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Better Angels

Using the Power of Community to Change the World

We’re all born with power. How are you using yours?

A Montreat Conference Center Event
October 8–11, 2018

Online registration is now closed, however walk-in registration is available from 3:00-4:00 pm on Monday, October 8th in the Assembly Inn upper lobby.

When we look at the intersection of today’s headlines and God’s concern we see topics like racism, #metoo, immigration, and violence. In each of these discussions, the common thread is power. It’s the same when we look at the topics of spirited discussion in our churches, like the budget, mission, stewardship, and recruitment of leaders. And yet power is something we rarely talk about, analyze, or organize around, even though we’re dealing with it, using it, or finding ourselves without it, all the time.

This conference will examine the biblical, theological, and sociological understandings of power and the church’s relationship to it. When do we build power for the gospel, and when do we resist the powers that oppose it? How is power necessary for congregational leadership, and when does it divide? How do we wield power in the church in unifying ways without diminishing Jesus’ radical call to discipleship?

Better Angels invites you to enter the discussion of power where you find it most relevant. Each participant will have the opportunity to sample two subject areas over the course of the conference. Course leaders will teach each topic in two formats: a longer, more in depth format, and and a shorter, snapshot format. Each participant will be able to choose one topic to be their primary (in depth) workshop. Participants will register in advance for their primary workshop. In addition, each participant may take one secondary workshop (one hour in length); no pre-registration is required for the secondary workshop.

Areas of Emphasis:

  • The March is Over…Now What? Power Analysis for an Emerging Network
  • Gender and Power in Church Settings: Insights Into Achieving Equity in the Church
  • Feeling Overexposed to Logics and Systems of Supremacy: Begin a 12-step journey toward healing…
  • Leading the Mission Committee Beyond Charity: Identifying the Congregation’s Power to Create Systemic Change
  • Advanced Topics in Understanding Power: For Leaders Ready to Be Held Accountable for Their Outcomes Instead of Just Their Activity
  • What If We Are The Next Charlottesville? Understanding the Power Dynamics of Race in Church and Community
  • Can Understanding Power Make Preaching More Powerful? Reading the Word with a Hermeneutic of Power

See more details below including key leadership, registration details, workshop descriptions and more…

Event Leadership

Christena Cleveland – Keynoter

Christena Cleveland is a social psychologist, public theologian, author and professor. She is an associate professor of the practice of organizational studies at Duke Divinity School and the author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart. She attended Dartmouth College where she double-majored in psychological and brain sciences and sociology, and UC Santa Barbara, where she earned a Ph.D. in social psychology. Recently named one of “5 online shepherds to follow” by JET magazine, Christena has devoted much of her vocation to teaching in higher educational institutions as well as serving the Church and broader society by regularly writing, speaking and consulting with organizations. Now at Duke Divinity School, Christena teaches classes on race, reconciliation, and conflict, and leads a research team that is investigating self-compassion as a buffer for racial stress.

Eric H. F. Law – Keynoter and Workshop Leader

Eric Law, an Episcopalian priest, is the founder and executive director of the Kaleidoscope Institute, the mission of which is to create inclusive and sustainable churches and communities. For more than 25 years, he has provided transformative and comprehensive training and resources for churches and ministries in all the major church denominations in the United States and Canada. He writes a weekly blog called The Sustainist: Spirituality for Sustainable Communities in a Networked World. Eric is the author of 9 books including The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb, and his latest, Holy Currency Exchange: 101 Stories, Songs, Actions and Visions of Missional and Sustainable Ministries.

Jonathan Walton – Preacher and Workshop Leader

Jonathan L. Walton is an acclaimed author, social ethicist and religious scholar. He is the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church of Harvard University, as well as a member of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Religion and Society at the Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism (NYU Press 2009) and A Lens of Love: Reading the Bible in Its World for Our World (Westminster John Knox Press 2018). Walton earned his PhD in Religion & Society and MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary. He also holds a BA in Political Science from Morehouse College in Atlanta. He serves on several professional boards and committees, which include the Board of Trustees at Princeton Theological Seminary, and the National Advisory Board of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis.

David LaMotte – Workshop Leader

David LaMotte is an award-winning songwriter, speaker and writer. He suspended his eighteen-year music career at its peak in 2008 to pursue his other passion by accepting a Rotary World Peace Fellowship to study International Relations, Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. As part of that study, he also spent time in rural Andhra Pradesh, India working with a Gandhian development organization. He is also a consultant on Peace and Justice for the North Carolina Council of Churches, and recently completed his sixth and final year on the AFSC Nobel Peace Prize Nominating Task Group. His books include Worldchanging 101: Challenging the Myth of Powerlessness and White Flour, which tells the true story of a creative and whimsical response to a Ku Klux Klan rally in Tennessee by a group called the Coup Clutz Clowns.

Diane J. Johnson – Workshop Leader

As founder and president of Mmapeu Management Consulting, Rev. Dr. Diane J. Johnson Ph.D. works at the intersections of community transformation, diversity and inclusion, social change and faith, organizational capacity expansion, and leadership development. In 2015, Rev. Diane joined the Atlanta-based Center for Progressive Renewal offering executive coaching, organizational development consulting and leadership development for clergy and denominational leaders. She is the author of several books, including Proud Sisters, The Wit & Wisdom of African-American Women, Mother Love, and The Cultural Diversity Fieldbook. An avid dancer, gourmet chef, jazz aficionado, lay leader in her various spiritual communities, and a West African drummer, Diane exhibits a unique joie de vivre, integrating humor, enthusiasm, and intellectual rigor in her trainings, technical assistance, and conference proceedings.

Karoline M. Lewis – Workshop Leader

The Rev. Karoline M. Lewis is the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary and she previously taught at Candler School of Theology, Columbia Theological Seminary, and Augsburg College. Lewis is the author of SHE: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Women in Ministry (including an accompanying facilitator guide, participant guide, and DVD) and John: Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries, as well as numerous articles for The Christian Century, Feasting on the Word, Feasting on the Gospels, Currents in Theology and Mission, Lutheran Forum, Word & World, Abingdon Preaching Annual, and Odyssey Network's ON Scripture. Ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Lewis holds degrees from Northwestern University (B.A.), Luther Seminary (M.Div.), and Emory University (Ph.D., New Testament Studies and Homiletics). She has served as Treasurer of Academy of Homiletics and Regional Coordinator for the Upper Midwest Region of the Society of Biblical Literature.

Melvin Bray – Workshop Leader

Melvin Bray is an Emmy® award-winning storyteller, writer, educator and social entrepreneur embedded with his wife and three kids in the West End neighborhood of Southwest Atlanta. He is an active member of several vanguard networks working to cultivate more sustainable approaches to faith and civic engagement. Melvin is co-editor/co-producer of Faith Forward. Melvin is the author of the book BETTER: Waking Up to Who We Could Be and lead facilitator for the consultancy firm Collabyrinth, which helps communities of goodwill design better systems and structures, policies and practices, that transform persistently inequitable outcomes into equitable ones.

Andrew Foster Connors – Workshop Leader

Andrew Foster Connors is the Senior Pastor of the Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, MD. He serves as clergy co-chair of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), a local affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and Maryland’s largest citizens power organization. Andrew is a native of Raleigh, N.C. He attended Duke University as a B.N. Duke Scholar where he received a B.A. in History with a focus on contemporary social movements. He holds a Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. He was the 2001 recipient of the prestigious David H.C. Read Preaching Award and has preached at numerous conferences and events around the country. He is an organizing member of NEXT Church, a national movement among Presbyterians excited about the future of the Presbyterian Church (USA). He currently serves as co-chair of the organization.

Terrell Williams – Workshop Leader

Terrell Williams is the son of a great woman who worked 40 years at a major hospital who earned $16,400 at retirement. He was born and raised in St. Louis, MO, in a place called Cochran Gardens which is a very violent community one mile from the Arch in downtown St. Louis. He attended college at the University of Kansas and later received a bachelors degree from the University of Baltimore in political science, a masters in special and elementary education, and post certification in administration and supervision. He was a retail executive for twenty years, and an educator in the Baltimore City school system where he was the Pride coordinator which helped young people who had emotional disabilities. He was also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University with Teach for America. He is currently an associate organizer with BUILD (Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development), and co-director of TurnAround Tuesday a jobs movement.

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