2018 Speakers

Religion and Life Forum: 2018 Preachers and Lecturers

Rev. Faith Fowler: June 17-21Rev. Todd Cioffi

Rev. Fowler is the Senior Pastor of Cass Community United Methodist Church and Executive Director of Cass Community Social Services (CCSS), a Detroit nonprofit agency which responds to poverty with programs for food, health care, housing and employment. She has held these roles since 1994.

Beyond her work at CCSS, Rev. Fowler has served as a Board Member for the Cass Corridor Neighborhood Development Corporation (CCDNC), an advisory board member of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging, as well as a Board Member and Trustee for the General Board of Church and Society.

She currently Chairs the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee. Prior to coming to Cass Community, from 1986 to 1994 Rev. Fowler was the pastor of William S. Ford Memorial United Methodist Church in Detroit. From 1983 to 1986, she worked with the Catholic Chaplaincy Team at Walpole Maximum Security Prison in Massachusetts.

Rev. Fowler graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Albion College. She received a Master of Divinity (M. Div.) degree from the Boston University School of Theology and a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree from the University of Michigan - Dearborn. She currently serves as an adjunct professor for the University of Michigan - Dearborn.

Rev. Fowler's interests include reading, running, the environment and travel. Rev. Fowler has finished the Boston Marathon four times. She has visited Zimbabwe, Africa; Sydney, Australia; Seoul, South Korea; Russia; as well as several countries in Europe and England. She lives in Detroit and owns a historic (Victorian) home which was built when Abraham Lincoln was president (1864).

Sunday Worship – I Was
Lecture Series : Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread, No Room for Them, Sick and Tired, All in a Day's Work

Rev. Andrew Pomerville: June 24 – 28

Rev. Dr. Tim Bruster

Rev. Andrew Pomerville recently accepted a position as Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life for Alma College in Alma, MI. He previously served as the Senior Pastor at The Peoples Church of East Lansing, MI, a multi-denominational congregation with full standing in the United Methodist Church, the American Baptist Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Presbyterian Church (USA).

He holds a B.A. in History from Alma College, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and will graduate with a Doctor of Ministry through a joint degree program between Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and University of Aberdeen, UK in May, 2018.

Pomerville's ministry has focused on interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, reunification, and reconciliation. He currently serves as the police chaplain for the East Lansing Police Department, with previous calls as a spiritual advisor for Hospice of NW Michigan and pastor for Church in the Hills in Bellaire, MI. Rev. Pomerville also maintains a close relationship with the Kirk of Scotland, having preached and served in Kirk parishes throughout the Glens region in NE Scotland.

He and his wife Rachell, a teacher in the Lansing Public Schools, have two children, Denali, 12 and Bryce, 10. They are avid outdoors people who love the National Parks, kayaking, hiking and exploring.

Sunday Worship – Tears of Indignation
Lecture Series: Emotions of the Narrative of Scripture

Akhil Reed Amar - American Experience Speaker: July 2 - 6 

Rev. Linda McDermottAkhil Reed Amar is an American legal scholar, and expert on constitutional law and criminal procedure.

Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, where he teaches constitutional law in both Yale College and Yale Law School. After graduating from Yale College, summa cum laude, in 1980 and from Yale Law School in 1984, and clerking for then Judge (now Justice) Stephen Breyer, Amar joined the Yale faculty in 1985 at the age of 26. His work has won awards from both the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society, and he has been favorably cited by Supreme Court justices across the spectrum in more than 30 cases—tops in his generation. He has regularly testified before Congress at the invitation of both parties; and in various comprehensive surveys of judicial citations and/or scholarly citations, he invariably ranks among America’s five most-cited legal scholars under age sixty.

Ahkil is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2008 he received the DeVane Medal—Yale’s highest award for teaching excellence. He has written widely for popular publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and Slate. He was an informal consultant to the popular TV show, The West Wing, and his work has been showcased on more recent TV shows such as The Colbert Report, Charlie Rose, and The O’Reilly Factor.

Professor Amar is the author of dozens of law review articles and several books, including The Constitution and Criminal Procedure: First Principles (Yale Univ. Press, 1997), The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction (Yale Univ. Press, 1998—winner of the YUP Governors’ Award), America’s Constitution: A Biography (Random House, 2005—winner of the ABA’s Silver Gavel Award), America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By (Basic Books, 2012—named one of the 100 best nonfiction books of the year by the Washington Post), and The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of our Constitutional Republic (Basic Books, 2015).

His newest book, The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era, was published in September 2016 and was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of the year by Time magazine. In February 2017 he received the American Bar Foundation’s annual Outstanding Scholar Award, and in April 2017 he received the Howard R. Lamar Award for distinguished service to Yale.

Lecture Series: The Constitution Today

Rev. George Heartwell: July 8 - 12

Rev. Charles Graff

The Rev. George Heartwell is ordained to Christian Ministry in the United Church of Christ.  He currently serves in the part-time capacity of Community Sustainability Coordinator at Grand Valley State University following his retirement as Mayor of Grand Rapids.

