Fierce Love in a Hybrid World

A two-day gathering that will equip participants to help birth a better world.


Democracy Is Crumbling. Can We Save It?

Our country is racing towards fascism. Our public systems are in tatters, our government is dysfunctional, and legislators are prioritizing banning books and victimizing trans children over meeting people’s desperate needs. All of this is fruit of white supremacy that must be dismantled so something new can grow. The good news is that this crisis is also an opportunity to do the hard work of transformation, to create the beloved community we deserve.

Multiethnic, antiracist movements aren’t just possible, they’re already here. Middle Church is a living example of how people can come together across difference to unite around the kind of fierce love that can make us well. Despite losing our sanctuary to a devastating fire, Middle Church continues to grow and train leaders build coalitions to fight racist violence. This April, learn from our staff and some of the nation’s foremost leaders and thinkers. Come dream with us about how we can rescue democracy from the brink, and get the skills to help repair this national breach.

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Convening Schedule

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET

Desegregating Pews: An intensive on creating multicultural, antiracist faith communities

Attendees will learn how to articulate the theological imperative for Beloved Community in a culture hostile to love. We also give practical “how-to” tools and tactics to create diverse, antiracist communities and to battle the ways white supremacy masquerades as Christianity. We’ll also talk about how to navigate the conflict that naturally arises in this work, how to make it productive and fuel community-building.


Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister of Middle Church & Author of Fierce Love

Rev. John Janka, Co-founder of Middle Project

Kat Armas, Author of Abuelita Faith

Andre Henry, Author of All The White Friends I Couldn’t Keep 

Lorena Parrish, Associate Professor of Urban Ministries and Director of the Institute for Community Engagement

Hyepin Im, President and Founder of Faith and Community Empowerment

10 Essential Strategies for Building Multiethnic Congregations (Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis & Rev. John Janka)

12:00 – 12:45 p.m. ET

Salon: The Arts in Worship

Middle artists talk about how we incorporate the arts as an embodiment of our community’s values. Learn how to design worship to appeal to multiple senses, and to help liturgy stir people’s minds and hearts. Hear how to identify the resources that are already in your congregation, and use them to make a celebration come alive. Understand how arts can flourish in both physical and virtual mediums.


Madge Dietrich, Broadway Performer & Singer-songwriter

Adrienne Hurd, Broadway Dancer & Acclaimed Choreographer

Lutin Tanner, Lighting Design & Production

Shanta Thake, Chief Artist Officer of the Lincoln Center

12:50 – 2:45 p.m. ET

Lights, Camera, Action

Every question you have about how to make worship look beautiful, both in-person and on a screen, and how to stream it everywhere. Whether you’re equipped with a tripod and a smartphone or a state-of-the-art camera and sound system, learn how to make the most of your technology, and create an experience that will resonate with people in the pews and those watching at home.


Jeff Berman, Director of Media and Worship Production

John Del Cueto, Director of Music & Choirs at Middle Church

Natalie Perkins, Minister for Worship and Digital Community at Middle Church

Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister of Middle Church & Author of Fierce Love

2:45 – 3:30 p.m. ET

Sanctuary Everywhere: How to build diverse, intergenerational digital community

Hybrid community is more than worship! Learn how to connect with members remotely, to facilitate their active participation. Create connections that will encourage people to financially support your congregation, and understand themselves as full and complete participants in communal life. We’ll also talk about how to connect across divides in age and class which can often be an obstacle to digital participation.


Rev. Natalie Renee Perkins, Director of Worship and Digital Community at Middle Church

Rev. Jim Keat, Digital Minister at The Riverside Church

Rev. Darrell Hamilton, Minister for Care and Operations at Middle Church

Elise Tiralli, Director of Congregational Life at Middle Church

3:30 – 4:00 p.m. ET

 Throw the Doors Wide Open: Preaching, Praying, and Programming in Social Media

Your social media feeds are an extension of your pulpit. They’re an opportunity to preach and proclaim truth! That means your social media channels shouldn’t just be a clearinghouse for community events. Learn how to write tweets, create posts and shoot videos as a form of public theology, and how you can leverage your social platforms to grow your movement and partner with organizations aligned to your mission.


Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister of Middle Church & Author of Fierce Love

Rev. Benjamin Perry, Minister for Church Growth & Media Strategy at Middle Church

10:00 – 11:00 a.m. ET

Should Democracy Be Rescued?

