Archives: Speakers

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Josephine Jael Jimenez

Podcaster, Writer, Artist @ Speaking in Church

Josephine Jael Jimenez is a Latinx artist, writer, and podcaster from Southern California. She is a passionate voice for change and justice for all people and is a proud member of the Irreverent Media Group, a new podcast collective bursting at the seams with some of the greatest creative minds in the Deconstruction space. Co-host of the Speaking in Church podcast, Josephine aims to amplify the voices of people who may not otherwise be passed the microphone. Through projects like her book, On Love, she pushes all types of envelopes in the hope to get rid of them altogether. In other words, she’s just trying to make it through life without causing too much trouble. Just kidding, she loves trouble.

Lawrence Richardson

Senior Pastor @ Salem Church UCC

Rev. Lawrence T. Richardson is a pastor, prophet, and writer. He is a graduate of St. Catherine University and Liberty Seminary. Rev. Richardson is Senior Pastor at Salem United Church of Christ, is a doctoral candidate at Berkeley School of Theology, and an executive clergy coach for Convergence US. The author of, I Know What Heaven Looks Like, Rev. Richardson writes about and advocates for LGBTQ people, people of color, and the flourishing of all Creation; with his works appearing in Huffington Post Religion, The Root, Believe Out Loud, The Salt Collective and numerous national and international publications. When he is not ministering, researching, or writing about what he researches, Rev. Lawrence loves reading, trying different cuisine, traveling, spending time with family, and empowering people to live life from a place of joy, abundance, faith and gratitude.

Molly Baskette

Senior Minister @ First Church Berkeley UCC

Molly is the senior minister of First Church Berkeley UCC in Berkeley, CA, where nonagenarian Nobel laureates worship cheek-by-jowl with pink-haired trans activists and young multiracial adoptive families. On any given day at First Church, you might hear Bach or Sara Bareilles, people praying for climate justice or speaking in tongues. The ministry bug bit Molly at progressive Christian church camp when she was a nerdy teenager, and she has worked for God for a living ever since, in a wide variety of settings: Mexican orphanages; large, quiet suburban Anglo churches where the median age was 65; less-quiet urban multiracial churches where the median age was 9; and most recently, First Church Somerville, a radically renewing UCC that boasts its own Drag-Queen-in-Residence in Berkeley’s doppelgånger, Somerville, Massachusetts. She takes the Bible seriously, but herself, not so much. She loves Jesus and really does believe he is “God with skin on,” but is not above fighting with him in the back seat of the car, like you would any true sibling.

She writes books to fill gaps in the progressive Christian canon: so far, a book about church renewal (Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead and Yours Can Too), a manifesto for the vulnerability revolution and a blueprint for spiritual transformation (Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession), two grief workbooks for children (co-authored with Nechama Liss Levinson: Remembering My Pet and Remembering My Grandparent) and (co-authored with Ellen O’Donnell)  Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World, for parents who want to raise their kids with a different kind of Christian spirituality that is also grounded in good science. She is a cancer survivor and her newest book, How to Begin When Your World is Ending: A Spiritual Field Guide to Joy Despite Everything, is about post-traumatic resiliency: how we really live and thrive through all the hardest parts of being human.

She is a popular writer of whimsically pious and always relevant Daily Devotionals for the UCC Stillspeaking Writers’ Group, archived here, and which you can subscribe to here, and other resources including a modern bible study on that ancient curmudgeon, Ecclesiastes, and an anthology of devotions for weary parents.

A graduate of Dartmouth College and Yale Divinity School, she teaches and coaches individuals and church teams online and in the flesh. If you ask her to come do a keynote, she will probably say yes but will likely make you confess your sins to a roomful of friends and strangers (which you will, surprisingly, turn out to enjoy).

She shares a home in the Bay Area with her husband Peter and her two teens. A perfect sabbath for her would include a swim, a hike in the hills, readin gin the hammock and making people happy with home-cooked food.

