2017 Annual Conference: Embracing the Other
April 25-27, 2017
Detroit, Michigan

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Theology

The Academy gathered in Detroit, Michigan at the St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center from April 25-27. This was the first annual meeting to be held in Metro-Detroit, since the first meeting in April 1970, and the first to be hosted within the city limits of Detroit. The theme for the meeting, Embracing the Other, was set by the presentations made by our keynoter, the Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Theology, and carried through the entire meeting.

Dr. Kim spoke from her own experience as one born in Korea, raised in Canada, and now a citizen of the United States. She spoke of the Asian-American experience, connecting it with the biblical story, especially the stories of the foreign women of the Bible. Her presentations climaxed in an interfaith panel, which included Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Buddhist panelists. This conversation served as an important reminder that while the Academy has been a largely a gathering of Christian clergy, the vision for the Academy is that it is an interfaith organization.

In addition to the four presentations given by Dr. Kim, on Wednesday evening, the Book of the Year Committee presented their Book of the Year and Reference Book of the Year winners, as well as the Top Ten Book list. Both the Book of the Year winner, Dr. Richard Beck, Professor of Psychology at Abilene Christian University, and the Reference Book of the Year winner, Dr. Stephen B. Chapman, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Duke Divinity School, were able to be with us. Beck’s book is titled Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted (Fortress Press, 2016). Chapman’s winning book is titled 1 Samuel as Christian Scripture: A Theological Commentary (Eerdmans, 2016). The two winners, after receiving their awards, gave presentations as to the essence of their books, and then engaged in conversation with each other and the audience. It was a full evening of conversation.

On Wednesday evening, the College of Fellows, led by Dean Bill Tuck, inducted two new members, Robert Cornwall and David Moffett-Moore. After being introduced by their mentors, Willard Roth (Cornwall) and Jake Kaufman (Moffett-Moore), Bill presented the patches and certificates and offered a prayer of induction, while Fellow Pema Lisa Antoniotti presented the two new Fellows with a khatag, a white scarf that is a Tibetan Buddhist sign of blessing. After the installation, the evening worship featured a sermon by Bob Cornwall, one of the new Fellows, focusing on the meaning of being a fellow and a sense of call to mentorship. The evening concluded with a time of fellowship featuring Michigan wines, beers, ciders, soda, chips, smoked fish, and Wisconsin cheese!

The meeting concluded on Thursday morning with a presentation by Carl Zerweck, Executive Director of Rippling Hope Ministries of Detroit, a Disciples of Christ related ecumenical ministry that brings mission groups to do home repair, board ups of vacant buildings, and lot clean ups. This ministry is a sign of good things happening in the neighborhoods of Detroit, which have been neglected for decades. A brief business meeting and closing worship followed.