Bridgewater College hosts Forum for Brethren Studies event on ‘Brethren and the Polarizing Pandemic’

By Carol Scheppard

On March 10-11, Bridgewater (Va.) College and the Forum for Brethren Studies will present a symposium on “Brethren and the Polarizing Pandemic: What Next?” The event is open to the public.

The symposium will contemplate the Church of the Brethren as it emerges from the global pandemic, assessing pre-COVID trends and determining their likely post-COVID trajectory. Topics include the likelihood of further division, social and economic inequality, and the influence of external authority, as illustrated by the 1919 and 2021 pandemics.

Presenters are Robert Johansen (Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies, Notre Dame University), Stephen Longenecker (Professor of History Emeritus, Bridgewater College), and Samuel Funkhouser (Director, Brethren Mennonite Heritage Center). Bethany Seminary president Jeffrey Carter and Shenandoah District executive John Jantzi will present current perspectives from their constituencies, and Carl Bowman, (Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia) will chair a panel of Brethren leaders (Donita Keister, Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey, and Larry Dentler) offering personal reflections on the meaning of Brethren membership.

Emma Green, staff writer for The New Yorker and The Atlantic, will begin the symposium on Thursday evening, March 10, with an endowed lecture in Cole Hall. Green has written extensively on culture, politics, and religion, and her lecture will bring reflections on religion in post-COVID America. She also will open the symposium on Friday morning, March 11, with Q and A. The lecture is free; the Friday session in the President’s Suite in Nininger Hall has a registration fee of $20, mostly to cover lunch.

The sponsor of the event is the Forum for Brethren Studies. Advance registration is greatly appreciated, but walk-ups are welcome. For information, to register, and to receive parking information, contact Carol Scheppard,

— Carol Scheppard is Professor of the College, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Bridgewater College.


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