Indigenous Study Committee

Seeking Truth Through Research and Repair

In keeping with its mission to cultivate communities of transformation and hope for the healing of the world, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has formed a study committee to provide a historical account of the seminary’s relationship to the Native peoples of the Midwest region where the campus is located and to recommend a set of actions to pursue for the sake of justice and repair.


At the April launch of the Center for Ecological Regeneration (CER), President Javier Viera charged the CER to support the work of a newly formed 14-member Indigenous Study Committee as the first major initiative of the center over the 2022-2023 school year.


The Indigenous Study Committee is commissioned to research past and present realities of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary’s impact on and relationship with the Native peoples of our bioregion, highlighting decolonial Indigenous theological perspectives and practices, consulting with appropriate tribal, denominational, and institutional leaders, providing a truthful accounting of historical record, exploring potential future partnerships with Indigenous-led organizations and initiatives, and proposing concrete recommendations to the seminary for reparative actions.

Webinar Recordings

Recorded November 9, 2022


Co-sponsored by the Center for Ecological Regeneration and the Stead Center for Ethics and Values in support of Garrett’s Indigenous Study Committee.


Speaker: Rev. Dr. Randy Woodley, PhD is a farmer, activist/scholar, distinguished speaker, teacher and wisdom keeper who addresses a variety of issues concerning American culture. Dr. Woodley currently serves as Distinguished Professor of Faith and Culture at Portland Seminary. Randy was raised near Detroit, Michigan and is a Cherokee descendent recognized by the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. Randy co-hosts the Peacing it all Together podcast with Bo Sanders. Dr. Woodley and his wife are co-sustainers of Eloheh Indigenous Center for Earth Justice and Eloheh Farm & Seeds, a regenerative teaching center and farm in Yamhill, Oregon. The Woodleys have been innovators and activists for over three decades and received the Oregon Ecumenist of the Year for 2021.

Indigenous Study Committee Members

Stephanie PerdewStephanie Perdew, M.Div., Ph.D, Cherokee Nation, is an Associate Conference Minister of the Illinois Conference United Church of Christ and an Affiliate Faculty member at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in the field of history. She has formerly taught at McCormick Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago Divinity School. She is a graduate of St. Olaf College (B.A.) and Garrett Seminary (M.Div., Ph.D.) and serves as the President of the Liturgical Conference, publishers of the journal Liturgy. Perdew is a sought-after teacher and speaker in Native American history and culture, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston, Illinois. She is one of two Christian co-chairpersons of the Chicago area Jewish-Christian interfaith dialogue group for women religious leaders sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Chicago.

Rev. Dr. Timothy E. EberhartTimothy Reinhold Eberhart is the Robert and Marilyn Degler McClean associate professor of ecological theology and practice at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, where he directs the Master of Arts in Public Ministry program and the Center for Ecological Regeneration. Eberhart, who grew up in South Dakota, earned a bachelor of arts in religion from St. Olaf College, master of divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School, and doctor of philosophy from the Graduate School at Vanderbilt University. He has led numerous environmental initiatives at the seminary, including Garrett-Evangelical’s founding role in the Seminary Stewardship Alliance and the completion of a three-year Green Seminary Initiative certification as a Green Seminary. Eberhart is an ordained elder in the Dakotas Conference of The United Methodist Church and has served in youth, campus, young adult, and congregational ministries and on numerous boards and committees for the denomination. He is the current North American Secretary for the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies, a co-founder and co-chair of The Institute for Christian Socialism, and a co-founder and Advisory Team member of the UMC Creation Justice Movement. At the local level, Eberhart has served on the steering committee for Leadership Evanston, the board of Citizens Greener Evanston, where he was active with the Environmental Justice Evanston Committee, and the city of Evanston’s Equity and Empowerment Commission.

KernellThe Rev. Chebon Kernell, an ordained Elder in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, is formerly the executive secretary of Native American and Indigenous Ministries for the denomination’s General Board of Global Ministries. In this role, he has worked with the World Council of Churches, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops assisting in a denominationally mandated effort to improve relationships with Indigenous communities through dialogue, study and local or regional acts of repentance acknowledging harms inflicted upon Indigenous communities.

He is an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and is of Muscogee Creek heritage. In 2016 he was honored by receiving the Religious Literacy Award sponsored by the Westar Institute “for his tireless efforts to educate the general public, including not only mainstream American Christians but also native peoples themselves, about the ‘deep and broad religious riches’ of Indigenous peoples in the context of reconciliation work and the recovery of native practices.

He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Oklahoma City University and a Master of Divinity from Phillips Theological Seminary. He is a cultural practitioner and member of the Helvpe Ceremonial grounds. He has been married to Sara for 18 years and has five children Kaycee, Josiah, Raylen, and Solomon and niece Cali.

