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.

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.