Pre-Conference Speakers

Pre-Conference Sessions

Education as Freedom in East Africa with Amon Munyaneza

Asante Ministries founder, Amon Munyaneza, will explore how education not only brings opportunities to impoverished children, but actually frees them toward the life intended. He will challenge us to analyze our role in the world and how we can engage with organizations and communities to make an impact in the lives of children waiting to be freed, loved, and empowered to hope of a better life. You may even be convinced to pack your bags and travel to Africa to experience and support freedom in Rwanda.


God of the Gallows: A Theology for the Oppressed with Armae Johnson

This session will provide a brief overview of how the Trinitarian God seeks to engage those who are oppressed. As we venture through significant Biblical stories, prophetic writings of MLK Jr., and others, we are given a glimpse into God’s heart for those who are often overlooked. We will discuss questions such as, why should we be concerned about the injustice issues that continue to surface in our communities? How does the incarnation shape how we engage those in oppressive situations? What can we do to be a part of the solution and not the problem?


A Christian Response to Homosexuality: One Straight Evangelical Male Theologian’s Journey with Brad Harper

Over the last couple of decades the response of the Christian Church in America to homosexuality has spread out across a spectrum from complete rejection to full ecclesial acceptance.  In this workshop, Brad Harper, an evangelical theologian and father of a gay son, reflects on a just, loving, and biblical engagement of the gay community.


Normalcy, Never Again with Charles McGee

What if Dr. King never would have had that powerful dream? What if instead he would have called America to be impatient and insist the economic and racial justice occur? Join this engaging and thought provoking speaker as he questions our inability to truly seek racial and economic justice. This workshop will push you to rethink race and how the economic realities truly impact our community.


Rope Holders Needed:  Man-Up with Cliff Chappell

It seems that daily we hear of acts of violence.  Have we as a people become calloused to and insensitive to the effects of violence unless it impacts us directly?  This presentation will introduce the Man-Up program that is gaining ground in both faith and non-faith communities to address violent behaviors.  The effectiveness of the Man-Up Program is in the Huddle, a team-oriented environment where the focus is on healing Soul-Trauma.  Disciplines are then introduced which participants can then apply to their new-found world-view.


The Cost Of Caring For Victims Of Injustice with Christopher Coffman

While talking about justice issues such as sex trafficking and foster care is exciting, caring for victims of injustice is extremely costly. In this session, Pastor Christopher Coffman will unpack the personal, emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual costs we encounter as we walk alongside the vulnerable, exploited, and abused. Drawing from his experience as an advocate and mentor for prostituted children with Door To Grace in Portland as well as stories he’s encountered working with genocide survivors in Rwanda, Christopher will offer a biblical framework for caring for victims of injustice along with practical steps caregivers can take to avoid burnout.


Drive-by Missions—You’re Killin’ Us! with Corey Greaves

For 500 years our Indian people have been saturated with the Gospel, and yet less than 3% of us claim to be followers of The Jesus Way—not a very good return on 500 years worth of effort!  What should have been the “Good News” of Yeshua has actually been bad news, as we have had a Replacement-Oriented theology riveted on our soulsa theology that said everything we are as Indian people had to be replaced with everything the missionary, and his culture, were.  Because his way was the right way.

In this workshop, Corey carefully deconstructs Western missiology and replaces it with something that our indigenous people can hear and accept….with honor and dignity.  With humor and straight-forwardeness, you will learn a different paradigm of missions and mission trips, as you hear the heart of an indigenous person coming from the reservation, where he and his people have been on the receiving end of Western missional practices for far too long.  Come listen, learn and be part of the conversation as we all see ourselves as co-equal participants in telling the stories of Yeshua.


Welcoming in the Orphaned Stranger…and His Entourage: The Practical Implications Foster Care Hospitality with David & Krys Springer 

Krys and David have long been contemplating how they love and engage the children that enter their home through foster care, as well as the numerous people who travel with them—biological parents (some of whom have done truly evil things to their children), caseworkers, DHS employees, parents’ advocates, attorneys, social workers, therapists, CASA workers, and judicial system employees.  The Springers sense that they do not have the luxury or benefit of loving just the child and barely tolerating all who come with them. Their house and lives have to be open to the “intrusions” of these others, both legally (as DHS employees regularly visit their home to ensure the child has a safe and secure environment in which to stay, grow and develop) and relationally (as they open their hearts to those who have also suffered trauma as children or adults, or those whose job places them in some of the darkest places in human society and may have understandably hardened them toward others). Come contemplate with David and Krys how to serve justly in a community rife with injustice.


