, Ph.D.
Alena Ruggerio, Ph.D., is chair of the Department of Communication and professor of communication studies at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. For her work teaching courses such as persuasion, argumentation, advanced public speaking, rhetorical criticism, and feminist rhetorical theory, Alena received the Distinguished Teaching Award from SOU in 2017. She has also served as the Coordinator of Women’s Studies at SOU, and was an officer in the Feminist and Women’s Studies Division of the National Communication Association. The editor of Media Depictions of Brides, Wives, and Mothers (Lexington Press), Alena is currently co-authoring a book about contemporary rhetorical tools by and for feminists (Waveland Press).
Over her twenty years of membership in Christian Feminism Today, Alena has served as coordinator, secretary, and regional representative to the Council; as assistant to the editor and guest editor of the magazine; and as a frequent plenary speaker and workshop presenter at the conferences. She resides in Medford, Oregon, with her husband Bradley, her collection of rhinestone tiaras, and her astonishingly adorable cats.
Elizabeth Schrader is involved in some intriguing Ph.D. research in the Religion Department at Duke University, where she is studying Early Christianity. She is especially interested in the new Testament Gospels, the Nag Hammadi corpus, Mary Magdalene, textual criticism, and feminist theory.
Rev. Dr. Christy Gunter Sim Hailey
Rev. Dr. Christy Gunter Sim Hailey offers expert advising, training, and consulting on domestic violence, sexual assault, family violence, secondary trauma prevention, and trauma healing. Sim has earned a doctorate in Global Health and Wholeness, a Master of Divinity, and has completed more than 500 additional hours of specialized training. Her book, Survivor Care: What Religious Professionals Need to Know about Healing Trauma was published in 2019 by Wesley Foundery Books. Dr. Sim serves on multiple Crime Victims Councils in North Texas, provides expert testimony in court cases, and is listed in the Scientific Reviewer and Advisor database for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Chandra Snell, Ph.D.
Chandra D. Snell, Ph.D., is associate professor of speech at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, where she teaches communication courses and serves on the board of directors for the FAMU Wesley Foundation/Campus IMPACT. She is also spiritual director of Wisdom’s Wellspring, a residential facility for women in transition. Chandra is an approved Licensed Local Pastor of the United Methodist Church, and recently earned a Masters of Theological Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary.
Musicians and Artists
Minister Jodi Newton
Jodi Newton is the Associate Minister of The Christian Church in Philadelphia, where she serves as the Minister of Congregational Life. A retired special education teacher who worked in the Philadelphia Public Schools for 40 years, she recently graduated from Palmer Theological Seminary with a Masters in Spiritual Counseling. Minister Jodi is a member of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women and a board member of Windows of Hope Children’s Ministry in Uganda, Africa. She enjoys arts and crafts, gardening, knitting, and writing children’s books.
A native Texan, John Saxon’s early loves were math and the piano. He earned two mathematics degrees, intending to teach, but ended up making a career in computer programming instead while continuing piano study on the side.
John’s mathematical bent loved the axiomatic approach to the Bible of his boyhood Seventh-Day Adventist faith, but close scriptural study eventually meant parting ways with inerrancy and, for a time, faith. In the meantime, John’s intuitive side began breaking through at rare moments with trivial bits of foreknowledge, troubling his analytical world view. An honest attempt to study and understand it led him to clairvoyant training with Naomi Horii in 2005, an ongoing healer’s apprenticeship with Michael Tamura, and a reaffirmation of faith.
Visit John’s Piano Readings website here.
Elizabeth (Libbie) Schrader
Before getting involved in her intriguing Ph.D. research in the Religion Department at Duke University, Schrader enjoyed a successful musical career. Her studies focus on Mary Magdalene, the Gospel of John, textual criticism, and feminist theology.
She was the first winner of the Pantene Pro-Voice competition in 2001, after a performance opening for Jewel at SummerStage in New York’s Central Park. You can watch a video of that performance here. Prizes included a nationwide club tour with Poe at venues including the House of Blues in New Orleans and the Roxy in Los Angeles, as well as a demo deal with Atlantic Records.
Schrader’s band also took part in Jewel’s “Soul City Cafe” program for independent artists, and opened three shows on Jewel’s “This Way” tour. She has opened for other artists as diverse as India.Arie, Michelle Branch, Ray LeMontagne, and Rusted Root.
You can purchase and preview her music on iTunes. or CD Baby.
Troubadours of Divine Bliss
Troubadours of Divine Bliss were a hit at the 2014 CFT Gathering in St. Louis. They had everyone up on their feet and dancing in the aisles! We’re thrilled to announce that they will be performing for The Humble Gathering!
Troubadours of Divine Bliss are an internationally touring music duo and ministers from Louisville, KY, with guitar, accordion, and harmonies “that could melt a stone statue” (BBC Radio Liverpool). They play a style of music sometimes described as Americana-Spirit, Gypsy-Bluegrass, and Soul-Folk. They’ve been voted “Best Folk Band” in New Orleans and Louisville.
Renee Ananda and Aim Me Smiley have been best friends since their early teens when they met at an evangelical church where Renee’s dad was the pastor and Aim Me’s father, the deacon, kicked Renee’s dad out of the church. They remained best friends, and 12 years later they fell in love.
With a vision of becoming traveling musicians who inspire a revolution of the spirit and courage of the heart, they picked up a guitar and an accordion and moved to New Orleans to become Troubadours of Divine Bliss. Starting as street performers in the French Quarter, they have since toured all over America & Europe for 24 years.
They are spiritual, environmental, and social justice activists who sing of the Love that springs from within, respect for the Earth, human rights, and healing the heart. This is embodied in the community fest they created — Mighty Kindness Hoot — that celebrates all that is kind for the body, soul, and mind.
The Troubadours are musicians, inspirational speakers, writers, celebrants, soul guides, and retreat leaders. In 2018, they birthed Way of the Heart Woods, a Nature Preserve and Retreat Sanctuary in the Hoosier National Forest where they live in love and gratitude.
You can purchase and preview their music on iTunes or CD Baby.
Watch some YouTube videos here. (If you’re at work, mute your speakers; this page plays music automatically.)