During Heartwell's 12-year tenure as Mayor, Grand Rapids was recognized by the United Nations as the country’s first Regional Center for Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development, by the US Chamber of Commerce as the nation’s most sustainable mid-sized city, and Heartwell was recognized by the US Conference of Mayors with the first-place award for climate protection in the large city category.  He has spoken widely throughout the globe on the subject of sustainability and is recognized as a content expert in this field. 

Heartwell has received Gubernatorial appointments from both Democrat and Republican Governors of Michigan, including his current appointment as State Transportation Commissioner, and was appointed by President Obama to serve on the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Resilience.  He was credentialed by the United Nations to represent US Mayors at COP21, the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change in Paris in December 2015. 

In retirement, Heartwell is also producing maple syrup, keeping bees, gardening and spending as much time as possible fly fishing.

Rev. Neal Plantinga: July 15 - 19

Rev. Meg Jenista Kuykendall

Plantinga studied at Calvin College (A.B., 1967), Yale University, Calvin Theological Seminary (B.D., 1971), and Princeton Theological Seminary (Ph.D., magna cum laude, 1982). He has also been a visiting scholar at St.  Edmund's College, University of Cambridge.

Formerly the pastor of the Webster (New York) Christian Reformed Church, Mr. Plantinga was Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary from 1979 to 1996. In the summer of 1996, he became the first ever Dean of the Chapel at Calvin College. In January 2002, he became the sixth President of Calvin Theological Seminary.

He is a former editor of the Calvin Theological Journal and the author of six books, co-author of one, and co-editor of two. He has written more than 230 published articles, essays, and reviews and a number of his pieces have won awards from such groups as The Associated Church Press and The Evangelical Church Press, and his 1995 book on sin, Not the Way It's Supposed to Be, won the 1996 Book of the Year award of Christianity Today.  Seven years later Engaging God’s World: A Christian View of FaithLearning, and Living  (Eerdmans, 2002) won the best book award in the category Christian Life, as  did Reading for Preaching: The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists (Eerdmans, 2013) in the category Church/Pastoral Leadership for 2014.

In the academic year 1999 - 2000, under the provisions of a Christian Faith and Life grant from the Louisville Institute, Mr. Plantinga was a resident member of the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton.

Sunday Worship – Spiritual Momentum
Lecture Series: Whatever You Get - Get Wisdom

Rev. Danielle Shroyer: July 22 - 26

Danielle Shroyer

The Rev. Danielle Shroyer is an author, speaker, pastor, and founding member of the emerging church movement. She served in pastoral ministry for a decade before turning to writing full time.

She is the author of Original Blessing: Putting Sin in Its Rightful Place (Fortress Press, November 2016), Where Jesus Prayed: Illuminations on the Lord's Prayer in the Holy Land (Paraclete, 2015), and The Boundary-Breaking God: An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise" (Jossey-Bass, 2009). She holds a BA from Baylor University and an M.Div from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Danielle lives with her husband and two children in Dallas, Texas. You can find her at www.danielleshroyer.com.

Sunday Worship – The Gift of Love
Lecture Series: Original Blessing

Matt Mooney: July 29 – August 2

Matt Mooney

Matt and his wife, Ginny, founded 99 Balloons, an organization working with persons experiencing disability. This work grew out of their experience with their firstborn son, Eliot, who lived for 99 days. What began with starting a small respite night called rEcess in their community has grown into a global movement championing relationships and inclusion for persons with disabilities- with now over 40 rEcess sites across 3 countries.

In addition to serving as Executive Director of 99 Balloons, Matt speaks, writes and advocates in areas related to our shared humanity and fragility. He is the author of A Story Unfinished- a book written by Matt about Eliot’s life and the lessons God taught them through their son. His work with 99 Balloons has allowed him to be a proponent of inclusive education as well as church inclusion throughout Haiti, Ukraine, Uganda, India and more. His story and work has been featured on The Today Show, National Geographic and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Sunday Worship – Capernaum. Three Views of Disability
Lecture Series: What We Talk About When We Talk About Disability

Dr. Jim Somerville: August 5 - 9

Dr. Jim Somerville

The Rev. James Green Somerville is Pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church, a position he has held since May, 2008. Before that he served for eight years as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C. Jim holds a Master of Divinity in preaching and teaching and a Ph.D. in New Testament studies from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He graduated from Georgetown College, Kentucky, with a degree in Fine Art and before that from the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. 

Jim’s articles and sermons have been published in a number of different journals including Christian Century, Lectionary Homiletics, and the Upper Room. He has preached on Day1 (formerly the Protestant Hour) and the Chicago-based 30 Good Minutes. The sermon he preached on the Sunday following September 11, 2001, was published in an anthology called Restoring Faith: America’s Religious Leaders Answer Terror with Hope (Walker & Company, New York).

In addition to his work as pastor, he is the Co-Founder of A Sermon for Every Sunday, an online resource featuring “Video sermons from America’s best preachers for every Sunday of the Liturgical Year” (www.asermonforeverysunday.com).

