Believer's church perspectives

How do Christians in the Believers Church tradition, living in a democracy that is the world’s dominant power, understand their witness for God and their relationship to political authority?



Thursday   Friday   Saturday

Thursday, Sept. 23, 2004

8 - 9 a.m. at Eastern Mennonite Seminary

Session 1
Opening of the Conference
9 - 9:30 a.m.

Believers and Political Authority in the Bible
9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

“Covenant and Exile: God's Call to the Space Between"
Carol Scheppard, Professor of Religion, Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia

“Jesus’ Confrontation with Empire”
Ted Grimsrud, Professor of Religion, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia

Lunch (on your own)
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Session 2
Believers and Political Authority in History
- Part I
1 - 2:30 pm

“Subjection and Critique in Anabaptist Political Witness”
Gerald Biesecker-Mast, Associate Professor of Communication, Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio

"The Political Ramifications of Being God's People in a Promised Land”
William Brackney, Professor of Religion and Director of Program in Baptist Studies, Baylor University, Waco, Texas

Afternoon Break
2:30 - 3 p.m.

Session 3
Believers and Political Authority in History—part II
3 - 5 p.m.

“The Church of the Brethren Office in Washington, DC (1946-2002): Advocacy or Listening Post?”
Donald F. Durnbaugh, Professor Emeritus, Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, Indiana; and Archivist, Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

“Mennonite Witness, US Power, and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict”
Alain Epp Weaver, Mennonite Central Committee, Palestine

“Second Order of Business: Prayer by the Chaplain”
Jim Hardenbrook, moderator, Church of the Brethren; Pastor, Nampa Church of the Brethren, Nampa, Idaho; House Chaplain, Idaho State Legislature

Dinner (on your own)
5 - 7 p.m.

Session 4
Evening Worship

7 - 9 p.m.

“God's Word on the Loose” (Mark 1:6-11; Isaiah 59:14-15)
Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship, Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, Indiana

Friday, Sept. 24, 2004

Morning Prayers
8:15 - 8:45 a.m.

Session 5
Theological Perspectives on Political Authority - Part I

9 - 10:30 a.m.

“The Politics of Jesus—Then and Now”
Mark Thiessen Nation, Professor of Theology, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Harrisonburg, Virginia

“The Believers Church and What the World Needs Now”
J. M. Robertson, Pastor, Warsaw Baptist Church, Warsaw, Virginia

Morning Break
10:30 - 11:00 a.m.

Session 6
Theological Perspectives on Political Authority - Part II
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

“Living the Reign of God in the 'Real World': A Replacement for Two-Kingdom Theology”
J. Denny Weaver, Professor of Religion, Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio

“Minority Views in a Hostile Majority: Yoder and Plantinga on Particularity”
Myron A. Penner, Department of Philosophy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

Lunch (on your own)
12:30 - 1:45 p.m.

Session 7
Believers’ Journeys and Politics

1:45 - 3:30 p.m.

Autobiographical reflections by a panel of persons with varying perspectives and experiences in relation to politic:

"Napalm on Mama's House - Can We Remain Silent?"
Earl and Pat Hostetter Martin, Formerly with Mennonite Central Committee in Asia.

"Giving Caesar His Due"
Lloyd Harsch, Assistant Professor of Church History, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana

"Polls Apart: Why Believers Might Conscientiously Abstain from Voting"
John D. Roth, Professor of History, Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana; editor, Mennonite Quarterly Review

Afternoon Break
3:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Session 8
Conference Banquet
5:30 - 7 p.m.
Bridgewater College: Boitnott Room

There is limited seating and an additional charge for the conference banquet—see the registration form and reserve your tickets early. Robert Edgar will then deliver his address in a larger auditorium which can accommodate the full conference assembly.

Session 9
Conference Banquet Address
7:30 p.m.
Bridgewater College: Carter Center

Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches

Saturday, Sept. 25

Light Continental Breakfast
at Eastern Mennonite Seminary
8:30 - 9 a.m.

Session 10
Believers as Sisters and Brothers in the Church Worldwide
9 - 11 a.m.

“‘There goes the neighborhood’: Christian Engagement with a Suddenly-near World”
David Radcliff, New Community Project, Elgin, Illinois

Panel of persons bringing perspectives from other parts of the globe to the topic of this conference:
- Otonas Balciunas, President, Lithuania Christian Fund, Lithuania;
- Mwizenge S. Tembo, Associate Professor of Sociology, Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia
- Wu Wei, Senior Pastor, Chong Wenmen Church, Beijing, China

Closing Worship
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

"Seek the Welfare of the Empire" (Jeremiah 29:1-23)
Daryl Byler, Director, Mennonite Central Committee, U.S. Washington Office


by 12 p.m.

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This fifteenth gathering in the series of Believers Church Conferences is being hosted by Eastern Mennonite University and Bridgewater College in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with assistance from the Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office, Church of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office and the Baptist Joint Committee.
For more information: