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Grace ji-sun kim

Topic: Jesus and the coming “kin-dom” of God

Today, we are living in a globalising world where cultures, religions and identities are colliding with one another. As we live in such a world, we ask ourselves, who is Jesus for us today? Jesus as the Spirit of God is showing us how we live in an interfaith and intercultural world where we need to embrace the other and grow in our faith. Our spiritual lives need to grow in the Spirit of God’s love as we each work towards the coming “kin-dom” of God.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim serves as Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion. She holds degrees from Knox College and the University of Toronto, and is the author or editor of 12 books. Among these are Embracing the Other; The Grace of Sophia; The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other; and Contemplations from the Heart. Eerdmans included her in their list of Five Great Women Scholars, and the Englewood Review of Books named her in their list of Ten Important Women Theologians You Should Be Reading. Grace is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She is married and the mother of three children.

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brandi miller

Topic: John the Baptist, repentance, and life as a changed people. (more info to come)

Brandi Miller is a campus minister in Oregon with her current work focusing on the deconstruction of white supremacy in the evangelical church. You can find more of her writings at or follow her on twitter @brandinico.

Karen Gonzalez.jpg

karen gonzalez

Topic: Return: Discipleship

Often the word discipleship has been equated with personal holiness. But to be a disciple is to be a student of Jesus and his holistic gospel. Karen invites us on a journey through the gospel of Mark discipleship beyond behaviour management and into the way of Jesus.

Karen Gonzalez is a speaker, writer, and immigrant advocate. Karen is an immigrant from Guatemala and lives in Baltimore, Maryland where she enjoys writing, cooking Latin food, and watching baseball (in that order). You can find her on Twitter and Instagram musing about theology: @_karenjgonzalez. Her writing can be found on the communal blogs: The Mudroom and The Salt Collective. She has has bylines in Sojourners, Faithfully Magazine, Mutuality Magazine, and Christ and Pop Culture, where she has written about Latinx identity, race, gender, and immigration.

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lauren r.e. larkin

Topic: "I Think I'll go for a walk": A Return to Self in the Encounter with God in the Event of Justification.

Christian talk about the hearer's encounter with God in the event of faith rightly employs the language of death into life. However, more common than not, there is an overweighted emphasis on the death aspect of events, going beyond being the necessary foundation of the new life to the essence of the new life in faith. In other words: Christian talk about the hearer's encounter seems to hit a hard stop with the erasure of self as the goal of new life rather than receiving the self back in and as a result of the encounter. While affirming the death into life order of events in the life of the person who has heard the proclamation of the Gospel and who has been ushered into the encounter with God in the event of faith, this talk seeks to elevate the discussion of the reception and the finding of self (the return to self) following having lost and having died to one's self. "I'm not dead...I think I'll go for a walk; I feel happy!" ("Monty Python and the Holy Grail")

Reverend Lauren R. E. Larkin holds both Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology degrees from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, her areas of academic focus being Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, Gener Studies and Social Ethics. She contributes to the theological blog Key Life and is one half of Ezer Uncaged. Lauren has written essays for Never Satisfied Until Satisfied in Thee: Finding Grace in Hamilton (ebook, forthcoming in 2017), The Gospel According to Pixar (Mockingbird, 2010), and Comfortable Words: Essays in Honor of Paul F. M. Zahl (Pickwick Publications, 2013). Lauren has been married to her husband, Daniel, for 11 years and together are the parents of two boys, Quinn (11) and Jack (10), and on girl, Liza (4).


James Bhagwan

Topic: Reweaving the Mat

Oceanian (Pacific Island) Christians face strong winds of change as they journey on a pilgrimage of justice and peace, voyaging to an island of hope.

Our talanoa (dialogue/deep sharing) in this session discusses the winds of change: globalisation, rapid social change,climate change; and how through our deep spirituality and by reframing the issues from the context of the oikos.. the household of God can change the language, the narrative - reweaving the ecological, economical and ecumencial mat and transform these situations we are facing today.

Rev James Bhagwan is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church in Fiji and has just completed a term as the Church's Secretary for Communication and Overseas Mission. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji. 

He is a former radio and television broadcaster and newspaper columnist. A Stand-Up Paddler, James is passionate about care for the ocean, and serves as the chaplain and crew member of the Uto Ni Yalo, Fiji's traditional voyaging canoe. He is a practicing ecumenist which is handy as his wife Maelin is Roman Catholic and his children Francisco-Xavier and Antonia are Anglicans. James has been involved in climate justice for over a decade and was part of the World Council of Churches delegation to last year's COP23 in Bonn.


karl hand

Topic: Finding Hope in Return

"The Hope of Salvation as a Helmet"  1 Thess 5:8

"It is not ‘orthodox’ to indulge in gloom over the prospect for Christianity in the world."  Iain Murray

“Revivals are hindered when ministers and churches take the wrong stand in regard to any question involving human rights.”  Charles Finney

This talk is written for everyone who is broken-hearted about the state of the Christian church in 2018.  For a variety of reasons, ranging from the politics of Donald Trump to the church’s negligence in protecting vulnerable people, a major Christian magazine has concluded that “no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation.”  (Wrote Mark Galli, the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today in December 2017).

How did we get here? While there is no single cause, nor any silver bullet for these problems, they provide an opportunity for the church to engage in some deep self-reflection.  

Explore the problem and exploring Paul’s theology of hope (1 Thess 5:8), I propose that our eschatology needs to be questioned and refined. Instead of bringing hope and inspiring Christians to participate constructively in society, the threat of Jesus’ return in judgment has been a source of anxiety and a means of control. A century and a half of such pessimistic attitudes about the future of human culture have slowly eroded a healthy relationship between the church and the society it lives in. I propose that the way forward in this situation is to begin by changing our own attitude, finding a more optimistic view of human culture, its potential, and its relationship to the hope of Jesus’ return.

Karl Hand is the pastor of Crave Church in Sydney Australia, which he founded in 2008. He has an evangelical theology, a pentecostal spirituality, and a liberationist hermeneutic. He is passionate about building community focused on God's presence, and seeing culture impacted by the gospel.

He has taught Exegesis and Greek courses at UTC as well as Australian Catholic University, and the University of Newcastle. He holds two masters degrees in theology and philosophy, and has completed a PhD through Charles Sturt University, which is about the source history of the gospel of Luke.