A native of West Michigan, Michael studied philosophy and theology at Calvin College, received his MDiv from Duke in 2005 and is an ordained Mennonite pastor. Michael and his wife Jodie have two children. Before helping to launch The Colossian Forum in 2011, Michael served for five years as a pastor in Des Moines, Iowa. That experience cultivated a deep desire to aid churches in engaging today’s divisive cultural issues. He is committed to sharing the good news that conflict need not be a threat. Instead, we’re free to receive it as a Christ-given opportunity for discipleship and witness to our fragmented world, a world that can no longer imagine what it means for all things hold together in Christ (Colossians 1:17).
Rob holds two PhDs—one in Applied Physics from Stanford University and the other in Theology from Durham University in England. He worked as a research scientist at IBM, a professor of Old Testament and Hebrew in England, and as a postdoctoral researcher of Old Testament in Göttingen, Germany. Rob has many publications in a wide range of fields and holds many patents. He also has degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and Regent College in Vancouver. His varied background is unified by his longstanding interest in the intersection of faith, Bible, science/technology, and culture. Rob and his wife Crystal have two young children.
Craig worked for 26 years at Herman Miller, followed by non-profit work at Davenport University, Youth For Christ, and Kids Hope USA. While at Kids Hope, he captured a vision of the local church's influence in the community where it worships. Craig and his wife Sherry have four married adult children (three of whom are triplets), four grandchildren, and two dogs. He enjoys tennis, golf, and spending time with family at their cottage on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan.
Jan has 30 years of experience advancing the mission of nonprofit organizations through fund development. She previously served in several roles at the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) including executive director of their education foundation and director of development. Jan has an MA in literature from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and has maintained continuous recognition as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) since 2001. She oversees all aspects of donor relationships at TCF, from identification and cultivation to stewardship. Jan and her husband Don have three married adult children and four grandchildren. She's an avid reader, walker and hand quilter.
Chris has strong threads of reconciliation and unity woven into his life, and fully believes that it's possible to collaborate across differences. He graduated from Calvin College and Calvin Seminary and completed a Doctor of Ministry degree at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. Chris worked as a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church at the University of Colorado, Boulder; in Dunwoody, Georgia; Kingston, Ontario; and, most recently, in Holland, Michigan. In 2015, he moved to lead the Ridder Church Renewal initiative at Western Theological Seminary. Chris and his wife Barb have three grown children and two grandchildren. He enjoys playing guitar, running, reading and travel.
Jennifer provides strategic and practical oversight to all things digital, social, and print. She has a bachelor’s degree in History and Spanish from Northwestern College (Orange City, IA). Jennifer worked as a newspaper editor, ran communications for a large church staff, and served on the web team for the Reformed Church in America. She’s an avid fan of knitting, loose leaf tea, and sweeping historical epics (in both film and literature).
Andy loves building interpersonal connections and has an overarching passion for story. His particular interest is how story encountered through the arts helps grow understanding and compassion. Andy has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Wheaton College and completed a diploma in Entertainment Business Management from Vancouver Film School. In his spare time, he seeks sunshine and an empty city bench to create art of his own in the form of poetry.
Kim's deep desire to serve God’s people spills over at home, mentoring in a local elementary school, and at TCF. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Saginaw Valley State University. She also has a master’s in Public Health from the University of Michigan. Kim held past positions at Kids Hope USA and the Van Andel Institute. She and her husband James enjoy tackling projects around the house, playing with Lilly (their golden retriever), and cooking together.
Harold Heie is a Senior Fellow of The Colossian Forum. He previously taught mathematics at The King’s College and Gordon College; served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northwestern College (IA) and Messiah College; and was the Founding Director of the Center for Christian Studies at Gordon College. He holds a PhD in mechanical and aerospace sciences from Princeton University. His publications include Learning to Listen, Ready to Talk: A Pilgrimage Toward Peacemaking, Mutual Treasure: Seeking Better Ways for Christians and Culture to Converse, and Soul Care: Christian Faith and Academic Administration. His web site, www.respectfulconversation.net, is dedicated to facilitating respectful conversation among persons who disagree with one another about important contemporary issues. He has served as a trustee at the Center for Public Justice and is currently a member of the Board of Fellows for the PhD program in Organizational Leadership at Eastern University. Harold and his wife, Pat, have three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Jenell Paris is Professor of Anthropology at Messiah College in Grantham, PA, with a PhD from American University. Her numerous books and articles including The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex is Too Important to Define Who We Are, Introducing Cultural Anthropology, and Urban Disciples. Her two most recent books develop themes of conflict transformation and discipleship. Teach from the Heart: Teaching as Spiritual Practice is a work of creative nonfiction that describes how the teaching life and the spiritual life can come together for educators. The Good News About Conflict: Transforming Religious Struggle over Homosexuality is based on work with The Colossian Forum, encouraging all believers to take leadership in their spheres of influence toward spiritual growth and conflict transformation in this time of protracted struggle and disagreement over sexuality.
