Natalie Finstad began her community-organizing career working with the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in 2009. She moved to Kenya in 2010 and founded Be the Change – Kenya, now Tatua Kenya, which works to develop sustainable, justice-based approaches to change. Natalie holds a BA from the University of Texas, Austin and is an experienced organizer and teacher of community organizing.
As an ECF Fellow Natalie will build the capacity of The Episcopal Church by identifying, strengthening and networking areas of transformative ministry in our worshipping communities. She will begin by working with other Episcopal leaders to name a set of principles that defines transformational ministry. She then plans to partner with several dioceses to launch diocesan-wide efforts to interweave transformative mission principles through their ministry/programs and worshipping communities. Natalie will also be forming a network that connects these dioceses for the purpose of creating a shared language around transformation, sharing a powerful story of change and hopefully spurring the wider church towards a fuller incarnation of who we are called to be as people of Christ.
Jordan Hylden is a doctoral candidate in theology and ethics at Duke University, where his dissertation research focuses on the work of the French-American philosopher Yves R. Simon and other mid-20th century Catholic figures who helped the church take a fresh look at liberal democracy from within the Catholic theological tradition.
Jordan believes that there is "a need for theological work that integrates the call for justice and peace within the language of the worshiping church, neither sacrificing the urgency of that call nor failing to see its connection to the theological grammar of our prayer book as a whole."
Jordan is a priest in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina and an adjunct professor at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC. A 2006 graduate of Harvard College, he received his M.Div. in 2010 from Duke Divinity School. He is a frequent contributor to The Living Church magazine, where he also serves as a board member, and is co-editing a collection of essays on justification in the Anglican tradition with Daniel Westberg.
Nicole Janelle is Episcopal chaplain to UC Santa Barbara and vicar of St. Michael’s University Church in Isla Vista, California. Nicole’s nine years of ordained ministry work has been dedicated to helping people connect to and live out their theological convictions through bodywork, care of creation, community-based relationship building, wellness activities, peace and justice work, and general activism.
The ECF fellowship will enable Nicole to pursue master’s level studies in the area of public health through a distance learning program at the University of California Berkeley. She notes that church communities are positioned to respond to our country’s most serious health-related needs: providing healthcare that is affordable, increasing access to healthy food, addressing the obesity epidemic and improving mental/spiritual health services. She hopes her MPH studies will allow her to explore academically and implement pastorally how we can better equip the Episcopal Church to respond to serious health-related community needs at the congregational, diocesan and international levels.
Alison Lutz is a priest from the Episcopal Diocese of New York who has worked for many years in rural Haiti, both as a priest and aid worker with Partners in Health. Ali is pursuing a PhD in Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University’s Graduate Division of Religion in Nashville, Tennessee. She was awarded an ECF Fellowship to continue her research on the ethics of humanitarian aid. Alison’s work explores the ethical assumptions that drive international development and global mission work, in particular the issues of control and imbalances of power that are inherent in any effort to relieve global poverty. Her scholarship strengthens frameworks for humanitarian endeavors linked inextricably to solidarity with the poor and defined by aid workers’ conversion to empathy.
Serving the church she loves, Ali advised Episcopal congregations from Upper South Carolina, Massachusetts, New York, and Arizona on their mission partnerships in Haiti. Through her doctoral studies, Ali will continue to help church leaders learn how to live out the social justice demands of the Gospel in a way that surrenders the quest for self-efficacy in favor of joining God's people on the margins to expand God's kingdom so all people can thrive.
Ordained in 2007 as a deacon and 2008 as a priest, Thomas Ni is one of the only two priests in the Episcopal Church who are from Mainland China. Shortly after ordination he started a Mandarin speaking congregation and has since been ministering to Mandarin speaking Chinese immigrants, first at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church, San Marino, California and now at the Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel, California.
Thomas serves as the Executive Director of the Li Tim-Oi Center, which explores creative ways to develop Chinese ministry. One of the major challenges Chinese ministry faces is a shortage of both lay and ordained leaders. The language difficulty is one of the main obstacles preventing Chinese congregations from raising up more leaders. The Li Tim-Oi Center has planned to launch a Chinese lay training course, which aims at helping not only the Chinese congregations in the Los Angeles Diocese, but also all the Chinese congregations in the U.S. The ECF Fellowship will help support this plan.