Fall 2015 Praise Report

We are happy to share exciting news about where Jesus is leading the Sider Center & ESA as we continue to further the legacy of Ron Sider by serving as a community of scholars, popularizers, and activists who are committed to evangelism, social justice, and holistic ministry. As we enter into our next era, I’m pleased to introduce you to our team who is working toward fulfilling our mission and vision of a world “on earth as it is in heaven: radical love made visible.”

I invite you to join our ministry, to walk alongside us, and to help us share Christ’s love in the world. Please consider joining us by making a one-time donation or, if you feel so led, becoming a partner by making a monthly commitment.

mayraWe are so pleased to announce that Dr. Mayra Picos-Lee has joined the team as Coordinator of Latina/o Initiatives! Originally from Tampico, México, Mayra teaches pastoral care and counseling & marriage and family systems for the Master’s and Doctoral programs at Palmer Seminary. She is engaged in teaching abroad, having taught at Universidad Peruana Unión in Lima, Peru (family systems models and psychotherapy), and at pastoral counseling conferences in Guadalajara and Chiapas, México. She leads a travel course each year to Tijuana, México, where students experience firsthand the issues at the U.S.- México border by volunteering at Deborah’s House, an organization assisting victims of domestic violence. Students also meet with U.S. officials and advocates of undocumented persons encountering human rights abuses. Mayra has extensive experience working as a counselor for bicultural and immigrant families, and her experience will greatly strengthen the Sider Center’s ministries.

As Coordinator of Latina/o Initiatives, Mayra and the staff have developed a Spanish-language graduate degree program for Spanish-speaking pastors and missionaries in North, Central, and South America, and we will also be focusing on helping Latina/o churches host Spanish-speaking Family Advocates who will help network their members with social services in their communities. You can contact Mayra at mpicosle@eastern.edu.

Kristyn Komarnicki’s Oriented to Love program is growing! Kristyn serves both as Director of Communications and Coordinator of Oriented to Love, and the addition of Sarah and Brian (see below) is allowing Kristyn to devote more of her time to this powerful dialogue on sexual and gender diversity in the church. These intimately sized, two-day retreats are attracting more and more applicants, so we are now offering up to four retreats a year. Several denominational leaders have participated in the program and appreciated it so much that they are encouraging us to expand and focus on denominational leaders as well. Kristyn is creating a strong network of alumni who want to continue to meet together to deepen their relationships, so an annual reunion is also in the works. We have no doubt that the Holy Spirit is leading us in this ministry of convening and reconciliation around one of the most contentious issues in the church and society. Contact Kristyn.

Sarah Withrow King has returned as Deputy Director! Sarah came to Palmer as a Sider Scholar in 2011, but her considerable gifts and work ethic quickly convinced us to offer her the role of Deputy Director. When she graduated in 2014 with her Master of Theological Studies degree, she returned to her work with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and started “Jesus People for Animals,” but she missed ESA and returned to us over the summer! In the meantime, she published her first book, Animals Are Not Ours (No, Really, They’re Not): An Evangelical Animal Liberation Theology (Wipf & Stock, 2015) and has another forthcoming from Zondervan, Becoming Jesus People for Animals (2016). An Associate Fellow of Oxford University’s Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, Sarah continues to research and write passionately about the Christian call to care for animals, in addition to managing day-to-day operations as Deputy Director and facilitating the Sider Center’s Family Strengthening Advocates program. Email Sarah.

melissaMelissa Helmbrecht, JD, begins her second year as Director of Strategic Partnerships! Melissa is a graduate of American University and the University of Denver College of Law. In her youth, Melissa began leading grassroots social movements, most notably, the United Day of Service—an event that mobilized millions of people to volunteer across America and in 150 nations on the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The United Day of Service was a call-to-action to inspire people to volunteer as a way of honoring the brave souls who perished on 9/11 and to offer young people the opportunity to respond to atrocities with radical love. In 2003, Melissa became one of the youngest women in history to run for U.S. Congress; in 2004, Melissa served as the Executive Director of an organization arranging private manned spaceflight missions to the International Space Station; and in 2007, she founded Splashlife, an AARP-style information and advocacy organization for young Americans. Today, Melissa continues her ministry with the Sider Center & ESA and is working to increase our reach to a generation of young people and to bolster the church’s capacity to deliver social services to people in need. Contact Melissa.

Brian Pipkin joins the team as Coordinator of Social Media and Coordinator of Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice! Of Foursquare Gospel Pentecostal descent, Brian earned a Master of Arts in Religion from Azusa Pacific University and a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies from Asia Pacific Theological Seminary (Philippines). He worked for Mennonite Disaster Services as their media and communications director, and he has co-edited two books for Wipf & Stock Publishers: Pentecostal and Holiness Statements on War and Peace (2013) and Early Pentecostal Peacemaking and Social Justice: A Reader (2015). He serves as the managing editor for Pax Pneuma: The Journal of Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice. Brian is helping to coordinate and expand the influence of the social media and websites of the programs of the Sider Center, and he is coordinating a Sider Center partnership with the international network of Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice to promote Jesus-shaped Spirit-empowered peacemaking and justice-seeking within the global Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. Email Brian.

I am thrilled to see what God is doing through the Sider Center & ESA and so thankful for your love and support! Some of my major goals for this coming year include:

  1. Helping the great work listed above be accomplished with excellence.
  2. Helping us navigate well and succeed wonderfully during the process of institutional restructuring at Eastern University & Palmer Seminary.
  3. Securing multi-year funding for the Oriented to Love program, the Spanish-language Master’s program, and the Family Strengthening Initiative.
  4. Increasing our monthly donors to 500 friends.
  5. Addressing current events and issues related to our history and mission (like this article on white supremacy).

I invite you to join our ministry, to walk alongside us, and to help us share Christ’s radical love in the world. Please consider joining us by making a one-time donation or, if you feel so led, by becoming a partner and making a monthly commitment. Together, we can touch the lives of people around the world and continue to serve as a community for people committed to the interconnectedness of evangelism and social justice. As always, your prayers are much appreciated.

Thank you so much for your prayers for and financial support of our work to make Christ’s radical love more visible. I am very much looking forward to the good days ahead, and please do not ever hesitate to contact me with any questions, thoughts, or great ideas!

With much love,

Paul Alexander, PhD

Ronald J. Sider Professor of Theology, Ethics, and Public Policy
Director, The Sider Center
President, Evangelicals for Social Action
Palmer Seminary of Eastern University
King of Prussia, PA 19406
palexander@eastern.edu
484-384-2973

P.S. We humbly invite you to join us by becoming a monthly contributor. Your donation of $10 or more each month will enable us to sustain and grow our ministry. Thank you for prayerfully considering a partnership with us.

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