Jul 21 James (Jim) Coffin Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida,

The mission of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida is to create a better, more peaceful, more harmonious community by encouraging and facilitating greater understanding of, respect for and cooperation among our region’s many faith traditions.

The Executive Director, Jim Coffin, earned a degree in theology at Newbold College in England and was later ordained as a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. During his ministerial career, he worked in both the United States (26 years) and Australia (10 years). In addition to residing overseas for extended periods, he has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific.

Pastor Coffin spent nine years of his pastoral work in youth ministry and nine years as editor of Seventh-day Adventist publications. For last 18 years before assuming his current role, he served as senior pastor of the Markham Woods Church of Seventh-day Adventists in Longwood, Florida. Concurrent with his pastoral work at Markham Woods, he directed a study center/think tank that sought to create deeper understandings of and more effective communication between religious adherents and our postmodern and increasingly secularized society. He assumed his current role with the Interfaith Council in November 2011.

He has authored three books dealing with the theory about, practice of and questions arising from religion and written scores of articles for religious publications and websites. He has had some sixty “My Word” opinion pieces printed in the Orlando Sentinel, usually addressing religious or social/ethical issues. He and his wife, Leonie, have three adult sons.

He can be contacted at jim@interfaithfl.org or by phoning 321-228-4599.

Jul 14 Anna Eskamani, Member of the Florida House of Representatives, District 47

Anna is an Orlando native and daughter of Iranian immigrants who has worked relentlessly to protect all members of her community through effective advocacy, bold leadership, and smart management. She has been a lifelong community builder, and was elected to serve the great people of Florida State House District 47 on November 6, 2018.

Anna and her siblings are graduates of Orange County Public Schools. They each attended Bonneville Elementary School, Corner Lake Middle School, and University High School.

Anna continued her education at the University of Central Florida. where she became engaged with environmental issues, international human rights, and the College Democrats at UCF. She served as the organization’s Women’s Caucus Chair and eventually the State Women’s Caucus Chair. She was also member of the Iranian Student Organization, the Political Science Honor Society (Pi Sigma Alpha), along with many other social justice groups.

Anna earned two bachelor’s degrees at UCF in Political Science and Women’s Studies along with a certificate in Service Learning. She continued her pursuit of higher education at UCF and received dual Masters in December 2015 with graduate degrees in Nonprofit Management and Public Administration, along with a Certificate in Gender Studies.

Jul 07  Rev. Katrina Jenkins, Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at Rollins College

She is originally from Stratford, Connecticut. Rev. Jenkins holds a BS in Speech Communication from Syracuse University, and received her Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts. She is ordained by The American Baptist Churches, USA, and has begun her 18th year of chaplaincy within a higher education setting.Prior to coming to Rollins, Katrina served as chaplain at Illinois College for five years. Before this, she was the Protestant Chaplain and Multicultural Center Liaison at Bentley University in Massachusetts for 11 years. Katrina is very involved in the community and holds various positions in local organizations.

Jun 30 Dianne Richardson

Dianne, a professional writer and First Church member, is FUMCO Poet in Residence. She brings the power of poetry as a spiritual expression and will work to incorporate poetry and other literary arts into the spiritual life of the church.

Dianne has been generous about sharing her knowledge and love of writing with her First Church family. She served on the Education and Discipleship Committee and taught two writing classes: “Writing Faith-Based Poetry” and “Creative Non-Fiction as Spiritual Expression.” During the current season of Lent, she wrote weekly prayers of confession and pardon that were published in the bulletin and used in worship.

She holds undergraduate degrees in geology and English as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida.  Her career includes stints as a writing tutor, managing editor of a literary magazine, freelance editor and content creator, and college professor.  She is currently employed as a technical/proposal writer for a government services contractor based here in Orlando and serves on the Creative Writing Program Advisory Council for Full Sail University. 

Jun 23  Homeless in downtown Orlando – What you can do to help.

Lisa Portelli – Senior Advisor for Homelessness and Social Services, City of Orlando, Office of the Mayor

Lisa has more than 30 years of experience working with vulnerable populations, including time as the Executive Director of the I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless in Jacksonville, the Vice President for Housing for the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and most recently as the Program Director for the Winter Park Health Foundation from 2002-18.

Portelli is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and earned her master’s degree from UCF’s School of Public Administration. She currently serves as an adjunct professor at UCF in the master’s degree program, for not for profit programs. She is a devoted cyclist, an Ironman Triathlete and a founding and current board member for Bike/Walk Central Florida Urban and Regional Planning and Masters in Non-Profit Management Programs.

Jun 09 Barbara Lee: “Caring for Loved Ones: Negotiating Your Healthcare”

Born in Philadelphia, Barb attended Olney High School, a school of 4000 students where she was in the top 10% of her class, captain of the women’s basketball team and a student government senator.

