LGP Stories

Personal Stories from DMINLGP

Blended Hope: The Terroir of South Africa

June 14, 2018 | no responses

To view the presentation, click here: Blended Hope: The Terroir of South Africa [turn on sound; manually move between images; wait for audio. Total run is approx 8’30”]


I climb the path to the bottom of the world, where two oceans meet, the Cape of Good Hope. The wind blows and I imagine the warm Indian and cold Atlantic greeting and merging into one water. Cormorants fly over both bodies and don’t discern the difference; two waters blending into one, indistinguishable.

A glass of red is poured on a shadowed porch, and we’re schooled in the fine distinctions between shiraz and pinotage. We sip and swirl. The final glass is poured, a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot. What do you like about blends, I ask Deon. “They both bring their uniqueness; you can still taste their own taste. A blend is very personal, simple and complex. Sometimes I’m in the mood for it, but for normal friendships, a blend is too heavy.”[1]

Wines, good wines, from a wine estate, are the result of terroir—the soil, grape vines, climate, farming practices, etc.—that go into a cultivation of deliciousness. In other words, the place matters.

Reflecting on our experience in Cape Town and the surrounding region, my first thought was of blending—peoples who had been at odds based on the color of their skin, reconciling and putting that behind to live and work together in harmony. But the reality is complex, unblended. Much of South Africa remains captive to the past. And yet, the terroir remains extremely important—how is place cared for; how is South Africa cultivated?

Perhaps the best way I’ve found to understand the cultivation of South Africa’s past and present is to reflect on two museums I visited: the District Six Museum and the Zeitz MOCAA museum. In the simplest terms, the District Six Museum guides the visitor to remember (to re-member), put a body back together; while the Zeitz MOCAA imagines the future by giving voice to the marginalized.

District Six: Stories and Memory

At the District Six Museum, housed in a former Methodist Church building, the poet Lueen Conning-Ndlovu asks,

“Are we listening…

We will only know relief

When all our ghosts are put to rest

When their stories are recollected

Returned to their place of honour

Recorded in our history

Embedded in our memory.”

It is in the telling of stories that social anamnesis occurs, giving shape to healing through voicing the pain and loss of a broken community. The museum website confirms this: “history consists of more than what can be read through the built environment and official history: peoples’ experiences, and their memories and interpretations of having lived in and used certain spaces, are as important as the tangible fabric..”[2]

The stories are often painful, as Pastor Maqogi and the men and women at JL Zwane church told us, [3] and as we observed on Robben Island.

The stories often involve sacrifice and recognition of collaborative guilt, as Wilhelm Verwoerd shared.[4] And the stories are often only partial and unresolved, as Mary Burton described.[5] And yet, through their telling, some small piece of healing occurs, a chink in a wall removed, allowing blending and wholeness to begin.

Zeitz MOCAA: Marginal Voices

The MOCAA, housed in a beautifully reconstructed grain silo building on the Cape Town wharf, in many ways appears the antithesis of the District Six museum. At the intersection of commerce and culture, gentrification and global citizens, dwells a museum that curates artists giving voice to the marginalized, oppressed, and disenfranchised. Much of the art was painful to observe. Many of the exhibits present dis-memberment or masks as a way for the voiceless to tell their stories. [Cyrus Kabiru, Taiye Idahor]. The weight women bear [Wangechi Mutu], their objectification [Ghada Amer], and violence unleashed upon them, are given voice. The forgotten ask to be remembered [Mouna karry], and the queer [Zanele Muholi] remind us that they matter.

In many ways, Michelle Boonzaaier’s story of going to the fringes to find God relates to these images. She asked, “How can the same God who liberates the oppressed be the God of the oppressor?”[6] She challenged mainstream thinking with a voice of the marginalized, particularly LGBTQ people. “Do we need to choose between our spirituality and our sexuality? Is God a queer God?” As Jason added, “any place where I find people uncomfortable to be with is where I have the opportunity to find God.”[7]

As Christians, “we are invited into a space of discovery and risk, to hold safe spaces so people can take risks…. The church is called to live outside the binaries.”[8]

Michelle Boonzaaier found God on the fringes, among the oppressed, by listening to the stories of LGBTI individuals. Wilhelm Verwoerd found liberation through his relationships with black Africans. And it was through loving and being loved by white Scottish friends during his studies in the UK that Pastor Spiwo realized God wants us to cross boundaries.

