Aug 04 Kathleen McLaurin: Part 2 of “Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right” by Arlie Russell Hochschild

Arlie Hochschild, one of the most influential sociologists of her generation, has spent the last several years immersed in the community around Lake Charles, Louisiana, a Tea Party stronghold. As Jedediah Purdy put it in the New Republic, “Hochschild is fascinated by how people make sense of their lives. . . . [Her] attentive, detailed portraits . . . reveal a gulf between Hochschild’s ‘strangers in their own land’ and a new elite.”

Jul 28 Doug Barrett: “We Are Everytown for Gun Safety”

Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives. But something is changing. More than 5 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, students and everyday Americans have come together to make their own communities safer. Together, we are fighting for the changes that we know will save lives.

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 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.