- Refugia and Resilience: Sanctuaries for our Spirit, Climate and Creation. Creation Justice Ministries online webinar. June 30, 2022. Featured speaker.
- Sustaining Church: Reimagining Communities of Faith in a Climate Crisis. Hazelnut Farm online conference, Bristol, UK. July 13-14, 2022. Session presenter.
- 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.
- 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. Bunker Interpretive Center.
- Peace Lutheran Church, Waunakee, Wisconsin. March 20, 2022. Preaching and after-service conversation.
- First Presbyterian Church, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. April 10, 2022. Adult education hour.
- Eastern Avenue CRC, Grand Rapids, Michigan. April 10, 2022. Adult education hour.
- “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.
- Wickman, Matthew, host. “On Refugia, Or Places of Refuge Amid Disturbance.” Featured guest, Faith and Imagination Podcast, Brigham Young University Humanities Center, 17 May 2021. https://faith-and-imagination.castos.com/episodes/on-refugia-or-places-of-refuge-amid-disturbance-with-guest-debra-rienstra-calvin-university
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 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 Twelve blog of The Reformed Journal, 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.