Karen Georgia Thompson

Associate General Minister, Wider Church Ministries @ United Church of Christ

The Reverend Doctor Karen Georgia Thompson, Associate General Minister, Wider Church Ministries and Operations Co-Executive for Global Ministries. Rev. Doc Karen Georgia is an inspiring preacher and theologian, who shares her skills and gifts in a variety of settings nationally and internationally, often using her poetry as a part of her ministry.

She is a gifted writer and poet. Her book of poetry Drums in Our Veins, published in 2020  is a compilation of poems that focus on the injustices facing people of African Descent and the fight and desire for racial justice globally. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, her poetry and writings reflect her Jamaican heritage and culture as well as the traditions and lore of her Ancestors.

Karen Georgia earned a BA from Brooklyn College in New York; a Master of Public Administration from North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC; and a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She also studied Public Policy at Duke University and earned her Doctorate in Ministry at Seattle University.

She is the mother of two sons – Everette and Patrick and has three grandchildren – Giovan, Elijah and Sara who are affectionately named by her as Peanut, Pumpkin and Pepper.

Kelle Brown

Senior Pastor @ Plymouth Church Seattle

Originally from Columbus, Georgia, The Reverend Dr. Kelle Brown brings a wealth of experience, from spiritual leadership and business acumen to inclusion education and community building. While attending Spelman College, she was asked to lead music for a church start, Amistad UCC in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of 19, her life of ministry began. In addition to being a Minister of Music, youth minister and church administrator, Kelle consistently pursued her call to ministry.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Spelman College in Atlanta, and after working in different capacities as a mental health provider, Kelle traveled to Seattle in 2003 to earn her Master of Divinity from Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry. She received a post-Master’s degree and completed her Doctorate of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2018. Her dissertation is entitled: Moving from the Gate to the Porch: Solidarity as a Hallmark of Discipleship.

Kelle provided pastoral leadership at Madrona-Grace Presbyterian Church during a time of great change and transition, and as an intern, was Director of Child and Youth Ministries at Bethany UCC. She also interned at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, gathering experience and skill. After ordination in 2011, Kelle moved to Richmond, Virginia to provide pastoral leadership to the women and children of Daughters of Zelophehad, a Presbyterian supported ministry for families experiencing homelessness, as well as pastoring the Woodville Presbyterian Church.

She returned to Seattle as Pastor for Mary’s Place, where she facilitated weekly empowerment and spirituality groups, led powerful and dynamic worship and worked as community liaison to other faith organizations. Kelle also facilitates conversation on dismantling oppression. She offers ways to consider and reflect on privilege, bias, prejudice and bigotry, and provides individual spiritual and leadership coaching.

Kelle arrived at Plymouth in August of 2015, and found a church full of many faithful and welcoming people. She has since discovered that this church is poised to be a progressive voice of inclusion to all people, a place that will welcome church “refugees” looking for healing, and a chalice where all sacred music is seen for its beauty.

She brings a wellspring of vision and innovative ideas. As to vision, Kelle shares the following:

“I intend to lead Plymouth with humility and grace, and promote ways to have the courageous conversations needed to journey together as God’s people. I see Plymouth, in the spirit of the Sankofa, looking back to honor the traditions and heritage of a church that is a pillar of Seattle, while flying forward with the gifts of those we honor, knowing that we the living are charged to imagine how we will be agents of change and compassion in the future.”

“Let us consider how to use the resources to welcome the other, and to listen for the voices that have been muted. Let us consider new ways of gathering resources that will be more sustainable into the future. How we do church is changing globally, but God has more for us to do, to include engaging in hands-on ministry to the least and the last and the most vulnerable. There is no scarcity here! God is a God of abundance.”

Kelle enjoys writing, drawing, composing music and reading. In addition to her children’s book, Sun and Moon, she is working on a novel, Casseroles. She is most proud of her daughter Indigo, the love of her life, who is a student at the University of Washington.