Right now, one of our major political parties is actively conspiring against democracy and openly courting authoritarian power. How can we have fruitful political conversations with folks opposed to our thriving? Can American democracy be saved? What is worth saving? What role can faith communities play in healing this breach?


Danté Stewart, Author of Shoutin’ in the Fire

Dylan Marron, Author of Conversations with People Who Hate Me

John Fugelsang, Actor, Comedian, Broadcaster

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister of Middle Church & Author of Fierce Love

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. ET

White Christian Nationalism, and the Challenge to Humanity

Two of the nation’s foremost scholars discuss the rise of Christian Nationalism, and how white supremacy uses Christ to pursue systemic violence. How is Blackness conflated with sinfulness? How is racism weaponized through public policy? How are white supremacist organizations using digital spaces to recruit young people? How can religious communities fight back?


Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Seminary and Author of Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God

Robert P. Jones, CEO & Founder of the Public Religion Research Institute and Author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET

Worship Celebration: Rescuing Rabbi Jesus with Fierce Love. Period.

Join Middle Church for a fabulous hybrid worship. You’ll see a demonstration of the all the worship dynamics discussed in Saturday’s training: How we cast a diverse worship, how arts are incorporated throughout the celebration, and how we use technology to make the experience come alive in the pews and on a screen. Together, we’ll use these gifts to reclaim Jesus from the folks who wield his name for white supremacy.


Antwayn Hopper (Featured in Broadway’s A Strange Loop) will perform an anthem

The Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Preaching

1:30 – 2:00 p.m. ET

Embodying Resistance: The War on Sexuality and Gender

We’re in the middle of a coordinated attack on abortion rights, LGBTQIA+ liberty, and our trans siblings’ fundamental rights. But these aren’t separate issues—they all stem from the same cisheteropatriarchy. Learn how religious communities can combat white evangelical definitions of religious liberty, and use digital spaces to celebrate the God’s love for queer folx; the divine blessing for people’s autonomy over their bodies and sexual lives. Hear from queer siblings how they embody this resistance.


Kevin Garcia, Digital Pastor, Spiritual Coach & Author of Bad Theology Kills: Undoing Toxic Beliefs & Reclaiming Your Spiritual Authority

Rachael Ward, Queer Public Theologian & Minister at Middle Church

Candace Simpson, Sister, Educator, Preacher and Founder of Fish Sandwich Heaven

Michael R. Jackson, Playwright, Composer, Lyricist, Creator of the Broadway Show “Strange Loop”


2:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET

The Intersection of Divinity and Disability

For decades, disabled siblings have demanded access to religious life from which they have too often been excluded. In the pandemic, many congregations created virtual worship and programming that allowed some folks to fully participate in their congregation for the very first time. Explore why it’s essential for congregations to continue hybrid programming, and how we can create community that includes and centers disabled people.


Rev. Natalie Renee Perkins, Director of Worship and Digital Community at Middle Church

Mary Fashik, Founder of Upgrade Accessibility 

Online church is church. I will not abandon my people.

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. ET

Ethical Spectacle: A Cry for Justice in the Public Square

Explore how to incorporate arts into protest to magnify its impact, and how to use digital platforms to amplify its reach. How can we think about demonstrations as public theology? How do we cut through all the noise to ensure a call for justice is heard? Learn the particular and distinctive roles religious organizations can play within broader coalitions.


Candice Benbow, Author of Red Lip Theology 

Paola Mendoza, Co-founder & Artistic Director for the first Women’s March and Author of Sanctuary

Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft, Founder of Raising Imagination

3:00-4:00 p.m ET

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: How to Build a New World from these Ashes

Our systems are collapsing. White supremacy is actively dismantling our institutions, climate change poses a rising and devastating threat, and the pandemic has revealed just how unprepared we are to confront the magnitude of these crises. In this moment, it’s crucial to prepare for how we will build pockets of community that protect and safeguard one another with the fiercest love. Learn how we can thrive in the middle of this mess.


Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister of Middle & Author of Fierce Love

Bree Newsome Bass, Artist, Activist & Filmmaker 

4:15 – 5:30 p.m. ET

Closing Salon: Healing Racism from the Inside out with Fierce Love

On Sunday at 4:15p, Jacqui Lewis and special guests will be facilitating an interactive workshop: Healing Racism from the Inside out with Fierce Love. They’ll address the ways “whiteness” can infect all of us, and needs to be addressed with fierce love of self, with ferocious embrace of our posse and rule-breaking kindness toward the world. Anyone who comes to this special workshop—online or in-person—will get a free copy of her book, Fierce Love

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister of Middle & Author of Fierce Love

Rev. Michael Livingston, Interim Senior Minister for The Riverside Church in the City of New York


Frequently Asked Questions:

Where is the convening?

A hybrid convening has to be hybrid! The program on Saturday, April 23 will be held entirely over Zoom, but on Sunday, April 24 you have the option to participate virtually or in-person. We will gather physically at Fort Washington Collegiate Church in Washington Heights, NYC. Join us there for worship, and to watch the day’s panels together, followed by breakout conversations at the end of the day.

If you can’t join us in-person, however, don’t worry! Every bit of the day will be streamed live over Zoom, and you will have access to your own virtual breakout discussions to close our time together. And we hope this hybrid gathering can be a model you can replicate in your own communities!

What if I can’t make it one of the days?

Don’t worry: A recording of the conference will be sent out to all attendees so you can watch anything you missed and rewatch whatever you’d like!

with our sponsors

Featured Speakers

Kat Armas

Kat Armas is a Cuban American writer and podcaster from Miami, FL. She holds a dual MDiv and MAT from Fuller Theological Seminary where she was awarded the Frederick Buechner Award for Excellence in Writing, and is currently pursuing a ThM at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Her first book, Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us About Wisdom, Persistence and Strength, sits at the intersection of women, decolonialism, the Bible, and Cuban identity. She also explores these topics and more on her podcast, The Protagonistas, which centers the voices of Black, Indigenous, and other women of color in theological spaces.

Kat is currently living in Nashville with her spouse and new baby while working on her second book, Sacred Belonging: A 40-day Devotional on the Liberating Heart of Scripture.

Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft

Amanda is an Activist, Writer, Ordained Minister, Mother and Founder of Raising Imagination. Passionate about the intersection of race, faith, politics, feminism, and parenting, her work is cited on CNN, Refinery29, the Wall Street Journal, WNBC, Bust, Crooked Media, Fox News, and the Women’s March, Inc. She’s presented nationwide on topics including systemic injustice, religion, raising white children as anti-racist,  and involving young children in advocacy.

Bree Newsome Bass

Bree is an American filmmaker, musician, speaker, and activist from North Carolina, where she continues her work as an artist and grassroots community organizer. She is best known for her act of civil disobedience on June 27, 2015, when she was arrested for removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house grounds in the aftermath of the Charleston Shooting. The resulting publicity put pressure on state officials to remove the flag, and it was taken down permanently on July 10, 2015. She previously served as the Western Field Organizer for Ignite NC an organization focused on building youth and student leadership, and she is one of the founders of The Tribe, a grassroots organizing collective created in the aftermath of the 2014 uprising in Ferguson that was instrumental in organizing the removal of SC’s confederate flag in 2015. Her awards are numerous and include recognitions for her work as both an artist and activist, including a 2016 NAACP Image Award. Newsome Bass is lately focused on the issue of housing justice and remains a prominent public speaker on the topic of racial and economic justice as well as the importance of the arts in social movements.

Candice Benbow

Candice Marie Benbow is a multi-genre theologian who situates her work at the intersections of beauty, faith, feminism and culture, giving voice to Black women’s shared experiences of healing and journeying toward wholeness. Reimagining how faith can be a tool of liberation and transformation for women and girls, she challenges Black women to think critically about how they see God and the world.

Named by Sojourners as one of “10 Christian Women Shaping the Church in 2020”, Candice has written for various outlets including ESSENCE Magazine, Glamour Magazine, The Root, VICE, Shondaland, MadameNoire and the Me Too Movement.

Her first book, “Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough” released this year.

Jeff Berman

Jeff Berman is Director of Media Production & Worship at Middle Church, where he creates digital content to share Middle’s vision of love and justice in the world. You can find him behind the camera filming, mixing audio, or in the editing room, supporting Middle’s revolutionary art. Jeff also co-produces and livestreams virtual worship celebrations, helping to shape how Middle embraces our global family through worship.

John Del Cueto

John Del Cueto is the Director of Music and Choirs, and also the Director of the Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir (JJGC), as well as the Village Chorus for Children and Youth at Middle Church.