Biblical Justice and the Multiracial/Multiethnic Church with Derek Chinn

Description – How does one advocate for biblical justice in the church?  In this workshop, we’ll explore why biblical justice advocacy makes sense in a multiracial/multiethnic congregation.  We’ll be realistic about the challenges and obstacles ministry leaders and congregants face, as well as the inherent advantages that are present in a multicultural setting.  What does it take to create a launching off point for justice in a multiracial church community?


Mentoring Kids of Color with Eric Knox

It has been well documented that students of color have been marginalized by social and academic constructs that have perpetuated cultural inequities within the public school system. In an article derived from the teaching principles of culturally relevant pedagogy, pioneer Gloria Ladson-Billings and Heather Coffey speak to the issue of African American students being placed in an environment where their culture is not valued or nurtured and in turn “perceive school as a place where they cannot be themselves.” The oppressive nature of these systems is not only emotionally damaging, but also steers students away from passions, interests, and ultimately opportunities (academic and otherwise) to help them shape and change their immediate realm of influence and the world.

In this workshop, we will look at relevant cultural pedagogical approaches through “mentorship” that empower young girls and boys of color.  It is our contention that a faith-based culturally-specific approach that considers who they are and where they come from, is not only essential to their growth and success, but would also be socially, societally, and spiritually transformative as they navigate their future.


Sex Trafficking “On Your Watch” with Gary Tribbett

Girls and boys, as young as 12 to 14 years old, are being systematically and subversively recruited into the sex industry in alarming numbers.  This dark side of keeping Portland weird is an atrocity you cannot ignore.  This workshop gives an overview of human trafficking in Portland, and outlines efforts by civic, social and faith organizations to stop this horrendous evil. Here is what you can do to help avoid propagating the injustice and begin being an agent of healing for our city.


Advocating 4 Justice with Vulnerable Children with Greg Burch

Nearly 1 billion children were born in the decade from 2003-2013 with over 90% of them to mothers and fathers earning less than $1(USD) a day. This pre-conference session will look to research coming out of Latin America that highlights the need to incorporate policies that recognize human rights, child participation and protection as part of a missional approach to advocate for vulnerable children globally.


Embrace Oregon: How the Collective Church is Collaborating with the State’s Child Welfare System with Jillana Goble and Dan Minne

The most vulnerable children and families in our community are involved with DHS (Department of Human Services) Child Welfare. Embrace Oregon is a growing volunteer movement of faith communities in the tri-county area who desire to serve the children and families that DHS serves. Embrace Oregon seeks to provide on-ramps for community involvement for individuals, families, small groups, faith communities and local businesses. We seek to demonstrate radical hospitality to DHS and to create awareness of the crisis shortage of foster homes in our community and the need for a response. Many people think if they can’t or don’t want to be a foster or adoptive parent, there is not a role for them to play. Embrace Oregon is changing the very nature of this conversation. This is a volunteer movement focused on collaborating for better outcomes for vulnerable children and families in our communities through relationship with the DHS Child Welfare.

In this session you will hear how this movement began and what has transpired in the last 18 months from both the perspective of the faith community and Department of Human Services.


Changing the World One Cupcake at a Time with Joy Hoover

Sex trafficking is an injustice that is currently one of the hottest topics around the world. The more we know, the more we realize that we too need to join the march in being part of the solution. But how? Where do we start? What do we have in our hands that can help us fight for and with the precious lives affected by sex trafficking? Join Joy Hoover, President and Founder of The Cupcake Girls, as she shares The Cupcake Girls’ journey in what they call their ‘beautiful disaster’. Learn how hundreds have joined the march and together are changing the world one cupcake at a time. (Watch Joy’s Tedx talk for more on her work.)


Love and Justice: Don’t Lose Love with Mike Mercer

Making the case for love and mercy as the primary and enduring motivators of the justice movement, Mike Mercer will discuss the incumbent role of maintaining a sincere faith and a soft heart in a world of work that can be sincerely difficult and discouraging, even to the point of cynicism.


Solo Justice:  The Temptation to Compete, Not Collaborate with Milan Homola

Jesus prayed: “May they be one…so the world would know the Father sent the Son.”  Too often our justice work is characterized by one upmanship and haughtiness: “My branding, approach, numbers”, etc are better than yours.  This poison runs in our veins whether we verbalize it or not in our ministries and churches.  In this workshop we will consider anew the call to pursue Justice collaboratively as The Church.  What is the importance of co-laboring and how do we do it?


