The Writers

Photo Shoot 8[1]Alex Macias

I was born in Tucson, Arizona into a large, loud, and diverse family.  My dad is ethnically English, Irish, German, and Polish.  My mom’s parents immigrated from Ecuador and Colombia. Since my brother and I are mixed, I affectionately call us “halfies.” I grew up in a small, conservative congregation but gained exposure to a number of traditions as a young adult. One of the most formative experiences for me during this time was working for a group home for teenage girls in crisis. I married Jeff in 2007 and moved to Chicago soon after. We have a daughter named Vivienne and a baby boy soon to arrive.  I currently work for North Park Seminary and am also a student in the MA in Theological Studies program. I’m excited to be part of this blog because I have a love of writing and fruitful discussion!

Other things I love:
  traveling, foreign movies, coffee, dancing, a good story, and good food of all kinds.

BA (English), BS (psychology), University of Arizona
MATS (in process), North Park Theological Seminary

Caenisha Warren

Living through the split of divorced parents as a child, I started to explore my own story and identity after undergrad.  This process began to steward my call towards reconciliation.  I grew up in Seattle.  I am the granddaughter of an African American man who is a Church of God pastor from Texas; and the granddaughter of a strong, immigrant Chinese woman from China and Hong Kong.  I hold an enthusiasm for young people and community, learning stories, and walking through life with people.  All this I get to do serving on staff for the John Perkins Center at Seattle Pacific University as an advisor and mentor to students in areas of justice and reconciliation.  I have also been blessed to serve in the glocal ministry of my church (Quest Church) as well as a few justice projects with local area community organizations and leaders.  A few other interests that occupy my heart, soul and mind are art, dance, music, traveling, children and youth, and spending time with family and friends.

BA (Communication), University of Washington
MACM, North Park Theological Seminary

CNPCathy Norman Peterson

I grew up outside of Chicago, deeply immersed in evangelicalism. I eagerly imbibed all aspects of my fundamentalist corner of the world—until I began to struggle with it. Eventually it was no longer enough for me to know all those right answers, and my individualistic faith no longer sustained me the way it once did. So I began to explore—I tried leaving the church, investigated Catholicism, learned ancient spiritual practices that were new to me. All these years later, here I am, still in the church—that community of believers in all its messy, imperfect, often frustrating glory. In fact, I work for our denomination’s magazine, where I get paid to talk and write about life in the church in meaningful ways. I live in Chicago with my two boys and one husband.

Fun things for me: Biking to work all year long, conversation with authentic people, quirky films, reading good writing, interesting food.

BA Wheaton College
MA (English), University of Massachusetts-Boston

Evelymn Ivens

I was born in Mexico and moved to the United States when I was 14 years old. I lived in Pasadena, CA for about 11 years, which I consider my second home. While in high school fell in love with God and the church. I have always worked in non-profits (mental health for older adults, business incubator, homeless families, advocacy, training, equipping), and never in my life thought I would attend seminary. Yet, in 2009 I moved across the country to Chicago to start my MATS, and after completing my first semester I moved once again (Washington, DC) to do a yearlong internship at Bread for the World. Completed my MA in 2013 and I now work at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). I’m passionate about issues of immigration, huger, poverty, and human trafficking.

Things I love:  my family, traveling, learning about other cultures, laughing, and eating a good taco.

BA (Economics), California State University, Los Angeles
MATS, North Park Theological Seminary


Geila Rajaee

Raised by an Iranian father and an Irish/English-American mother in the great state of Michigan along with my five other siblings, I lived between two cultural and religious worlds. I celebrate my Middle-Eastern heritage and the unique ways it has shaped the way I see and live in the world. When I discovered the vocation of chaplaincy, I found a world where my love for inter-religious dialogue and pastoral care could meet face to face. I have recently transitioned to work as a Manager of Spiritual Care (Chaplaincy) for a large regional hospital system in Ohio. I am thrilled to be a part of this conversation with some amazing women that will challenge, engage, and critique my own assumptions about faith and sources of meaning.

Things that make my heart happy: My crazy, wonderful family, being in the sun whenever possible (preferably by a beach), sitting in my hammock, and telephone conversations with friends many miles away.

M.Div. Princeton Theological Seminary

JillJill Riley

I am a Korean American Church Planter/Pastor in Billings, Montana.  I love the church, warts and all. Deeply committed to the teaching of God’s Word, I am passionate about the written and spoken word and its potential to positively shape and influence culture. I also consult, specializing in the areas of strategic planning and organizational development.

Other things about me: I love teaching and training.  I have always been a writer and have only recently begun to share my written words with others. I am a professional trained classical pianist. I’m a big crafter—currently knitting and photography occupies my craft time.

BA (Christian Formation/Pastoral Ministries), Northwest University
M.Ed. (Curriculum/Instruction/Adult learning and Higher Education), Seattle University

Lenore Three Star (Oglala Lakota)

Lenore was born on Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, where her father was born. Her mother is Minnecoujou Lakota from the Cheyenne River reservation.  She received her BA from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO and moved to Washington State where she reared her son. Lenore retired from a civil rights career of resolving discrimination complaints with the US Dept of Education in Seattle, and moved to Spokane where she is Unci (grandmother) to her takojas (grandkids).

Currently, Lenore is a part-time grad student (Master of Arts Intercultural Studies, North American Institute of Indigenous Theological Studies through George Fox University). Currently, she also serves on the board of Three Generations, Ltd, a native nonprofit; as a Commissioner on the Washington State Human Rights Commission; on the Executive Board of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC); and on the ECC Christian Action Commission. Lenore is a volunteer in church and community and an experienced ministry coach, primarily in leadership training for Women Ministries.


Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom

When I was a kid, I dreamed big and lived small. My mom taught me that anything was possible, but our resources were limited. I grew up in north Minneapolis. My ethnic background is Scandinavian and Bohemian. I’ve travelled to over 30 countries, and lived in three. I never considered myself an artist, but I learned to put things together in creative  ways, and that’s how I ended up a teacher. My specialty is theology and ethics, and I’m blessed with amazing, faithful students. I’m excited to find new life in old questions with this group of women because they each inspire me in different ways.

Things I love:  My family, my grandma, my friends and children. Teaching, exercising, traveling and gardening. Silliness. And also food & wine—they bring together my love of earthy things, complex flavors, hospitality, theology, etc.

MATS, North Park Theological Seminary
MTS Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
PhD Loyola University Chicago

Other Contributors

Gail Song Bantum

Much of my identity and formation finds its root in being a second generation Korean American woman, 18 years in an interracial marriage, raising three multi-ethnic children, and growing up in the faith traditions of Pentecostal Korean Immigrants and the COGIC Church. These realities have profoundly contributed to how I see and engage the world around me on a day to day basis and continues to inform my life of ministry. I received my M.Div. from Duke Divinity School and am an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church. I have the great privilege of serving as the Worship, Discipleship and Executive Pastor at Quest Church in Seattle, Washington. I’m excited to be a part of this diverse group of women leaders who are willing to engage these affirmations of the Church through varying lenses and stories.

Fun Facts: I’m addicted to the following: coffee (my office is in the back of our cafe), sunshine (Seattle is thus questionable for my well-being), visual aesthetics (if captured well, I’m moved every time), soft t-shirts, spicy fried chicken (or pretty much anything that used to be alive), & cheetos.

MDIV, Duke Divinity School

Jen Gillandsc_4990_face0.jpg

I was born and raised in Chicago by two loving, hard-working parents from Guatemala. I live in Evanston with my husband, and serve as lead pastor at Sojourner Covenant Church. I love conversations about theology, church, and culture, especially with thoughtful and gracious people who bring different perspectives like the women who are a part of this blog.

Things I love: Watching Frontline and Anthony Bourdein: Parts Unknown with my husband Cooper; singing and finding a harmony to every song; Mexican food; walking/hiking, homemade meals and sharing them with friends and family, deep and silly conversations.

BS (nursing), Bethel College
MDIV, North Park Theological Seminary

Lisa Sharon LisaSharonHarper bwHarper

I am Chief Church Engagement Officer for Sojourners in Washington D.C. I am a speaker, writer, and activist, and I’m the author of Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican…or Democrat and coauthor of Left, Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics and Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith, which is coming out this fall. I’m a columnist at Sojourners Magazine and I also write for God’s Politics blog and Huffington Post Religion. I am in the midst of the ordination process with the Evangelical Covenant Church.



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