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CPJ Training Day Speakers and Panelists

CPJ Training Day Keynote Speakers

Rev. Melanie Mullen, CPJ Day Keynote Speaker

Rev. Melanie Mullen serves as Episcopal Church’s Director of Reconciliation, Justice & Creation Care – charged with bringing the Jesus Movement to the concerns of the world. Prior to joining the Presiding Bishop’s staff she was the Downtown Missioner at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, leading a historic southern congregation’s missional, civic, and reconciliation ministries.

Before the ministry, Melanie worked in campaign fundraising and development, raising more than $10 million for leadership PACs, the Congressional Black Caucus, and US Congressional and gubernatorial races from Louisiana to Connecticut; and she served as Development Associate for the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, with a focus on poverty advocacy.

She is a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity; and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, with a Bachelors in History.

Here’s some more about Melanie

Rev. Rebecca Barnes, CPJ Day Keynote Speaker

In January 2017, Rev. Rebecca Barnes became the Coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) after serving for five years as the Associate for Environmental Ministries, within PHP. Rebecca coordinates and supports the PHP national, international, lifestyle simplicity, and environmental programs that work to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in the United States and around the world. The Hunger Program approaches hunger, poverty and environmental degradation through 5 main tools: direct food relief combined with root cause work, sustainable development, advocacy, intentional and sustainable living, and education.

Previously in her position of Environmental Ministries, Rebecca supported the national PC(USA) certification program for Earth Care Congregations, coordinated the volunteer local leadership network called the Environmental Ministries Action Network, and worked to help Presbyterians connect their Christian discipleship to ecological, economic and global justice concerns.

Rebecca is a graduate of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary where she earned a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Art in Religion in 2011, with a thesis titled: “A Fuller Experience of God’s Grace: How the Sacraments Invite Us to Relationship with, and Care for, the Earth.” While in seminary, she authored “50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Help Make a Difference,” which was recently reprinted for distribution to the Commissioners of the 2016 General Assembly of the PC(USA).

CPJ Training Day lunch speaker

Rev. James BhagwanRev. James Bhagwan

Rev. James Bhagwan is the general secretary for the Pacific Conference of Churches, a PC(USA) global partner. Rev.  Bhagwan is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church in Fiji. He is a graduate of the Pacific Theological College (Suva) and Methodist Theological University (Seoul) . Rev Bhagwan worked extensively in the media before joining the ministry. His areas of advocacy are  climate justice – with particular emphasis on the ocean – gender equality, self-determination ecumencism and interreligous dialogue  .

CPJ Training Day Panelists

Rev. Fern Cloud, panelist

Rev. Cloud is a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Tribe on the Lake Traverse Reservation, located in northeastern South Dakota. Fern is also an artist and cultural consultant, Fern conducts presentations and workshops on Doctrine of Discovery; Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Boarding School Tragedy, US Government Policies That Affect Native Americans and Healing the Sacred Hoop. Fern is active in environmental justice and has participated with on the ground support at Standing Rock, Sacred Stone Camp nonviolent direct action against Dakota Access Pipeline. FernCloud is currently the CRE at Pejuhutazizi Presbyterian Church, Upper Sioux Community, Granite Falls, MN since 2004. Fern has 4 children and 10 grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter.

Estrella Perez, panelist

Estrella D. Santiago Pérez, J.D., is the Environmental Affairs Manager for the Corporación del Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña, a groundbreaking urban land trust project, which has organized a large, hitherto disenfranchised “informal” settlement in a polluted section of San Juan, Puerto Rico, into an exemplary self-governing entity working to clean its environment and develop a vibrant, resilient, socially just, sustainable community.


Emma Lockridge, panelist

Detroiter Emma Lockridge uses her camera as an instrument to document and fix a societal wrong: the dire impact of pollution on Black people in America. Her probing lens documents environmental racism in her Detroit southwest side community, which is ranked the most polluted in Michigan.

Lockridge has captured several years of alarming pollution images that are a clarion call for our government and polluting industries to radically curtail the impact toxic industries are having on Black people, Hispanics, poor Whites and climate change.

Emma refers to People of Color as the Canaries in the Climate Change Cave because they are first impacted by polluting industries in their communities that damage their health, property and well-being. One justice organizer aptly calls it subliminal genocide.

A Climate and Environmental Justice Organizer at Michigan United, Emma enjoyed a career in journalism. She is a graduate of New York University and Wayne State University. Her current environmental campaign is to secure a homeowner buyout program for herself and neighbors impacted by a nearby refinery’s emissions.