Elyse Ambrose (M.Div., Ph.D. Candidate) is a healing activist, sexual ethicist, and word artist. Her justice work, scholarly research, and art focuses on the intersections of race, sexuality, gender, and spirituality. Elyse Ambrose is the founder and director of phoeniXspark, which offers workshops and retreats that center the experiences of queer and trans people of color (QTPoC) as it creates space for healing of sexual and genderselves. Learn more at elyseambrose.com.
As founding member of Emerging Queer Asian-Pacific Islander Religion Scholars, Michael Sepidoza Campos researches at the intersection of Filipino-American diaspora, postcolonial theory, queer theory, and critical pedagogy. His writings on queer life and religion include, " Embracing the Stranger: Reflections on the Ambivalent Hospitality of LGBTIQ Catholics" in More Than A Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church - Inquiry, Thought, and Expression (Fordham University Press, 2014); " The Baklâ: Gendered Religious Performance in Filipino Cultural Spaces" in Queer Religion: LGBT Movements and Queering Religion (Praeger, 2012); and "In God's House: Of Silences and Belonging" in Theology and Sexuality, vol. 17.3 (Equinox, 2011). Campos co-edited Queering Migrations Towards, From, and Beyond Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) with Hugo Córdova Quero and Joseph N. Goh. He served as steering committee co-chair for the Asian, North American Religion, Culture, and Society Group at the American Academy of Religion.
Rev. Becca Gurney Powe is a Baptist contemplative and preacher. After 30 years serving congregations and hospitals across the country, Becca has returned to the beloved home of their youth, Colorado Springs, Colorado. As the founder of Heart & SPPirit, LLC, Becca hopes that sharing story, prayer, and presence will continue to help heal the heart of the world. "God is love." Love welcomes us all to the table.
Jessica is a life-long problem-solver and passionate sojourner. For six years, she has been focused on social determinants of health, namely food security, as manager of community health and nutrition at Feeding America. Her work has centered on the development and execution of a national strategy aimed at improving food security, dietary intake and health outcomes through cross-sector partnerships, applied research, and hunger-relief sector transformation. She also co-led the inaugural diversity, equity and inclusion planning team, laying a foundation for evaluation and systemic change within the organization.
Currently a resident of Chicago with her wife and pup, Jessica hails from Texas where she was involved in Austin’s non-profit sector. She holds a MA in Social Service Administration from University of Chicago, and received her BA in Communication Studies from Southwestern University. In support of self-care, Jessica takes time for travel and food adventures, with dancing bringing her the most joy – everything from her heritage’s Manipuri to the more recent Aerial.
James is a doctoral student in American Religions at Northwestern University where he is currently studying the intersection of religion, popular culture, necropolitics, and race in the Americas and throughout Atlantic geographies (Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas). He is also an avid Golden Girls fan and a connoisseur of 90’s R&B, Black films, and sitcoms.
Grace Imathiu is a citizen of the world who was born in Kenya and educated in England, USA, Israel, and Kenya. Called into the preaching work early in life, Grace was among the first women ordained in the Methodist Church in Kenya, by her father who was her Presiding Bishop for 25 years! Grace is a founding member of Kenya Methodist University and has served as a short term missionary in Tanzania, a youth director in Washington, a circuit minister in rural Kenya, an associate pastor in Tennessee, a seminary professor in Kentucky and in Meru, a district superintendent in Nairobi, an interim pastor in Wisconsin, a Senior Pastor to large urban churches and a preacher in Australia, Malaysia, Brazil, Ireland, Denmark, Togo and Estonia. Grace is married to David and is mother to one teenage son.
Saunia has lived in the Lancaster Amish countryside, Indianapolis suburbs, the middle of Iowa, Jiangsu Province, North Carolina's Appalachia, Seattle's CD, the north Berkeley hills, the panhandle of Nebraska, West Oakland, NOLA, Chi-town, St. Louis, and back to the middle of Iowa (in that order.) Nomadic not only in locale, Saunia's homes in multiple religions, occupations, and families make writing a concise bio difficult. Most consistently sprinkled throughout her occupational story are multiple attempts at hospital and hospice chaplaincy, directing for the theatre, and academia. Raised Pentecostal, with a Master of Theological Studies from Pacific School of Religion titled "Christian Theologies of the Body," Saunia's spirituality has always stayed close to the soft body and followed after what it loves. Whether at a Holy Ghost tent revival, Old Order German Baptist funeral, all day shapenote singing, African grief ritual, dancing at a queer club, or lying under a tree, Saunia believes in incarnation. This "this" of us is God in us. The pain and the ecstasy. She couldn't be more delighted and honored to walk alongside the faithful attending to divine incarnation and creativity that is enfleshed.
Joe was first exposed to the network of justice focused ministry while an undergraduate at the University of Iowa. There he found the Wesley Center, eventually working as a programming intern his senior year, and worked to build community and create an environment of seeking deeper understanding and truth. He ran the weekly "Spiritual Conversations" group, which was a discussion group for all, but was a safe and inviting place for queer students to talk, find comfort, and challenge previously held beliefs. Through his work (with foster children and previously with the ACLU of Nevada) and in his spare time, Joe continues to work to build community and advocate for a variety of issues. He resides in Las Vegas with his husband Tyler and loves to be in nature by hiking the beautiful mountains that surround the Las Vegas valley.
Tyler Schwaller is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and the Ackerman/Hurdle Chaplaincy Chair at Wesleyan College in Macon, GA. He is also an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church, with membership in the Iowa Annual Conference. Tyler recently completed a ThD (Doctor of Theology) at Harvard University in the area of New Testament and Early Christianity, writing a dissertation entitled “The Use of Slaves in Early Christianity: Slaves as Subjects of Life and Thought.” His research and teaching interests include slavery in the Roman Empire; women, gender, and sexuality in early Christianity; feminist, queer, and critical race theory; archaeology and material culture; as well as the ethics of biblical interpretation. These interests converge around particular concern for how we tell the stories of those who have been marginalized and for bringing attention to people’s intellectual, spiritual, and embodied strategies for navigating their social and material circumstances. As an out, queer clergy person in The UMC, Tyler finds particular joy and meaning through kinship and solidarity with other queer folks, whose lives and loves reflect something of the Good News.