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2017/03/30

The Spiritual State of Appalachia

Moderator: Bishop Matthew Riegel of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America West Virginia/Western Maryland Synod

Riegel has served as chaplain of Lutheran Campus Ministry at West Virginia University in Morgantown. He was pastor of Trinity-Mount Calvary Lutheran, a shared ministry in Westernport, Md., and Keyser, W.Va., from 1994 to 2000. “Wittenberg University was midwife to the birth of the Lutheran Reformation. Leaving campus ministry, I hope to share that university ethos beyond the campus in continuance of the work begun 500 years ago,” Riegel said.
     Riegel earned a bachelor’s degree in history from ELCA-related Gettysburg (Pa.) College in 1987. From the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.), Riegel earned a master of divinity degree in 1994 and a master of sacred theology degree in 2011. He has served as the Bishop for the West Virginian ELCA Synod since 2015.

The Rev. Emilie Theobald-Rowlands currently serves as the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Vienna, West Virginia.  Prior to coming to West Virginia in 2012, Rowlands first call as a parish pastor in 2008, was serving a two point yoked parish with Resurrection Lutheran Church (Oakdale) and Grace Lutheran Church (Crescent); located west of downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  A native Appalachian raised in western Pennsylvania, Rowlands has served as the Secretary for the Evangelical Lutheran Coalition for Mission in Appalachia (2013 & 2014).  Rowlands currently serves as the co-convener and recorder of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Appalachian Leadership Task Force (2015-present). 

Rev. John Rausch of Glenmary Home Missioners

Fr. John S. Rausch, a Glenmary priest, writes and organizes in Appalachia where he has worked for over 40 years.  He organized three worker-owned co-operatives in Central Appalachia, and taught with the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center, Berea, Kentucky.  For 8 years he directed the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, and for 19 years he wrote a syndicated column with the Catholic Press Association.  A strong environmentalist, he speaks out against the devastation of mountaintop removal and advocates for the rights of labor and sustainable economic development.  With a masters in economics, he writes and speaks about various topics in light of Catholic social teachings, and was recognized as a Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace in 2007 for his work on ecology and economics. 

Ash-Lee Henderson of the Highlander Center in Tennessee

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson is a 31 year old, Affrilachian (Black Appalachian), working class woman, born and raised in Southeast Tennessee. She has served in positions of leadership for many organizations including being the past president of the Black Affairs Association at East Tennessee State University and the Rho Upsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She holds a B.A. in English with a minor in African and African American History. She has extensive experience with community organizing and is a former staff member of the Chicago SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) History Project, and a past member of the United Students Against Sweatshops National Coordinating, Political Education and Collective Liberation Committees.

Additionally she is a long-time activist working around issues of mountaintop removal mining, and environmental racism in central and southern Appalachia, and has served on the National Council of the Student Environmental Action Coalition. She is also an active participant in the Movement for Black Lives. Ash-Lee has experienced Highlander through participating in Cultural Organizers’ Weekend, Transitions, and has served as a board member since 2012. Ash-Lee comes to Highlander from Project South, where she is a member and regional organizer, active participant on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly, and organizer with Concerned Citizens for Justice (Chattanooga, TN).



2017/03/30

The State of the Economy of Appalachia

Moderator:  Rev. Sekinah Hamlin of the Center for Responsible Lending, Director of Faith Affairs

Rev. Hamlin is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.  She is a pastor, preacher and community organizer with a long history of commitment to racial and economic justice. A native of Charlotte, NC, Rev. Hamlin’s career in ministry has included service as Minister of Anti-Racism and Pro-Reconciliation for the Southeast Regional Fellowship (SERF) of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Pastor/Developer of the Messiah Community Christian Church, Winston-Salem, NC; and Campus Minister for Saint James Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, NC. Hamlin also serves as a Senior Advisor for the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative.

Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, Director of Ecumenical Poverty Initiative has more than 15 years of experience working in the faith-based community. She served as the assistant director for justice and advocacy for the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Copeland-Tune has worked as a consultant for a broad range of faith-based groups, non-profit organizations and corporations including Health Care Without Harm, Faith in Public Life, the Conference of National Black Churches and New Baptist Covenant. She also formerly served as the director of communications and resource development for the D.C. Baptist Convention. An ordained Baptist minister, Dr. Copeland-Tune contributed a chapter on Christian leadership in the book, Church on Purpose: Reinventing Discipleship, Community and Justice edited by Adam L. Bond and Laura Mariko Cheifetz.

Fr. John S. Rausch, a Glenmary priest, writes and organizes in Appalachia where he has worked for over 40 years.  He organized three worker-owned co-operatives in Central Appalachia, and taught with the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center, Berea, Kentucky.  For 8 years he directed the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, and for 19 years he wrote a syndicated column with the Catholic Press Association.  A strong environmentalist, he speaks out against the devastation of mountaintop removal and advocates for the rights of labor and sustainable economic development.  With a masters in economics, he writes and speaks about various topics in light of Catholic social teachings, and was recognized as a Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace in 2007 for his work on ecology and economics. 

Anthony Flaccavento, President of SCALE (Sequestering Carbon, Accelerating Local Economies)

Anthony is an organic farmer near Abingdon, Virginia, in the heart of Central Appalachia. He has been working on community environmental and economic development in the region for the past 27 years. In 1995, he founded Appalachian Sustainable Development, which became a regional and national leader in sustainable economic development. Anthony left ASD in December, 2009 to found SCALE, Inc, a private consulting business dedicated to catalyzing and supporting ecologically healthy regional economies and food systems. SCALE works with community leaders, farmers, foundations, economic development agencies and others in Appalachia, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico the Arkansas Delta and other communities. Anthony speaks and writes about sustainable development, economics, food systems and rural development issues extensively, with some of his pieces appearing in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Solutions Journal and elsewhere.


2017/02/23

The Ecological State of Appalachia: Conversations

Friday, March 31 3:45-5:00pm

Panel Session: State of the Environment in Appalachia

Stories of hope, resilience and the role faith can have in serving people, and all God's creation, in Appalachia.

Moderator: Rev. Robin Blackman

Robin is the staff coordinator at Ohio Valley Environmental Valley’s Project Coordinator. As an ordained minister (PCUSA), Robin provides leadership on faith-based outreach and networking, and serves as an active member of faith-based coalitions such as, West Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, WV Presbytery Stewardship of Creation Ministry Team and Presbyterians for Earth Care. She works with leaders in faith communities across the state and region to raise awareness about justice issues related to strip mining, water pollution and free speech

Panelists to include:

Rev. Donna Aros, Pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church, Frankfort, KY

From a "back-to-the-land hippie" to an ordained United Methodist minister, Donna Aros connects love and care of God's creation to wider justice concerns.  Donna is a member of the Justice Commission of the Kentucky Council of Churches.  She has served congregations from Cave City (right outside Mammoth Cave NP) to Louisa in Eastern Kentucky, and now serves St Paul UMC in Frankfort, KY.

Patrick Grenter, Esq., Executive Director of Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ), Washington PA

In his role at CCJ, he is responsible for managing all operations and development. Prior to joining the staff, he was a member of the Board of Directors. Patrick worked previously as the Legal Director for Three Rivers Waterkeeper, an organization dedicated to improving the region’s water quality. Patrick co-founded Three Rivers Waterkeeper with a fellow Pitt Law graduate in 2009. He lives in the South Hills with his wife, Olivia, their two young kids and dog, Boone. Patrick enjoys playing basketball, competing in triathlons and running races, loves hiking, camping and the Chicago Bears. 

Karan Ireland, Program Director at West Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods (SUN)

Karan is WV SUN’s Program Director. She works with West Virginia residents to develop solar co-ops across the state. Ireland comes to WV SUN from the West Virginia Citizen Action Group where she was Development Director. In that role, she worked to ensure all West Virginians had access to safe drinking water and took the lead in response to the 2014 Elk River Chemical Leak.


Saturday, April 1st

Workshop: Water Justice in Appalachia

9:00-10:00am      World Café*

10:00-11:00am   World Café (repeat of first session)

 *The World Café (TWC)
Using seven design principles and a simple method, the World Café is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter, offering an effective antidote to the fast-paced fragmentation and lack of connection in today’s world. Based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life, the World Café is more than a method, a process, or technique – it’s a way of thinking and being together sourced in a philosophy of conversational leadership.

Facilitator: Phoebe Morad, National Program Coordinator for Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC).

As a grassroots movement of clergy, lay people, campus ministers, outdoor camp staff and seminary professors we connect, empower and equip the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) to care for creation. In the past few years, LRC has engaged regional and congregational green teams across the nation, trained hundreds of new leaders with a uniquely Lutheran curriculum, and encouraged dozens of ecologically related resolutions to come before the larger church body for prayerful consideration. Phoebe lives in Braintree, MA with her husband: Scott, two kids: Thea (8) and Samson (5), dog: Tessa and cat: Jon Dough. She is a conflicted environmentalist with her love of travel, addiction to rich foods and urge to anthropomorphize all cute, fuzzy animals.

Ruth M. Ivory-Moore, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Program Director for Environment and Energy. 

Ruth has had careers in chemical engineering, as a corporate legal counsel, and brings legal specialties including environmental law and climate change. She is married to Chuck Moore.  They have two children and two grandchildren.  She enjoys travelling; spending time with family and friends; and  particularly planning large family gatherings. She continues to be involved with Christian education leadership in her church.  Her other volunteer work includes chairing a young adult and youth leadership summit in southern Virginia.   She is a member of the board of Creation Justice Ministries and a member of ACT Alliance’s Climate Change Group.  She has given speeches or various environmental and climate change subjects.