Cosponsored by Seminary Stewardship Alliance


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Plenary Presenters

holley_crop2Rev. Betty Whitted Holley, PhD
Associate Professor of Ecological Theology
Program Director of the Master of Divinity Degree Program

Payne Theological Seminary, Wilberforce, Ohio

“The Earth Charter: A Response to Social, Economic, and Ecological Well-Being in the Twenty-First Century”
The Earth Charter offers a guided direction toward a new expression of a common future respecting difference and diversity while affirming our shared destiny as part of the human family. It hopes to find new harmonious chords among the creative tensions of the rights and responsibilities of humans and nature.

As a member of the core faculty at Payne, Dr. Holley teaches Theological Research and Writing, Ecological Theology, Ecojustice and the Christian Faith, and Climate Change: Why Should We Care? Among her credentials are an ME in mathematics from the University of North Carolina, an MDiv from Payne Theological Seminary, and a PhD in environmental ethics and African-American religious studies from Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio. She serves as presiding elder of the Columbus-Springfield-Xenia District of the Ohio-South Ohio Conference Third Episcopal District in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, superintending twenty-eight churches. Dr. Holley is a member of the Association for Theological Schools accrediting evaluation team and serves on the Smithsonian Institute of Natural History’s Human Origins Broader Social Impacts Committee in Washington, DC.

lamb_crop_wRachel Lamb
Flagship Fellow University of Maryland, College Park

“Acting on Climate: A Faithful Response to a Defining Global Challenge”
How do we understand climate change and what makes it such a polarizing issue, and how can the pursuit of climate action be marked by faith, hope, and love? History is filled with examples of Christians who have found the motivation, courage, and empowerment to act boldly in the face of brokenness. As a people of hope, Christians must reject both despair and skepticism in responding to climate change and instead demonstrate how redemption and reconciliation are fundamental to our story as God’s people and extend to every part of creation.

As a PhD student in geographical sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park, Rachel focuses her research on how climate change governance can better reflect the complex, nonlinear, and dynamic nature of social-ecological systems. She also teaches Environmental Law and Policy at the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies and has worked for numerous organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency. Involved with Young Evangelicals for Climate Action since its inception, she has served as national organizer and spokesperson and chair of the steering committee.

rossing_wDr. Barbara Rossing
Professor of New Testament
Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, Illinois

“Revelation and God’s Green Earth: Reading the Bible So Earth Is Not Left Behind”
The book of Revelation and other New Testament visions promise healing for creation, not escape. The common impression that salvation is about going to heaven when you die risks missing the radical biblical message of hope for the world. In a time of ecological crisis, how can we draw on scripture’s message of hope to embrace care for our world today?

Dr. Rossing will also lead a Bible study on Genesis 1-2, “And God Saw That It Was Good.”

An ordained Lutheran minister, Dr. Rossing is active in public theology in both the scholarly academy and the church, working on climate change and the Bible. As part of her position at Lutheran School of Theology, she also directs the seminary’s environmental ministry emphasis. Her publications include The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation, Journeys through Revelation: Apocalyptic Hope for Today, and articles and book chapters on the Bible and ecology. Her media appearances include The History Channel, National Geographic, and CBS’s 60 Minutes. She received an MDiv degree from Yale University Divinity School and a ThD from Harvard University.

sleethDr. Matthew Sleeth, MD
Executive Director, Blessed Earth
Lexington, Kentucky

“Serve God, Save the Planet”
A decade ago, Dr. Sleeth, a former emergency room director and chief of medical staff, was living the American dream. After a spiritual and environmental conversion experience, the Sleeths sold their big home, gave away half of what they once owned, and cut their energy use and trash production by more than two-thirds. With humor and humility, he invites followers of Jesus to join him on this journey, based on the scriptural principles of simplicity, stewardship, and personal responsibility.

Dr. Sleeth resigned from his position in medical practice and administration to teach, preach, and write about the biblical call to be good stewards of the earth. A highly sought after speaker, he has spoken at more than 1,000 churches, campuses, and events, including serving as the monthly guest preacher at The Washington National Cathedral.  Recognized by Newsweek as one of the nation’s most influential evangelical leaders, Dr. Sleeth is the executive director of Blessed Earth, founder of the Seminary Stewardship Alliance, and author of numerous creation care books and articles.

swoboda_cropDr. A. J. Swoboda
Pastor, author, and professor
Portland, Oregon

“The Rest of the World: Sabbath and the Care of Creation”
This presentation will illuminate how our 24/7 culture and the systems we’ve created are destroying our souls, our bodies, our relationships, our society, and the rest of God’s creation. In short, the whole world is exhausted because we have forgotten to enter God’s sabbath. Still, there remains hope. For by re-embracing sabbath we will experience God’s renewal in a way we never imagined. As the scriptures witness, sabbath-keeping has far-reaching affects, from relationships we have, to the animals we look after, to the refugees among us, to the crops we grow, to our work and economy, and to the land itself. The biblical practice of sabbath-keeping is God’s plan for the restoration and healing of all creation.

