Lent Madness 2015 boasts an all-star lineup of “Celebrity Bloggers” serving as contributors. Amber Belldene, Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, David Creech, Laura Darling, Neva Rae Fox, Nancy Frausto, Robert Hendrickson, Maria Kane, and David Sibley are all members of the Lent Madness team. Adam Thomas continues in his role as Lent Madness Bracket Czar; the mysterious Maple Anglican remains our official video blogger (with help from the Archbishops — Thomas Cranmer and John Chrysostom); and Maria Nolletti Ross keeps us well fed (at least virtually) with saintly recipes as the Lent Madness Resident Foodie.
Enjoy reading the contributor bios below, log onto their respective website and blogs, and by all means buy their books! (where applicable).
The Rev. Adam Thomas, Lent Madness Bracket Czar, was a 2012 Celebrity Blogger (most closely identified with upstart Philander Chase) who has morphed into our keeper of the bracket. This Lent is his first as rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Mystic, Connecticut. Adam is the author of Digital Disciple: Real Christianity in the Virtual World (Abingdon 2011), which you should read since you are using the Internet right now and you are more than likely a Christian. His first novel Letters from Ruby, which is about an Episcopal priest (imagine that!) arrived in August 2013. Adam lives in Groton, Connecticut with his wife Leah, who is wonderful and lovely and every other good adjective you might think of. Check out his website WheretheWind.com, for six years of content. You can fan Adam on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @RevAdamThomas.
The Rev. Amber Belldene is a romance writer and the alter ego of a vampire-loving Episcopal priest. She grew up on the Florida panhandle swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees, and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons — an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days. Amber believes stories are the best way to examine life’s truths, and she is passionate about the relationship between sexuality and spirituality — namely, that God made people with a desire for love, and that desire is the heart of every romance novel. Her paranormal romance series Blood Vine is now available from Omnific Publishing and her sexy contemporary novella One Sinful Night in São Paulo, about an Episcopal seminarian looking for love, is scheduled to release later this year. She loves wine, history, heirloom tomatoes and she lives with her husband and children in San Francisco. For more information about her books or to check out her blog go to www.amberbelldene.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmberBelldene or Facebook.
The Rev. Laurie Brock is a returning Celebrity Blogger because she loves getting free coffee mugs. Clergy never have enough coffee mugs or crosses. She serves as the rector of St. Michael the Archangel Episcopal Church in Lexington, Kentucky. She blogs at Dirty Sexy Ministry and is the co-author of Where God Hides Holiness: Thoughts on Grief, Joy and the Search for Fabulous Heels (Church Publishing). She is also the creative force behind Fifty Days of Fabulous from Forward Movement. She frequently shares her quirky, snarky views on faith, Alabama football,and popular culture on Twitter at @drtysxyministry, but don’t follow unless you can laugh at yourself and your religion. Otherwise, you’ll just be offended. When she’s not doing priest things, she is riding her horse Nina and trying to avoid another spot on the Celebrity Blogger injured reserved list like last year.
The Rev. Megan Castellan is Assistant Rector, and Chaplain at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Day School, Kansas City, Missouri. She is excited to be one of the few clergy to have a title (ARC) that is also a geometric figure, though why this fact has proved less amusing at parties, she can’t imagine. Her ongoing adventures and strong opinions are chronicled in her blog Red Shoes, Funny Shirt and on Twitter @revlucymeg. (She also writes on Mondays for the Episcopal Cafe, though the snark factor is significantly lower there.) In her spare time, she enjoys singing, cooking, being obsessive about television comedy, and marshaling the forces of the Ginger Rescue Squad, otherwise known as her rescue dog and rescue cat.
Dr. David Creech is Assistant Professor of Religion at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. A student of early Christianities, David knows a lot about saints—they anathematized many of his research subjects. He is a product of an Evangelical seminary and a Catholic PhD program and now teaches at a Lutheran college and worships with Episcopalians. For those looking for the ecumenical voice (read: objective and unbiased/quite confused) in this year’s competition, he’s your man. Although he does dress in robes from time to time, David brings the unique perspective of a layperson. His book title is long and boring (The Use of Scripture in the Apocryphon of John: A Diachronic Analysis of the Variant Versions) but nearly sold out of its initial print run of 200 copies. You can follow David on Twitter @dyingsparrows and read his oftentimes provocative posts at his blog by the same name. When not teaching and writing, David enjoys owning his three kids Ian, Ela, and Dylan at Sorry.
The Rev. Laura Darling, now entering her third year as a battle-hardened Celebrity Blogger, spends half of her time as the Managing Director of Confirm not Conform, an organization devoted to creating confirmation programs that celebrate questions and authentic faith; half of her time as the Director of Spiritual Care and Senior Director of Senior Resources for Episcopal Senior Communities; and the other half of her time with her wife and their three dogs and two cats. After seven years in college, youth, and parish ministry, in 2008 Laura became a Kiva Fellow and worked with microfinance agencies in Uganda before returning to her native California. She preaches regularly throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and in her rare moments of spare time blogs at The Infusion and tweets @ldarling15. She also has a thing about obituaries.
