Companioning Conference


Dominic Abaria

Dominic Abaria is a native Portlander.  A pluviophile at heart, he loves his wife, kids, and coffee.  A student of the interior life, he has studied Theology, Divinity, and is currently in pursuit of a Doctor of Ministry for Leadership and Spiritual Formation.  He currently serves as a Community Chaplain at Portland Rescue Mission and as a Pastor and Elder at Roots Community Church.  


Friday Intensive: Providing Trauma-Informed Spiritual Care

Breakout: Redeeming Trauma for Spiritual Growth

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April Brenneman

April Brenneman is a writer, trained writing workshop facilitator, and a developing live storyteller. Currently, she is a Living School student with the Center for Action and Contemplation. She believes authenticity, vulnerability, openness, and emotional/body awareness are keys to a healthy mental and spiritual life. April is on a life journey of inner awakening, integrating fractured parts of herself and moving towards living as a whole conscious person through the love of God. She co-founded the Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative in 2015, which honors stories of illness and wellness as well as bridging the gap between healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers. She volunteers for Write Around Portland facilitating 10-week writing workshops for people who would not otherwise be able to attend a writing workshop due to socioeconomic, physical or mental disabilities.  She has resided with her husband in Tigard, Oregon for 38 years where she raised her five children. She enjoys hiking, walking, reading and practicing yoga. 


Breakout: Hosting Spiritual Conversations with Self and Scripture

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Kathi Gatlin

Kathi Gatlin co-founded the Companioning Center and founded Boldly Loved to bring together her two greatest passions: spiritual formation and teaching. Her greatest joy is walking alongside others, individually and in groups, in their own spiritual journey, sharing ways of understanding God anew through contemplative prayer and teaching, and to see them grow in the depth of their own understanding of who God is and who they are in relationship with God. Kathi is a trained spiritual director, writer, spiritual formation group facilitator, retreat speaker, leadership mentor, and adjunct professor with George Fox University. For more information about Kathi, check out Boldly Loved.



Friday Intensive: Hosting Group Spiritual Formation Conversations

Breakout: The Gift of Disagreement


MaryKate Morse

MaryKate Morse is a professor at Portland Seminary of George Fox University as the Lead Mentor in the Doctor of Ministry program on Leadership & Spiritual Formation. She is a church planter, spiritual director, leadership mentor and coach, speaker, and author including Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence and A Guidebook to Prayer. She is passionate about companioning and resourcing people on the front lines of ministry.  


Keynote: Companioning in the Dark: Spiritual Conversations with Disrupted People


Chris Murphy

The Rev. Chris Murphy is pastor of Newberg First Presbyterian Church. He is blessed to be married to Karen and the proud dad of Cate (age 12) and Chiara (age 7). Prior to beginning his ministry in Newberg, Chris was an Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults in Portland, Oregon and Director of Presbyterian Ministries at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Chris received his MDiv in 2002 and is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Direction from Fuller. Chris has a passion for spiritual formation and mission and a love for sports, music, movies,  reading, good coffee, and Oregon wine tasting.​



Breakout: Spiritual Conversations with Emerging Adults: Learning to listen and explore faith questions and doubts

Jeff Savage

Jeff Savage is a spiritual director, retreat guide, small group and couples facilitator shaped by over 30 years of pastoral ministry and contemplative practice. Jeff and his wife, Janet, also offer retreat space for reflection, rest, and renewal at their home above the McKenzie River at Vida, Oregon. They are particularly passionate about offering this space to colleagues in ministry. In each expression of his calling, Jeff finds abundant joy in holding space for folks to pay attention to their life in God. The values that center Jeff in this vocation include hopeful trust, hospitality, attentiveness, and integrity. Jeff finds balance in tending garden, photography, wandering, and being Pop Pop to four grandchildren (photos supplied on request). For more about Jeff visit his site.



Keynote: Companioning with Attentiveness: The Sacred Rhythm of First Voice

Breakout: Dwelling in the Word: A Listening Practice

Michael Simmons

Michael Simmons is a spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and is on the leadership team of Deep Water, a local community that combines a Christ-centered mission with tools for healing the inner-landscape of women and men. Michael is also an ordained elder in the Free Methodist Church and a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary, and currently serves as the Portland Seminary Admissions Counselor for Master's Programs. His wife, Liz, works at George Fox University both in Student Life and as a professor at Portland Seminary. Michael and Liz love Saturday mornings with their kids, David (1.5) and Bina (5). 


Breakout: Companioning with Our Shadow: How What We Hide, Repress and Deny Holds the Keys of Connection with Others, Ourselves and God

Katie Skurja

Catherine “Katie” Skurja is the founder and director of Imago Dei Ministries. Deeply rooted in and dedicated to Trinitarian principles, the ministry’s purpose is to help people everywhere engage in a Christ-centered healing process that transforms relationships with God, self, and others. Her greatest passion is to accompany people in the journey of discovering who they are in their Imago Dei (image of God). With training as a counselor, spiritual director, and in the work of inner healing prayer, Katie combines the three disciplines to help guide people through the layers of false self and shame in order to bring about the integration of the whole person. Katie and Jim have been married for 33 years and have two grown sons as well as a few “adopted” daughters with whom they share life. She loves to garden, hike, walk on the beach, cook, and read. For more information on her work, check out Imago Dei Ministries.



Intensive: Inner Healing Training for Practitioners

Breakout: Leveling the Playing Field: Stepping out of the Game of Posturing

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Michelle Winter

Michelle Winter is a poet, artist, teacher and spiritual director in the Pacific Northwest. She has used the expressive arts for healing and cross-cultural understanding through Artists in Christian Testimony International. Michelle currently serves as Director of Spiritual Formation and Art Ministries for Cedar Mill Bible Church in Portland Oregon. She lives, creates and writes in her little home in the woods of the Oregon coast range where she and her husband raised their three children and corresponding menagerie. For more information about Michelle and her work, check out Creator Spiritus.



Friday Intensive: Wordless Conversations

Breakout: The Arts as Spiritual Conversation

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