Sierra Tasi Baker
Sierra Tasi Baker is an award-winning Squamish Nation designer, community consultant, entrepreneur, artist, storyteller and knowledge keeper. Sierra is the lead consultant at Sky Spirit Consulting, an indigenous family-owned consulting company determined to help organizations, universities, municipalities and governments to better uphold Truth and Reconciliation. Sierra graduated with her Masters in Sustainable Urbanism from the Bartlett School of Planning in London, England with her dissertation on indigenous consultation and her undergrad she graduated with distinction from UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture focussing on a uniquely Coast Salish approach to design. Her work focuses on furthering indigenous design and research methodologies whilst daylighting hidden histories and reconciliatory narratives in a positive, collaborative and meaningful way.
Laurel Dykstra is the priest of Salal + Cedar, a community of support and action to help Christians live out their vocation for environmental justice. Laurel has a BSc in biology and knows the species and geography of Vancouver’s bioregion. During her curacy in North Vancouver 2012-2014, Laurel helped catalyze the eco-social justice group, initiated a popular outdoor worship service, co-organized public education events on pipelines, incorporated environmental theology into regular worship, and brought Christian eco-theology performance, Affording Hope, to BC. She recently led a consultation with diocesan youth and young adults under the national church’s Marks of Mission Champions project, a chance for the church to hear from youth and young adults themselves about their understanding of the Fifth Mark of Mission. At a recent event on indigenous and scriptural perspectives on land and water Laurel was described as “the communicative face of the Anglican diocese on justice issues.” Laurel has coordinated diocesan participation in the LGBTQ Pride Parade for the past three years. As Anglican representative to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools, Laurel successfully raised profile of Indigenous justice in the diocese and engaged parishes in action. She serves on the diocesan anti-racism training team and helped to plan the National Anglican anti-racism consultation. Laurel is a respected writer on scripture and justice, she is a sought-after speaker at faith and justice events and a longtime organizer with various community-based grants and projects to her credit.
Laura Duhan Kaplan
Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan Kaplan is the Director of Inter-religious Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vancouver School of Theology. She holds a B.A. Summa Cum Laude from Brandeis University (1980), a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Education from Claremont Graduate University (1991), Rabbinic Ordination from ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal seminary (2005), and a Graduate Diploma in Spiritual Direction from the Vancouver School of Theology (2010). From 1989-2004, Laura served as Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and for seven years coordinated the university’s Women’s Studies program. Her books include Philosophy and Everyday Life, Family Pictures: A Philosopher Explores the Familiar, and two co-edited volumes on the Philosophy of Peace. For her innovative work helping students use philosophy to explore their life narratives, she received five teaching awards, including the Carnegie Foundation’s U.S. Professor of the Year award and an honorary Doctor of Pedagogy degree from Niagara University. Laura arrived in Vancouver in 2005, where she served for nearly ten years as Rabbi at Or Shalom Synagogue. Since 2005, she has also been a core faculty member at the ALEPH seminary. She has served as co-chair of the Canadian Jewish Congress Jewish-Christian dialogue, led weeklong summer workshops at the United Church’s Naramata Centre, and taught at VST and UBC Religious Studies as an adjunct faculty member. She is a fellow at Rabbis Without Borders, a progressive, pluralistic U.S.-based Jewish think tank. Laura’s most recent publications explore the phenomenology of prayer and images of animals in the Hebrew Bible. Laura, a native of New York City, is married to psychologist and musician Charles Kaplan. Together they are parents of two young adults, and caretakers of a changing array of companion animals.
Atlanta and Vancouver
Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” – just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good. He is a faculty member of The Living School, which is part of the Center for Action and Contemplation, and he co-leads the Common Good Messaging Team, which is part of Vote Common Good. He is also an Auburn Senior Fellow and a leader in the Convergence Network, through which he has developed an innovative training/mentoring program for pastors, church planters, and lay leaders called Convergence Leadership Project. He works closely with the Wild Goose Festival, the Fair Food Program‘s Faith Working Group, and Progressive Christianity. His most recent joint project is an illustrated children’s book (for all ages) called Cory and the Seventh Story and his upcoming writing projects include The Galapagos Islands: A Spiritual Journey (Fall 2019) Faith After Doubt (Spring 2021), and Do I Stay Christian? (Spring 2022).
