Liv Larson Andrews believes in the sensus lusus, or playful spirit. Liturgy, worship and faithful practice are at their best when accompanied with a wink, she says.

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Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement.

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Elizabeth Backstrom   

Elizabeth Backstrom majored in journalism at Western Washington University and currently works as a content analyst and grant writer in Spokane. Her background is in newswriting and features, but if an overabundance of caffeine is consumed, she has been known to write a humor piece or two. Backstrom attended various Christian churches growing up in Spokane and currently attends First Covenant Church, an inner-city ministry in downtown Spokane.

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Pastor Eric Blauer is the founder of Jacob’s Well, which he describes as a nondenominational church with a “neighborhood vision and city reaching vision.”

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Jamie Brannock   

Jamie Brannock describers herself as a quiet, shy, weird, dark, goth, complex, woman whose mood changes constantly.

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Annie May Brown   

Annie May Brown moved to Spokane in 2011 with hopes of pursuing, creating and cultivating rich and authentic community. Within a year of being in Spokane, her hopes are budding.

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Patty Bruininks grew up in northeast Tennessee. She left the South to attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, eventually graduating from nearby Hope College. She pursued her doctoral work in Social Psychology at the University of Oregon, becoming a lifelong Ducks fan.

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Kurt Bubna   

Kurt Bubna has been in pastoral ministry since 1976 and now serves as the senior pastor of Eastpoint Church, a large, vibrant, and community-focused congregation in Spokane Valley.

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josie_camarillo Josie Camarillo

Josie Camarillo is a recent graduate of Whitworth University, where she majored in English and psychology.

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Andy CastroLang   

Andy CastroLang is senior pastor at Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ. She is a proud progressive and serves a dynamic inclusive congregation in the city’s first church, founded 134 years ago. CastroLang and her church are pushing back against the culture of judgment, meanness and corruption that are the stereotype of Christianity, she said. She looks for opportunities to build on the good that is in people and in the world.

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Kris Christensen   

The Rev. Kris Christensen is an Episcopal priest and the executive director of West Central Episcopal Mission, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane.

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Deb Conklin   

Rev. Deb Conklin’s wheels are always turning. How can the church make the world a better place? How can it make Spokane better?

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Sarah Conover   

Sarah Conover holds a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from the University of Colorado, a degree in education from Gonzaga University, and a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing from Eastern Washington University.

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  corbin_croy Corbin Croy

Corbin Croy was born in Spokane and grew up in Post Falls. In 1998 he got married at the age of 18 and moved to Coeur d’Alene. Together they have four children, and try to live as simply and honestly as possible.

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Megan Cuilla   

Megan Cuilla is a self-proclaimed seeker who regularly asks the questions, “Who am I?” and, “Where do I belong?” She is currently exploring the reconciliation of her feminist beliefs with what she considers a complicated relationship with her body.

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Jim Downard   

Jim Downard is a Spokane native (with a sojourn in Southern California back in the early 1960s) who was raised in a secular family, so says had no personal faith to lose.

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ShannonDunnShannon Dunn

Shannon Dunn teaches in the area of religious ethics at Gonzaga University.

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Martin Elfert   

The Rev. Martin Elfert is an immigrant to the Christian faith. After the birth of his first child, he began to wonder about the ways in which the Divine was at work in the world. Shortly thereafter, he joined Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC, where he and his new son were baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2005 and where the community encouraged him to seek ordination.

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Bill Ellis   

Rev. Bill Ellis is intrigued by how the Bible was put together. How come some texts were included and some weren’t? What about the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Gnostic Gospels? What does the inclusion and exclusion of certain texts mean, exactly?  These are the questions that keep his wheels turning and what he writes about for SpokaneFAVS.

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Alan Eschenbacher   

The Rev. Alan B. Eschenbacher is a businessman. Insurance and investments were his speciality for 22 years. But in 2004 he left all that and entered Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.

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Kyle Franklin   

Kyle A. Franklin is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University, where he earned his Master’s in Religious Studies. He completed his bachelor’s degree in history and religion at Pacific Lutheran University in 2007 and has worked in both the ELCA Lutheran Church and the United Methodist Church.

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Emily Geddes   

Emily H. Geddes was born to two physicists and grew up as a Navy brat. Born-and-raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Brigham Young University, and earned an MBA from Eastern Washington University. She has, at various times, jumped out of an airplane at 10,000 feet, worked in health care administration, lived in and traveled around Europe, and interned at an electron beam accelerator facility.

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Julia Hayes   

Presently Julia Hayes is a hobby organic farmer living one of the most traditional roles she can imagine; stay at home mama, full-time cook and housekeeper, seamstress extraordinaire, boo-boo fixer-upper, and constant child negotiator and mediator. When she’s not doing all of that, she’s a writer and textile artist. Her favorite area of study, however, is the vast concept called spirituality.

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Robert Hemphill   

Robert Hemphill is in the midst of a year of service in Spokane.

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Scott Kinder-Pyle   

Scott Kinder-Pyle is a nine-fingered struggling poet and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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Laura Kipp   

Laura Kipp is a 20-something Mormon living in Spokane Valley. Like many young adults, she’s interested in pop culture. Sure, TV, movies and celebrities make her wheels turn, but she’s also fascinated by the latest Internet trends. You know, like those YouTube videos that go viral.

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vincent_lachinaVincent Lachina

The Rev. Vincent Lachina has served as Planned Parenthood’s Northwest Regional Chaplain for 10 years, providing support to patients and community members in Washington, Northern Oregon, Alaska and Idaho. Additionally, Lachina works to create an active network of progressive congregations in the Northwest who support reproductive justice for women.