The pastor of Theophilus in Portland, Dr. Swoboda teaches theology, biblical studies, and Christian history at George Fox Evangelical and Fuller Seminaries as well as a number of other universities and Bible colleges. His doctoral research at the University of Birmingham (UK) explored the never-ending relationship between the Holy Spirit and ecology. Among his publications are The Dusty Ones: Why Wandering Deepens Your Faith; A Glorious Dark: Finding Hope in the Tension between Belief and Experience; Tongues and Trees: Toward a Pentecostal Ecological Theology; and Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology. Dr. Swoboda is a member of the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Pentecostal Studies.

Guest Preacher

thomasDr. Frank A. Thomas
Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics
Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration
Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana

Preacher, teacher, scholar, lecturer, author, master coach—all describe Dr. Thomas, one of the most creative, pioneering, and prominent thought leaders of this generation. For many years, he has also taught preaching to doctoral and master’s-level students at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, and Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis Tennessee. Dr. Thomas is the CEO of Hope For Life International, Inc., and serves on the board of Societas Homiletica, an international society of teachers of preaching. In 2003 he was inducted into the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College. Among his published books is They Like to Never Quit Praisin’ God: The Role of Celebration In Preaching, considered a homiletic classic by many.

Faculty Presenters

frye_cropDr. Jonathan Frye
Professor of Natural Science
McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas

“Science and Stewardship: ‘The Thought of Rocks and Trees, of Skies and Seas’”
In a very interactive session, Dr. Frye will consider how science can inform our ethics of natural resource stewardship in this age of consequences. Coverage of a topic of current interest, such as global climate change, will be included.

Dr. Frye earned an MS and PhD in environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. He is now in his twenty-third year of teaching natural science at McPherson College. He recently completed ten years as a trustee of Bethany Theological Seminary and serves currently as a deacon and adult Sunday school teacher at the Monitor Community Church of the Brethren near McPherson.

Inglis_wDr. Nathanael Inglis
Assistant Professor of Theological Studies
Bethany Theological Seminary

“Creation and Community: The Theological and Ecological Roots of an Anabaptist Environmental Ethic”
Dr. Inglis will lead an exploration of some of the most influential Christian beliefs that shape ecological theology.  Then he will discuss what an Anabaptist environmental ethic could look like if the whole world is seen as a community of creation.

Dr. Inglis earned a PhD in theology from Fordham University in New York City. Since joining the Bethany faculty in 2015, his teaching has included courses in ecological theology and environmental ethics.  Before coming to Bethany, he served for two years with Brethren Volunteer Service in Guatemala.

Ulrich_wDr. Dan Ulrich
Wieand Professor of New Testament Studies
Bethany Theological Seminary

“A Life-Giving Word for God’s Green Earth”
The Gospel of John begins with an extraordinary hymn about the logos, or word, through whom God created all things (John 1:1-18). In a Bible study format, Dr. Ulrich will lead an exploration of this hymn with several contexts in view:  ancient Jewish traditions about creation, the Johannine community’s larger story about the embodied logos, and our own need to understand more deeply God’s life-giving love for all creation.

On the Bethany faculty since 1996, Dr. Ulrich has also served as associate dean and director of distributed education, helping launch Bethany’s distance learning track toward the MDiv. He earned a PhD in biblical studies from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, and is ordained in the Church of the Brethren.

Bethany Seminary Student Presenters

heishman_wKatie Heishman
Senior MDiv student

“Continuing the work of Jesus – Simply”
Simple living has become another conscious living buzzword in the modern quest for authenticity. What does it mean to follow Jesus faithfully and simply? What do homemade recipes, reducing waste, and unpackaged groceries have to do with following Jesus and loving our neighbor?

petty_cropstauffer_cropChibuzo Petty
Senior MDiv student
Jonathan Stauffer
Senior MA student

“Beyond Deserts and Prisons: How Social Location Colors Food Justice”
This exploration of the complexities of food justice through rural and urban lenses will help listeners learn about corporate economies, inadequate availability, and social abuse. Active in Bethany’s chapter of Seminary Stewardship Alliance, these student presenters will pursue Psalm 22’s prophetic vision: “The poor will eat and be satisfied” (v. 26a).

ullery-swenson_wElizabeth Ullery Swenson
Second-year MDiv student

“WildWood Gathering: Come to the Church in the WildWood”
WildWood Gathering is a new church in Olympia, Washington, with a focus on creatively exploring spirituality and faith. Join us for an opportunity to experience worship with WildWood Gathering as we reflect on the Earth’s psalm of lament and our biblical call for creation care.

Contact or cal l765-983-1823 with questions or for more information.