In 2014, staff and scholars at the Westar Institute realized a need in the current landscape of faith leaders. Westar's work had, for decades, focused on bridging the gap between religious scholarship and contemporary culture. But we became aware of a growing need expressed by rising leaders: pastors, chaplains, teachers, those in the non-profit sector who desired education around cutting-edge work being done in the field of religion, and also sought resources to bring this work to their communities.
The Praxis Forum was born out of these needs. We seek to continue in the vein of Westar -- connecting scholarship to culture -- with a specific eye toward meeting the needs of leaders who desire deeper religious scholarship. To this end, we host events, provide digital media resources, create online learning communities, and generally try to support and educate those doing this work.
Julia Khan is a graduate of the University of Southern California where she studied sociology and religion. It was there, in the classroom of Ronald Hock, that her love for the history and formation of the Christian scriptures began. In 2016, Julia graduated from Union Theological Seminary with an MDiv in Pastoral Ministry and Theology. Since graduation she has served as a Chaplain at Soldier On, a non-profit that provides housing and services to homeless and struggling veterans. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing and teaching martial arts, a passion of hers for thirty years.
Stephen Tickner is the Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in Danbury, CT. In addition to his pastorate, he also serves as the chaplain at Wooster School - an independent K-12 school in Danbury. He is a founding member of the Westar Institute’s Praxis Forum, currently serving as co-chair. Originally from Oklahoma, he now resides in New York City. He has his Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary and is ordained into the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Natalie Renee Perkins
Natalie Renee Perkins received her M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary, where she was awarded the Karen Ziegler Feminist Preaching Prize. As a writer, lecturer, preacher, chaplain and composer, she now intertwines early Christian material with contemporary society through a social justice lens. She is also a co-founder of the Tanho Center. Her involvement with Westar began in 2014 through the Young Leaders in Religion Forum. Natalie has performed professionally with cruise lines, national tours, symphony orchestras, and the USO. In her spare time she manages to keep her plant, Otis, alive. Find some of her work here.