The Reverend Paul Timothy Roberts Sr. is President of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA, a position he has held since the spring of 2010. Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary is one of the ten theological schools of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the only one that is historically African American. Under Paul’s leadership, JCSTS is reinventing itself and has gained prominence in the national conversation about new models of theological education.
Paul is a native of Stamford, CT. However, he grew up in Bradenton, FL, which he considers his home. Paul graduated from Princeton University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture and African American Studies. Prior to his career in ministry, Paul worked for eight years in advertising in New York City. He later received the Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in New Testament Studies from Johnson C. Smith Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA. He also is an Academic Fellow of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey in Celigny, Switzerland. From 1997 through 2010, Paul was the pastor of Church of the Master (PCUSA), a church founded in 1965 in Atlanta, GA, as an intentionally interracial congregation.
Paul preaches and teaches nationally, and has written for numerous publications. He serves on the boards of the Presbyterian Foundation, Montreat Conference Center, Macedonian Ministry Inc, and NEXT Church. He is the recipient of the 2016 Devoted Service Award from Louisville Theological Seminary. Recreationally, Paul enjoys yoga, tennis , and gardening.
Paul and his wife, Nina, have three beautiful children—one adult daughter and two teenage sons.
Jason Brian Santos
Rev. Jason Brian Santos, PhD, is the Mission Coordinator for Christian Formation and Small Church Support at the Presbyterian Mission Agency. He is an ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has a PhD in practical theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author of A Community Called Taizé (IVP, 2008) and After Paradise (IVP Academic, forthcoming). He currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Shannon and his two sons, Judah and Silas (aka Tutu). In his spare time, he plays and designs board games.
Love Sechrest serves as Dean of Faculty, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Associate Professor of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary (Ph.D. Duke University). Sechrest taught New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary from 2006-2018, after having taught courses at Duke Divinity School and the Graduate School at Trinity International University. Prior to earning her MDiv and PhD, she earned an MS in Computer Science at Villanova University while she pursued a career in the aerospace industry at General Electric, managing over 300 engineers and a $50 million technology and software development budget, and eventually functioning as chief information officer of an $800 million company within Lockheed Martin. Sechrest co-chaired the African American Biblical Hermeneutics section in the Society of Biblical Literature from 2012-2017, and gives presentations on race, ethnicity, and Christian thought in a variety of academic, church, and business contexts. With research interests in NT studies, cultural hermeneutics, African American and Womanist biblical interpretation, and critical race theory and ethics, she is the author of numerous articles and essays as well as A Former Jew: Paul and the Dialectics of Race (T&T Clark), and lead editor of Can “White” People be Saved? Triangulating Race, Theology and Mission (InterVarsity). She is a contributor and co-editor of a forthcoming volume studying Martin Luther King, Jr.’s use of scripture, and is now nearing completion of a monograph entitled Negotiating Privilege: Race Relations and the New Testament Today(Eerdmans). With a passion for nurturing new forms of Christian ministry, Sechrest has served on the board of directors for Faith & Learning, International, a Christian mission and social entrepreneurship business incubator and on organizations that nurture preaching and ministry locally and across the globe.
Jessica Vazquez Torres
Jessica Vazquez Torres is a trainer with Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training, with 15 years experience in antiracism, anti-oppression, and cultural competency workshop development and facilitation. She is active in peace and justice concerns, including worker justice, immigration reform and antiracism. Jessica is deeply committed to addressing social structures and cultural dynamics that marginalize and minoritize communities and limit their access to resources. Jessica, a 1.5-Generation ESL Queer Latina of Puerto Rican descent, holds a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida, a Master of Divinity from Christian Theological Seminary, and a Master of Theological Studies from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.