Church of Good Hope

What I imagine from this liminal experience in South Africa is that we, too (me, too) can embrace differences in our American churches, build relationships with those who are different than us, listen to their stories, and discover and respond to the capaciousness of God, as my colleague, Christal Tanks challenged.[9] And perhaps, I imagine, our churches can then be a cape of hope, where our differences blend, and our uniquenesses come together to create something delicious, and not too heavy for ordinary friendship.

[1] Actual conversation took place at the Commodore. Deon Kitching, September 25, 2017, Commodore Hotel.

[2] http://www.districtsix.co.za/Content/Museum/About/NationalHeritageSite/index.php

[3] As Pastor Spiwo Xapile encouraged, embracing an Appreciative Inquiry approach means, “every story has to be listened to.” September 26, 2017, JL Zwane Church.

[4] “I’ve come to believe that people with my background need to speak up… Don’t dishonor your ancestors or justify what they did, but what are you willing to do to help us make a difference?…. We must be willing to enter into relationships with the Other because that is good news.” Wilhelm Verwoerd, September 26, 2017, JL Zwane Church.

[5] “Things don’t seem to be changed—we’re still a very divided nation…. We have unequal opportunities in every sphere of our lives…. Young people see that nothing has changed in their families and lives, so they sense that efforts made in the 1990s are fraying away at the edges. You have to keep doing these things over and over again. You have to forgive every day.” Mary Burton, September 23, 2017, Commodore Hotel.

[6] Michelle Boonzaaier, September 23, 2017, Commodore Hotel.

[7] Jason Clark, during Michelle Boonzaaier’s discussion, September 23, 2017, Commodore Hotel.

[8] Boonzaaier.

[9] “It’s easy to look at another country at their injustice and forget about the marginalization within in our country. I hope the same heaviness and conviction we feel here we take back to our country to feel and do something about the structures and privileges we have. We need to be serious and intentional about it in our faith communities and be compelled to look within our own country.” Christal Tanks, during Mary Burton’s discussion, September 23, 2017.

Meet Trisha Welstad

May 16, 2018 | one response

Trisha Welstad: Apprentice, wife, mother, pastor, entrepreneur, friend, and random creative. Trisha is passionate about investing in others to see them become all God has created them to be. Her roles combined with her passion create a scope for her life and work in Oregon.

As an apprentice, Trisha seeks to live her life following Jesus, learning what it means to be a disciple and disciple-maker. Apprenticing is her method of both following and leading: growing through relationship by watching, listening, doing, assessing, and teaching others through the same.

Being a wife and mother are unique gifts Trisha values as the most intimate and ripe opportunities for nourishing others in their life in God. By creating a hospitable and welcoming home for family and friends, the Welstad’s seek to make the love, joy and peace of God evident in their own lives and to all who join them. Part of the fun in Trisha and her husband Troy’s home is through the musical artistry of Troy’s Cathedral Collective singer/songwriter music community and studio space.

Pastoring has been part of Trisha’s calling since high school as she began to mentor others, and has extended into the development of students, other pastors and friends through helping them to explore and pursue their God given identity and gifts. This passion has taken her on a journey from Oregon to California and back. As an ordained Free Methodist elder, Trisha has served with churches in Los Angeles and Oregon, leading as a pastor of youth and spiritual formation, a church planter, and as a co-pastor of a church restart. Trisha currently serves as the leadership development pastor at Northside Community Church in Newberg, Oregon. In this role she focuses on mentoring the Children’s and Youth Directors and developing new small facilitators, as well as mentoring and internship opportunities for the church.

Trisha’s entrepreneurial spirit grew as she and her husband began a creative arts ministry, Revolution(626), in Azusa, California, then later helped restart a church in Pasadena and a new plant in Portland. Most recently, Trisha has directed the Leadership Center, developing partnerships with George Fox University and Portland Seminary, Warner Pacific College, the Free Methodist and Wesleyan Holiness churches. Over the past six years The Leadership Center has become a network facilitating the development of new and current Wesleyan leaders, churches and disciples through internships, equipping, mentoring and scholarship.

As a pastor and entrepreneurial partner through The Leadership Center, Trisha serves as a grant principal with Theologia: George Fox Summer Theology Institute, a summer camp focused on giving high school juniors and seniors a week long safe space to explore their theology and practice in new and unique ways. In addition, Trisha serves as a grant principal for the newest Institute of Pastoral Thriving through Portland Seminary toward encouraging encouragement and renewal for pastors in the Northwest.

Being a friend may seem like a given, but in times when people live in much isolation, transition, and work-driven focus, Trisha values relationships that go beyond work and beliefs and become part of the fabric of life rhythms of raising kids and sharing meals and enjoying creation and the various life happenings of the people who live in her community. Many of the spaces with old and new friends involve meals, house parties, fire pits, and trips to the local coffee shop.

As a whimsically creative person, Trisha only really likes to do a creative thing one time and then move on to something new. Thus, makes something crafty now and again, will randomly arrange flowers or a room, grows varieties of food in her garden and plans field trips to hike or sight see someplace new. Listening to music and laughing with Troy and their son William are some of Trisha’s favorite past times she loves to do every day.

Bio of Greg

May 16, 2018 | no responses

Growing up on the island of Fiji has allowed me to appreciate not only good beaches and pineapple but also a love for a multi-cultural life. Being a pastor’s kid and a missionary’s kid confirmed for me that ministry was not something that I wanted my life to involve. God has an incredible sense of humor, allowed me to struggle, make bargains and eventually come to accept the call to ministry that I had tried so hard to run from. I did not want to pastor a church, nor preach. I did not want to work as a missionary in some village overseas. As many of you already know, God gives us the desires of our hearts. He allowed me to love preaching, to love people in my church and then to openly hear his voice calling me to mentor creatively in an overseas context.

Our family has lived overseas in Thailand for over 12 years. We love being in a place that we see God moving. We are teachers, mentors, business owners, developers, team leaders and parents. The word missionary is not a word that is well received in many places around the world. We often say that we serve God and teach others to do the same while living in Thailand. One day we were in the states at a church and the pastor was upfront talking. He was saying that is was great to have missionaries with us today and then spent 5 minutes or so talking about all them. My son and I were on the front row and he turned to me and said, “Dad, who are the missionaries?” (as if they were hidden superheroes). I responded, “That is us.” That was the first time he had heard that word. God has called us all to represent Him in each community of the world that we live in. Our place just happens to be with people that speak and different language. We love being with people-hanging out, watching movies, training, and serving. God has allowed us to help lead some to Him and develop them as leaders. Our goals are to teach and develop leaders to train leaders.

My wife and I have been married for 25 years and have 3 beautiful children. One is in university, the second is graduating this year (2018) and the third is in middle school. We are blessed that God has given us 3 unique children that love the Lord. Each child has expressed that they have enjoyed growing up overseas and love eaves dropping on people in the states that are speaking the language we know. Getting my doctorate in ministry, will allow me to teach and train in our master level programs as well cooperate the multi-cultural teams in 6 different cities. We love the creativeness and uniqueness of living abroad and pray that God continues to use and direct us in all that we do. I was recently talking with someone about what we thought we were going to be when we were 20 years old and comparing it to who we are today. I am glad that the Lord has been faithful through the stress, trials and joys that have come in serving Him. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

Visual Ethnography of Cape Town Advance

December 26, 2017 | no responses

This is moved from the incorrect place it was first posted, to here.

Please click the hyperlink below to enjoy the Visual Ethnography.

Visual Ethnography of Cape Town Advance




October 23, 2017 | one response

AMERICA the home of the free! All people are equal! Justice for All!  The leader of the World!


My eighth grade English class was a life changer for me. My English teacher told us that we were black and the white man viewed us as low class and ignorant. She told us that we were not ignorant and we had the ability to be great leaders, business owners, and even President of the United States of America. I have shared this with my Co-Horts in previous chats. That class year was the pivotal point in my life that sparked my need to get what I desired from this world. So I set my mind to be the first Negro to attend a White high school near my area. Well, I was among the second group of Negros to attend, because integration took effect the year before my high school year. I was aware of the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King and the Black Panther Movement.  My Founding Pastor, Rev. Dr. William A. Lawson, was involved with King and ministered to the Black Panthers. (more…)

Prospective: Living in light of the pain & the beauty of Cape Town

October 23, 2017 | no responses

Starting Point (Personal Interests)

As a child, and certainly into early adulthood, I was possessed of a decided lack of tolerance for ambiguity:

  • I distinctly remember my mother often giving me what she called ‘advance organizers’, verbal cues about what was going to happen in the future, so that I could be adequately prepared for whatever was coming next, good or bad.
  • In the Dr’s office, I could never stand to look away when I was about to get a shot – like they always tell children to do – not knowing exactly when the pinch of the needle was coming was far worse than the pinch itself.  (this is still true!)
  • Like many in my generation, the Star Wars saga had a formational place in my childhood: I had a viscerally negative reaction to the Obi-wan Kenobi telling Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back that what he had toll him about Darth Vader killing his father was ‘True, from a certain point of view’.  I remember this still, because I had such a difficult time reconciling what, in my view at the time, was a clear lie to Luke, with my love and respect for Obi-Wan….. ‘How could he lie?’  I really didn’t understand.
  • I was a serious rule-follower as a child and even as a teenager, not mostly because I was so good or morally upright, but because it was physically uncomfortable for me to break the rules. (more…)

Cape Town in Black and White

October 23, 2017 | no responses

The “Cape Town Advance” was a requirement for students in Portland Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Global Perspectives program.  A group of more than 60 gathered together in South Africa for a wide variety of cross-cultural experiences and seminars.

Photography is a powerful communication tool.  Below are 19 black and white images that are a window into the 2017 Cape Town Advance. (more…)

Chip Stapleton Bio Story

June 8, 2017 | no responses

Chip Stapleton is many things: a husband, a father, a pastor, a coach, a collaborator and an encourager. A native of Western Pennsylvania, he has lived with his wife, Traci,  in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and for the past 7+ years have lived, with their 4 boys (Charlie, Jack, Ian & Henry) in Mansfield, MA where he is the pastor of the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church.


Told Her Way- Katy Drage Lines’ Bio Story

June 8, 2017 | no responses

In God’s good Kingdom, some people minister like trees, long-standing, rooted in a community. They embody words of Wendell Berry, “stay years if you would know… the genius of the place.” Others, however, are called to go. Katy is one of those pilgrims. A global nomad, Katy grew up as a fifth generation Colorado native, attended college and seminary and was ordained in Tennessee, met and married a guy from Pennsylvania, ministered for ten years and birthed a child in Kenya, served as a children’s pastor in a small church in Kentucky, and currently ministers to college students in a university library in Orange County, California, where she’s also the neighborhood engagement team leader for her local church. She is preparing to make another move this summer; this time to the heart of America, Indianapolis, and hoping to root long-term there. She and her husband, Kip, have two delightful boys, a college sophomore and high school sophomore. (more…)

Expectations and Reality: Thoughts on Leadership and Church from London Town (and Oxford)

June 8, 2017 | no responses

‘My First Sermon’ (above) by Sir John Everett Millais

When we happened upon the Guildhall Art Gallery during a break one afternoon from our meetings in London – ‘happening upon’ an gallery containing both famous works of Art and an Roman archaeological site, is the kind of thing that you see in movies or hear in other people’s stories, but it really happened to us this day – I was immediately drawn to the above painting, My First Sermon by Sir John Everett Millais.


London Wanderings

June 8, 2017 | no responses


As I wandered around London, suitcase in tow, sleep deprived and trying to find my hotel, I was intrigued by the culture.  In my wanderings: I wondered at the homes crammed together, marveled at the ancient architecture, and bantered with the 4 taxi drivers who encouraged me to walk instead of taxi since it was “just around the corner.”