Madge Dietrich

Madge Dietrich (she/they) is an artist, advocate and gifted weirdo based in Queens. Madge has performed in theatres, concerts, and cabarets across the globe, most notably in the first national tour of Kinky Boots. Madge is also a frequent soloist at Middle Collegiate church where she has been a member since 2015In addition to their theatrical work, Madge is a singer-songwriter whose debut album Therapy drops May 6th. This genre-hopping album explores Madge’s breath as an emerging songwriter reflects on the emotional roller-coaster of seeking love, connection, and belonging as a queer human. Madge is also studying to become a music therapist, currently completing their second bachelor’s degree at Slippery Rock University. For more, visit or @madgeikal @madge_music on socials.

Kelly Brown Douglas

The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas is the Canon Theologian at the Cathedral. In 2017, she was named Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and in 2019, she was appointed to the Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology at Union. Kelly is considered a leader in the field of womanist theology, racial reconciliation, social justice and sexuality and the Black church.

Mary Fashik

Mary has become a driving force in the disability/chronic illness space on social media, specifically on Instagram; not only through her own public profile but also behind the scenes on accounts such as @ckyourprivledge, doing accessibility, and bringing disability issues into more mainstream activism spaces.

Mary was a founding member of a vaccine initiative online to help support the disabled and chronically ill get vaccines. She, along with 2 others, accomplished this via social media campaigns, lobbying, and advocacy. Her work helped many get vaccines during a time when it was extremely difficult for those who were eligible to get it & fought for those who states overlooked eligibility for. She also created camp access during summer 2020, a virtual camp space for the online disability & chronic illness community.

John Fugelsang

He’s been murdered on CSI, interviewed 2 Beatles on separate continents in the same week, and famously once got Mitt Romney’s advisor to call Governor Romney an ‘etch a sketch’ on CNN. Actor, comedian & broadcaster John Fugelsang hosts ‘Tell Me Everything” weekdays on SiriusXM Insight #121.  

He recently performed in ‘The Bill of Rights Concert” alongside Lewis Black & Dick Gregory which aired on AXS. He’s also appeared at Montreal’s ‘Just for Laughs’ Festival, HBO’s U.S Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, hosted America’s Funniest Home Videos for ABC and Bill Maher called him ‘one of my favorite comedians’.

Kevin Garcia

Kevin Garcia is a digital pastor, a mystical theologian + practitioner, and intuitive soul coach based in Atlanta, GA. After coming out in the fall of 2015 as a queer Christian, Kevin has reached thousands of individuals across the globe with messages of God’s unending love for all people. regardless of who they are, what they profess, or what they actually believe. Kevin’s the author of Bad Theology Kills: undoing toxic beliefs and reclaiming your spiritual authority, published Janurary 2020. Kevin’s work also appears in several anthologies by queer people of faith.

Rev. Darrell Hamilton

Rev. Darrell R. Hamilton, II is the Executive Minister for Operations and Resource Development. Prior to Middle, he served as the Pastor for Formation and Outreach at First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, MA, and the Program Director for Urban Pastoral Ministry Program at City Mission Boston.

Andre Henry

Andre Henry is an award-winning musician, writer, and activist. He is a columnist for Religion News Service and the author of the newsletter “Hope and Hard Pills.” He is a student of nonviolent struggle, having organized protests in Los Angeles, where he lives, and studied under international movement leaders through the Harvard Kennedy School. His work in pursuit of racial justice has been featured in The New Yorker and The Nation, and on Liturgists Podcast.

Adrienne Hurd

Adrienne Hurd is a native New Yorker; She began her training studying at the Joffery Ballet School, School of American Ballet and the Alvin Ailey School, all on Scholarship. She has danced with The Neubert Ballet, Dance Brazil, Ailey II, The Jamison Project, and Earl Mosley’s Diversity of Dance. She was an assistant and rehearsal director for Judith Jamison for The Jamison Project. She has worked with Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, Michael Peters, Paula Abdul, Twyla Tharp, Garth Fagan, Donald McKayle, Graciela Daniele, Jeff Calhoun, Vince Patterson, and Earl Mosley. She has appeared on the Broadway in Down To Earth, Dangerous Games and Annie Get your Gun. She has taught at the University of Minnesota, Open Look Dance Festival St. Petersburg, Russia, Dance New Amsterdam, JKO School at American Ballet Theater, American Ballet Theater Summer Intensive NYC, Joffery Ballet School, Professional Performing Arts School, Ailey Extension, The Ailey School, The Ailey School Junior Division, Steps on Broadway and Rasta Thomas’ “Rock The Ballet”. She is the resident Choreographer for the Nomad Contemporary Ballet Company.

