Brite Divinity School's annual conference on Feb. 20-23 is free and open to the public.

Feb. 3, 2017

For the first time since the event’s founding in 1888, Brite Divinity School’s annual Ministers Week will focus entirely on environmental themes.

The event to be held Feb. 20-23 on TCU campus is a partnership between Brite Divinity School, TCU and University Christian Church. The presentations are free and open to the public.

According to organizer Eilene Thelig, PhD., director of Lay and Continuing Education, attendees will learn ways to incorporate environmental issues into their communities during the four-day conference geared to members of the Christian faith tradition. Conference speakers will look at the world and its environment through the lens of theology, biblical studies and social justice. 

“I think the environment is an incredibly important issue that we need to be talking about in our faith communities, because at heart, it’s a moral issue.” 

Thelig said she believes that, firstly, because we are called to care for God’s creation, we should do so. We are also called to love our neighbors, and our neighbors impact the environment. Thelig adds that she thinks that as we as humans fit into the web of life, we are a part of creation, not separate from it.

“I think the environment is an incredibly important issue that we need to be talking about in our faith communities, because at heart, it’s a moral issue.”   

“We’re hoping to equip ministers with the tools they need to grow this ministry, i.e., how to incorporate the environment into their teaching, preaching and actions.”  

Thelig shares that many knowledgeable professionals have been recruited for the event.

Nora GallagherNora Gallagher, an American writer of memoir, fiction and essays and preacher-in-residence at Trinity Episcopal Church of Santa Barbara, will speak on My Big Fat Carbon Footprint: Practical Tips on Writing and Preaching about the Natural World and Climate Change on Thursday. A book signing will follow.

Dr. Larry RasmussenOn Wednesday, Dr. Larry Rasmussen, one of the world’s foremost Christian environmental ethicists, presents Adam Wasn’t a Guy and Jesus Was a Mammal. He has published more than a dozen books including two awarding-winning volumes: Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (Nautilus Grand Prize, 2014) and Earth Community, Earth Ethics (Grawemeyer Prize, 1997).

Dr. Melanie HarrisAlso on Wednesday, Dr. Melanie L. Harris, an associate professor of Religion and Ethics at Texas Christian University, will speak on Ecowomanist Wisdom: Environmental and Social Justice for Such a Time as This. Harris teaches and conducts research in the areas of Environmental Justice, Womanist Ethics, Religious Social Ethics, and African American Religious Thought. 

One of the workshops held on Tuesday afternoon, Community Gardens & Urban Farming as Ministry, includes a tour of the Tarrant Area Food Bank Learning Garden, a partnership with Ridglea Christian Church. Today, over 2,500 pounds of food a year for the local food pantry is produced. Moreover, a neighborhood where people from all incomes, ethnicities, and backgrounds gather as neighbors learn, eat and care for each other and the earth. Participants can learn how community gardens can make a difference in their communities.

Another Tuesday workshop Dreaming a New World with Our Youth: Finding Right Relationship with Neighbor and Planet led by Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri, director of the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina and Associate Minister of Green Chalice, will focus on climate change, racism, income inequality, hunger and violence that have deep connections as to how we treat our planet and one another. With today’s youth facing extreme environmental issues often with dread, the program addresses strategies and solutions to transform our communities into hubs of hope.

In addition to the workshops, special TCU lunches ($10) and Brite lunches ($20) will be served.  Online registration ends Feb. 15, but you can also register at the door.  See complete schedule of speakers.

Minister's Week: Re-envisioning Spirituality, Community, and Faithful Living

What: Annual conference geared to members of the Christian faith tradition, this year covering environmental topics. Open to the public.

Hosted by: Brite Divinity School, TCU and University Christian Church

When: Feb. 20-23

Where: TCU

Cost: Free


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