Join us virtually for Fearless Generations: Alumnx in Action 2024 Virtual Gathering • Saturday, June 1st, starting at 1 pm PT!
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Fearless Generations: Alumnx in Action | 2024 Virtual Gathering

PSR’s Fearless Generations: Alumnx in Action Virtual Gathering, held Saturday, June 1st, 2024, will celebrate the fearless engagement of PSR alumnx across generations in shaping our world through vocation and action.

Esteemed PSR alumnx from various generations will come together to share their insights and experiences, offering valuable perspectives on activism and service in a panel discussion. The event will also offer interactive breakout sessions, where PSR Alumnx can connect and discuss a range of topics or projects.

You can read more about the speakers, panels, and breakout sessions below and view the full event schedule here.

Don’t miss this opportunity to be inspired by the fearless commitment of PSR alumnx to creating positive change. Register now to join us virtually for an enriching and empowering experience!

Panel Session Presenters 

Maurice “Mo” King (MDiv ’24) – Panel Moderator 

Mo King is the current host of Ignite’s Change Happens Now Podcast, which is now in its 7th season. Each episode features guests sharing stories, insights, practices, and tools that prepare and empower aspiring and emerging leaders to enact social change in their personal lives, communities, and the organizations they serve. Mo is an education and community advocate, currently in graduate school at Pacific School of Religion. Professionally, his career has been in apparel production and commerce working for companies including Gap, Inc., The Limited, The Walt Disney Company, and Nike. Mo’s community and education advocacy has spanned schools, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. We are thrilled to have Mo hosting this season! 

Rev. Bill Jacobs (MDiv ‘78)

Bill Jacobs arrived at PSR in the fall of 1975, three months after his 21st birthday. After earning his M. Div degree in 1978, Bill was ordained in Vallejo, California, where he and his wife, Mary, served First Christian Church as Co-Pastors. In 1984, they enrolled in the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in Switzerland for six months of graduate study before moving to Arizona to establish a multicultural congregation in Southwest Tucson. Bill then served as Regional Associate for New Church Development in Arizona until 2002 and became Senior Pastor at First Christian Church of Mesa, Arizona, until he was hired to help congregations going through transition from 2015-2023. After more than five decades as Pastoral Intern, Co-Pastor, Senior Pastor, and Co-Interim Minister serving Disciples and UCC (United Church of Christ) congregations, Bill retired last year and is now active in his local congregation’s Action and Outreach committee in Orange, CA. Recently Bill pulled together volunteers from four Orange County congregations to assist with refugee resettlement for Afghans fleeing the Taliban. Bill served on PSR’s Board of Trustees for two six-year terms and has contributed to PSR’s annual fund and to various capital campaigns for more than forty years. He and Mary have written the seminary into their estate plan as well.  

Rev. Adriene Thorne (MDiv ‘08) 

The Reverend Adriene Thorne is the eighth senior minister of the historic Riverside Church in the City of New York and the first African American woman to hold the position. She received her Master of Divinity degree from The Pacific School of Religion and completed post-graduate studies in pastoral care and counseling at The Blanton-Peale Institute.  Adriene is a healer, Presbyterian minister, and classically trained dancer who uses movement to heal bodies in the church and community. When she is feeling open, though, Adriene will tell you that she has learned more about God from nature, art, and her child than from any classroom or book. Adriene’s background in the performing arts includes credits with The Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Metropolitan Opera, and the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, among others. When she is not parenting, pastoring, creating, or mentoring, Adriene is probably SCUBA diving a coral reef, on the squash court, or in the dance studio, fantasizing about what is newly possible. Adriene grounds her Christian practice and leadership in an appreciation for imperfection, and leads with an understanding that even the resurrected Christ came back in a flawed body – what hopeful news for us!  

Rev. Rhina Ramos (MDiv ‘03)

Rev. RhinaRamos (she, her, hers) is an ordained United Church of Christ doing work of LGBTQI inclusion in faith communities. Locally, she leads a Spanish-speaking congregation she co-founded in December 2011. Ministerio Latino is home to LGBTQ Latine immigrants and a place where they are welcomed and affirmed. She is a nationally known faith leader fighting for radical inclusion of the LGBTQI community in faith spaces. Pastor Rhinais also a former attorney who practiced labor law in NY during the ‘90s on behalf of immigrant workers, recuperating thousands of wages owed to these workers. Originally from El Salvador, Pastor Rhina understands the pains of being an immigrant and starting life in a new country. In her free time, she can be found taking long walks listening to sappy romantic music in Spanish.  