Hyepin Im

Ms. Hyepin Im currently serves as the Founder and President of Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD) whose mission is to help churches build capacity to do economic development work on a greater scale. Among KCCD’s successes include organizing and reaching out to the 3300 Korean American churches in the United States including two conferences with the White House bringing together a national delegation of Asian American faith leaders to learn about the faith-based economic development. In addition, KCCD also sponsored a historic faith-based conference held in conjunction with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Over 350 participants attended this first time conference with coverage from all major Korean media.

Ms. Im is also a frequently invited speaker at conferences sponsored by such groups as the Christian Community Development Association, National Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Asian Americans for Equality, and the Southern California Conference of AME Churches. She has also been featured in many interviews with CNN, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and other media including Korean media. Most recently, she completed a research study that focused on Korean American Churches and Domestic Violence. The paper is titled, Strengthening Families in the Korean/Asian Immigrant Community and was supported by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Michael R. Jackson

Michael R. Jackson holds a BFA and MFA in playwriting and Musical Theatre Writing from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. As a songwriter, he has seen his work performed everywhere from Joe’s Pub to NAMT. He wrote lyrics and co-wrote book for the musical adaptation of the 2007 horror film Teeth with composer and co-bookwriter Anna K. Jacobs. He wrote book, music, and lyrics for the musicals White Girl In Danger and A Strange Loop (which will receive its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons Theatre in May of 2019). He has received a 2017 Jonathan Larson Grant, a 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, a 2017 ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, a 2016/2017 Dramatist Guild fellowship, and was the 2017 Williamstown Theatre Festival Playwright-In-Residence. He has commissions from Grove Entertainment & Barbara Whitman Productions and LCT3.

Rev. John Janka

John Janka is a consultant to congregations and non-profits, and is an experienced trainer and coach with a focus on systems intervention, educational design, training models, staff supervision, coaching and evaluation. He has trained, coached and led teams in diverse settings and across racial/ethnic, generational, gender and socio-economic lines. Janka’s experience includes strategic planning and visioning, managing change and resistance, dealing with difference, cultural diversity, human relations training and conflict management. He is currently on the Doctor of Ministry faculty at Wesley Theological Seminary. Janka is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

Robert P. Jones

Robert P. Jones is the CEO and Founder of PRRI and a leading scholar and commentator on religion, culture, and politics. He is the author of “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity,” and “The End of White Christian America,” which won the 2019 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

Jones also writes regularly for The Atlantic online, NBC Think, and Religion News Service and is frequently featured in major national media such as MSNBC, CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others. Jones serves on the national program committee for the American Academy of Religion and is a past member of the editorial boards for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and Politics and Religion, a journal of the American Political Science Association. He holds a Ph.D. in religion from Emory University, a M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a B.S. in computing science and mathematics from Mississippi College. Jones was selected by Emory University’s Graduate Division of Religion as Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2013, and by Mississippi College’s Mathematics Department as Alumnus of the Year in 2016.

Rev. Jim Keat

Rev. Jim Keat is the Digital Minister of Digital Strategy & Online Engagement at The Riverside Church in New York City and the Director of Online Innovation at Convergence, as well as the creator of online projects and platforms like Thirty Seconds or Less, That’ll Preach, and more.

He is a divergent thinker, an ideation specialist, and an aspiring minimalist.

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis

Jacqui uses her gifts as author, activist, preacher, public theologian toward creating an antiracist, just, fully welcoming society in which everyone has enough. Middle is the church of her dreams and prayers, a multiethnic rainbow coalition of love, justice, and worship that rocks her soul. Dr. Lewis’ work has also been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, the front page of The New York Times website, New York Times Video, The New York Post, CNN i-report, Essence,, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, The Associated Press and many more.

She is the author of “Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness That Can Heal the World.”

Rev. Michael Livingston

Rev. Michael Livingston currently serves as the Interim Senior Minister for The Riverside Church in the City of New York.  Working in congregational ministry has always been close to Michael’s heart, whether at Riverside or when he was first starting out in Los Angeles.

