Meet our Speakers
After more than a decade of practicing law, Nancy joined the ministry team at SSUC. In a rich collaboration with this congregation, she completed her Doctor of Ministry degree at Chicago Theological Seminary focusing on “Setting a Spacious Table.” The discoveries which began in this project continue to evolve as we explore ways of gathering as spiritual communities that are congruent with an expansive spirituality. Nancy celebrates being part of a diverse community of seekers who honor experience, seek inspiration from a variety of sources, are committed to greater social justice and strive to live the values of our deepest and highest humanity.
Minister, Musician, Composer
Chris is in team ministry at SSUC where among other things, he interprets expansive spirituality for children and youth by creating programming and curriculum. He writes new music for congregational singing that expresses our deepest spirituality for the 21st century regardless of creed, tradition or custom. His song book, “Our Highest Values”, was published in 2016.
Minister, Author, Atheist
Her best selling books include With or Without God: Why The Way We Live is More Important Than What We Believe in 2008, and Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief. She has also published three books of poetry and prayers. She has been a minister with West Hill United Church in Toronto since 1997. Gretta Vosper is also founder of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity. Her work bridges Progressive Christianity and atheism exploring beyond the boundaries of Christian thought.
Musician, Member of West Hill United
Scott is a composer, improviser and all-around busy man. As music director of West Hill United, he’s written many pieces of music for Sundays and special occasions that he has gathered in a collection called “The Wonder of Life” and is now compiling a second collection. Scott has an M.Div. and is completing a doctoral program in theological studies at York University. When Scott isn’t making music or researching theological issues, he’s working as a registered social worker at a long term care facility.
Karen Lumley Kerr
President of the Society of Edmonton Atheists
Karen Lumley Kerr is an atheist activist who is in her 4th year as the President of the Society of Edmonton Atheists, and is co-founder of the provincial wide AB Secular Conference. She’s actively involved in the secular movement, Dying with Dignity Edmonton Chapter, APUPIL (Albertan Parents for Unbiased Public Inclusive Learning), Alberta Pro-choice groups and LGBT rights activism. She is also a member of the Edmonton Interfaith Center for Education and Action.
This mother of three holds a diploma in Music Performance from Grant MacEwan University.
Growing up in a politically aware family predisposed me to grapple with the responsibility of social engagement from a young age.
My academic background is in philosophy, and I have enjoyed significant involvement in four denominations – Catholic, Unitarian, Quaker, and United Church. That has fed my ongoing reading, conversations, affiliations and actions over the decades, and led me to a post-theist world view, which I will share as a conference panelist.
Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour
Associate Dean, Diversity at the University of Alberta
Educated at the Universities of Edinburgh and Alberta, Margaret-Ann Armour is Associate Dean of Science, Diversity, University of Alberta. Her research was on the management of hazardous chemical waste. She encourages women into science and engineering and chairs the WinSETT Centre Board. She is active within the UCC and is chair of the Board of St. Stephen’s College. Awards include a 3M Fellowship, Montreal Medal of the CIC, Order of Canada and six honorary degrees.
Margaret Hetherington since childhood has found encouragement in life and the United Church to ask questions and to grow. This led her to a BA (Sociology) at the U of A and theological learning and MRE at Covenant and Emmanuel Colleges, Toronto in preparation for diaconal ministry.
Marg’s official ministries were at Washington United, Scarborough ON, St. Andrew’s Lacombe, and Trinity United, Edmonton. Her mostly unofficial ministry was teaming with partner, the late Rev. Bob Hetherington, on a rich 48 year journey of ever-evolving Christian faith.
Lisa Stein is a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Alberta. She has been a member of the Westwood Unitarian Universalist Congregation for five years. Although her spiritual beliefs do not include a supernatural entity, Lisa finds the UU message to be one of tolerance, hope, and service. She began attending Westwood to bring a moral and spiritual dimension to her children’s lives in hopes that they grow up in service to the world.
Doctoral Theology Student
Autumn Reinhardt-Simpson is a doctoral theology student interested in the diminishing line between theism and nontheism. Formerly a board member of the Humanist Society in the US, she is the author of The Humanist Celebrant Handbook (Humanist Press, soon to be released) and numerous journal and magazine articles. Autumn enjoys challenging the popular assumption that theism and nontheism are easily delineated and also teaching about centuries- old Christian and Jewish traditions of nontheism.
Sherry Ann Chapman
SSUC Member and Artisan Academic
Sherry Ann Chapman is a dancer, drawn to water and making meaning in forests and mountains. She is an SSUC member, an endorsee of the Earth Charter and the Charter for Compassion, an artisan academic, and a facilitator of group dialogue in Edmonton.
