The theme for the 2015 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference is "Renewal of Creation." Read Bishop Elaine Stanovsky's Mountain Sky Outlook blog on what that means in our connection to the world and our faith.
The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker (pictured on the right) is President emerita and Professor of Theology emerita of Starr King School for the Ministry at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. A United Methodist minister, theologian, educator, and social activist, she is the co-author with Rita Nakashima Brock of Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, and Proverbs of Ashes: Violence Redemptive Suffering and the Search for What Saves Us. Parker was the first woman to serve as the head of an accredited theological school in the United States and Canada. The spouse, daughter, granddaughter, grandniece, cousin, and aunt of progressive Christian ministers, theological educators, and a United Methodist missionary, Parker is a devoted advocate for creative theological thinking, for engaged social ministry, and for the transforming and life-giving importance of congregational life.
Saving Paradise: Responding to God’s Renewed Creation
Today, as we face into the global threats of environmental degradation, violence, and poverty our United Methodist Bishops have issued a call to United Methodists to “see God’s vision for the whole of creation,” and to “make God’s promise our purpose.” The call to embrace God’s gift of abundant life and to justly share Creation’s blessings was at the heart of early Christian worship. Christians filled their sanctuaries with images of Christ as a living presence in a vibrant world lush with verdant meadows, watered by flowing rivers, and lit by radiant skies. The tree of life and the river of life were central symbols. Biblical interpretation and spiritual practices guided Christians to live rightly in this world as “citizens of paradise.” At this annual conference, Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker will lead us in Bible study and theological reflection, drawing on the deep wellspring of early Christian spirituality and sacred images to explore how the faith practices of early Christians might guide us now as we answer the call.
Pat Watkins is an ordained elder and member of the VA Conference of the UMC. He has served churches in Virginia, has been a missionary in Nigeria, served as the Executive Director of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, and is currently working for the UMC General Board of Global Ministries as the United Methodist Church’s first “Missionary for the Care of God’s Creation.” His mission position involves growing Caretakers of God’s Creation, a United Methodist creation care ministry of the Virginia Conference, into a national organization, and integrating care for God’s creation into the greater overall global ministry of the church. Pat tries to live out his passion for God’s creation by living his life in such a way as to make a smaller footprint on God’s earth. He is an avid organic, permaculture gardener. His passion is to raise the awareness, particularly among people of faith, that there is a connection between faith and a responsibility to care for and heal God’s creation. He and his wife, Denise Honeycutt, live in New York City.
Known for teaching leaders how to bring out the best in the people who frustrate them the most, Rebekah Simon-Peter – developer of the award-winning leadership programs, Creating a Culture of Renewal – transforms church leaders and the congregations they serve. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Rebekah has served black, white, small, medium and large churches in the Rocky Mountain Conference. She’s written award-winning books: The Jew Named Jesus, Green Church: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice!, Green Church Leader Guide and 7 Simple Steps to Green Your Church. Additionally, she holds Certifications as an Everything DiSC® Authorized Partner from WileED as well as their highest credential for coaches and trainers; she is a member of the International Coaching Federation. A budding organic gardener, decent skier, and all out dog-lover, she lives in Casper, Wyoming, with her husband Jerry Gonzales.
Miok Lee Fowler
Miok Lee Fowler has been a Korean Language Coordinator in the Rocky Mountain Conference since 2008. Miok was born and raised in Korea and experienced the trauma of the Korean War as a very young child. She received B.A. and M.A. degrees in Korean Language and Literature from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea, and then studied in the United States, where she earned a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Northern Colorado. She has also taught Korean Language at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver as an adjunct professor. For the past thirty-one years, she has owned and operated a State Farm Insurance Agency in Greenwood Village. Miok has authored two books in Korean: The Moon & the Spear and Reflections of Life in America. She has written numerous columns for both local and national Korean newspapers relative to the struggles and successes of immigrants choosing a new life in a country of conflicting cultural values. For the past six years, she has been a study leader for the Korean School of Christian Mission event, and in 2012 she led the “Poverty” Study for the Louisiana Conference and Utah schools.
John S. Hill
John S. Hill serves as the Assistant General Secretary for Advocacy and Organizing at the General Board of Church and Society. A native of Florida, John received his bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia. He is an advocate with over 20 years of experience in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the Board in 2002, he worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide and later served as the Director of Legislative Affairs for a lobbying and consulting firm in DC. John continues to manage the Board’s Economic and Environmental Justice Program and serves on the boards of Creation Justice Ministries, Interfaith Worker Justice and the National Farm Worker Ministry. In addition, he continues to teach Sunday School at his local church, Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.
Holmes Rolston III
Holmes Rolston, III is University Distinguished Professor and Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Colorado State University. He has written seven books, most recently: Three Big Bangs: Matter-Energy, Life, Mind (Columbia University Press), Genes, Genesis and God (Cambridge University Press), Philosophy Gone Wild (Prometheus Books), Environmental Ethics (Temple University Press), Science and Religion: A Critical Survey (new edition, Templeton Foundation Press), Conserving Natural Value (Columbia University Press), and A New Environmental Ethics: The Next Millennium for Life on Earth (Routledge). He delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, 1997-98. A biography by Christopher J. Preston was written on Rolston called Saving Creation: Nature and Faith in the Life of Holmes Rolston, III. Rolston was laureate for the 2003 Templeton Prize in Religion, awarded by Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace. Rolston has spoken as a distinguished lecturer on seven continents.
Aaron Stauffer is the Executive Director of Religions for Peace USA where he oversees all projects and initiatives, while working with over 50 member communities to inspire and advance common actions for peace. With nearly a decade of experience in the interfaith movement, he brings a passion and insight into his work. Aaron is a graduate from St. Olaf College and Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, where he received the Charles August Briggs award for scholarship and conscience at Union for his MDiv. His experience in the U.S. interfaith movement includes communities such as San Antonio, Tx., Minneapolis-St. Paul, Mn, and New York, NY. He most recently worked as an institutional organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, working to build public power within disenfranchised communities. Aaron’s work in the interfaith movement has led him to hold previous positions with the World Student Christian Federation, The World Communion of Reformed Churches, The Coexist Foundation, and the Presbyterian Church (USA).