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carrie_lockhertCarrie Lockhert

Carrie Lockhert, a multi-generational Spokane native, earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in English with an emphasis in writing during an era when white-out was purchased in bulk and privilege could be assessed by ownership of an electric typewriter vs. a manual one. Two decades, two marriages, three kids and multiple jobs later she thanked both God and human fortitude for the evolutionary shift in online education options that were afforded through the “computer age” by obtaining her graduate degree in Higher Education Administration online through Northeastern University in Boston. She truly is a bi-coastal Husky.

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Kelly Rae Mathews


Kelly Rae Mathews grew up in culturally and faith diverse San Diego, Calif. during the 70s and 80s before moving to Spokane in 2004. Growing up in a such a diverse environment with amazing people, led Mathews to be very empathetic and open to the insights of many different faiths, she said. She loves science fiction and this also significantly contributed to and influenced her own journey and understanding of faith and values. She agrees with and takes seriously the Vulcan motto, when it comes to faith and life, “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.” Therefore, it is no surprise she has a degree in anthropology as well as English. She has studied the anthropology of religion and is knowledgeable about many faiths.

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Rosemary McFarland   

Rosemary McFarland grew up in the mountains at a Christian summer camp before moving to the country. She says the beautiful surroundings made her fall in love with the outdoors.

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Colleen McLean   

Colleen McLean is a life long Roman Catholic with a few pagan adventures along the way. She has been active in lay ministry in two states and four dioceses.

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Jo Miller   

Jo Miller grew up in Southern California, but came up to the Northwest to attend Whitworth University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and philosophy.

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Tamara Milliken has been practicing yoga for nearly 10 years and teaching yoga and meditation for about five.

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Joe Newby is an IT professional who also writes as a conservative columnist for covering politics, crime, elections and social issues, and offers hard-hitting commentary at his blog, the Conservative Firing Line.

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Toni Niemiec   

Walking the spiritual path has been part of the Rev. Toni Niemiec’s life as long as she can remember. She said as a child she was not raised in a “traditional” religion.

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Joe Niemiec   

The Rev. Joe Niemiec Jr. began his spiritual quest in 1986 when he walked out of a Houston jail and was struck by the realization that his life was in shambles.

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R. Skyler Oberst is an active leader in the interfaith movement, both locally and nationally. Recently, he attended NAIN Connect in Atlanta and had the opportunity to meet with Ambassador Andrew Young on interfaith issues. Oberst has been a research contributor for the Pluralism Project at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., where he worked closely with Diana Eck and other faith leaders.

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Christi Ortiz   

Christi Ortiz is a licensed marriage and family therapist by profession and a poet by passion.  She enjoys trying to put to words to that which is wordless and give voice to the dynamic and wild spiritual journey called life. She lives in Spokane with her husband and two children, Emmanuel and Grace.  She loves the outdoors and meditating in the early mornings which gives rise to her poetry.

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Jocelyn Paluch   

Jocelyn Paluch is the volunteer committee chairperson for the American Cancer Society’s “Bark for Life” event.

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Thomas Schmidt   

Thomas Schmidt is a retired psychotherapist and chemical dependency counselor who belongs to the Sufi Ruhiniat International order of Sufi’s and is a drummer in the Spokane Sufi group and an elder at the Country Homes Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church. He is a member of the Westar Institute (The Jesus Seminar people). He studied for the ministry in the late 1950’s at Texas Christian Church and twice married Janet Fowler, a member of a long tern TCU family and a Disciple minister.

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Neal Schindler   

A native of Detroit, Neal Schindler has lived in the Pacific Northwest for more than 12 years. He has held staff positions at Seattle Weekly and The Seattle Times and was a freelance writer for from 2007 to 2011.

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Judith Shadford   

After a career in marketing and public relations in New York City and Santa Barbara, Calif., Judith Shadford moved to the Northwest to focus on  writing. 

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Jan Shannon   

Jan Shannon is the part-time assistant pastor at Westminster UCC, a full-time student at Eastern Washington University and hopes to attain ordination before the age of 60. When she isn’t studying you can find her at Westminster sharing preaching and worship duties with Pastor Andy CastroLang, leading a book study, new member class, or sharing leadership with her partner, Deb, in the Middle-High Youth Group.

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Tracy Simmons   

Tracy Simmons serves as the editor and executive director of SpokaneFAVS.

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Tracy Springberry   

Tracy Springberry is a Unitarian Universalist minister. She serves the North Idaho Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Coeur d’Alene, as well serves as a traveling minister to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks in Fairbanks, Alaska.

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blaine_stum   Blaine Stum

Blaine Stum is a 20-something-year-old native of the Spokane area who was raised in Spokane Valley. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He works in the local political arena and has been involved in LGBT non-profit work for several years.

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lucasthayer   Lucas Thayer

Lucas Thayer was born in Spokane and currently resides there with his girlfriend, his cat and his dog. He recently received his degree in journalism and mass communication from Whitworth University.

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Because he grew up in El Paso, Texas, on the edge of Juarez, Mexico, Ernesto Tinajero understands what it means to live on the border.

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John VanDerWalker   

John VanDerWalker II serves as a Mission Research, Assessment and Support Specialist with the Western USA Mission Field of the Community of Christ.

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Lace Williams-Tinajero   

Dr. Lace Williams-Tinajero, author of “The Reshaped Mind: Searle, the Biblical Writers, and Christ’s Blood,” (Brill, 2011) writes about the connection between language and the diverse ways people think of, speak of, believe in and ultimately worship God.

View Williams-Tinajero’s page.