Ecology of Grace and Justice for our Times: Organizing in the Biocommons Teaching Team

Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke enjoys introducing himself as “One of seven Evangelical Lutheran bishops serving the bio-region of Cascadia.  He is the current the Oregon Synod bishop for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a past member of the Oregon State Global Warming Commission.

Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Bishop Brauer-Rieke has lived his entire life, aside from school, in the Pacific Northwest. He finds biking and hiking in the region life giving and centering. As a result of his wanderings and wonderment Bishop Brauer-Rieke enjoys writing poetry which flows for him from the Scriptures, the beauty of nature and the devastation of poor stewardship.

Bishop Brauer-Rieke currently lives in Milwaukie, OR, with his wife Gretchen, 3 goats, 9 chickens, 24 solar panels and 23 mature Cedar and Fir trees.

Rev. Dr. Daniel Brunner – is  Professor of Christian History and Formation and Director of Christian Earthkeeping at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. In 2010, he founded the Christian Earthkeeping certification program at George Fox, a 12-credit regimen of four courses taken over a two-year period. Dan has also been developing each of the courses which comprise the certification program: Theology and Stewardship of Creation (Old Testament theologies of creation, stewardship and the role of humanity in the “created order; Theology and Ethic of the Land (including a five-day retreat during which students consider a Native American understanding of the land, the relationship between science and faith, and issues such as agriculture, conservation, land use and consumption of natural resources), Eschatology, New Creation and Communal Ethics (focusing on the New Testament theologies of eschatology, Trinitarian community, soteriology, and Jesus’ kingdom); Poverty and Restorative Earthkeeping (including a five-day retreat that encourages students to ponder the integral relationships between earthkeeping, global systems and issues such racism, sexism and poverty).

Rev. Dr. Mark Brocker – Bio pending

Mr. Matt Guynn – works with the church-based agency On Earth Peace, which offers leadership development for faith-rooted efforts to stop violence and build reconciliation, where he serves as coordinator of nonviolent social change. Matt is also affiliated with Training for Change, an international social change training center which equips activists and seeks to raise the level of training available within progressive social movements. Matt dynamically incorporates music, the arts and prayer into his work as a bible study leader, writer, educator, and preacher. He previously worked as co-coordinator of training for Christian Peacemaker Teams, preparing people to carry out nonviolent direct action and unarmed accompaniment in conflict zones, and served as an unarmed bodyguard in Chiapas, Mexico. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Sarah Kinsel and son Daniel.

Mr. Dick Harmon – is a member of the Redeemer-Leaven Project community in Portland. He retired in  2008 from 45 years of organizing, mostly with the Industrial Areas Foundation.  His entire family is involved in a number of aspects of  creation-centered work. He is currently at work on two books about the relationship of  our economic and ecological systems, and how that relationship might be changed  at local and  regional levels. He co-teaches a class Organizing in the Biocommons  for the  Leaven project. Dick’s primary interest on this question is how it can help transform civil sector mediating institutions, which include congregations; especially how it can re-connect Boomers and post-Boomer  generations and move from a dysfunctional congregational culture, of strangers and  “program,” to a new organizational culture, of relational  power.

Rev. Robyn Hartwig serves as part-time pastor/organizer for EcoFaith Recovery and part-time associate pastor for St. Andrew Lutheran Church of Beaverton. She is passionate about starting small groups that deepen community and foster spiritual recovery from consumerism’s addictive and devastating effects upon our lives and the life of our Earth home. Her leadership of EcoFaith Recovery has been greatly enhanced by her training as a GreenFaith Fellow in 2009 – 2010, her participation in the 2008 training of 150 religious community leaders by former vice-president Al Gore’s Climate Project, and her previous training and experience as a high school economics and government teacher. She was recently trained by Lutherans Restoring Creation to serve as a “Green Congregations” trainer and by the Industrial Areas Foundation in its week-long Northwest Regional Leadership Institute to enhance her abilities as a faith-based organizer. In her free time Robyn reconnects with the natural world through hiking, drumming and growing edible sprouts in her kitchen.

Mr. Nathan Holst – As an outgrowth of the Organizing in the Biocommon class in the Spring of 2012, Nathan will spend his internship over the next 6-10 months creating and developing a curriculum for a youth camp based on the content of the course, which brings together the relationship of economic analysis, theology, and the biosphere. He will be preparing to lead a 4-7 day long youth camp during the summer of 2013. The camp will include teaching, conversation, experiences of the biosphere (hikes, canoe/kayak outings, Cosmic Walk, Rivers Lament, etc.), and games.

Originally from Duluth, Minnesota, Nathan came to Portland in 2009 to go to grad school for social work and community based practice. He currently works at Sisters Of The Road ( as a cafe co-manager, learning the sometimes challenging work of building cross class relationships and working in a collective, anti-oppressive organization. He also works as a part time youth director at Central Lutheran Church with an amazing group of high school youth.

In the last few years, Nathan has been involved with the Office of Humans as a trained facilitator for multi-racial dialogues on race and racism, as well as beginning to organize space for dialogue and action specifically in the white community, based off a group in LA ( His home faith community is Wilderness Way Community ), which nurtures his love of rest and creativity, particularly as it relates to music and camping in the woods. As a part of his spiritual practices, Nathan is exploring a commitment to inner/outer call through meditating for 45 minutes each morning and using the Ignation “examines” each night as a way of reflective journaling. Finally, in case all of this sounds just a little too serious, Nathan has been known on occasion to get pretty silly and crack a few dorky jokes.

Rev. Jack Mosbrucker – Bio pending

Dr. Ruth Nickodemus, M.A., D.Min. was consecrated as a Lutheran Deaconess and continues to be informed in her life work by generations of Lutheran heritage. She was enriched in Clinical Pastoral Education in India and completed a Master’s degree in counseling in Portland. She has been a member of St Andrew Lutheran Church in Beaverton for more than thirty years. Her spiritual journey and love of Earth came together in the opportunity to study and earn a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Creation Spirituality with well known spiritual teachers Matthew Fox, Alexandra Kovats, Brian Swimme, Thomas Berry, Joanna Macy, Andrew Harvey, Larry Edwards, and many others. Connecting the teachings of ancient mystics and modern day cosmology through the lens of Creation Spirituality has become her passion. Her hope for the future sustainability of life on Earth is grounded in the spiritual understanding of life’s unfolding story of 13.75 billion years and its Divine revelation. She is grateful for the opportunity to share this story through teaching Creation Spirituality and companioning individuals on their life journey through Spiritual Direction.

Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin grew up in a small town in Minnesota, and a small city in Iowa, but the wilderness  both biblical and natural  has been calling to her for most of her adult life. She received her M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, where her Master’s thesis was entitled,  Community Thriving in the Wilderness: A New Metaphor for a Whole Church. Following her year of internship at Redeemer Lutheran, she received her first call to a congregation in Milwaukie, OR, where she instituted an ecological liturgical season during the month of October. Six years ago she helped plant, and continues to lead, a small, emerging faith community called The Wilderness Way Community, which seeks to ground and cultivate “wild” Christian disciples and fearless spiritual leaders to participate in the Great Turning and the Great Work of our time – the transition from industrial growth society to life-sustaining civilization. Solveig is currently co-leading with Dick Harmon and others the “Ecology of Grace and Justice: Organizing in the Biocommons” course.  She is also a pastoral consultant serving the Bethlehem Lutheran community, a spiritual director, published author and accomplished musician, in addition to raising two fabulous boys with her husband Peter. She’s slowly learning how to garden and do wilderness backpacking, and dreams of the day when all Christian communities will worship in yurts.

Ms. Barbara Willer is working with Eco-Faith Recovery for a practicum as part of her Masters of Divinity degree at Marylhurst University. The focus of her practicum will be to participate in the Organizing in the Bio-Commons workshop and generally support the work of Eco-Faith Recovery to address our addiction to consumerism.The focus of Barbara’s studies is eco-theology and justice and environmental ethics. She works for Multnomah County as their Interfaith Coordinator providing outreach to and connection between Multnomah County government and faith-based institutions. Her Multnomah County experience includes working on issues of poverty in the 1990s, serving as the Chief of Staff for former Multnomah County Chairman Ted Wheeler and serving as an interim County Commissioner in 2010.Her community experience spans three decades in the Portland area working on issues of women’s leadership and empowerment, reducing poverty, homelessness and affordable housing, and public education. She is an associate of the Sisters Holy Names and a member of St. Andrews Catholic Church.

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