The Eighth Annual Divinity School Ministry Conference

On the Edge of Glory: Making Disciples in a "Secular" Age

Friday, April 13th, 2012
8:30am-5pm (with a reception following) 

University of Chicago Divinity School
1025 E. 58th St. Chicago, IL 60637

minconf2012flyer.jpgFor centuries, people of faith have gone about the business of making disciples with the help of institutions. But since the 1960s, the public trust in institutions in general has rapidly declined, and we find religious institutions fighting for survival. While local congregations, denominations, ecumenical bodies and seminaries have historically been a significant part of the American religious landscape, each of these lies in the midst of existential crisis as post-modernity comes of age.

What forms of religious community will emerge from this turbulent age? Can we form disciples without institutions? In what brave new ways are people of faith making disciples in this "secular" age?

This conference, scheduled for Friday, April 13th from 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m., will bring contemporary theorists and practitioners to the Divinity School to engage in conversation around questions of secularism, institutions, and the promulgation of the Christian tradition. Professor Mark Chaves of Duke Divinity School and author of American Religion: Contemporary Trends will provide the keynote and lay the conceptual framework for the conference. Afterwards, practitioners within religious traditions and institutions will reflect on how their unique ministries are responding to the sociological realities highlighted by Professor Chaves. In keeping with the ministry theme of the conference, Rev. Elizabeth Meyer Boulton, a Divinity School alumna, will preach at our mid-day worship service and lead a workshop on preaching over the lunch hour.

Our afternoon session will include a panel discussion amongst five exemplary ministry practitioners from a variety of contexts. This conversation will highlight the diverse ways in which Christian communities are responding to these important changes in the American religious culture. We have also extended invitations to each of these panelists to conduct workshops after the panel discussion as a way of providing space for deeper interaction between conference participants and our speakers.

To conclude the conference, Professors W. Clark Gilpin, Margaret E. Burton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity and Theology, and Martin E. Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity, have agreed to provide a final reflection in light of prevailing historical trends.

Please join us for this exciting and timely conversation.

All questions can be directed to Andrew Packman and Madison McClendon at

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