Ophelia Hu Kinney

Director of Communications @ Reconciling Minsitries

Ophelia serves as the Director of Communications for Reconciling Ministries, an organization seeking LGBTQ justice and inclusion in The United Methodist Church. She is also on the staff of a fiercely loving, justice-seeking church in Portland, Maine. She shares her time with Beloved Arise and the Equality Community Center of Maine. Her pronouns are she/her.

Emily McGinley

Senior Pastor @ City Church of San Francisco

Rev. Emily McGinley became a Christian in the non-denominational evangelical tradition before entering ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA). In addition to serving as the Executive Pastor of Urban Village Church, she was the founding pastor of UVC’s Hyde Park-Woodlawn site, located on the South Side of Chicago. Emily has extensive experience working across diverse networks and Christian traditions. She has preached and presented nationally on a variety of topics, including vocational discernment, preaching, church planting, social media in ministry, inclusive evangelism, and anti-racist church leadership. In addition to coaching individuals and congregations, she is a contributing writer to the books, Inter-Cultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World and Finding Peace in an Anxious World. Her commitment to building gospel-shaped inclusive spaces that nurture, challenge, and practice radical hospitality has helped to cultivate beloved community at UVC and beyond.

Daniel Brereton

Reverend @ St. John the Baptist (Dixie)

The Rev. Daniel Brereton currently serves as Priest in Charge at St. John the Baptist, Dixie (in the Anglican Diocese of Toronto).

Josh Scott

Lead Pastor @ Gracepointe Church

Josh (he/him) has been a pastor for the last two decades. The focus of his work is reimagining, reframing, and reclaiming faith through a Progressive Christian lens.  Josh is married to Carla, and they live with their five kids and labradoodle, Lucy.

Brandan Robertson

@ Writer, Activist, Public Theologian

Rev. Brandan Robertson is a noted author, activist, and public theologian working at the intersections of spirituality, sexuality, and social renewal. He currently serves as the Pastor of Metanoia Church, a digital progressive faith community and is the host of The Big Questions Podcast.

A prolific writer, he is the author of seven books on spirituality, justice, and theology, including the INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist True Inclusion: Creating Communities of Radical Embrace. Robertson has bylines in publications such as TIME Magazine, San Diego Union Tribune, The Huffington Post, NBC, and The Washington Post, and is a regular columnist for Bishop John Shelby Spong’s Progressing Spirit newsletter as well as Baptist News Global. As a trusted voice on progressive faith and politics, Robertson is regularly interviewed in national and global media outlets including CNN, National Public Radio, MSNBC, Hot Press Ireland, The Independent UK, and The New York Times. In 2021, Rolling Stone Magazine included Robertson in its annual Hot List of top artists, creatives, and influencers who “are giving us reason to be excited about the future.

Each year, Robertson speaks on a variety of topics across the globe and has been an honored speaker at renowned institutions such as The White House, Oxford University, and The Parliament of World Religions. He’s taught seminars for San Francisco Theological Seminary and Disciples Seminary Foundation and currently serves on the faculty of The Lakelands Institute. He has served on advisory committees and working groups for the Democratic National Convention, the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Health and Human Services, The Humane Society, and in 2020 was named a Fellow of the prestigious Salzburg Global Seminar.

Named by the Human Rights Campaign as one of the top faith-leaders leading the fight for LGBTQ+ equality, Robertson has worked with political leaders and activists around the world to end conversion therapy and promote the human rights of sexual and gender minorities. He works as a national organizer of people of faith on a wide array of social and political issues, and is a founding member of The Union of Affirming Christians, The Global Interfaith Commission on LGBTQ+ Lives, The Ozanne Foundation US, and is a Patron of One Body One Faith.

Robertson received his Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry and Theology from Moody Bible Institute, his Master of Theological Studies from Iliff School of Theology, and his Master of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration from Eastern Illinois University. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Religion from Drew University. He currently resides in New York City.

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