Serve Well Blog

March 2014 Entries


Public Faith: Beyond the Mat
by Zachary Pullin - Communications Coordinator

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press


Recently, my sister and I bought a package of yoga classes. Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with yoga. I have done it sporadically - even co-teaching it during my Peace Corps term in Belize, Central America.

From the unfamiliar poses to the level of focus required, I typically struggle with the practice. However, acknowledging my capacity, embracing my strengths, and growing accustomed to the routine greatly improves my confidence. In my training, I am frequently contemplating posture. This facilitates deeper considerations beyond the mat of how I posture myself in the context of the world. Do I express a posture of humility? Of openness? Of service? Do I project a posture of curiosity? Of adaptability? Of inclusion? More importantly, how is my faith experience at the core of my posture? Especially, to be frank, as a person that has not always found an identity in the church. It wasn't a comfortable place for me. As a gay person, growing up in Eastern Washington, the church was not a place for me. Yet faith still lingers in the air - like a vase of fresh flowers sitting just across the room. 

Yoga forms and develops from a strong core - engaging with balance and flexibility - while challenging us to stretch toward our growing edges. Our faith is much the same. I believe our faith journey is more enjoyable when shared and accompanied. So, when I heard that the 2014 Krista Foundation CAST (Creative Action Study Team) invited The Reverend Joan R Harrell to be our featured speaker at this year's Service Leadership Conference I was thrilled. The 2014 conference theme is: GOING PUBLIC: Complex Faith within a Complex World.

Register here:

The Reverend Joan R Harrell is an ordained American Baptist clergywoman, Womanist Public Theologian, founder of, Visiting Scholar at the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care at Tuskegee University and Director of Public Communications at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago where she coordinates strategic communications for local, national and global social justice work. As a doctor of ministry student at the Chicago Theological Seminary her scholarship is investigating "How the intersecting of Media, Film, Religion, Racism, Alterity and Politics perpetuates Oppression in Society."

She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, an award winning journalist, producer and host of Empowering Voices Uplifting the Voices of the Voiceless, a syndicated weekly podcast and freelance writer for the Huffington Post.

I am looking forward to Joan accompanying us in wrestling with the meaning and value of Christian faith within a world facing stark economic disparity, complex religious dynamics, and polarizing difference. Moreso, given the polarized climate around religion. The fact that public association with the church can often illuminate discomfort. I feel more than ever that finding a space to have critical conversations and ask the big questions about the intersection of faith in our lives and the public sphere is important. Not even just the public sphere but also within the Krista Colleague community. In line with our Krista Foundation value, Christian and Spritual Values and Motivation, which invites us to grow ones' own faith identity by experiencing the diversity of Christian traditions while providing a safe space for expressing and learning respectfully from others. So, Joan will help us practice postures of curiosity, humility, inclusion, public faith, and service. 

Together we will explore how to engage the world with more openness and authenticity, stretching into our growing edges. We'll be strengthened to the core as we address the challenges of living out faith in daily life and claiming the sustaining strength of Christian practice. Personally, I will see challenge in this conversation but not be completely fearful. As with all things Krista Foundation when there is much confusion, discomfort, and anxiety it seems as if I look down and feel a steady, loving hand holding my own. It is the foundation and the Colleague community engaged in accompaniment and comfort as we face ourselves toward the world in service leadership.