Director of Theological Education,
Professor of Theology
Dr. Parler pastors, listens, teaches and leads with the humble spirit of a disciple of Jesus. A true master of words, Branson can teach, write, and converse on such a wide range of topics that on first meeting him, one might think he is as intimidating as his 6 foot 5 inch frame suggests. But anyone who knows him also knows that Branson loves people–and he loves Jesus even more.
Branson is a classic deep thinker who not only knows how to challenge the status quo but is also skilled in helping others ask questions of themselves and the world around them. When he teaches, he can often be caught pausing after a student has spoken, this pause being a sign of his deep listening, his openness to learning from anyone and everyone that the Lord puts in his path.
Branson has taught biblical interpretation, philosophy, worldview, church mission, human sexuality and cultural engagement classes at the college and graduate level, and it is through this teaching–through ongoing conversations with his students and colleagues–that Branson began to share a vision for The Foundry as a faithful response to the needs of pastors and churches in the West Michigan area. He is an ordained pastor who serves as Director of Faith Formation at Fourth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. He is also part of the collaborative leadership team of The Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender.
When he’s not teaching or preaching, Branson helps his wife, Sarah, homeschool six children, while she serves as the first and perfect sounding board for Branson’s many dreams and out-loud wonderings. And even though he’s lived in Michigan his whole adult life, he is still an avid fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Director of Spiritual Formation,
Professor of Theology
Known to his students, colleagues, friends, and family as a deep thinker, Jeff will always take the time to pause and listen. Moving back and forth between formal education and pastoring/teaching, Jeff has served and studied in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Arizona, Michigan and Nepal. And although his PhD is in historical theology, he will tell you he is a life-long learner. He is a student of the Bible, history, culture, mathematics and baseball. One of his current projects is editing a commentary on the book of Isaiah.
Jeff made the transition from teaching at a local college to The Foundry because of a deep passion for the church of Jesus. He wants to develop resilient leaders who can dig deep and faithfully serve the Lord through any season of life and ministry. Not a stranger to challenge, Jeff uses his discernment and calming presence to encourage those around him to find strength in the Holy Spirit and the truths of Scripture.
Jeff is married to Wendy with whom he raises tween and teen boys (mostly driving them to church, sports and music events.)
Director of Operations,
Sarah loves Jesus and believes the church is the true hope of the world. She gets the greatest sense of achievement by making it possible for other people to live out their calling. Involved in ministry at River Rock Church and within her “church without walls” she enjoys coming alongside people for encouragement and prayer. She and her husband Justin have three boys with whom they love to travel.
As one who is hungry for more of the Holy Spirit in her own life, Sarah is humbled when she has the opportunity to come alongside another fellow traveler and listen. She loves attending for the whispers of the Spirit and watching for Jesus’ loving movements as she sits with directees. Proverbs 20:5 helps to articulate what happens when a spiritual director sits together with a directee and they discern in fellowship what the Lord may be doing in one’s life: “The purpose of a persons heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”
Find out more about Spiritual Direction at The Foundry
Regular Teaching Faculty
Rev. Richelle B. White, Ph.D.
Lisa J. Hoogeboom, Ph.D.
Professor of Intercultural and
Biblical Studies, Kuyper College
Wendy Fisher, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Spiritual Directors
of Greater Grand Rapids
Eric VanderWall, M.Min.
Pastor of Family Ministries,
Cascade Fellowship Church
Dan Kroeze, Ph.D.
Professor of Biblical Studies,
Sessional Lecturer, Regent College
Madison Church Point Pastor and
Pastor of Madison Church:
Lead Pastor, River Rock Church
Social Media Coordinator
Connect for a conversation!
We’d love to hear more about your story and how God might lead us to partner with what is happening in your ministry context.