Episcopal Church Foundation announces 2015 Fellows

Posted May 26, 2015

[Episcopal Church Foundation] The Episcopal Church Foundation has named its 2015 Fellows who bring an exciting vision and passion for the future of the Episcopal Church.

The Fellowship Partners Program is ECF’s longest running program, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. It continues to be one of the most exciting programs ECF has to offer. The Fellowship Partners Program supports emerging scholars and ministry leaders so they can pursue studies and ministries they might not otherwise be able to, and share their knowledge and learning with the wider church.

“We are proud of this program,” said Donald V. Romanik, ECF President, “and amazed at the impact ECF’s Fellows have had at all levels of the church. We are confident our 2015 Fellows will serve the church in creative and innovative ways and look forward to creating opportunities for them to share their learning.”

“The 2015 Fellows represent a variety of new frontiers in Episcopal Church ministry,” said Miguel Escobar, senior program director. “They are using technology to form the next generation of lay and clergy leaders in innovative ways, are utilizing alternative spaces to build vibrant faith communities, and are reclaiming aspects of the Episcopal Church’s past missionary efforts among Native Americans. These four individuals were selected for the promise they hold as future leaders of the church.”

ECF is proud to partner with our 2015 Fellows and to walk with them as they explore how to be the Episcopal Church of the future.

Audra Abt: Audra is a priest working in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. She received her BA in Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, where she spent a semester studying abroad in the Amazon, and lived for a year in Capim Grosso, Bahia, Brazil where she discerned a call to the priesthood. For the past 4 years she has served as an assistant rector at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.

As an ECF Fellow, Audra will nurture a growing Christian base community movement (home and neighborhood-oriented worship, study and mission), started by Latino immigrants in Greensboro, North Carolina. This ministry is an example of how Episcopalians from Latin America are leading the church of the U.S. into a life of worship and service that reflects the communities described in the book of Acts. Such communities rely not on their privilege, wealth, or buildings but on the Holy Spirit, neighborly hospitality, and the contribution of every single member. As missioner, Audra will make a space where Latinos and non-Latinos can collaborate and influence the wider Church’s life with their faith.

Reed Carlson Trustee Fellow: Reed studies and teaches the story of God’s people. Currently he is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Harvard Divinity School and is scheduled to be ordained in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota in the summer of 2015.

Reed studies conceptions of evil and human moral agency in the Old Testament and in Second Temple Jewish Literature. His research seeks to answer questions such as: How did the writers and readers of biblical literature conceive of angels, demons, spirits, and other divine beings? What relationships did these beings have to human suffering, politics and ethical decision-making? Who or what was “evil” in Second Temple Judaism and how could it be managed?

Reed hopes to develop curricula for use in seminaries and local churches that empower all of God’s people to teach, preach, and live the theological stories that begin in the Bible and continue today.

Bob Leopold William B. Given, Jr. Fellow: Bob is Missioner at Southside Abbey, a community he helped found in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Southside Abbey is a non-traditional Episcopal worshiping community that engages in justice ministries and gathers for a meal and worship in a non-profit art gallery. Bob was ordained a priest in 2008, after attending Virginia Theological Seminary and the University of Tennessee, twice and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry at Sewanee and a Master of Arts in Storytelling at East Tennessee State.

As Southside Abbey has grown, their leadership team has formed partnerships in East Tennessee and beyond through shared ministry projects, preaching and teaching engagements, and spiritual conversations. After seeing the transformative effect these relationships have had on congregations and individuals, Bob dreamed of the creation an ongoing community for sharing knowledge, experience, and best practices with the wider Church. With is ECF Fellowship, Bob will be able pursue his dream by working with Southside Abbey to begin “Innovative Leadership Rounds.” This project will invite missional church lay and clergy leaders to engage with other like-minded leaders from across the Church by visiting, observing, sharing, and inquiring in groups with the overarching goal of creating a network of missional communities in a web of support for one another.

Colleen Swan Dorothy A. Given, Jr. Fellow: Colleen lives and works in Kivalina, Alaska. She is municipal coordinator for Kivalina’s relocation project and is a lay minister and environmental justice advocate. Colleen has represented her community to the United Nations, at field hearings of the U.S. Senate, before the State of Alaska legislature, and shared her community’s story with numerous universities and media outlets.

In light of the 2009 General Convention of the Episcopal Church’s apology for the Doctrine of Discovery and wrongs committed against Native people in the name of Christ, Colleen began a restorative justice process to help communities understand what they lost and connect their traditional practices with their Christian faith.

Colleen’s project is outlined in three phases: to document stories from elders, about both abuses endured through encounters with missionaries, and important Iñupiaq traditions; to develop an Iñupiaq-English resource for Arctic Coast congregations that synthesizes biblical Christianity, Episcopalian practice, and Iñupiaq spirituality; and create venues for healing and restoration.

The application process for the 2016 ECF Fellowship will open in November, 2015. Complete information about the ECF Fellowship Partners Program can be found on ECF’s website at www.EpiscopalFoundation.org or by calling 800-697-2858.