Immediately prior to joining Riverside in 2014 as Executive Minister, Michael worked with Interfaith Worker Justice in Washington, D.C., advocating for underpaid workers.  Before that, he spent the middle years of his  ministry in executive leadership in the context of deep ecumenical and interfaith engagement with the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC) and the National Council of Churches (NCC).  He served as the President of the NCC 2006-2007.   Michael also spent fourteen years in graduate theological education at Princeton Theological Seminary as the Campus Pastor in Miller Chapel, which provided a strong foundational knowledge for a life in ministry.

Pastoral and prophetic preaching, small group encounters, pastoral care and counseling, were the disciplines and practices that shaped Michael’s work in that diverse and vibrant community.  Throughout it all, Michael believes there are individuals whose lives beg for the transformation that can come from an encounter with the living God, and that congregations and people of faith can make a difference as incubators for a radical love that grows strong seeking peace through justice.

Dylan Marron

Dylan Marron hosts & produces Conversations with People Who Hate Me, a podcast where he calls up the people behind negative comments on the internet. The show was selected as a Podcast Pick by USA Today & The Guardian, named “the timeliest podcast” by FastCompany, and won a Webby Award. Dylan’s TED Talk, “Empathy is Not Endorsement,” has been viewed millions of times worldwide.

He is also the voice of Carlos on the hit podcast Welcome to Night Vale, an alum of the New York Neo Futurists (Drama Desk Award nom.), and the creator of Every Single Word (Tumblr’s “Most Viral Blog” of 2015; Shorty Award Nominee), a video series that edits down popular films to only feature the words spoken by people of color.

As a writer & correspondent at Dylan created, hosted, and produced Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People (Gotham Award nom.), Shutting Down Bullsh*t, and the Unboxing series.

He recently joined the writing staff of Ted Lasso.

His forthcoming book Conversations with People Who Hate Me will be published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, on March 29, 2022.

Paola Mendoza

Paola Mendoza is a film director, activist, author and artist working at the leading-edge of human rights. A co-founder of The Women’s March, she served as its Artistic Director and co-authored the New York Times best seller Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard around the World. Paola’s most recent book Sanctuary was released to critical acclaim by Penguin.

She was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year in 2017 and one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. She is a co-founder of The Soze Agency and is a co-founder of The Resistance Revival Chorus, the critically acclaimed women’s chorus that believes, “Joy is an act of resistance.”

Lorena Parrish

The Reverend Lorena M. Parrish, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Urban Ministries and Director of the Community Engagement Institute and Center for Public Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary. An ordained American Baptist minister and scholar-activist, Dr. Parrish is a womanist theologian, urban ministry scholar, and staunch advocate for the just treatment of God’s most disenfranchised communities and providing transformative, innovative modes of community engagement. Her teaching has prepared students to initiate ministries that advance inclusion, justice, and equity; new nonprofits and entrepreneurial initiatives; and curriculums that transform the Church’s teachings about spirituality, justice, inclusion, and the politics of Jesus. Her research interests include womanist, Black, and liberation theologies; urban ministry and theology in the public square; and fostering transformative justice and leadership. Her commitment to connecting faith, race, gender, economics, and social justice has led her to provide nuanced understandings, as well as new ways of addressing marginalization and disenfranchisement with a particular focus on urban environments.

Dr. Parrish has over 16 years of nonprofit experience and has worked in multicultural and multi-racial congregations, including on the ministerial staff of the Collegiate Church Corporation, The Riverside Church in New York City, Trinity Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY, and Claryville Reformed Church in Claryville, NY. She also served as Chief Executive of Girls Incorporated of NYC, a nonprofit committed to advocating for and serving young women and girls in underserved communities.

She earned her Ph.D., M.Phil. and M.Div. at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She also holds a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work. Her published works include articles in The Huffington Post and the journal Liturgy, and she is a contributor to the text, Let Your Light Shine: Mobilizing for Justice with Children and Youth (Friendship Press, 2019. Reginald Blount and Virginia A. Lee, editors).

Rev. Natalie Renee Perkins

Rev. Natalie Renee Perkins serves as Digital Minister and Director of Digital Ministry at Middle Collegiate Church, helping to build and hold its online church and community. She received her Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in 2015 and was awarded the Karen Ziegler Feminist Preaching Prize. She became an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ denomination in 2020.

Rev. Benjamin Perry

Rev. Benjamin Perry is Minister of Outreach and Media Strategy at Middle Church. He has previously worked as an organizer with the New York chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, as Deputy Director of Communications and Marketing at Union Theological Seminary, and as an editor at Time Inc.

