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Refugia: a podcast about renewal

hosted by Debra Rienstra

Available on your favorite podcast platform

Welcome to Season 3!

After a year’s hiatus (to finish my book Refugia Faith), I’m back for another season of interviews with fascinating people whose expertise and wisdom can help us understand how to be people of refugia. This season, we’re focusing on “refugia church,” looking for models and ideas for how refugia can thrive in faith communities.

Subscribe on your preferred podcast platform, and look for new episodes each week through November. We’ll conclude with a summary episode, in conversation with my sometime cohost, biologist Prof. David Koetje.

What are refugia??

Refugia are places of shelter where life endures in times of crisis. From out of these small sanctuaries, life re-emerges, and the world is renewed.

We’re exploring what it means for people of faith to be people of refugia. How can we create safe places of flourishing— “micro-countercultures” where we gain strength and spiritual capacity to face the challenges ahead?

Host Debra Rienstra interviews a different guest each week, exploring the evocative idea of refugia from a variety of perspectives, from biology to worship to politics.

This is a podcast, ultimately, about watching for places where God is working at renewal—of the earth, of the church, culture, and society. It’s about seeking how we might participate willingly and courageously in that divine work.

For grammar geeks: “Refugia” is plural. “Refugium” is singular. I try to keep this straight, but both I and my guests mess it up sometimes. Meanwhile, the phrase “people of refugia” seems to reconstrue the word as a singular quality or state of being. I like this term enough, obviously, to put up with the confusing linguistic issues involved!


Debra Rienstra

Debra Rienstra is professor of English at Calvin University, where she has taught writing and literature since 1996. She is the author of four books—on motherhood, spirituality, worship, and ecotheology/climate change—as well as numerous essays, poems, and scholarly articles. She writes the fortnightly Refugia Newsletter on Substack, a newsletter for people of faith who want to know and do more about climate. She also writes fortnightly for The Reformed Journal blog, writing about spirituality, climate change, pop culture, the church, the arts, higher ed, and more. Her literary essays have appeared in Rock & Sling, The Examined Life Journal, and Aethlon, among other places.

Debra was raised in Michigan and holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a PhD from Rutgers University. She and her husband, Rev. Dr. Ron Rienstra, have three grown children. When not writing (or grading!) or reading, Debra enjoys figuring out how to garden, solving crossword puzzles, hiking in the dunes near Lake Michigan, or listening to very wonky podcasts.


To share your thoughts on Refugia, choose an episode and scroll down to the comments section.

Refugia Podcast

Refugia in Review

Refugia are places where we are content to be small for a while. To wait, to be quiet, to practice simple virtues like hospitality and empathy. To build capacity on a small scale to prepare us for regrowth.
November 23, 2019


Many thanks to the team of people who made this project possible.

  • Thanks to all my guests, who were so generous with their time and wisdom. I’m proud to put your work on display whenever I can.
  • Thanks to Kathleen Dean Moore, whose book Great Tide Rising inspired the idea for the podcast and who continues to inspire me with her prophetic voice, artistic skill, and personal integrity.
  • Thanks to David Wunder along with the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship for providing support for Season 3 and to the several Centers and Institutes at Calvin University that provided funding to support an experimental pilot project during the summer of 2019.
  • Thanks to my excellent assistants for Season 3, Ian Gilbert and Kathryn Gardner (audio editing) and Michal Rubingh (text editing).
  • Thanks to my excellent assistants for Season 2, Josh Parks (text editing and publicity) and Philip Rienstra (audio editing). Could not have done another season without you.
  • For Season 1, thanks to Calvin students Kayla Cooper and Garrett Strpko for doing so much of the recording and post-production, and to Jordan Van Eerden for batting cleanup. Thanks to Lauren Cole for much transcription editing and for developing the look of the podcast. Professors are not necessarily the most tech-savvy and we tend to be reclusive, but we can learn. Thanks for your patience with us.
  • Thanks to Michaela Osborne and Stephanie Boer for vital logistical support during Season 1.
  • Finally, huge thanks to John Hwang, whose passion and commitment fires us up and continues to make it all possible.