Lent Madness 2014 boasts an all-star lineup of “Celebrity Bloggers” serving as contributors. Amber Belldene, Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, David Creech, Laura Darling, Robert Hendrickson, Maria Kane, Penny Nash, Heidi Shott, and David Sibley. are all members of the Lent Madness team. Adam Thomas continues in his role as Lent Madness Bracket Czar and the mysterious Maple Anglican remains our official video blogger (with help from the Archbishops — Thomas Cranmer and John Chrysostom).
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 killed 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 the company of his wife, Jessica, and their three children, Ian, Ela, and Dylan.
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.
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, and served as a curate at Christ Church, New Haven where he started the Saint Hilda’s House young adult intentional community. 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, and proud native Texan. Her favorite role, however, is being godmother to Cal (6) and Leila (4). She has served as a parish priest in Virginia and boarding school chaplain in New Hampshire. Among other things, boarding school life dramatically increased her knowledge of pop culture and internet lingo, for which she is immensely grateful (as are her friends). Maria is a contributor to Weavings andAlive Now! magazines, and like a true mad woman, she’s completing final revisions of her dissertation, “Pretty Girls & Fascinating Boys,” a study of race, sexuality, and adolescence in late twentieth-century evangelicalism. In her free time, Maria loves reading, cooking, gardening, and finding grammatical errors in the New York Times. She can be found on Twitter @mariaconchia.
The Rev. Penny Nash, one of the four original Celebrity Bloggers, is still somewhat amazed that she is the associate rector at Bruton Parish Episcopal Church in downtown Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. When people ask her what women priests wore in the Colonial Era, her response is, “Pants.” She is a contributor to a lectionary series of sermons and reflections by a group called Homelists for the Homeless. The first two volumes, Hungry, and You Fed Me/Year C and Naked, and You Clothed Me/Year A are out and will be followed by the third volume (for Year B) in the fall of 2014; Letters to Me: Conversations with a Younger Self, a collection of essays for young adults; as well as to two Forward Movement “Day by Day” books. Known in the social media world as Penelopepiscopal, Penny posts prayers or reflections, accompanied by her own photography daily at her blog One Cannot Have Too Large a Party. Friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @penelopepiscopl.
Heidi Shott, entering her third year as a Celebrity Blogger, is Canon for Communications and Social Justice in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. She is a member (and past Vice Chair) of the Standing Commission on Communications and Information Technology and served as Chair of the Episcopal Life Board of Governors. She worked on the Office of Communication’s video news team at two General Conventions, hosting “The Daily Wrap” in Anaheim in 2009. In Indianapolis she hosted an interview blog at www.indy300.net. Praised widely for her writing about faith in daily life, Heidi writes for a variety of publications and blogs. She keeps the blog Heidoville. With the departure of their twin sons for college, she and her husband Scott are milling aimlessly around their home in mid-coast Maine where they root for the Red Sox even when they lose. Follow her on Twitter @heidomaine.
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.