June 27-Aug. 14, 2003
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Conference examines theology in everyday life
Photo by Peggy Harrison
Diverse crowds attended the Lived Theology Conference, held at U.Va. June 12-14 and organized by religious studies professor Charles Marsh, bottom left. Other speakers included Virginia Gray Adams, Bob Moses (bottom right) and Ed King.

By Charlotte Crystal

Nearly 200 people from around the country gathered in Charlottesville in mid-June for a three-day conference on faith and social action sponsored by the U.Va. Project on Lived Theology.

Aimed at bringing together social activists and academic theologians, the conference also attracted a number of local clergy whose work bridges both issues.

“At a time when religion has been used to legitimize war and terror, the conference led to a kind of clarifying in our minds of the potency of religion to forge a deeper sense of human connectedness,” said Charles Marsh, associate professor of religious studies and director of U.Va’s Project on Lived Theology. “People left here feeling that they had been caught up in an extraordinary experience. We hope they can go back into their communities and continue to build bridges of reconciliation and plant the seeds of renewal in their communities.”

The conference was built around reports delivered by the project’s four Lived Theology work groups—Lived Theology and Community Building, Lived Theology and Race, Lived Theology and Power, and Congregation and City—which have been exploring related issues for the past three years.

The program also included nationally prominent speakers, such as Stanley Hauerwas, the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at the Duke University Divinity School and Time Magazine’s 2001 Best American Theologian; the Rev. Eugene Rivers III, pastor of the Azusa Christian Community and a community development activist for the past three decades; and Robert P. Moses, a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement, who was named a MacArthur Fellow and founded the Algebra Project, which encourages at-risk students in secondary school to take college preparatory mathematics.

The Project on Lived Theology is a Lilly Endowment initiative that seeks to understand how theological convictions shape the everyday practices of communities and influence public conversation about religion and social responsibility. The Project on Lived Theology recently received add-on funding of $1 million over three years, which will be used to support an annual summer institute and related scholarship.


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