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Debra Rienstra

Professor / Author
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Speaking Schedule

Summer/Fall 2024

  • July 8, 2024. Dear Earth: Religious Education Association annual conference, online. “Refugia Futures and Corridors of Belonging: Nurturing Humans for Climate Realities Across Faiths and Places.” Plenary speaker/moderator.

Winter/Spring 2024

  • Jan. 25, 2024. Center for Deep Green Faith online webinar. “Refugia Communities for a Resilient Future.” Register here.
  • Feb. 3, 2024. Georgia IPL Green Team Summit: Rooted in Resilience. Keynote speaker. Oak Grove United Methodist Church, Decatur, Georgia. Register here.

Summer/Fall 2023

  • July 13, 2023. Wild Goose Festival Climate Justice Camp (sponsored by Third Act Faith). “Beyond Humans: Considering Justice for Other Species.” Conversation with Brian McLaren and Melanie Griffin. “From Passivity to Citizenship.” Concluding Address.
  • July 24, 2023. Au Sable Institute, Mancelona, Michigan. “Christians and Climate Change.” Presentation for Au Sable students.
  • September 20, 2023. Workshop. Westminster Presbyterian Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Deep Green Faith Podcast. Featured Guest. Creation Justice Ministries. Forthcoming.
  • Oct. 19-22. Lilly Fellows Conference. Aquinas College, Grand Rapid, Michigan. “Refugia Faith: A Way Forward.” Keynote Address.


Winter/Spring 2023

  • “Healing the Earth.” No Small Endeavor Podcast. Featured guest. Lee Camp, host. April 29, 2023. Link to episode.
  • Camp Fowler Book Club. Featured author appearance (online). April 29, 2023.
  • Central College, Pella Library, Second Reformed Church. Pella, Iowa. Featured speaker at three events. March 20-21, 2023.
  • Evangelical Environmental Network book club. Featured author appearance (online). March 16, 2023.
  • Workshop Featured Speaker. All Saints Saugatuck. Saugatuck, Michigan. March 11, 2023.
  • “Refugia Faith: An Evening with Debra Rienstra.” Featured speaker (online). BTS Center. Portland, Maine. Feb. 16, 2023. Link to video.
  • “Refugia Faith: Adapting Christian Faith and Practice for a Climate-Stressed Planet” (presenter) and “What’s Missing from Models of Christian Formation” (panelist). Calvin Symposium on Christian Worship. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Feb. 8, 2023.
  • Evangelical Environmental Network Summit 2023: Restoration. Keynote speaker (online). Jan. 19, 2023. Link to video.
  • Climate Witness Project Climate Huddle. Keynote speaker (online). Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice. Jan. 12, 2023.

Fall 2022

  • Adult Education presenter. Third Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan. Dec. 4, 2022.
  • Online colloquium presenter. New Brunswick Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, New Jersey (online). Nov. 16, 2022.
  • Author Event. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. September 22, 2022.
  • “Living by Refugia Faith.” Preaching and Adult Education Hour. Douglas UCC, Douglas, Michigan. September 18, 2022

Summer 2022

  • “Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth.” Featured speaker, January Series in July. Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan. July 27, 2022.
  • “Christians and Climate Change.” Featured Presenter, AuSable Institute Climate Day. AuSable Institute, Mancelona, Michigan. July 26, 2022.
  • “Sustaining Church: Reimagining Communities of Faith in a Climate Crisis.” Hazelnut Farm online conference, Bristol, UK. July 13-14, 2022. Session presenter.
  • Refugia and Resilience: Sanctuaries for our Spirit, Climate and Creation. Creation Justice Ministries online webinar. June 30, 2022. Featured speaker.

Spring 2022

  • “The Church and Climate Change.” Reformed Journal webinar. April 28, 2022. Presenter and moderator of conversation with Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, Tim Van Deelen, and Andrew Oppong.
  • Gary Alan Taylor and Kelly Rose Lamb, hosts. “ReWilding and Refugia: Healing Our Sacred Earth with Dr. Debra Rienstra.” Holy Heretics Podcast Episode 49, Sophia Society, 19 April 2022.
  • Peter Enns and Jared Byas, hosts. “Eco-theology: Beyond Stewardship,” The Bible for Normal People Podcast, Episode 201, 11 April 2022.
  • Better Together Faith Formation Conference, Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, Washington. March 12, 2022. Leading breakout session and roundtable conversation.
  • Second Christian Reformed Church adult education hour speaker. March 13, 2022. Grand Haven, Michigan.
  • Calvin Academy of Lifelong Learning course on Refugia Faith. March 15, 22, 29, and April 5. Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Book release event. Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan. March 16, 2022.
  • “Refugia Faith.” Adult Education Hour. First Presbyterian Church, Oak Ridge, Tennessee Michigan. April 10, 2022.
  • “Beyond Stewardship.” Adult Education Hour. Eastern Ave. Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan. April 10, 2022.
  • “Living by Refugia Faith.” Preaching and Adult Education Hour. Peace Lutheran Church, Waunakee, Wisconsin. March 20, 2022.
  • Jim Stump, host. “The Discipline of Hope.” Language of God Podcast Episode 108, Biologos, 10 March, 2022.

Fall 2021

  • “Refugia Faith: Adapting Spiritual Practice for a World in Crisis.” Breakout session presentation, Biologos Creation Care Summit. October 9, 2021. Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • “Trust and Tribal Epistemologies: A Case Study.” Featured speaker, BYU Humanities Center Symposium on Belief. September 25-26, 2021. Provo, Utah.
  • “Praying the Psalms.” Featured speaker, The Faith We Sing Symposium (convening of Methodist worship leaders from Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines). September 11, 2021. Singapore/Online.

Spring 2021


I am a writer and professor. For my day job, I teach early British literature and creative writing at Calvin University, where I have been on the faculty since 1996. I still need to pedal fast to keep (mostly) ahead of smart, feisty undergraduates.

These days, most of my scholarly work and speaking engagements connect faith with the urgent global task of mitigating climate change and building resilience. I have also spoken frequently on language in worship. My scholarly work in British literature focuses on early modern Psalms and religious poetry, especially poetry by George Herbert.

I was raised in the Reformed Christian tradition by Dutch immigrants who traced their religious heritage back to the Reformation. I was taught to combine love for God with the life of the mind and a sense of humor.

I’m also an amateur musician (viola), science fiction fan, and the mother of three adult children. I am married to Rev. Dr. Ron Rienstra, professor of preaching and worship arts and director of worship life at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.

I have published four books, hundreds of essays for the The Reformed Journal blog, and numerous articles, poems, and reviews in popular and scholarly contexts. I have a B.A. from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Rutgers University.


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