Sustaining a Justice Movement: How Did John M. Perkins, Mother Teresa, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer Do It? with Paul Louis Metzger

As a Christ-follower passionate about justice issues, you’re no stranger to hard realities and difficult relationships. Neither was John M. Perkins when he was nearly beat dead by white police officers, neither was Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he conspired against Hitler, and neither was Mother Theresa as she broke bread with lepers. We can learn from these pillars of justice work just how hard the going can get. We can also learn from these saints of the faith what propelled them through the devastation of failed efforts, the abandonment by friends, and the dismissal of society. Come to this session to gain a long-haul perspective for your justice movement, learning what’s needed to sustain it ‘til kingdom come.


Serving the Earth, Serving the Poor with Peter Illyn

Is eco-justice just about people? Does the natural world have inherent rights before God or is that concept a slippery slope to paganism and earth worship?

Peter Illyn of Restoring Eden will lead an interactive discussion as to why eco-justice and creation care may be the most important, but least engaged, expression of Christian stewardship in the post-industrial church. We will discuss the basics of eco-justice and stewardship theology along with the environmental history of the modern church to reveal where this tragic disconnect happened. We will also highlight how eco-justice issues, especially coal trains, could impact churches in the Pacific Northwest. Finally, we will end with an inspirational look at how nature reflects the gospel embedded in the church that can make a lasting difference for the kingdom of God on earth.


The Disabled: A Forgotten Minority with Ranelle Gildersleeve

It is the only minority that any person no matter their gender, race, socio-economics, or religion can become a part of at any moment in their life. The disabled are also the largest and most widespread minority that is unreached by the church. A rough estimate is 15% of the world’s population is disabled and about 12% of that population has no interaction with the church.

How has our culture and our historical understanding influenced the church’s care of the spiritual welfare of the disabled? And how do we change our thinking so we can celebrate a whole Body of Christ in the church?


Nuestra Historia de Migracion: Our Story of Migration with Roxana Campbell

This session will discuss why Latinos migrate to the US. Why do we risk our lives and at times break the law to get to America? To Roxana, storytelling is a powerful tool in understanding what has happened between Americans and Latinos. She will share her family’s personal stories, as well as my own individual ones. Roxana will be interview a recent Dream Act recipient, Nayeli Aguila, who came to the US in 1994. Nayeli graduated in 2004 from high school and suddenly being undocumented impacted her. All of Nayeli’s friends went to college and she was stuck with limited options. She became a nanny and hoped to someday go to college. That dream is a little more possible now that she has been able to attain a work permit through the Dream Act. Please come listen and sit with us as we share our stories of migration to America.


Speak out! Grassroots Advocacy to End Extreme Poverty with Sunia Gibbs

In our modern world our neighbors include those we will never see or whose names we will never know.  Those who sew our clothes, grow our food, and live in nations impacted by our policies are our neighbors.  Our lives are deeply connected.   How can we stand with them against injustice and oppression? We stand alongside brothers and sisters from across the world as part the Micah Challenge movement in 50 countries speaking out against injustice, praying passionately “on earth as it is heaven”, and living humbly in service to the gospel.  Come and learn about our work and how you can mobilize your church, campus, friends and family to see justice done.


“… And Justice For All”: A Community Response with T. Allen Bethel

“What do we want? Justice!”  How does a community respond after they continuously reach dead end after dead end in the quest for justice for all?  That’s the question that propelled the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) to ask the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) for patterns and practices of excessive use of force.

This session will address the genesis of this quest and subsequent steps taken, coalition building, the US DOJ report of findings and the ongoing work in this quest for justice.


What’s Your Role in Combating Sexual Assault? with Tanell Morton and Amanda Swanson

“It takes a village to raise a child.” With that in mind, we will be identifying the different positions in the village and the roles each person plays to help a survivor of sexual assault (including sex trafficking). Each role is significant in helping survivors move through the stages of change. Where do you fit in, and what’s your role?


When Diversity Isn’t Cool Anymore with Tory Campbell

Though the American church has made strides to become more integrated since the 1970s, there still remains a huge gulf between the idea and realities of addressing the historic and present impacts of race and racism on our identity, cross-cultural relationships, and ecclesiology. So, what happens when we push beyond the goal of having a “diverse” Sunday experience toward the deeper aspects of being relationally reconciled cross-culturally? Come hear the journey of a community in Portland, Irvington Covenant Church, moving into these uncharted waters of gospel-centered equity. We invite you to join in the conversation of how the gospel makes reconciliation around the historic and present impacts of race and racism a priority and possibility.