A theology that is more loving, accepting, and validating
Genevieve Rohret-Navin’s schedule currently orbits around Iliff Student Senate obligations, her full-time Masters student schedule, being a part of church leadership committee member, and reality as wife and “soon-to-be mom.” As a trained educator, and a teacher for many years, Genevieve is no stranger to an overly busy schedule. Despite her busy days, both at home and at school, Genevieve is never too busy for a hug or a smile.
Prior to Iliff, Genevieve was a teacher in Colorado schools. Unsettled by the lack of resources for teachers, Genevieve began exploring and discerning what Iliff’s social justice program would look like in her life. Her discernment was not easy – nor was it short. In 2013, she began considering Iliff but did not fully realize her call until 2017. Along with prayer, her friend and biggest supporter, alumni Jasper Peters, helped her to lean into a call but not the one she anticipated. Genevieve felt called and lead to Iliff, to ministry, and to fighting for social justice as a parish minister.
Genevieve shared that, before Iliff, she often felt isolated by her theological and ideological beliefs. Genevieve found that Iliff was a place to both learn and put validity to the things that she felt, believed, and understood about her theology, as well as learning the scholarship behind those beliefs. She shared that, in many ways, Iliff offers accessibility to theologies that are quieter, or less heard, in the loud arena of conservative voices. She believes that Iliff has and will continue to send people out into the world – and into spaces – where they can be voices for theologies that are not as well known, or faith perspectives that are not as validated in the greater American context.
Often feeling isolated in the American religious landscape, Iliff has connected Genevieve with rich scholarship, patient professors, and amazing students who affirm her theology for change and social justice. Iliff offers a different version of theology that is more loving, accepting, and validating for people both in the church and outside of the church. She has found a space to better articulate her own theology and a theology that resonates with others within and outside of Christianity.
When asked about her time at Iliff so far, we prompted Genevieve to reflect on courses or professors who have challenged or surprised her. When considering courses, she consistently returned to those taught by Cathie Kelsey. Her first-year interdisciplinary course set her on the right track. Returning to school after teaching for so long was an adjustment, but this class allowed Genevieve to settle into a rhythm of course-work and curriculum.
Personally, one of the most amazing courses she took was Life of Prayer. Not only did this course challenge her as a future minister, but it challenged her personally to re-examine her own ideas about prayer. This course exposed her to different ways of engaging prayer and was life-changing, she says. Kelsey’s approach to the course allowed each student to explore prayer in a way that made sense to them – to their histories, their current lives, and their future careers. Genevieve made connections to different things that were already prayer – she just needed to dig deeper.
As part of her busy life, Genevieve also serves on the leadership committee for Belong Church – led by Iliff alumni and friend to Genevieve, Rev. Jasper Peters. The mission of Belong is simple:
Belong is a place where many people gather together and explore the many ways in which God has been moving in our lives. By joining together in an inclusive, justice oriented community, we have the opportunity to encourage each other, challenge ourselves, and transform our world through the radical and redemptive love of Jesus.
Inclusive, justice-oriented community. These words not only speak to the heart of Belong Church, but they speak to the heart of Genevieve and, she feels, to the heart of Iliff. Belong officially launched in March of 2017 but had roughly one-year of preview services before opening its doors publicly. Friends for many years prior, Jasper was “along for the ride” during Genevieve’s discernment period. Jasper was highly influential in her decision to attend Iliff. He encouraged her, challenged her, and made her ask the hard questions – what was her calling?
Belong is the sister church of Trinity, where Genevieve and her husband met Jasper. As long-time members of Trinity, and long-time friends of Jasper, she and her husband both felt called to help plant Belong Church. Planting a new church requires sacrifice. It requires time, money, commitment, and realizing your own call to be a part of a new community. Genevieve and her husband felt called to help raise the community at Belong. They now have feet in both doors, so to speak. Genevieve and her husband, Ben, now serve on the Belong leadership team helping to grow and engage the community.
Despite Genevieve’s decision to enroll in Iliff’s Masters of Divinity program, she never lost sight of her mission: social justice in and through parish ministry. Belong offers a church to people who need to feel whole. The church’s focus on social justice, LQBTQIA+ inclusivity, and a strong intentionally to lean into diversity accurately reflects her heart and what she believes is the kindom of God on Earth. Belong, Genevieve feels, is the perfect parish manifestation of the faith and theology that she has found at Iliff.
The Iliff community has a strong tradition of giving back. Your gift, no matter the size, is life-altering for students like Genevieve. Please give today.