MEET THE INSTRUCTORS
Kathleen Norris is an award-winning poet, writer, and author of The New York Times bestsellers The Cloister Walk, Acedia & Me, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, and Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith.
Exploring the spiritual life, her work is at once intimate and historical, rich in poetry and meditations, brimming with exasperation and reverence, deeply grounded in both nature and spirit, sometimes funny, and often provocative. She has loved movies for as long as she can remember.
Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter, and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels depicting life in a strict evangelical household including Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma. While Schaeffer was a conservative, fundamentalist Christian in his youth, he has changed his views, becoming a liberal Democrat and a self-described Christian atheist.
Dr. James McLeary is a deeply experienced wisdom holder & expert facilitator whose leadership has been a critical force driving the success of Inside Circle. Executive producer of the documentary, THE WORK, detailing the transformative program in Folsom Prison, James brings deep expertise in group process work & its application in varied settings. James is deeply committed to service & we at The Porch are deeply grateful for his teaching, support, and presence.
Michelle LeBaron’s work in transforming conflict started in the crucible of her conflicted prairie family and continues in many countries and contexts. She loves collaborating to transform artists’ wisdom about conflict into practical strategies. Her books, articles and teaching as a law professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada explore the alchemy of creatively bridging differences.
Melvin Bray (better.melvinbray.com) is an Emmy® award-winning storyteller, social entrepreneur, and author who lives and gardens with his wife, three kids and two dogs in southwest Atlanta, GA.
A former literature professor turned equity consultant, Melvin is a student of how societal myths aid or block desired political outcomes. In this vein, he authored BETTER: Waking Up to Who We Could Be to demonstrate how our sacred narratives can either promote or subvert beloved community, and he supports Beautiful Ventures, a network of storytellers and story-lovers promoting liberatory black imagery in media.
Noah Hepler (he/him) is the pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement in Philadelphia, and is currently writing his dissertation on Augustine of Hippo. Noah appeared in season 5, episode 1, of Netflix’s Queer Eye.
When he isn’t nerding out on theology, Noah can frequently be found geeking out with a computer or table top game. Noah’s passion for Queer Theology developed as it liberated him to experience God’s grace enough to come out and then again to let go of the way which he had let the past keep him bound.
Rev. Brian Ammons (he/him) is Chaplain at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. He ordained in the Alliance of Baptists, and holds a PhD in Curriculum and Cultural with a concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies.
He’s also taught courses in education, gender, theology and social justice at Duke University, The Divinity School at Wake Forest University, and UNC Greensboro. Brian is married to Gareth Higgins, founder of the Porch.