SilasPamala M. Silas, CAE: Over the past 25 years, Pam has been a recognized Native American leader. She has successfully led regional and national Native American and other non-profit organizations. She currently serves as Associate Director, outreach, and engagement for Northwestern University, Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. Pam has a BS, Economics from DePaul University and is a Certified Association Executive (CAE). An enrolled member of the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin and descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, Pam’s career experience is embedded with her connections and trainings influenced by Native culture and community. One of her proudest achievements was having her Tribe recognized along with the group she co-founded in Chicago receiving a top Harvard Honoring Nations award for their formalized urban, reservation relationship. She has won other awards and fellowships including:



    • Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow (99)
    • Lawyers Committee for Better Housing, Barbara Grau Outstanding Housing Advocate Award, (03)
    • American Society of Association Executives, Diversity Executive Leadership Program (09)
    • Native Americans in Philanthropy, Flying Eagle Woman Award (12)
    • Metropolitan Tenants Organization, Lifetime Housing Champion Award (18)



Pam has provided executive management and consulting services with groups throughout the U.S. She has served as Executive Director for the National American Indian Housing Council and Native American Journalists Association. Prior to forming her own Association Management & Consulting Company, Pam served 8 years as CEO of American Indian Science & Engineering Society’s national operation in New Mexico and AISES Publishing Inc./Winds of Change Magazine. In Chicago, she served as Executive Director for Metropolitan Tenants Organization, leading housing campaigns and aggressive direct organizing efforts with low-income tenants. In 2020, Pam was appointed by Governor Pritzker to serve on first ever Statewide Native focused council, Illinois, Native American Employment Plan Advisory Council. Over her career she has provided volunteer leadership to numerous other public and tribal initiatives, including Chicago’s Low Income Housing Trust Fund, Chicago’s Council on Women, Chicago’s Community Development Advisory Council, Working Mother Magazine’s Multicultural Women’s Initiative, and the Menominee Indian Tribal Gaming Commission.

EnnsElaine Enns has worked in the field of restorative justice since 1989, first focusing on victim-offender dialogue work in the Criminal Justice System, and more recently looking at how restorative justice applies to historical violations, including issues of intergenerational trauma and healing. She holds a Doctor of Ministry, and leads workshops throughout North America on restorative solidarity. She most recently coauthored (with her partner activist theologian Ched Myers) Healing Haunted Histories: A Settler Discipleship of Decolonization (Cascade, 2021); in 2009 the two-volume Ambassadors of Reconciliation: A New Testament Theology and Diverse Christian Practices of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking (Orbis Books, 2009); and has published over a dozen articles. An ecumenical Mennonite, Elaine was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and lives in southern California where she co-directs Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (www.bcm-net.org) on traditional Chumash land.


BlieseDr. Stephanie Bliese, Garrett PhD in Church History with a minor in Global Christianity, is a religious educator who splits her time between teaching church history, assisting church communities with interreligious dialogue, and working in stewardship & development. She is currently working with Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Naples, FL, on creating an online church community for those on the spectrum and other challenges that make traditional church inaccessible. Her most recent publication was an article for Word & World‘s 2022 Money issue titled, “The Stewardship of Money and Wealth: Five Exercises for Christians.”

Dr. K.-K. YeoDr. K.K. Yeo (PhD, Northwestern University) is Harry R. Kendall Professor of New Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Seminary. He has been a visiting professor in China, South East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East on classical study and cross-cultural hermeneutic. Among his numerous publications are: What Has Jerusalem to Do with Beijing? (2018), co-editor of Majority World Theology(2020), and Theologies of Land(2021), and the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Bible in China (2021).

GaschoDr. Luke Gascho served as executive director of Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, Wolf Lake, IN for twenty-two years until his retirement in 2019. During his tenure, he led the implementation of field-based undergraduate programs, a master of arts in environmental education program and the Institute for Ecological Regeneration. He was the chair of the sustainability and environmental education department at Goshen College. Luke’s graduate degrees are in educational leadership and administration. Dr. Gascho provided leadership for the establishment of several creation care and social justice organizations. Luke regularly speaks on the concepts of creation care, leadership, ecological food systems and repairing relationships with Indigenous people. He is married to Becky. They have three children and four grandchildren. Luke enjoys visiting family, camping and tending his 2.5-acre urban farm in his retirement.


Fred A. Shaw (Neeake) is a summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Ohio University and of the Methodist Theological School in Delaware, OH. Fred retired as a United Methodist elder in 2010 having served congregations of the West Ohio Conference since 1969. One of his ministry specialties was spiritual life camping. He led several backpack groups in the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon and was a trainer and member of the National Camping Committee of the UMC. He served as a new-church-start pastor for 13 years. One of Fred’s more unusual ministries is his nearly 40-year association with the Cincinnati Zoo as its unofficial chaplain, where he continues as a storyteller, script writer, photographer, and voice-over artist.



