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U.Va. Conference On Faith And Social Action Gathers Grassroots Activists And Distinguished Theologians

May 13, 2003 -- A June conference at the University of Virginia will bring together religious activists, community builders and theologians to learn more about how religious beliefs shape the everyday practices of communities and influence public conversation about religion and social responsibility.

Stanley Hauerwas, Time Magazine’s 2001 Best American Theologian, will be a featured speaker at the "Conference on Lived Theology and Civil Courage,” which will be held June 12-14 in the main auditorium of Zehmer Hall at the University of Virginia. The conference is free and open to the public.

“The conference will build on the insights and discoveries of the theologians, scholars and activists who have worked together over the past three years,” said Charles Marsh, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and director of the Project on Lived Theology, which is sponsoring the conference. “We hope these two-and-a-half days will refresh us as scholars and activists, reenergize our commitment to peacemaking, and illuminate new avenues of collaboration.”

Hauerwas, the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at the Duke University Divinity School, believes that theological convictions make no sense unless they are embodied in social practices. He is one of seven distinguished speakers scheduled to address the group, which includes civil rights activists of the 1960s, contemporary grassroots organizers and theologians.

Another featured speaker is Rev. Eugene Rivers 3d, pastor of the Azusa Christian Community and a community development activist for the past three decades. Born in Boston and reared in South Chicago and North Philadelphia, Rivers was educated at Harvard University. As co-chair of the National Ten Point Leadership Foundation he is working to build new grassroots leadership in 40 of the worst inner city neighborhoods in America.

Robert P. Moses also will address the group. A major figure in the civil rights movement, Moses served as field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was a driving force behind the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964. After teaching mathematics in New York City and Tanzania, Moses completed a doctorate in philosophy at Harvard University and was named a MacArthur Fellow. Moses founded the Algebra Project, which helps at-risk students set their sights on college by encouraging them to take college preparatory mathematics in junior high and high school.

Other conference speakers include Victoria Gray Adams, spokeswoman of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and Wesley minister at Virginia State University in Richmond, Va.; Ray Rivera, director of the Latino Pastoral Action Center, New York; Cheryl Sanders, professor of Christian ethics at Howard University Divinity School and senior pastor of Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C.; and Lee Stuart, director of the South Bronx Churches’ Nehemiah Corp., New York.

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. This conference concludes the first three years of the workgroups’ activities and offers an opportunity for the 40 participants to gather for the first time and share key insights.

The four workgroups are Lived Theology and Community Building, Lived Theology and Race, Lived Theology and Power, and Congregation and City. While the first three groups are exploring issues on a national level, the fourth group, Congregation and City, is working to create a narrative of Charlottesville through an examination of community building, race and power.

Advance registration is not required, but seating is limited. The conference will be held in the main auditorium of Zehmer Hall Conference Center with additional seating provided in adjoining rooms and connected by video links.

Area clergy who would like to reserve seating in the main auditorium for any of the sessions, should contact Jenny McBride at (434) 466-6892 as soon as possible.

For directions to Zehmer Hall and further conference information, including a conference schedule, speaker biographies and a full list of workgroup participants, visit the website at For other information or assistance, call Jenny McBride at (434) 466-6892.

The Lived Theology and Civil Courage Conference
June 12-14, 2003

Conference Events Open to the Public

Space is limited. Area clergy are invited to reserve a place in the main auditorium in advance by calling Jenny McBride at (434) 466-6892. Video links will be provided for additional seating in other rooms in Zehmer Hall.

Thursday, June 12
1-1:45 p.m. Reception at Zehmer Hall
1:45-2:15 p.m. Welcome by Charles Marsh, director of the Project on Lived Theology
2:15-3:45 p.m. Plenary Speaker Eugene Rivers, “What Christian Activists Expect Theologians to Talk About”
4-5 p.m. Workgroup presentation 1: Lived Theology and Community Building
5:15-6:45 p.m. Panel Discussion with Lee Stuart, Russell Jeung, Rydell Payne, Susan Glisson: “Towards a Theology of Organizing”

Friday, June 13
9:15-10:15 a.m. Workgroup presentation 2: Lived Theology and Race
10:30-11:45 a.m. Break-out session: “Social Gospel Reconsidered”
1-3 p.m. Panel Discussion with Bob Moses, Victoria Gray Adams and Ed King: “Civil Rights as Theological Drama"
3:30-4:30 p.m. Workgroup presentation 3: Lived Theology and Power

Saturday, June 14
9:15-10:15 Workgroup presentation 4: Congregation and City
10:30 a.m.-12 noon Plenary Speaker Stanley Hauerwas: "The Church’s Witness in Society"
1-3 p.m. Panel Discussion with Ray Rivera, Cheryl Sangers: “Spirit, Power and Social Progress”
3:15-4:30 Break-out session: “Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Civil Courage”
4:45-5:15 p.m. Concluding remarks by Charles Marsh

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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