Neva Rae Fox has been a Lent Madness groupie since its debut and has the complete set of mugs to prove it. This is her first turnout as a Celebrity Blogger, and while incredibly honored to be asked, she can’t stop stressing about it. When she isn’t serving as the Public Affairs Officer for The Episcopal Church, she devotes a lot of time to local, regional and national organizations and groups – some you have heard of, and some you haven’t. She is active in her own Episcopal Church, where, among other groups and duties, she serves on the communications committee (imagine that!). Neva Rae loves music but can’t carry a tune; she is an avid opera/classical music devotee, but can also be spotted at Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, BB King or Steely Dan concerts. She lives in New Jersey (as we say in the Garden State – “You Got a Problem with That?”) with her wonderful husband and two cats, one of whom, it is rumored, has been selected as a 2015 Episcocat.
The Rev. Robert Hendrickson was born into this world by a battalion of angels. This cosmic entry into the mortal coil has ingrained in him an interest in the supernatural and the fantastical. He will not readily admit to going to the occasional Renaissance Faire nor will he admit that he has been known to play the occasional video game (Skyrim being among his oft-denied favourites). Like any serious Anglican, he reads Tolkein, Lewis, and Arthurian legends and knows them like a badger knows snakehide. Robert is the Sub-Dean of Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver. He attended General Theological Seminary, was ordained to the priesthood in 2011. He has also worked with the Ecumenical Office of the Episcopal Church, co-founded the Society of Catholic Priests of the Episcopal Church, and recently completed a book on young adult ministry titled Yearning: Authentic Transformation, Young Adults, and the Church. He is married to Dr. Karrie Cummings Hendrickson and are the proud companions of Becket (a dolorous basset hound), Penelope (a fearless dachshund), Cuthbert (a once indomitable raccoon fighting cat), and Marshmallow (a rotund cat prone to wild fits of napping
The Rev. Maria Kane is an Episcopal priest, historian of American religion, and native Texan. She currently lives outsides of Washington, D.C., where she serves as rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Waldorf, Maryland (and remains unabashed in her love for Washington’s archrival Dallas Cowboys). Maria is a contributor to Weavings and Alive Now! magazines and recently completed her dissertation, “Pretty Girls & Fascinating Boys,” a study of race, sexuality, and adolescent formation in late twentieth-century evangelicalism. She plans to expand upon her research findings, but right now, she’s just glad to be done! Her greatest joy, however, is in being godmother to Cal (7) and Leila (5). In her free time, Maria loves reading, cooking, gardening, and kayaking. She can be found on Twitter @mariaconchia.
The Rev. David Sibley, while living in Brooklyn, does not craft artisanal cheeses. Instead, he serves as Priest-in-Charge of Saint John’s Church, Fort Hamilton, where six of the saints featured in this year’s bracket stare back at him every time he celebrates the Eucharist. Raised right in the middle of South Carolina, David studied and did research as a chemist before being whisked away to seminary in New York City. When he’s not in church, David enjoys travel, hiking and camping, all things food and music related, and praying for the yearly resurrection of the Chicago Cubs’ World Series hopes. When the ideas are forthcoming, he’s been known to blog at Feeding on Manna, and holds forth much more often with his partners in crime on Twitter at @davidsibley.
Maple Anglican is the nom de plume of the mysterious Anglican Vlogger living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Very few know his true identity. Supposedly he is married with two young children, a son and daughter, attends All Saints’ Cathedral, Edmonton, has really bad grammar, and is very proud that he is Scott Gunn’s “Canadian Nemesis.” Last year in Lent Madness he was able to collaborate with the late Archbishops John Chrysostom and Thomas Cranmer (@LMArchbishops) using a special device called the “Clairvoyatron,” a device even more mysterious than Maple Anglican himself. Some say that he’s really a plant by ACNA, while others think he’s a complete git. Either way we still watch his videos. He can be found on Twitter @MapleAnglican, Facebook, or YouTube.
Maria Nolletti Ross, Lent Madness Resident Foodie, received her training in her parents’ Italian/American, New York bakery and her home kitchen. She is a member of St. Andrew’s On-the-Sound Episcopal Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, where she serves as a lay reader and a youth-group volunteer. She lives with her husband, daughter, three cats, five koi, and a cell phone on which she too frequently texts her son at college. A member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Maria recently earned the Highlights for Children Author of the Month Award for her August 2014 story, “No Translation Needed.” She invites you to follow along with her as she studies the lives of the saints, uncovers their modern-day messages, and cooks up related recipes on her blog Saints and Recipes. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram (marianollettiross) and check out her Saints and Recipes Facebook page.