Fred was the founding chairman of a ten-state group of American Indian leaders, North Central Jurisdiction’s Committee on Native American Ministries, who work with the spiritual and physical needs of American Indian people in their areas. He has addressed many Annual Conferences concerning American Indian issues. In 2013, Fred became the Executive Director for the national licensing program for American Indian Local Pastors accredited by the Methodist Theological School, Delaware, OH. He retired for a second time at the end of 2020. He has served as the chairman of the national Native American Comprehensive Plan of the United Methodist Church for the past four years.



Fred and Nancy Eppley married in 1970. They were raised on adjoining farms in Muskingum County and have been together for all but a few months of their lives. They have a son and a daughter, a granddaughter, and three grandsons.



As a descendent of Ohio underground Shawnee, he is a noted storyteller of U.S. 18th & 19th Century history. Fred is a first-person historical actor, endangered wildlife conservation speaker, and a published writer and photographer. He and his son work together in several historical horseback groups, including the first mounted brass band in the U.S. since WWII. Many historical venues, museums, universities, the National Trust for Historical Preservation, conservation groups, and zoos have given Fred high praise. His favorite honor is from a first-grader, “I like you. You’re nice!”

CosgroveCharles H. Cosgrove is Emeritus Professor of Early Christian Literature at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. In addition to authoring numerous books and articles on hermeneutics, early Christian life and thought, and ancient Greek and Roman music, he is also the author of Fortune and Faith in Old Chicago: A Dual Biography of Mayor Augustus Garrett and Seminary Founder Eliza Clark Garrett (Southern Illinois University Press). He holds a Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Rev. Dr. Michelle Oberwise Lacock, D.Min, MDiv, MBA is a Certified Educator with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and is an Associate Certified Coach with the International Federation of Coaching. She is a retired ordained Elder in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC). During her thirty plus years with the church she has served both in the local United Methodist congregations and as a CPE Certified Educator.


She is an active member of the UMC Northern Illinois Conference where she chairs the Conference Committee on Native American Ministries, is a member of the Jurisdictional Committee on Native American Ministries and the Chair of the Advisory Board of the Jurisdictional Native American Course of Study School and faculty member for the school. She also served on the Board of Directors for the American Indian Center of Chicago as Sargent-of-Arms, then Vice-President and then President.


She co-authored a chapter, entitled, “Seeing through American Indian Eyes: A Vision of Balance and Equity” with Carol Lakota Eastin, in the book entitled, Women with 2020 Vision: American Theologians on the Voice, Vote and Vision of Women published in 2020. She also co-authored a chapter, entitled, “Breaking the Silence, Naming the Pain and Reclaiming Our Voice: Pastoral Care with American Indian Women” with Rev. Carol Lakota Eastin which was published in the fall of 2009, in the book entitled, Women Out of Order: Risking Change and Creating Care in a Multicultural World.

Grant SwansonRev. Grant Showalter-Swanson is the Recruitment Coordinator at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church. Grant will be a Doctor of Philosophy in Theological and Ethical Studies at Garrett Seminary in the Fall, focusing on Indigenous Theology, Decolonial Theory, and Theopoetics. Grant is also a Cultural Change Committee Member on the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition. He holds a Master of Divinity from Garrett Seminary, a Master of Arts in English from the Middlebury College, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from North Central College. Grant taught for four years at St Francis Indian School on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and took teaching certification courses at Sinte Gleska University. Grant lives with his husband Connor and cat-daughter, Nessa, in Chicago.

Garam Han is a doctoral student in Christian Education and Congregational Studies. Her research interest is Korean women’s identity formation from an Eco-Feminist perspective. Garam was born and raised in South Korea. Garam is ready to receive a call in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She is passionate about designing a curriculum for the church, particularly building transnational and intercultural conversation through church curriculum, not only for the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. but also for the Korean Presbyterian Church in South Korea. She is the CER Associate for the 2022-2023 school year.

HopkinsJessica Hopkins is a member of the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma and a current student seeking a masters in Public Ministry. Her vocational calling is to pursue social justice through research, with interests in Indigenous identity and sovereignty with an intersecting focus on environmental justice. Jessica was raised in Fairview,Oklahoma and currently resides in Woodward, Oklahoma where her father pastors for the First Christian Church in the Disciples of Christ. Jessica completed her BA in Religious Studies with an Ethnic Studies Minor at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI in June of 2022. At Lawrence she met Grant Showalter-Swanson who was conducting a tabling event for Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and the journey is now unfolding. Jessica is very excited in her new role as the SustainGETS associate for the 2022-24 school years and hopes to foster community relationships, cultivate environmental awareness, and generate lasting change at Garrett.