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. For the 2021 – 2022 season, we are considering how theology frames and is framed by world events and the role of Iliff in light of these theological connections.

Through 2021, we will continue with the monthly online event series.  We will be partnering with faculty, staff, alumni, students, and community members to discuss the role theology plays in their work and in the world.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022, at 12 noon (MST)

“What does spirituality have to do with self-care and stress?”

In this workshop, we explore how breath- and body-based practices may help people feel connected to what is good within themselves, others, and creation. We will do a slow, deep breathing practice together and model how to use some opening questions to begin a conversation with others about what helps them cope with stress. The conversation guide puts into practice Iliff’s interreligious respect for each person’s practices, values, and beliefs. Participants will get a chance to use the conversation guide in breakout pairs.

Register here to attend


Dr.Carrie Doehring is Iliff’s Clifford Baldridge Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling. She is a veteran pastoral theologian and a pioneer in the pastoral work of trauma care and moral injury.






Jeff Zust (Iliff Joint Ph.D. student) a semi-retired pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He has 38 years of ordained experience, with 33 years of active duty service as an Army Chaplain. He has served both rural and urban parishes and in every conflict from Desert Storm through Afghanistan. Jeff is currently a doctoral student at DU/Iliff focusing on the spiritual care of morally injured veterans, which intersects with trauma ministry and military ethics. He resides in Colorado Springs with his wife and has five children and six grandchildren. He is a co-author of the book Care for the Sorrowing Soul: Healing Moral Injuries from Military Service and Implications for the Rest of Us, along with other professional articles. 



Thursday, November 11, 2021, at 11:30 a.m (MST)

“What’s theology got to do with Embodiment?”

How does theology play into our understanding of humanity? What is embedded theology and where does it come from? How is our theology connected to our physical bodies, and how does it frame our view of the physical bodies of others?

Join the Iliff community for our November Renewal session that asks how theology connects to embodiment, anthropology and complex humanity.


Dr. Lisa Dellinger (Chickasaw Nation) is the Tinker Visiting Professor for AY 2021-22.  A recent Ph.D. graduate of the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Dr. Dellinger is currently the Visiting Assistant Professor of Constructive Theologies and Louisville Postdoctoral Fellow at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

With regards to her research, Dr. Dellinger shared the following: “I take seriously the intersections and the irreconcilabilities between Native American Indian Theory and Christian Theology as they are embodied through a Native context/hermeneutic. I aspire to enrich the academy by offering scholarship that reflects the complexity of contemporary Native Peoples lives within and outside of the Christian faith.”

Register here to receive the video recording of Dr. Lisa’s presentation.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021, at 12 noon (MST)

“What’s theology got to do with a pandemic?”

What can we learn about the COVID-19 pandemic by considering how the Renaissance responded to the Black Death? Why do pandemics seem to generate piety, and does that piety last? What are the long-term effects of pandemics—psychological, traumatic, seen and unseen? The ancient origins of the world ‘religion’ mean ‘to reconnect;’ how is reconnecting and promoting integration part of our response to pandemics, historically and today?

Join the Iliff community for our October Renewal session that asks how theology connects to pandemics historically and today.


Dr. Albert Hernández is associate professor of the history of Christianity at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, and core faculty member of the Joint Ph.D. Program in the Study of Religion at the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology. His teaching areas include the history of Christianity from Ancient times to the Medieval and Early Modern periods. His research interests include Islam and Christianity in the middle ages, the Crusades, the history of pneumatology and Christian healing traditions, Christian mysticism and revitalization movements, the Italian Renaissance, and the history of science and medicine. During his career, he has also served in executive leadership positions such as senior vice president for academic affairs, dean of the faculty, chief operations officer, interim president and chief executive officer. Dr. Hernández is the author of Subversive Fire: The Untold Story of Pentecost (Emeth Press, 2010), and co-author with Miguel De La Torre of the theological best-seller: The Quest for the Historical Satan (Fortress Press, 2011).

Dr. Karen Gieseker is a PhD trained infectious disease epidemiologist who has worked in health related fields for over 30 years. She received her MTS from Iliff where she focused on the impact of faith systems on beliefs and behaviors around health and is now Adjunct Faculty for the Iliff School of Theology. Dr Gieseker has worked in local, state, national, and international public health agencies including the Colorado Children’s Hospital, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Centura Health’s Global Health Initiative and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is focused on the physical, mental, and social well-being of ALL individuals and is passionate about decreasing social injustice and increasing health equity. Dr Gieseker was deployed into Colorado’s COVID-19 response in early March of 2020 for 18 months. Her work for the State Health Department for COVID included being the Emergency Operations Center’s Planning Section Chief, a member of the Joint Vaccine Task Force, a Regional Point of Contact to the Local Public Health Directors for 18 counties, a member of the Governor’s Emergency Expert Epidemic Response Committee Crisis Standards of Care Community Engagement Sub-Committee, as well as a consultant on COVID for the Governor’s Clergy Council Leads and St Andrew UMC’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Student Discussants

Melissa Scott-Dixon is a mental health therapist in private practice and a third year Journey MDiv Student at Iliff School of Theology. She writes and presents regularly on the intersections of faith, mental health, and justice. A candidate for ordained ministry in the UMC, she seeks to create trauma-informed and radically inclusive faith spaces to meet the needs of 21st-century spiritual seekers.

Bjorn Holmquist is a student in the joint PhD program and is currently composing a post-humanist theology around materiality and unconditional love, which expresses creativity as a way towards actualizing social justice.

Inspired by a curiosity about other cultures, Kathi Schlegel has spent the last 30 years traveling, reading and exploring how people see the world through the lens of family, food, music, social interactions and religion. After raising three responsible and curious children, Kathi embarked on an academic journey to dig deeper into various aspects of religious studies. The experience as a masters student has provided a broad stroke across many subjects within the discipline, which has been both fascinating and sometimes frustrating for her, as so many classes have been intriguing for future study. As she completes the final quarter of her Masters in Theological Studies at Iliff School of Theology, Kathi is motivated to hone her studies, focusing on the  intersection of psychology and religion with emphasis on well-being, and religious/spiritual practices that expand resilience, particularly in the healthcare field, especially with those experiencing trauma and burnout. Kathi will write her thesis for her masters this fall quarter on this subject, using research from scholars such as Kenneth Pargament, Tyler VanderWeele, Julie Exline and Anthony Petro; with the intention of expanding the exploration through a doctoral program. Kathi is active in the Denver philanthropic community, participates in a quarterly Salon that she organized focused on discussing books, art and music, and enjoys hiking, fishing and skiing in the Colorado mountains with her husband of 32 years.  

Carolyn PIttman is an African American female, retired military, and Licensed Local Pastor UMC of a small  African American elderly congregation. She is in the final two quarters of her MDiv at Iliff. She has served as a clinical chaplain at a Methodist hospital in San Antonio, TX, for several years, and has seen first-hand the health inequities of African Americans, brought to the forefront in the COVID pandemic. She is continuing to work with the Wesley community nurse and Methodist healthcare ministries to integrate spirituality with clinical care for underserved communities.