What Now? Navigating a  

Changing World

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. This spring, our Renewal sessions will focus on how we navigate change in the world, in our institutions and systems, and in our own lives. We will ask the question, “What do we do now?” and learn what we can do to push for change that makes the world a more just, equitable place.

We will continue with the monthly online event series. We will be partnering with faculty, staff, alumni, students, and community members to discuss the changing world around us and the real actions we can take to continue to work toward justice.

Want to learn more about navigating change? Check out the Complexified Podcast, hosted by Amanda Henderson, Director of the Iliff Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture. This season, Complexified will focus on change–generational change, political change, changing theologies, and much more!

Friday, April 14th, from 12:00 to 1:30 pm MDT via Zoom

“What Now? Reproductive Justice in a Post-Roe Nation”

How can we fight for justice in the face of seemingly indomitable injustice? When marginalized and vulnerable people are under threat, how can we protect them? What real steps can we take to stand for reproductive justice in light of the 2022 Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade?

For our April Renewal Session, Iliff is partnering with Soul 2 Soul Sisters, a racial justice non-profit organization centered on Black Women, Femmes, and Trans Folks, as we consider the ramifications of this decision and how we can take action for reproductive justice.

Registration: $5 | Free for all students and Iliff faculty and staff.


Briana Simmons (she/her), Black Health & Reproductive Justice Coordinator, Soul 2 Soul Sisters
Briana Simmons, born to Calvin Brian Simmons and the late Kimberly Yvette Simmons, began her life journey in Kansas City, Missouri. As a radical visionary, lifecycle facilitator, creative, and organizer, Briana knows the calling on her life is to become an ancestor who took part in reclaiming traditional ways of being within the modern context of our existence. Her long-term vision is to become a midwife while continuing community-based activism and extending her mothering nature to a family of her own. Briana has earned a Bachelors of Science Degree in Journalism while attending Missouri State University and a Master’s Degree in International Human Rights from the University of Denver. She is a trained full spectrum birthworker skilled in providing holistic perinatal care, lactation support, and end of life planning and death care. She was most recently recognized by the city and county of Denver as a 2020 Mayor’s Diversity and Inclusion Award recipient.

Lauren Smith (she/her), Black Civic Engagement & Policy Manager, Soul 2 Soul Sisters
Lauren was born in Texas but has lived in Colorado nearly her whole life. She went to the University of Colorado-Boulder for physics, before taking an environmental studies class where she learned that she really wanted to work at a systemic level to fight climate change. After making the shift from STEM to policy while working at a youth advocacy organization, she honed in on what excited her most – fighting for racial and reproductive justice, while fostering a caring environment for her people. In 2021, she began to pursue a Bachelor’s in social work at Metro State University, so that she could be even better equipped to organize on a macro level while learning how to support her community’s health and wellness on the micro level. As the Black Civic Engagement and Policy Manager for Soul 2 Soul Sisters, she organizes alongside her amazing team to advocate for the needs of her community every day, at the legislature, the ballot box, and beyond. When she’s not doing the work (or her homework), you can find Lauren trying new restaurants with her partner, perfecting her skincare routine, or playing with her cat Maisie.

Thursday, March 23rd, from 12:00 to 1:30 pm MDT via Zoom

“Advocacy and Activism: Tools for the Collective Revolution”

Feeling helpless with our politics and policies? Thinking about Canada? Politically, our country is on fire. What can you do about it? Any of it. Does your vote even count? You may have more power than you think.

Join us Thursday, March 23rd, at 12:00 pm MDT for a Renewal workshop with Iliff alumna Senator Linda Newell to learn:
How to influence policymakers and candidates for office;
Strategies for preventing and changing harmful governmental policies;
When to work within or outside the system;
Centering ethics and values in persuasion.

Sometimes, it takes one of us. But it always takes all of us.

Registration: $5 | Free for all students and Iliff faculty and staff.


Linda Newell never expected to hold public office but she ended up getting elected (barely, the first time) and serving in the Colorado State Senate. In 2017, Senator Newell was termed out after eight years of public service. She led alternative dispute resolution, restorative justice efforts, and significant reforms in child protection, education equity, and early childhood. She sponsored some of the nation’s first legislation removing zero-tolerance school discipline policies to help break the school-to-jail pipeline harmful to children of color, kids with disabilities, and those in foster care. She also drove policy and systemic improvements in health care and mental health, suicide prevention, juvenile justice, domestic violence, workforce development, technology, and the arts. In order to help create more informed and empathic voters, Sen. Newell produced The Last Bill, a Senator’s Story, a documentary short about the state legislative process from an insider’s view. View the trailer here. (link for ‘View the trailer here’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La2Jx2EPeEg)

In 2020, Linda earned a master’s in Social Justice and Ethics at Iliff School of Theology where she studied restorative practices and Clinical Pastoral Education in interfaith chaplaincy. Currently, she is an adjunct instructor at Iliff teaching Conscious Conflict and Spiritual Foundations for Fundraising.

As a consultant/facilitator and certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Linda now specializes in conflict transformation, diversity, equity, accessibility, inclusion (DEAI), and belonging. Using her chaplaincy and anti-oppression training, Linda focuses her decolonizing work on infusing organizational systems with human dignity from a trauma-informed, socially-just lens. She is the co-host and co-producer of a radio show on conflict. She also serves on the Colorado Suicide Prevention Commission and teaches approaches for civic engagement, conflict, and transformative justice. Check out her website here. (link for ‘check out her website here’: lindanewell.org)

Linda is a single mother of two courageous and spirited Millennials and talks about them a lot.

Thursday, February 16th, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm MST via Zoom

“What Now? Church in the Post-Covid World”

What does the church–locally, globally and in between–look like in a post-COVID world? Can pastors and congregations ever go back to the worship and community they had before the pandemic? How does the modern church pivot to something new? In our first Renewal session of 2023, Iliff alum Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter, author of Forging a New Path: Moving the Church Forward in a Post-Pandemic World (https://rebekahsimonpeter.com/forging-a-new-path), will guide us as we consider these questions and discuss the future of faith-focused communities. Rebekah has extensive experience coaching church leaders as they reimagine and revitalize their congregations. Join us Thursday, February 16th at 1:00 pm MST to learn about how churches and faith leaders can step into a post-pandemic future.

Registration: $5 | Free for all students and Iliff faculty and staff.


Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter is passionate about reconnecting spiritual leaders with their God-given powers to co-create miracles with the divine. Her award-winning group coaching program, Creating a Culture of Renewal®? has energized church leaders across the country to reclaim their calling and to grow their ministries. Known for teaching leaders how to bring out the best in the people who frustrate them the most, her work transforms church leaders and the congregations they serve. She is also an avid hiker, dog mom, wife to Jerry, lover of coffee, and a gratitude junkie.

In addition to Forging a New Path, Rebekah is the author of Dream Like Jesus®?, The Jew Named Jesus, Green Church, Green Church Leader Guide, and 7 Simple Steps to Green Your Church. Check out her work here (https://rebekahsimonpeter.com)!