She graduated from Columbia University, with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and served as President of her College of Nursing class. She then received a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University. Her career consisted of positions in direct patient care, education, and administration. Most recent were as Administrative Director of Quality and Resource Management at Riverside Methodist Hospital, Columbus Ohio, and systemwide Director of Accreditation for the 7 hospitals of Florida Hospital Orlando.

She is a Bishop’s appointed member of the Board of Directors of Orlando Lutheran Towers, representing the Florida Bahamas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

Jun 02 Debby Manuel: A Review of Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others by Barbara Brown Taylor

Barbara Brown Taylor, the renowned and beloved New York Times bestselling author of An Altar in the World and Learning to Walk in the Dark recounts her moving discoveries of finding the sacred in unexpected places while teaching the world’s religions to undergraduates in rural Georgia, revealing how God delights in confounding our expectations.

 

May 26 Debbie Hill: A Review of Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz Weber

Christians are obsessed with sex. But not in a good way. For generations countless people have suffered pain, guilt, and judgment as a result of this toxic fixation on sex, the body, and physical pleasure. In the follow-up to her celebrated New York Times bestsellerAccidental Saints, Bolz-Weber unleashes her critical eye, her sharp pen, and her vulnerable but hopeful soul on the caustic, fear-riddled, and religiously inspired messages about sex that have fed our shame.

May 12 Ron Lee: “How Our Worship Came To Be”

Pastor Lee is a graduate of Mount Union College, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, with Honors, in English, and a Master of Divinity Degree, from the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.

He taught organic chemistry and English literature to gifted senior Arab students, in the country of Lebanon, through Bread for the World, and the German government, prior to ordination as a pastor of the Lutheran Church in America.

His entire career has focused on the renewal of congregations in conflict and decline, dealing with such issues as suicide, misconduct, sudden death, and  substance abuse, on the part of lead pastors, and the effect difficult chapters of ministry on the congregations they had served.

In 1973, he was named Tri-State Man of the Year, by the Jaycees and the Chamber of Commerce, for his work in developing programs for people in need, especially the elderly through programs like Meals on Wheels, and lead establishment of the Community Action Agency, to coordinate assistance programs for the marginalized.

Ron has served congregations in Illinois, and Ohio, and two of the 35 largest congregations in the ELCA, for a decade each, as lead pastor, both of which had experienced traumatic chapters in ministry. Both congregations doubled in size during his tenure. He was a member of the ELCA Senior Pastors’ Conference for 25 years.

During his decade as national staff for the Lutheran Church in America, he served as liaison with a number of synods in the Midwest, and the South. His specialties were congregational program development, urban congregation renewal, major gifts and stewardship programs for the LCA, and several of the synods and seminaries, raising over $50,000,000 for ministry for the wider church, served as a consultant in worship, music and the arts, and served as a specialist in mission and outreach strategies for the very large congregation. He served as an advocate for welcoming GLBTQ clergy and laity in the life of the church, which lead the church to their ordination into the public ministries of the church in 2007.

He has advanced certification in conflict resolution, is certified in not-for-profit organizational development and fundraising by National Society of Fundraising Executives, has LEAD adult education certification, was a preaching fellow of the Robert Schuller Institute, and, is currently a coach and trainer for leaders and clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, working with bishops and synodical staffs, and senior pastors of the very large congregation, as well as CEO’s of not-for-profit organizations.

Pastor Lee retired in 2005, and has served the Florida Bahamas Synod, as a conflict resolution specialist, leading interim ministries as congregations prepare to call a new lead pastor. Ron has trained many coach leaders throughout the United States, and coaches CEO’s of a variety of not-for-profit organizations. He currently actively volunteers with a variety of community organizations, including IDignity, which has restored legal identity for over 20,000 Central Florida residents.

Ron has been married to Barbara, a retired hospital administrator, and a specialist in hospital certification and patient safety, for 52 years. They have two sons, an educator, and one who owns a marketing firm, both here in Orlando, and a daughter, who is managing director of a national private bank in New York City, that serves those with ultra-wealth. Ron and Barbara have two grandchildren.

They divide their time between Orlando, and their condo at Indialantic Beach, and travel extensively around the world, including Asia, India, the Middle East, and frequent trips to Europe. They have led mission trips to various cities in the USA, the Caribbean, and South America.

Ron is an avid cook, and, as an amateur, often cooks for charity events, recently winning second place in the Rotary’s Chili for Charity Cook-off, competing against 20 top restaurants in Orlando, and Central Florida. Ron and Barbara are members of St. John Lutheran Church, Winter Park, and associate members of First Methodist Church, Orlando, where he serves in a variety of volunteer activities.