The Rev. Somerville is one of six sons of a Presbyterian minister who took what amounted to a vow of poverty to live and work among the poor in Boone County, West Virginia. In those often challenging circumstances, Jim's mother used her gift of storytelling to make the Bible come alive, and to inspire in her children a lasting love for God.

Jim is married to Christy Treadwell Somerville, who is a kindergarten teacher at St. Michael’s Episcopal School in Richmond. He has two daughters, Ellie and Catherine, who are happily married to brilliant and talented men.

Sunday Worship – Which Gospel Shall I Preach?
Lecture Series: The Whole Bible in Four Lectures

Rev. Dr. Yvette A. Flunder: August 12 - 16

Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder

Bishop Flunder is the Founder and Senior Pastor of the City of Refuge, United Church of Christ in Oakland, CA.

Flunder is a native San Franciscan and third generation preacher with roots in the Church of God in Christ. She is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ and holds both masters and doctorate degrees in Ministry from the Pacific School of Religion and the San Francisco Theological Seminary, respectively. In 2003, she was appointed Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a multi-denominational coalition of over 56 churches and faith-based organizations from all over the world.

Following her call to be “salt and light” in the world, Bishop Flunder has served as a board member of the National Sexuality Resource Center, and as an active voice for the Human Rights Campaign as well as Co-Chair of the Religious Advisory Committee of the National Black Justice Coalition.

A much sought-after and prophetic preacher, educator, and justice advocate, Flunder is also a renowned gospel music artist who performed and recorded with “Walter Hawkins and the Family” and the Love Center Choir and with the Grammy Award Winning ‘Chanticleer’. She is also a published author of Where the Edge Gathers: A Theology and Homiletic of Radical Inclusion.

In December of 2014, Bishop Flunder served as the keynote speaker for the White House observation of the 26th Anniversary of World AIDS Day. She was also named the 2015 Spiritual Hero in the January edition of the Science of Mind, produced by the Centers for Spiritual Living.

True to her call, she continues to be a prophetic and progressive Christian voice and leader in the movement of justice for ALL of God’s children from the streets of Oakland to the halls of national government and international shores. 

Sunday Worship – Beyond Fear Based Religion
Lecture Series: Radical Hospitality

Rev. Dr. Sue Bertolette: August 19 - 23

Rev. Dr. Sue Bertolette

The Rev. Dr. Sue Bertolette is the Senior Pastor of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Lansdale, PA.

A native of southeastern Pennsylvania, she has a BS from Eastern College, a Master of Divinity degree from Eastern Baptist Seminary, and was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 1980.  She received her Doctorate of Ministry from Lancaster Theological Seminary.

She currently serves as chair of the Church Relations Committee for Phoebe Ministries.  Her past service ranges from 18 years as chaplain for the Hospice of the North Penn VNA and serving on the board of the North Penn United Way and the North Penn branch of the American Red Cross. On a regular basis, Sue leads worship and offers programs at several local retirement communities and centers. One of the things she especially enjoys doing is writing a monthly column for the local newspaper. 

Sue and her husband Bob live in Lansdale and love spending time with their grown children, John and Jenny, and their spouses. In her free time, Sue enjoys reading, bicycling and spending time with friends.

Sunday Worship – Fear is a Four Letter Word
Lecture Series: Life Lessons Learned by Staying Put

Rev. Tom Swears: August 26

Rev. Tom Swears

The Rev. Dr. Swears is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, having served two parishes, one a new mission congregation in suburban Baltimore, Maryland for seven years and the other in Wilmington, Delaware for twenty-five years as the senior pastor. 

Tom also taught both Homiletics and Spiritual Formation for many years at The Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and he is the author of The Approaching Sabbath: Spiritual Disciplines For Pastors, and Preaching To Head and Heart. 

He and his wife, Linda, have been Bay View cottage owners since 2005.  They have two grown daughters, Mollie, who is married and a student at Harvard Law School, and Annie, who is a student at Florida State University.

Sunday Worship – The Under-Shepherd's Proper Question
Rev. Paul Perez: September 2

Rev. Paul Perez

The Rev. Paul Perez is an ordained Deacon in The United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the Director for Mission and Justice Engagement and Leadership Recruitment for the Detroit Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Perez earned his Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University and Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary.

The Rev. Perez was the founding director of Justice for Our Neighbors Southeastern Michigan, a United Methodist related immigration legal aid organization with locations in Detroit, Dearborn, and Ypsilanti and has also served as Director of Program Development at Newburg UMC in Livonia, Michigan.

He is a past member of the board of the United Methodist Student Movement, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church. He currently serves on the boards of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church, The NOAH Project, Michigan United, and Justice for Our Neighbors Michigan.

Paul lives in Livonia, Michigan with his wife Anne, a high school English teacher, and his three children, Joshua, Sofia, and Charles. 

Sunday Worship - A Labor of Love

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Petoskey, MI 49770

Phone: 231-347-6225



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