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Georgetown College and Baptist Seminary of Kentucky
are pleased to announce a Lilly Fellows Regional Conference

Discerning Vocation in a Contested Religious Tradition

January 28-29, 2016

This conference is supported by a grant from the Lilly Fellows Program.


nadia-bolz-weberNadia Bolz-Weber
Pastor, House for All Sinners and Saints
david-gusheeDavid Gushee
Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Executive Director for the Center for Faith and Public Life, Mercer University
caroline-simonCaroline Simon
Provost, Whitworth College
patricia-oconnell-killenPatricia O’Connell Killen
Academic Vice President and Provist, Gonzaga University

The question of discerning academic vocation within a Christian institution raises broader issues given the prevalent description of America as entering a post-denominational and religiously pluralistic phase. How will an academic vocation, grounded in the tradition of the academy and denominational and institutional frameworks, respond to the needs of the broader culture with creative and responsive teaching and research? And what does it mean that higher education in America considered most broadly still contains within itself these representations of religious loyalty integrated and affecting academic work of teaching and research? How do we invite and challenge students to follow our paths into these communities and concerns that may appear increasingly provincial? How should we communicate the challenge and the blessing of this calling? And what is the academic value of this kind of enterprise for those of us who discern our vocation in this context?


Georgetown College and Baptist Seminary of Kentucky epitomize the challenges of faithfully serving a community and faith tradition that exhibits both internal tensions of discerning the value of Christian higher education for students within that tradition, and also for the students and communities beyond it. In order to develop a better understanding of the common forms of these struggles and to nurture the community of church-related higher education, we are pleased to host a conference that invites scholars from undergraduate, graduate, and seminary institutions and LFP member schools to contribute research on topics related to discerning academic vocation in the context of contested religious traditions and/or institutional life in an increasingly religiously pluralistic context.

Schedule of speakers and breakout sessions

January 28

1:00 – 2:10 PM Ward Room Opening Plenary –David Gushee
When Everything is Contested: My Journey as a Christian Ethicist”

2:30-3:45 Breakout Sessions 

  • Ward Room – (A) Deepening Students’ Response to the World: The SOPHIA (Sophomore Initiative at Assumption) Catherine Woodbrooks, Assumption University. (B) We Need a Word: The Teacher as Communicator. Ian Clausen, Villanova University.
  • 3rd Floor Allen Meeting Area – (A) The Call of Self-critical Traditions: Resources for Christ –centered Higher Education from Centered-set Thinking, Girards Mimetic Theory and Inter-group Dialogue; Chris Gruenler, Hope College (B) The Intellectual and Theological Dimensions of Vocation: Employing the Langague of ‘Call’ in a Contested Religious Tradition. David Cunningham, Hope College.
  • 3rd Floor Birdwhistell Meeting Area – (A) A Call for Deeper Green Church Leadership, Jerry Cappel, Environmental Network Consultant; (B) Clarifying the Call: Stories of Discernment Away from Vocational Ministry, Brandon Moore, Eastern Kentucky University.

4:00-5:15 Breakout Sessions

  • Ward Room Faith and Justice, In and Out of our Church Communities:  Panel Discussion. Tanya Torp, Program Director for Step-by-Step Ministry; Sean Gladding author and theologian; Heather Roe Mahoney, Deputy Director Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.
  • 3rd Floor Allen Meeting Area – (A) Inspiring Students to Confront Human Trafficking, Regan Lookadoo, Georgetown College; (B) The Protestant Roots of the Secularization of Knowledge in American Higher Education, Richard Tison II, Cedarville University

7:00 PM Plenary – Hill Chapel – Nadia Bolz-Weber

           “Preaching: Confession of Faith and Confession of Brokenness”



January 29

9:00-10:10 AM   3rd Floor Allen Meeting Area

Plenary – Carol Simon

           “Can Two Walk Together, Except They Be Agreed? Traditions, Vocations and Christian Universities in the 21st Century”

10:30-11:45 Breakout Sessions

  • Ward RoomChaos, Crisis, and Conflict: An Exploration of Undergraduate Students’ Experience and Vocational Identity, Amanda Marble, Kay Webb, & Loredena Werth, Northwest Nazarene University.
  • 3rd Floor Allen Meeting Area –  (A) Known by Name: The Role of the Other in Discerning Vocation, Colleen Windham-Hughes, California Lutheran University; (B) Confusion will be my epitath: Vocational Disorientation in an age of Cultural and Social Fragmentation, Steve Clarke, Charles Sturt University, Australia.
  • 3rd Floor Birdwhistell Meeting Area – (A) Call-Forwarding: Programming Vocation as a Receptive Ecumenical Alternative to Faculty Confusion and Conflict over Faith. Jonathan Hagood, Andrew McCoy, Hope College; (B) Loyalty in the Face of Change: Principled Pluralism for Southern Baptist Academics Kenneth Vandergriff, Campbell University Divinity School.

1:00-2:10 Ward Room

          Plenary – Patricia O’Connell Killen

2:30-3:45 Breakout Sessions

  • Ward Room –(A) Georgetown Students Finding Their Vocation. Sheila Klopfer, Katie Shankir, Ashley Clayton, Georgetown College; (B) Inviting Students into Vocational Discernment, Margaret Diddams, Seattle Pacific University.
  • 3rd Floor Allen Meeting Area – (A) A Pedagogical Approach for the Discernment of Vocation, Daniel Torson, Lewis Univ.; (B) Peter Och’s Pragmatism and the Purpose of Philosophy, Jacob Goodson, Southwestern College.
  • 3rd Floor Birdwhistell Meeting Area – (A) Religious Fidelity, Principled Pluralism and Interfaith Engagement: Educating Christian Students for the 21st Marion Larson, Bethel University; (B) Facing the Challenge of a Corporate Christian Vocation in an Individualistic and Post-Denominational Age, Darrell Cosden, Judson University.

4:00-5:00 Ward Room

Concluding Panel


Nadia Bolz-Weber

David Gushee

Carol Simon

Patricia O’Connell Killen


Conference Cost: $75, $50 for Lilly Fellows Network members and Students

Hotels with room blocks and special rates:

Hampton Inn
128 Darby Drive
Georgetown, KY 40324
(502) 867-4888
20 rooms in block
$83/night. Code GCC

Holiday Inn Express
140 Osborne Way
Georgetown, KY 40324
(502) 570-0220
20 rooms in block (10 kings, 10 queens)
$112/night, code GCV