The Rev. Tamara Torres McGovern (she/her/hers) is a minister in the United Church of Christ. As the child of lapsed Catholics, The Tamara was raised on a steady diet of mistrust for God, Jesus and anyone peddling their wares. Her mistrust of the church only escalated as a queer teenager in the rural south, where prayer often felt like a weapon being directed at her relationships. She found her way to ministry via a circuitous path that included both work and spiritual formation as a yoga instructor, holistic cook, musician, and massage therapist. She has a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Mount Holyoke and a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary where her focus area was Voices from the Margins. Tamara was ordained in 2013 and has served several historic congregations in both Connecticut and Maine. She currently works at Woodfords Congregational Church as the Director of Intergenerational Engagement. While Tamara appreciates much about the established churches she has served, she also dreams of a spiritual community where people are welcome in all of their messy, passionate, embodied suffering and hopefulness. She dreams of a place where justice is being held up as not only as the right thing to do, but as a path to encountering God. She dreams of a place where participants are not only invited to attend services, but to CREATE rituals borne out of their lived experience. Tamara knows that far too often, people who are spiritually curious or seeking connection still struggle to find faith communities that will honor and uphold their wholeness and their expansive notions of the Divine. It is this knowing that led Tamara to her work with Arise Portland.
The Rev. Katie Holicky, (she/her/hers) is an Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of Maine. She has a B.A. in Religious Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University and her work in her Masters of Divinity, from Episcopal Divinity School Cambridge, MA, focused on Intercultural Social Justice. In addition to working in traditional church settings, Katie also loves serving interspiritual and ecumenical communities and is a trained Interfaith Spiritual Director. Katie’s passion for serving comes from a deep desire to affirm, love, and build sacred communities with all people no matter their journey. When she isn’t serving her various communities Katie can be found exploring the outdoors with her husband, baking, reading, and binge watching Murder She Wrote.
Tasha Gerken-Nelson (she/her/hers) is UU by faith, playful by nature, and deeply interested in the way that food and eating create incredible joy in the sourcing, creating, and savoring of new and familiar flavors. What she loves most about Arise is what happens during Holy Potluck. Holy Potluck is a brave space where people get curious, introspective, and affirming of each others’ journeys over a shared meal, giving the community room to grow and support each other along the way. As a queer, married, ciswoman, she finds the Arise community celebrates her many identities.
Lex Lyon (he/him/his) is a spiritually curious adventurer who loves to travel and surf. While studying Buddhism in Sri Lanka, he was fascinated by the way worship of various deities (specifically Pattini, Kataragama, and Kali to name a few) were integrated into the practices of Sinhalese Buddhists. This drastically deepened his understanding of religious syncretism. He continues to study world religions to this day, paying particularly close attention to ways we can foster safe and affirming interfaith dialogues. His favorite Arise event is “Pints and Perspectives” (though if it were up to him, he’d probably call it something more like “Deep Thoughts over Nachos”) because he loves the authentic, brave, and open conversations.
Michael Danahy (he/him/his) is a self-described “Buddhistic atheist.” He values community and discovered Arise Portland at a time when he was conscious of missing the sense of belonging that others gain from being part of their respective faith groups. He values the inclusiveness of Arise and that his questioning nature is celebrated and not at all disqualifying. Of his involvement in Arise leadership he has said “I love the group’s inclusiveness. Part of my role in is making sure we are about community and values, not specific beliefs."
Sarah Burkhardt (she/her/hers) is a lifelong Lutheran, and has always been nurtured by connecting and learning with others in community. Being part of Arise Portland has had a profound impact on her spirituality, fostering an openness to exploring the truth within and continuing a journey of curiosity and understanding in the world in which we live. Because of Arise’s Faith and Activism book group, she’s more motivated to start and finish reading books knowing there will be a bold and welcoming space in which to process, and that new insights and reflections will continue to emerge long after the reading is done.