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Academic Conferences

God, Democracy and U.S. Power:

Believers Church Perspectives

This conference was held September 23-25, 2004, and focused upon the meaning of citizenship in the U.S. from the perspective of the Believers Church. The planners observed that the U.S. possesses and exercises unprecedented influence on a global scale. The conference was designed to clarify together what it means to be both citizens of the state and members of the body of Christ.

The planners designed the program to engage a diverse audience. The program included respected voices from both the academy and the congregation. Presentations included biblical sermons, academic papers, and autobiographical narratives. Critical analysis was interspersed with reflective worship. These features of the program signal the priority for integrating scholarly, pastoral, and activist perspectives.

Schedule

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Believers and Political Authority in the Bible

  • “Covenant and Exile: God’s Call to the Space Between” by Carol Scheppard
  • “Jesus’ Confrontation with Empire” by Ted Grimsrud

Believers and Political Authority in History – Part I

  • “Subjection and Critique in Anabaptist Political Witness” by Gerald Biesecker-Mast
  • “The Political Ramifications of Being God’s People in a Promised Land” by William Brackney

Believers and Political Authority in History – Part II

  • “The Church of the Brethren Office in Washington, DC (1946-2002): Advocacy or Listening Post?” by Donald F. Durnbaugh
  • “Mennonite Witness, US Power, and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” by Alain Epp Weaver
  • “Second Order of Business: Prayer by the Chaplain” by Jim Hardenbrook

Sermon

“God’s Word on the Loose” (Mark 1:6-11; Isaiah 59:14-15) by Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm

Friday, September 24

Theological Perspectives on Political Authority – Part I

  • “The Politics of Jesus – Then and Now” by Mark Thiessen Nation
  • “The Believers Church and What the World Needs Now” by J. M. Robertson

Theological Perspectives on Political Authority – Part II

  • “Living the Reign of God in the ‘Real World’: A Replacement for Two-Kingdom Theology” by J. Denny Weaver
  • “Minority Views in a Hostile Majority: Yoder and Plantinga on Particularity” by Myron A. Penner

Believers’ Journeys and Politics

Autobiographical reflections by a panel of persons with varying perspectives and experiences in relation to politics:

  • “Napalm on Mama’s House – Can We Remain Silent?” by Earl and Pat Hostetter Martin
  • “Giving Caesar His Due” by Lloyd Harsch
  • “Polls Apart: Why Believers Might Conscientiously Abstain from Voting” by John D. Roth

Saturday, September 25

Believers as Sisters and Brothers in the Church Worldwide

  • “‘There goes the neighborhood’: Christian Engagement with a Suddenly-near World” by David Radcliff
  • Panel of persons bringing perspectives from other parts of the globe to the topic of this conference: Otonas Balciunas, Mwizenge S. Tembo, Wu Wei

Closing message

  • “Seek the Welfare of the Empire” (Jeremiah 29:1-23) by Daryl Byler

Speakers

  • Balciunas, Otonas. Founder, Lithuanian Christian Fund, Lithuania
  • Biesecker-Mast, Gerald. Associate Professor of Communication, Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio
  • Brackney, William. Professor of Religion and Director of Program in Baptist Studies, Baylor University, Waco, Texas
  • Byler, Daryl. Director, Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office
  • Durnbaugh, Donald F. Professor Emeritus, Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, Indiana; and Archivist, Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
  • Edgar, Rev. Dr. Robert W. General Secretary, National Council of Churches
  • Grimsrud, Ted. Professor of Religion, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Hardenbrook, Jim. Moderator, Church of the Brethren; Pastor, Nampa Church of the Brethren, Nampa, Idaho; House Chaplain, Idaho State Legislature
  • Harsch, Lloyd. Assistant Professor of Church History, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Hostetter Martin, Earl and Pat. Formerly with Mennonite Central Committee in Asia.
  • Nation, Mark Thiessen. Professor of Theology, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Penner, Myron A. Department of Philosophy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Radcliff, David. New Community Project, Elgin, Illinois
  • Robertson, J. M. Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church, Rice, Virginia
  • Roth, John D. Professor of History, Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana; editor, Mennonite Quarterly Review
  • Scheppard, Carol. Professor of Religion, Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia
  • Tembo, Mwizenge S. Associate Professor of Sociology, Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia
  • Weaver, Alain Epp. Mennonite Central Committee, Palestine
  • Weaver, J. Denny. Professor of Religion, Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio
  • Wei, Wu. Pastor, Beijing, China
  • Wilhelm, Dawn Ottoni. Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship, Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, Indiana