The 18th Believer's Church Conference Theme: "Word, Spirit and the Renewal of the Church: Believers' Church, Ecumenical and Global Perspectives". Save the date! September 14-17, 2017 at Goshen College/AMBS

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September 14-17, 2017 at Goshen College (map & directions)

This conference seeks to explore the gifts and tensions of the Reformation legacy for the Believers’ Church tradition, with a view toward its ecumenical and global dimensions. The gathering will focus especially on the debates that have swirled around the themes of Biblical authority, the movement of the Spirit, and the renewal of the church.

Keynote Speakers

Miroslav Volf, Joel A. Carpenter, Nancy Bedford, and Frank A. Thomas

Keynote Speaker Bios

The Believers’ Church Tradition

In the fall of 1517 Martin Luther’s challenge to the authority of the papacy and church tradition—along with his appeal to Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone)—inspired various reformers to read scripture and to understand the liberating power of the Holy Spirit in new ways. But what started as a renewal movement within the Catholic Church soon led to a host of divisions, giving rise to Protestant, Anabaptist, and other traditions, including those groups known as the Believers’ Church. Among the latter, the deep debts to the renewal impulses of late medieval Catholicism and the Protestant Reformation are unmistakable. In the 500 years since then, the church—including the Believers’ Church movement—has further expanded globally in a great diversity of forms.

Keynote Speakers

Miroslav Volf

Miroslav Volf

Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology, Yale University Divinity School

Volf is a Croatian Protestant theologian and public intellectual who has been described as “one of the most celebrated theologians of our day.” In addition to his well-known Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (1996) Volf is the author of numerous books on themes of reconciliation, hermeneutics, truth-telling and memory, interfaith relations, and globalization. He is the founder and director of Yale Center for Faith and Culture.

Joel A. Carpenter

Professor of history at Calvin College and director of Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity

A highly-regarded historian of American religion and culture, Carpenter’s more recent focus has been on the history of Christianity in Africa and Asia, with a particular emphasis on Christian higher education in the global church. As director of the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, a research and faculty development agency of Calvin College, he worked with the officers of the John Templeton Foundation to develop grant-making programs in theology and in the social sciences for African scholars.

Nancy Bedford

Nancy Bedford

Georgia Harkness Professor of Applied Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Evanston, IL)

Equally at home in Argentina and the United States, Bedford has lectured and published widely in the fields of global feminism, Latin American theologies, theologies in migration, intersectionality and the problems of whiteness, liberating readings of Scripture. Bedford, who has both Baptist and Anabaptist confessional orientations, is a member of Reba Place Church in Evanston (Mennonite).

Frank A. Thomas

Frank ThomasNettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics and Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration at Christian Theological Seminary (Indianapolis, IN)

An ordained minister and renowned teacher of preachers, Thomas is the CEO of Hope For Life International (former publisher of The African American Pulpit) and a member of the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College. He also serves as a member of the International Board of Societas Homiletica, an international society of teachers. A revised and expanded version of his classic text on homiletics, They Like to Never Quit Praisin’ God: The Role of Celebration in Preaching, appeared in 2013.