When I finally got to the hotel, my roommate, Mary, and I became engaged in a lively discussion about women in church leadership, which ironically we were both studying for our dissertation.  As I met the rest of the team, I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and comradery of the leaders and my teammates. (more…)

London/Oxford Advance 2016 — Signs of Life

June 8, 2017 | no responses


“Reflection in its highest form is an oasis from a world filled with noises, voices, colors and distractions.” 

I’ll begin by saying that the advance was a profound and life-changing experience. The lectures were all excellent. Steve Chalk’s concept of being embedded into a community is a compelling idea especially as it relates to the field of church planting. Additionally, Jeremy Crossly exemplified reaching a particular demographic; David Male encouraged that it is possible to work across denominational borders and Dr. Mary Kate Morris’ image of the hand on the door step stirred my heart. It was Dr. Keith Ward’s lecture—actually one small section—that inspired me to look more closely at the signs of life without color and the usual background noises. It is with this in mind that I made my visual ethnographic presentation—Signs of Life. (more…)

Once Upon a Time: a visual ethnography

June 8, 2017 | no responses

[click link below, to view]

Liminality: A Poem

As she stepped through the doorway onto the Virgin Atlantic plane, she imagined crossing the wardrobe threshold into Narnia. While she’d travelled internationally, and even lived overseas, she’d never flown across the sea by herself. What was she doing? she asked herself. Why did she dare embark on this adventure? Should she grab a fur coat as she walked through the wardrobe into the forest, as she moved down the aisle to find seat 43E?

Moving into a temporary time and place, especially for the purpose of re-creation, is known as liminality. Explored by Victor Turner in the 1960s, liminality is a threshold, a place of crossing over. Liminality is that in-between place, a time/place of transition; the place between departure and arrival. Liminal is what happens during camps or retreats (or Advances!), as we’re pulled out of ordinary routines into something temporarily disruptive, in order to return changed to our place. Liminality is transformative rituals– baptisms, weddings, which move us from one reality to a new reality.[1]


Year-in-Review – Colleen Batchelder

May 8, 2017 | no responses

In the midst of political turmoil, religious upheaval and economic uncertainty, I’m brought before the presence of God – I’m brought to a place of identity – a place of surrender. As the world spins and my generation convenes on the steps of cathedrals and coffee shops, I’m challenged to lean into the cries of my culture and understand their heartbeat. Steven Bevans, author of Models of Contextual Theology, reveals, “Christianity, if it is to be faithful to its deepest roots and to its most basic instinct, must continue God’s incarnation in Jesus by becoming contextual.”[1] In the midst of societal degeneration, leadership deterioration and church failure, I have been challenged to be the contextual incarnation of Christ. (more…)

How a Trip to England Gave Me More Than an Education

March 8, 2017 | no responses

Anticipation. Excitement. Trepidation. Anxiety. These are a few of the things I felt when I boarded the plane headed to London to join my cohort of 10, two previous cohorts, professors, administrators, and our lead mentor for the Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Global Perspectives England Advance 2016. That’s a huge title, isn’t it? Normally I shorten it to DMin LGP Advance 2016, which makes it a little easier to set aside the future and compartmentalize why we traveled to places like London and Oxford just a few weeks into our program. (more…)

Being in a liminal place…

July 15, 2016 | no responses

We often say that life goes by too quickly. This past year has been a challenge in terms of time and capacity, but it is also an opportunity for growth and discovery. We all enter any program of study to move forward in our life journey. Most of us entered this doctoral journey not knowing how the program would shape us, but understanding that change would be involved. When I began the program, I knew that the Lord was moving in my life and the life of my family. One of my favorite new words that I learned this year is “liminal,” which indicates the state of transition or being both in the old realm and at the threshold of something new.  I know that my doctoral journey is shaping and sharpening me, and I can see that the Lord is molding my skills and knowledge for His work. (more…)

2016 First Year-End Review … “Who Sees”

June 21, 2016 | no responses

He sees every person’s heart and even understands why we live the way we do. El-Roi (You-Are-The-God-Who-Sees)

“The Lord looks from heaven; he sees all the sons of men; from His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works” (Psalm 33: 13-15). (more…)