Born and raised in Grand Island, Nebraska, Joel J. Heim received a Bachelor of Science degree in education from the University of Nebraska. Upon graduation he taught high school social studies and ran a highly successful high school debate program in Omaha, Nebraska. From high school though his time as a high school teacher, he was interested in peace issues and involved in peace organizations.
After a summer church delegation trip to war-torn Nicaragua, he felt called to leave secondary education and attend seminary to make a larger impact on the world. Despite having never lived outside of Nebraska he enrolled at the world-renowned Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. While in New York, he was an Ella Baker intern and began the speaker's bureau for the Center for Constitutional Rights and served part-time and then full-time on the Christian Education staff at The Riverside Church. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Union with his master’s thesis titled Violence and Nonviolence: Latin American Liberation Theology's Challenge to North American Pacifism.
Joel then moved to the west coast where he enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics from USC where his studies focused on peaceful ways to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. His dissertation, titled An Ethic of Nuclear Nonproliferation: Steps Toward a Nonnuclear World, was selected for inclusion by the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
Joel has taught in religion, philosophy and graduate education programs at universities in California, Illinois and Wisconsin. An ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), he has served churches in New York, California and Wisconsin. He has also served as national moderator (president) of Disciples Peace Fellowship. He leads church workshops on sexual ethics and the welcoming of gays, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people into the life of the church.
To learn more about Joel, his complete curriculum vitae is available here.