Candance Simpson

Minister Candace Simpson is a sister, educator and preacher. She is a graduate of Trinity College and Union Theological Seminary. At Concord, Minister Simpson designs Sunday School lessons for the adult classes. It is her delight to create lessons that uplift Black liberation, joy and practical applications of the text.

It is Candace’s philosophy that Heaven is a Revolution that can happen right here on Earth. She is the lead writer and curriculum designer at Fish Sandwich Heaven, an online resource for dreaming a freer world.

Danté Stewart

Danté Stewart is a theologian, essayist, and cultural critic. He is author of Shoutin’ In The Fire: An American Epistle. Named by Religion News Service as one of “Ten Up-And-Coming Faith Influencers”, his work has appeared on CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, ESPN’s The Undefeated, Sojourners, and more.

He received his B.A. in Sociology from Clemson University. He is currently studying at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

Lutin Tanner

Lutin received a Bachelor of Dance and Theater at Western Michigan University. He began his career as a dancer in Garth Fagan Dance, nationally and internationally for 5 years. Then he became Director of Lights and Stage Manager for Dance New Amsterdam. Lutin made the lights for Arthur Aviles, Sara Baird, Brian Brooks, Theresa Duhon, Larry Keigwin, Alex Beller, Earl Mosley, Oliver Steele, Camille A. Brown, Troy Powell and Kevin Wynn, as well as plays, “7 Veils “and” Funeralogues “. Lutin has been with the BAD BOYS OF DANCE since Premiere at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

Shanta Thake

Shanta Thake is the Associate Artistic Director/ Director of Artistic Programs at The Public Theater. In this capacity, Thake oversees the growth and development of Public Works, Mobile Unit, Under the Radar, Joe’s Pub, The Shakespeare Initiative and Public Forum

Elise Tiralli

Elise serves as the Director of Congregational Life at Middle Church. Elise organizes programming for all ages, where they specialize in cultivating community and play for families, queer folx, and elders. Elise leads Middle’s Pride initiatives, and they are deeply committed to raising social consciousness and building safer spaces that center, celebrate, and uplift queer/LGBTQIA2S+ and BIPOC voices. They are also a joyful member of Middle’s Care Team, engaging clinical care from a liberation-based healing praxis and the deep belief that God’s radical love has room for all of us.

Rachael Ward

Rachael Ward is the Ministry Specialist for Communications & Design at Middle Church. They are the co-founder of Bible Queery, Atlanta LGBTQ+ History Project, and host of How To Be Human Podcast. Rachael believes deeply in the work of narrative as a divine form of pastoral care. They write often at and hold to the truth that God made each of us unique and beloved – period.


Do you yearn to not just belong, but be celebrated for exactly who you are? Do you want a community of folks committed to radical love and justice? Wherever you live, you can call Middle Church home.


This movement needs you! We need your time and talent, but we also need your resources. Make a contribution today and help us be midwives to love and justice.

December 5, 2020

A six-alarm fire spread from the building next door and destroyed our beautiful sanctuary. And yet, no fire can stop revolutionary love! Learn how we’re rising from the ashes and what you can do to help.

Find Your People!

Middle hosts small groups for everything from beginning ukulele lessons, Queer Black Men in the Middle or our Voting Reform team. And all of them have options to gather virtually! Join the groups that best fit your passion and the love you want to offer the world.

Liberative Learning

How do you change the world? First, you change yourself. Part of how we fulfill our commitment to God’s gospel of liberation is by training leaders with the skills you’ll need to bring freedom wherever you go. Thousands have participated in our digital courses. Will join them?

What We Believe

Middle is on a mission to reclaim and reframe Christianity—to realign our faith with Jesus’ teaching and take it back from the folks who have stolen it. We do this work joyfully, fueled by the Spirit, and strengthened by the community we create with one another.

Celebrate LOVE with Us!

Middle’s worship is a joyful, diverse celebration that gives a taste of what heaven feels like—an experience to soothe your soul and fill you with God’s liberatory fire! Every week is different, but what remains constant is how we tell the story of love through transformative art.

Do Justice

Faith comes alive when our love radiates outwards. At Middle, we’re committed to building an intersectional movement that both addresses the particular needs of different communities and unites us in common solidarity. This is God’s work, and we hope you’ll join us in it.