Fifth Presidential Forum to Be Held at Bethany Seminary

Bethany Theological Seminary will hold its fifth Presidential Forum on April 5 and 6, 2013, at the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind. The forum’s theme, “The Bible in Our Bones: Telling and Living the Stories of Our Faith,” invites all to encounter God’s word with fresh eyes and to live and share its life-giving messages with insight and integrity. Scholars, storytellers, artists, and other ministerial leaders will guide this exploration of biblical story through worship, instruction, and reflection.

David L. Barr and Thomas E. Boomershine will serve as plenary speakers. Barr’s address, “It’s Not the End of the World: The Fantastic Story of John’s Apocalypse,” will present the book of Revelation not as a prediction of the future, but as a story of how the followers of Jesus are to live in the world. Having taught at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, since 1975, Barr currently holds the title of professor of religion. He also has served as director of the University Honors Program and chair of the Departments of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics, and was named the Brage Golding Distinguished Professor of Research in 2004. His recent books include “Tales of the End,” a narrative commentary on the apocalypse of John, and “New Testament Story: An Introduction.”

Boomershine will deliver a plenary address titled “Mark’s Story of Jesus and the Gospel of Peace.” While the understanding of Jesus as a Messiah of peace is often drawn from the birth narratives and the Sermon on the Mount, Boomershine will illustrate how this theme is most explicit in the passion and resurrection narrative. Boomershine is president of GoTell Communications and founder of the international Network of Biblical Storytellers. He is also the organizer of the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media group in the Society of Biblical Literature and the NBS Seminar, both helping develop a paradigm of biblical study focused around performance criticism. Boomershine is professor emeritus of New Testament at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Husband and wife collaborators Garrison Doles and Jan Richardson will lend their artistic and leadership skills to the forum’s worship services and workshops. A prolific and celebrated songwriter and singer, Doles tours nationally and has won major songwriting competitions in North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts. Also the cofounder of Theatre Downtown in Orlando, Fla., he has produced, acted, directed, designed, and written for the stage. Richardson is an artist, writer, and ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. She serves as director of the Wellspring Studio, LLC, and travels widely as a retreat leader and conference speaker. Characterized by a distinctive intertwining of word and image, Richardson’s work has attracted an international audience.

Complementing the formal sessions, a wide array of instructional and interactive workshops will encourage personal engagement with scripture. A number of Church of the Brethren educators, lay leaders, and members in ministry will join Boomershine, Doles, and Richardson to provide leadership. From music to “bibliodrama” to storytelling with children, attendees may take away new techniques or insights for themselves and their faith communities. Among other workshop topics are interpretations of scripture, living out the gospel’s messages, and questions of faith among today’s young adults.

Friday evening will feature a performance of “Requiem,” composed and directed by William E. Culverhouse, director of choral music at Earlham College, and performed by members of the college choral program. This rich and varied work for mixed chorus and harp draws on texts taken from the King James Bible and the “Book of Common Prayer” and incorporates elements of Celtic folksong  and American folk hymnody.

A Pre-Forum Gathering will again welcome Bethany alumni/ae and friends to the seminary for fellowship and interaction with faculty, staff, and students. Sponsored by Bethany’s Alumni/ae Coordinating Council, the gathering will open Thursday evening, April 4, with dinner, worship, and a coffeehouse, and will continue April 5 with four educational sessions. Drawing on both historical and contemporary contexts, current and former faculty will speak to the presence that scripture has in human experience: Amy Gall Ritchie, director of student development; Scott Holland, professor of theology and culture; Eugene Roop, president emeritus of Bethany Seminary and adjunct professor in the DMin program at Anderson University; Michael McKeever, adjunct professor in New Testament Studies for Bethany and professor in biblical studies at Judson University; and Enten Eller, director of electronic communication.

The Presidential Forums were inaugurated in 2008 under the direction of president Ruthann Knechel Johansen. By exploring topics that thoughtfully address issues of faith and ethics, the forums strive to build community among those at Bethany, the wider church, and the public, and to provide visionary leadership for re-imagining the role of seminaries in public discourse. In fall 2010, Bethany received a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to endow the Presidential Forums.

The forum will begin with dinner and worship on Friday, April 5, and extend through Saturday afternoon. Registration will open Jan. 15, 2013. Registration costs will increase modestly after Feb. 15. A discounted rate is available for students. Each event qualifies for 0.5 continuing education units. Registration will be capped at 150 participants. For a complete schedule, registration information, and housing options, visit .

— Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.

All the Ways I Am Words reproduced by permission – Copyright by Jan L. Richardson,

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