What is Renewal?

The Renewal Conference is Iliff’s annual community gathering to share our work, hear timely messages from a variety of experts, and spend time in fellowship. Each year, we focus on a different overall theme which is relevant to our society in those moments, and each day provides content focused on part of the conference theme. In light of the challenges we are all facing, the theme for this year is “Justice.”

For 2021, we are moving the conference to an online event series to be held in the afternoon on the second Monday of each month, from January through June. For our event series, we will be partnering with faculty, staff, alumni, students, and community members to share how justice powers their work in the world.

Presenter details and registration information will be posted shortly. In the meantime, please save the dates! All events will be held from 1:00 – 2:30 (Mountain).

  • Monday, January 25, 2021
  • Monday, February 8, 2021
  • Monday, March 8, 2021
  • Monday, April 12, 2021
  • Monday, May 10, 2021
  • Monday, June 14, 2021
Continuing Education Units
Attending the six Renewal sessions will total nine contact hours which could be used for CEUs.   


Monday, January 25, 2021
Storytelling, Music, and Justice with Spencer LaJoye (MDiv 2020) and Julie Todd (PhD 2012)


 Moderator: Caran Ware Joseph




Julie Marie Todd is a scholar-activist living in Lawrence, Massachusetts. She is the John Wesley Iliff Senior Lecturer in Justice & Peace Studies at the Iliff School of Theology, teaching all of her courses in online and hybrid formats. A graduate of the DU/Iliff Joint PhD program, her dissertation is available as the book Struggling with (Non)violence. Her scholarship focuses on social change theory and praxis, violence and (non)violence, ecology and earth activism, and matters of privilege, oppression and solidarity across axes of difference. She is a published essayist and poet on matters of justice-seeking and the spiritual life. She is also the author of the books 50: thorns & blossoms and Nothing About Us Without Us: LGBTQ Liberation and the United Methodist Church. She is a trained herbalist and aromatherapist, and the owner of JustJulie.

Spencer LaJoye (they/them) is a folk/pop singer songwriter, violinist, and vocal loop artist in Denver, CO, who believes everyone is made of the good stuff. They make music to remember what it means to be human, to find connection in a time of disconnection, and to feel something in a world gone numb

LaJoye was raised on classical music, musical theater, and jazz in Hastings, MI. Their first venture into folk music was an EP produced in Nashville, TN at the Contemporary Music Center. Their first studio album was a solo acoustic project, released with and for their community in Grand Rapids, MI, while earning their B.A. in Religion from Calvin University. Since moving to Denver, CO to be with their wife, LaJoye has written and produced three albums.

LaJoye has an Mdiv from Iliff School of Theology and works as the Artist-in-Residence at Lakewood United Methodist Church. LaJoye also curates a small live music listening room for songwriters called “The Chimney Place” and is passionate about creating sacred space for inspiring empathy through the arts.

Monday, February 8, 2021
Social Enterprise and Justice with Betsy Lay and Samantha Joo

Betsy Lay is the co-founder and owner of Lady Justice Brewing in Aurora, CO. After graduating from the University of Denver in 2004 she began her career working in education-based non-profits, including serving two terms as an AmeriCorps VISTA, where she met Kate Power and Jen Cuesta. Together in 2014, the three friends founded the philanthropic Lady Justice Brewing Company. She also holds a Master in Theological Studies from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. In her time off from the brewery, Betsy can be found with a good whiskey, a good book, and a good dog.  

Samantha Joo is the Academic Advisor and Adjunct Faculty at the Iliff School of Theology.  She is also the founder of Queer Koreans Alliance, currently named Dding Dong, a safe space for LGBTQIA teens in Seoul. It is one of the most respected and largest queer organizations in South Korea. Now, she is developing Platform where she is the founder and director.  Platform (www.platform4women.com) is a nonprofit organization invested in mentoring daring women and youths for social justice work.  She is working to create a sustainable nonprofit model by exploring different entrepreneurial projects.

Monday, March 8, 2021
Environmental Justice with Dr. Mark Freeland and Dr. Amy Erickson
Dr. Mark Freeland, (Sault St. Marie Anishinabek) Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies/American Indian Studies Program Coordinator at the South Dakota State University, is the first Tinker Visiting Professor for both the 2020-2021 and the 2019-2020 academic years. He regularly Iliff courses during the summer and mentors students and offers public education programs during the fall and winter quarters.

Amy Erickson's headshotDr. Amy Erickson is associate professor of Hebrew Bible and the director of the Masters of Theological Studies (MTS) program at the Iliff School of Theology. Erickson teaches a range of courses in biblical interpretation, including The Body and Sexuality in the Hebrew Bible, (Re-)Constructing Identity in the Persian Period, and The Afterlives of Jonah. Her research interests include Hebrew poetry, metaphor theory, theories of identity and constructions of the self, poetic and mythological texts in ancient Near Eastern literature, and the history of interpretation.

Erickson has written articles on Jonah, Job, the Psalms, Zechariah, and Amos for academic journals and edited volumes. She is a regular contributor to The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (de Gruyter), workingpreacher.org and the Huffington Post ON Scripture. She is currently writing a commentary on the book of Jonah and the history of its interpretation for a new series, published by Wm. B. Eerdmans, entitled Illuminations.

An active member of the Society of Biblical Literature, Erickson currently co-chairs the section Megilloth (“Scrolls,” which includes the book of Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther).