OCT 4-5, 2013
MARK VAN STEENWYK, JIN S. KIM, JIM BEAR JACOBS, MARY JO LEDDY, RICHARD BECK
Offering hospitality to strangers is foundational to Christian life. Jesus’ life and ministry were marked by radical welcome and inclusion of those considered outsiders (“sinners”) by both the Roman imperial system and the Jewish Temple system. He lived, as one with “no place to lay his head,” completely dependent on the hospitality of others. As a result, the early church understood that welcoming strangers into one’s home and breaking bread together was a central practice that made Christ present as both host and guest. Christian hospitality broke through barriers of fear, competition and scapegoating, common in an imperial society marked by the logic of scarcity. The co-opting of the Western church by imperial power served to institutionalize the practice of hospitality, distancing it from day-to-day life. The church slowly learned to dehumanize those considered “aliens,” “strangers,” or “sinners.” This is especially evident in the last five hundred years of European Christian history, which led to the genocide of native peoples around the globe as Europeans competed for land, bodies, and resources. The white American church exists today in the ruins of this broken table, now largely acclimated to an imperial form of Christianity that seeks security, success, and comfort, while captive to an individualism that is numb to the suffering around and within. We invite pastors, theologians, seminarians, community activists, congregational leaders and young adults to join us and other leading practitioners from North America as we explore how the church might rediscover the practice of Christian hospitality. In a society where individuals have been conditioned to fear their neighbor, both locally and globally, how do we face our history and hateful divisions honestly, name and confess our fears, and pray for the historical, collective, and personal healing that is possible only in Jesus Christ? This conference aims to challenge our conventional notions of imperial “hospitality,” instead, equipping for an uncalculating hospitality that welcomes all as God’s very own.
- Richard Beck is Professor and Department Chair of Psychology at Abilene Christian University. Richard’s area of interest is on the interface of Christian theology and psychology, with a particular focus on how existential issues affect Christian belief and practice. He is the author of Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality and The Authenticity of Faith: The Varieties and Illusions of Religious Experience, while he also maintains his popular blog, “Experimental Theology.”
- Jim Bear Jacobs is a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation, an American Indian tribe located in central Wisconsin. He has degrees in Pastoral Studies and Christian Theology and has served various churches. He is a cultural facilitator in the Twin Cities and works to raise the public’s awareness of American Indian causes and injustices. He is a convener of “Healing Minnesota Stories,” a committee dedicated to creating events of dialogue and education particularly within faith communities.
- Mary Jo Leddy is a Canadian writer, speaker, theologian and social activist. Leddy is widely recognized for her work with refugees as the director of Toronto’s Romero House. In 1973, she was the founding editor of the Catholic New Times. She is author of a number of books, including: At the Border Called Hope: Where Refugees are Neighbors, Radical Gratitude, and The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home.
- Jin S. Kim is founding pastor & head of staff of Church of All Nations, Minneapolis, MN, a congregation with many nations and cultures represented in the membership. He also serves as field staff for Korean English Ministry in the PCUSA, coaching and advising pastors/seminarians; is an adjunct professor of homiletics at Dubuque Seminary; is on the MN Council of Churches board; and formerly served as PCUSA delegate to the National Council of Churches. He preaches and speaks widely on the ministry of reconciliation.
- Mark Van Steenwyk is the spokesperson and co-founder of the Mennonite Worker (an intentional community in Minneapolis, MN); one of the organizers of JesusRadicals.com and co-host/producer of the Iconocast podcast. He is the author of That Holy Anarchist: Reflections on Christianity and Anarchism and The unKingdom of God: Embracing the Subversive Power of Repentance.
- Welcome and Introduction by Pastor Jin S. Kim
- The Revolutionary Table by Mark Van Steenwyk
- The Politics and Spirituality of Hospitality by Mary Jo Leddy
- Workshop by Mary Jo Leddy
- The Will to Embrace: Hospitality as Emotional Capacity by Richard Beck
- Panel Discussion moderated by Pastor Jin S. Kim
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