James K.A. Smith is a Senior Fellow of The Colossian Forum. He is professor of philosophy at Calvin College. He also teaches in the department of congregational & ministry studies and is a research fellow of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He previously taught at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Villanova University in Philadelphia (where he earned his PhD in philosophy). Jamie has also been a visiting professor at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Regent College in Vancouver, and Trinity College at the University of Toronto. His numerous publications include Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?; Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation; Letters to a Young Calvinist and Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy, and Science and the Spirit: Pentecostal Engagements with the Sciences. He recently wrote You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. Jamie and his wife, Deanna, have four children.
Kurt Berends is President of the Issachar Fund, a private operating foundation that partners with scholars, leaders and organizations that seek religious and scientific truth, learning from and contributing to the ideals, values, knowledge, and practices of our increasingly multicultural society. He recently launched the IDEA Fund (Interfaith Dialogue and Entrepreneurial Activities) to foster conversation and partnership between communities of faith for the betterment of society.
Prior to working at the Issachar Fund, Kurt founded and served as Executive Director of the Theological Book Network, Inc. In addition, he previously served as coordinator of the Pew-funded Christian Scholars Program and Pew Evangelical Scholars Program at the University of Notre Dame. He serves on the Duke Divinity School’s Board of Visitors, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Visiting Committee for Institute Initiatives, and Outposts of Hope. He is a former professor of history at both the University of Notre Dame and Calvin College.
In 1969, Jim founded MetoKote Corporation, an innovator in the application of high quality industrial coatings and paints. MetoKote became one of the largest companies of its kind, and has over 40 operations in ten countries (North America, South America, and Europe).
Since committing his life to Jesus Christ in 1976, Jim has been active in many ministries and serves on numerous boards, traveling extensively around the world. In 1988, Jim and Carolyn, his wife, started their own family foundation to teach their children Biblical principles of responsible stewardship over God's resources of time, talents, relationships, and money in the ministry of furthering the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jim has been married to Carolyn (Rieman) for fifty-eight years. They have nine children, 29 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
Sid's oil patch experience began in 1959 working part-time for his dad as a roustabout. So he started at the bottom! Four years at Calvin College resulted in a degree in philosophy and economics after which he earned an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Michigan. He then joined Wolverine Gas and Oil Corporation full-time.
Sid works for the oil industry at both the state and national levels—at various times he's been chairman of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, chairman of the IPAA Tax Committee, chairman of the Environment and Safety Committee, and on the Board of Directors of API. That kind of networking keeps him in touch with others in the industry and up-to-date on what's going on around the country in the oil field.
Sid has also enjoyed serving at church as elder and chairman of the board of trustees at Plymouth Heights Christian Reformed Church. He is currently serving on several other boards including that of the Russian-American Institute and Calvin Theological Seminary. Sid’s four children and 14 grandchildren are an endless source of joy to Sid and his wife, Cate. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, sailing, hunting, fishing, and playing the bagpipes—with absolutely no time left for golf!
Dr. Christine Pohl is Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Professor of Church and Society at Asbury Theological Seminary (Wilmore, KY) where she has taught since 1989. She earned her PhD in Ethics and Society at Emory University.
Before her tenure at the seminary, she worked in various ministries including owning a Christian bookstore and serving refugees through advocacy and resettlement efforts. She has served on the boards of the Louisville Institute and the Society of Christian Ethics, and has also directed a four-year grant with the Lilly Endowment on Sustaining Pastoral Excellence in Community.
Dr. Pohl speaks regularly, at the national and international level, on recovering the practices of hospitality and community. She has addressed various communities concerning these matters including congregations, intentional communities, and staff and volunteers in ministry with homeless people, people with disabilities, and refugees.
She is also the author of several books including Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition and Living into Community: Cultivating Practices that Sustain Us.
Dale has extensive experience in the area of nonprofit and tax exempt entities, and works with a wide range of exempt organizations, including charities, social service agencies, cultural and civic institutions, educational organizations, foundations, health organizations, clubs and associations, and churches and religious organizations. He also practices in the area of general corporate and business transactions, with a focus on closely-held family businesses.
Dale earned his MBA from the University of Michigan Graduate School of Business and his JD from the University of Michigan Law School. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Grand Rapids Bar Association and serves on the boards of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, MOKA Corporation, and the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan Foundation.