Breakout Session Topics and Presenters

Re-imagining Worship: Creative Ideas to Enliven Worship and Engage Your Congregation, presented by Susan Brecht (MDiv ‘04)

 In how many of your churches is worship pretty much the same every week? Years ago, this is a question I asked to a group of lay and clergy who were attending a workshop I was leading on creative worship. Every hand went up. Much has changed in the ensuing years, especially due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, many of us have seen people disappear: millennials, families, and teens. What are young people looking for when they walk into a sanctuary? What will touch their spirits, excite them, and bring them back for more? Think of a worship service that moved you. What was it that moved you – filled your spirit? These are some of the questions we will be exploring during the breakout session. The most effective worship inspires us, moves us, touches us in some deep, profound way, and carries us out into the world. How does this happen? We are all different, so it happens in diverse ways. We will explore the Seven Elements of Worship and how they play a part. There are five parts to Re-imagining Worship: The Seven Elements of Worship, Holy Days in the Liturgical Year, Non-Religious Holidays, Innovative Services Around Themes, and Plays and Skits. In the limited time together, I will introduce you to five services for a Stewardship Sunday that engage the congregation creatively. Then, we will open it up to questions and share ideas and services we have created to enliven our worship services. My dear friend Rev. Anne Cohen wrote in the forward of my book that I have inspired her to take creative leaps of faith. I hope this workshop will do the same for you.  

Rev. Susan Brecht is a semi-retired United Church of Christ minister. Prior to receiving her MDiv from Pacific School of Religion, she was a professional actress and artist. She draws from these talents to create worship experiences that are relevant across generations. After serving churches in California and Massachusetts, she resides in Simi Valley, CA, where she does pulpit supply. She is active in her local church, the Conejo Interfaith Refugee Team, the Simi Valley Interfaith Council, and the Northern Association of the Southern California Nevada Conference. During the pandemic shutdown, she revisited fifteen years of worship services, out of which came the materials and ideas for “Re-imagining Worship.”  

 

Colonialism in Hawaii: A Glimpse, presented by Jade Young (MDiv ‘04) 

Born and raised in Hawaii, Jade Young is a 3rd generation American-Chinese who walked away from a thriving consulting business and entered PSR in midlife to deepen her faith.  Having lived abroad in South East Asia, partnered with indigenous tribes in the Amazon rainforest, fundraised for global non-profits, worked at different churches in the islands in multi-cultural settings, has given Jade a unique multi-disciplinary perspective observing how the long term influences of colonialism and generational trauma still adversely affect the current health and wellbeing of the native Hawaiian peoples.  Today, she offers a few of her own insights using the lens from the book CASTE, by Pulitzer Prize-winning best-selling author Isabel Wilkerson. 

Jade Young, MDiv, a 3rd generation Asian American Pacific Islander, was born and raised in Honolulu, HI. She graduated from the University of Hawaii with a BA in English Literature. In midlife, she left a thriving consulting profession to enter Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. Since graduating in 2004, Jade has worked in various multi-cultural church settings in Hawaii. Currently, she focuses on hospice care, grief counseling, and supporting patients and families to find peace of mind, beauty, and God’s grace in their final transition. 

  

I’m still Pastoring? presented by Jim Mitulski (MDiv ‘91)

A PSR education prepares us for many professional options.  Some of us start out pastoring and go on to other things.  Others turn to it later in their career. Some of us do a variety of things and still return to pastoring- because we love it.  We continue to choose pastoring churches even as we see how churches are changing; the profession is changing and the world around us is changing.  COVID changed the church permanently.  Fewer people than ever before go to church.  Yet we persist in this calling, sometimes inexplicably. Are you “still” pastoring? What do you love about it? Why do you keep doing it? What does support look like for you as you look ahead? Come share with and meet some others who Pastors Without Apology. 

MCC Reunion: Where are we now? presented by Jim Mitulski (MDiv ‘91)

Over the last 50 years, PSR trained more MCC pastors, chaplains, teachers, leaders, social workers, elders, chaplains, writers, and others than any other seminary.  Maybe you were here when we were one of the largest groups on campus, maybe at a time where there were fewer. This remains true – our MCC identity, past or present, meant something important to us and may still mean something.  Let’s connect and check in about our lives whether or not MCC is still part of our lives.   

Rev. Elder Jim Mitulski received his MDiv from PSR, worked as a staff member in a variety of capacities, from chapel co-coordinator to development work with CLGS, and has helped coordinate many conferences and events and summer school sessions. Jim was a Trustee for nine years. He was a campus pastor affiliated with MCC, UCC, DOC, and TFAM.  Jim was a pastor of the ecumenical campus church, supervised over 50 field education students, and served as adjunct faculty ( HIV and Theology, Liberation Liturgics, Church Growth for Liberals). He was a founding Board Member of CLGS and is on the board of LGBTQ Religious Archives Network.  Jim is also a graduate  of Columbia University, Starr King School, and Harvard Divinity) but PSR  is his #bffseminary. He was ordained in  1983, served churches in NY, CA, MA, TX, CO, and MN, and now  pastors the Congregational Church UCC of the Peninsula in Belmont, CA.

