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The Colossian Forum offers free resources to help you transform polarizing cultural conflicts into opportunities for spiritual growth and witness.

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Meet the Team

Staff

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Michael Gulker
President
Michael builds strategic partnerships and provides organizational leadership and direction.
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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 Christians 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).

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Rob Barrett
Director of Forums and Scholarship
Rob develops the ideas and practices for transforming divisive issues into opportunities for discipleship.
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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.

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Jan Stump
Director of Development
Jan cultivates relationships in support of our mission and oversees all of our fundraising efforts.
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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.

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Chris De Vos
Manager of Church Partnerships and Care
Chris shapes and leads our Community of Practice and the leaders of The Colossian Way.
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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.

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Andy Saur
Executive Coordinator
Andy makes everyone’s life easier by providing administrative support to the President and the organization as a whole.
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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.

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Monica Lawrence
Project and Administrative Coordinator
Monica coordinates our events and trainings, and provides administration support to our team.
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Monica thrives in places filled with genuine connection, bulleted lists, and warm hospitality. She believes there is beauty and power in creating a space for people to engage in meaningful discussion and that is precisely how she serves TCF’s mission. Monica earned her BA in Strategic Communication from Cornerstone University and has experience in event planning, banking, and organizational management. In her spare time, you'll catch her playing board games with friends, sipping a sweet latte, and coordinating weddings.

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Tonya Starlin
Project and Administrative Coordinator
Tonya helps coordinate our development and communications activities, with a focus on database process administration.
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Tonya has a background in operations and technology management with more than ten years of experience in nonprofit settings. She likes to connect the dots between programs to identify systems and processes that improve the organization and advance missional objectives. She also loves all things data-related and rarely turns down a cup of coffee. When she’s not working, she loves spending time in the great outdoors, knitting, reading, and snuggling with her new grandson.

Fellows

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Harold Heie
Senior Fellow
Harold is a former math professor and college VP, and runs respectfulconversation.net, facilitating conversation among people who disagree.
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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.

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Jenell Paris
Senior Fellow
Jenell is Professor of Anthropology at Messiah College and author of The Good News About Conflict: Transforming Religious Struggle over Homosexuality.
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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.

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James K.A. Smith
Senior Fellow
Jamie is a professor of philosophy at Calvin College and author of the recent book You Are What You Love.
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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.

Board of Directors

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Kurt Berends
Vice Chair
Kurt is President of the Issachar Fund in Grand Rapids, MI.
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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.

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Jim Blankemeyer
Director
Jim is a successful entrepreneur and ministry leader.
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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.

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Sid Jansma, Jr.
Chair
Sid serves as Chairman of the Board of Wolverine Gas and Oil Corporation in Grand Rapids, MI.
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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!

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Juli Morse
Director
Juli serves as Vice President of Customer Success at Swan Island Networks in Portland, OR.
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Juli is a mechanical engineer, entrepreneur, and technology commercialization enthusiast, with 17 years of experience working in the high tech and consumer goods industries. She founded River Parkway Labs, a technology commercialization and product marketing consultancy in Portland, OR. Her focus is working with early stage tech companies and startups, universities, and inventors to bring their innovations, IP, and products to market.

Juli also serves on the Engineering Advisory Board for George Fox University, and the Portland State University Venture Fund Committee. She graduated from George Fox University with a B.S. in Engineering and holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. Juli and her husband Matthew attend Moreland Presbyterian Church, where Juli serves as an elder.

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Christine Pohl
Director
Christine is Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Professor of Church and Society at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY.
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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.

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Kristi Potter
Director
Kristi serves as director of the January Series at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI.
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Kristi has served as part of the January Series staff at Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI) since 1996. For the first 11 years, she served as Assistant to the Series founding Director, June Hamersma. She succeeded Hamersma as Director in 2007 and has successfully expanded the Series to be available at over 50 remote locations across the U.S. as well as Canada and other sites around the world.

Her work as Director has brought important voices to the Series including John Perkins, Bryan Stevenson, Cokie Roberts, Olympia Snowe, Krista Tippett, Sherry Turkle, Jimmy Wales, N.T. Wright, and many others. The January Series is a yearly fifteen-day free noontime lecture series that curates important conversations about what is happening in the nation and the world and challenges the audience to respond as people of faith to make a positive impact. This past year, the Series reached over 78,000 people over fifteen days.

Kristi is a graduate of Calvin College and has served as an elder at Calvary Christian Reformed Church (Wyoming, MI). She and her husband Jim are active members in their church and have served as volunteer youth leaders for over 25 years. They have three grown sons and one lovely daughter-in-law. In her free time, Kristi enjoys reading, traveling, and learning about new places.

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Dale Rietberg
Secretary/Treasurer
Dale serves as counsel at Varnum Law in Grand Rapids, MI.
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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.