George Rodgers has extensive pastoral and administrative experience in the congregations and courts of
The United Church of Canada. As well, he has taught courses in Christian Scriptures and contemporary theology at
Naramata Centre, St, Stephen’s College, and the University of Alberta. His recent presentation to the Beyond Speaker
Series at Southminister-Steinhauer was entitled “Beyond Beliefs.
Rev. DR. Bruce Miller
Bruce was born in Hamilton, Ontario and spent his early years in Ottawa where he attended Carleton University. He has graduate degrees in theology from seminaries in Philadelphia and New York and he received his Ph.D from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1984. Bruce has taught religion courses at the University of Alberta for more than 20 years, and has served as minister in United Churches in Alberta for more than 30 years. And recently he served as the MLA for Edmonton-Glenora from 2004 to 2008.
Shelagh worked with troubled teens while completing her M.Div. and then began her official ministry as the Youth Coordinator in the United Church of Canada’s National Office. Shelagh facilitated youth work throughout the UC and developed curriculum in this appointment As she completed this part of her journey, Shelagh spent a year in the Corrymeela community in Northern Ireland. On her return to Canada, she served in congregational ministry in Alberta, followed by campus ministry as chaplain at the U of A and internship in chaplaincy at the U of A hospital. She completed a Master’s degree in counselling and worked in a clinical counselling position with Catholic Social Services. After ten years of adult and couples counselling utilizing narrative therapy, Shelagh recently retired and pursues her passion for learning in the realm of spirituality, various faith traditions and mindfulness. Throughout the conference, Shelagh will serve as our chaplain and be available for anyone wishing to share a conversation.
Member of Westhill United
Louise is a member of West Hill United Church, who resides in Cambridge Ontario. She is a graduate of U of Toronto in Physio & Occupational Therapy; however, looking after their 3 children and managing Michael’s busy family practice office became her full time job. Raised in the United Church, but attending mainly because it was the family custom, theology was far less important than the social and service work components. As Progressive theology became more available, she and Michael became seekers, and hopped on the Progressive train. Finding Gretta Vosper and the West Hill community, finally provided a theology that made sense, and a place that felt like home.
Dr. Michael Lawrie
Retired Family Physician/ Westhill United Board member
Michael has been a member of West Hill United Church since 2014, and currently serves on the Board, as Chair of the Ministry and Personnel Committee. He is a retired family physician, having done all of his education and training at the University of Toronto. He is an active community volunteer and has been a Rotarian for 30 years. His family had a peripheral and occasional affiliation with the United Church, but he became more active and involved following his marriage to Louise, 45 years ago. He has travelled the progressive journey for 20 years, starting with John Spong, but really became part of the movement, after reading Gretta’s books and watching You Tube West Hill services. Michael and Louise travel to West Hill 2 or three times each month.
Ordained in 1967, Dale served pastorates in Alberta and Northwest Conference and Nova Scotia, as Conference Personnel Minister from 1984 to 1996, and in intentional interim appointments. He retired from serving Mill Woods United Church in 2008. Over the years he supervised 6 Ministry Interns which kept his interest alive to contemporary theology. Keenly following the Progressive Christianity movement, Dale has attended seminars with John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, Diarmud O’Murchu, Miriam Therese Winter and others. His personal spirituality has continued to evolve, bringing him to SSUC and the Ever Wonder conference.
Ian is a “child of the manse,” and like most of his contemporaries, left the church as a teenager. Sixteen years ago, he surprised himself by stumbling back into his local United Church in Toronto, a move whose surprise he compounded by deciding to pursue ministry ten years ago. Ordained in 2011, Ian served three small churches in rural Saskatchewan before moving to Edmonton in 2014 where is the minister at Mill Woods United Church.
Member of Meewasin Valley United Church
Lorie Kurz is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has had an affiliation with the United Church as long as she can remember. She has been actively involved in several aspects of the church both locally and regionally. She was at the point of giving up on the institution of church when she read a letter to the editor in the Observer written by Gretta Vosper. It became a turning point in her faith. With renewed enthusiasm, a very informed and well-read group of like minded friends, the evolution of Meewasin Valley United in Saskatoon began.
CHARLES BIDWELL Retired Minister, SSUC Member Charles is chair of Senate for St. Stephen's College in Edmonton and the coordinator of the Non-Theistic Liturgy Resources Collection housed on the St Stephen's website under Research Tools. He is the retired minister of Metropolitan Community Church of Edmonton that ministered to LGBTQ folks who had been rejected by their faith community.
Charles is chair of Senate for St. Stephen’s College in Edmonton and the coordinator of the Non-Theistic Liturgy Resources Collection housed on the St Stephen’s website under Research Tools. He is the retired minister of Metropolitan Community Church of Edmonton that ministered to LGBTQ folks who had been rejected by their faith community.