 

Clergy & Chaplain Self-Care, presented by Tino Cordova (MDiv ’13) and Christine Haider (MDiv ‘15)

Rev. Tino Cordova, the 11th child of a large family hailing from rural Eastern New Mexico’s quaint village, Mosquero, that embodies the spirit of community care instilled in their upbringing. While he served as pastor at Iao United Church of Christ on Maui, Hawaii, Cordova faced opposition by some in the wider community due to him being openly gay, yet the church’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity and justice propelled their ministry. Cordova’s academic journey, from a Certificate of Information Processing Specialist to a Master of Divinity with a focus on sexuality and religion, reflects his pioneering spirit within family and the broader religious community. He has since moved to Southern California and is pastor at Diamond Bar United Church of Christ, which is another open and affirming congregation. Ordained in 2013 through the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, with standing in the Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ, Cordova’s dedication to social change and empowerment finds expression in his leadership, advocating for youth engagement and community outreach. Grounded by his experiences at Pacific School of Religion and inspired by the PSR Alumnx community, Cordova champions bold theological engagement, envisioning a church that actively confronts injustices and embraces all of God’s beloved. With a mantra of leading by example, Rev. Tino Cordova remains steadfast in mission and ministry that fosters equality and transformation within faith/no faith/beyond faith communities.

Rev. Christine Haider-Winnett is an ordained Roman Catholic Womanpriest and a Commissioned and Endorsed Minister with the Federation of Christian Ministries. She holds a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion, a BA in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College, and a Certificate in Women’s Studies in Religion from the GTU. She lives in Davis, California, with her husband, Alex (a UU Fellowshipped Minister), their preschooler and two cats. Christine serves as Palliative Care and Inpatient Hospice Chaplain at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. She also has a small ritual arts practice (Via Sophia Ministry) which provides radically inclusive Catholic ritual and spiritual accompaniment. Prior to serving as a chaplain, she spent over a decade working in faith-based social justice organizations, including: Friends Committee on National Legislation (a Quaker social justice lobby), Call To Action (a Catholic Church reform organization), Equally Blessed (a coalition of LGBTQ+ affirming Catholic organizations) and Sister Parish, Inc (a solidarity-based organization linking churches in the US and Central America). She is also a former Co-President of the Women’s Ordination Conference, the oldest and largest organization advocating for the ordination of Catholic women. Christine served on the original Anti-Racism Team for the Women’s Ordination Conference and has actively participated in RCWP’s process to strengthen its commitment to anti-oppression, particularly around racial justice and trans-inclusion. Of her experience at PSR, Christine says, “PSR recognized my call, cultivated my skills, and offered me mentorship when I was unable to access that support in my home denomination. I truly do not believe that I would be able to live out my vocation as an ordained Catholic woman without PSR being unafraid to support “unconventional” faith leaders. The training that I received at PSR prepared me to minister to a hospital system that reflects the diversity and complexity of our global community. PSR’s commitment to critical thinking, cross-cultural engagement, and justice-centered leadership has formed me as a priest and a chaplain. I am so proud to take those lessons with me wherever I go.”  

 

Alternative Pathways to Ministry, presented by Jacob Perez (MTS ‘21) and Demitrius Burnett (MDiv ‘16) 

Jacob Perez’s spiritual journey has been a captivating odyssey, traversing various Christian traditions from his upbringing in a Pentecostal denomination to his collegiate exploration under the guidance of Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi at San Francisco State University’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities program. Influenced by the writings of Edward Said, Mahmoud Darwish, and Mitri Raheb, Jacob experienced a profound spiritual awakening, leading him to reimagine his faith through a lens of justice-centered theology. Currently serving as the Youth Education Coordinator at First Christian Church in Concord, CA, Jacob engages congregations across the region as a guest preacher, focusing on interpreting scripture amidst contemporary social challenges. Beyond his ministry roles, Jacob’s career trajectory has expanded into the realm of digital advertising and marketing with the launch of his agency, VOLUME Branding, where he facilitates meaningful conversations around spirituality, diversity, and inclusion. Inspired by his transformative experience at PSR, Jacob serves on the Alumnx Council, dedicated to nurturing spiritually grounded leaders equipped to navigate the complexities of the modern world. He embraces PSR’s mission to fearlessly engage with the present moment, embodying a commitment to spiritual exploration and social transformation. 

Rev. Demitrius Burnett is a worshiper, preacher, poet, and author who seeks to serve an Audience of One. Originally from the South Side of Chicago and later moving to Phoenix, Demitrius went on to become an alum of Brown University in Providence, RI as well as Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. At PSR, he earned a Certificate of Theological Studies and Master of Divinity, with a focus in preaching, poetry, and worship, and now serves as a member of the Board of Trustees. 

Professionally, Demitrius is a Senior Program Officer at the San Francisco Foundation, working to end the housing and homelessness crises in the Bay Area while supporting nonprofits in attaining funding. In ministry, he was ordained at Allen Temple Baptist Church under Rev. Dr. Jacqueline A. Thompson, where he serves as an associate minister. He also serves as a Christian poet throughout the Bay Area. His poetry collection, Sermons Will Ruin Your Life, captures the experience of the sermon writing process as well as the burden and beauty of pursuing God’s Call. 

Demitrius is married to La’Vonnda Haynes-Burnett, a published author and founder of Zion Learning Online Tutoring. Together, they strive to advance the Gospel as they serve their community. 

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