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Earlham School of Religion’s “Ministry of Writing Colloquium” Keynote speaker is Barbara Brown Taylor.

It is going to be a good colloquium with many practical workshops. I am excited to lead a workshop entitled, “How Do You Build a Faithful Presence Online?”  Please do register today. 

ESR has a fantastic Writing as Ministry Certificate Program directed by Dr. Ben Brazil. For more information, please check out ESR website.

Incarnation and Provocation: Toward New Languages of Faith

Incarnation and Provocation: Toward New Languages of Faith

Featuring Keynote Speaker Barbara Brown Taylor

November 3-4, 2017

Register Online 

In a world where 23 percent of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, and in which even many Christians find traditional theological language irrelevant, how do we speak and write of faith?  Barbara Brown Taylor suggests we begin by looking at the incarnation – an event in which Christians believe the divine became flesh, fully inhabiting an earth filled with wind, water, light, and all kinds of breathing things. Can we speak faithfully about the God we know in these newer, more uncomfortable, and theologically unorthodox languages of the body?

Keynote Bio:

Barbara Brown Taylor is a New York Times best-selling author, an Episcopal priest, and a recently retired college professor. Her first memoir, Leaving Church, won a 2006 Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association. Her last book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, was featured on the cover of TIME magazine. From 1998 to 2017, she served on the faculty of Piedmont College as the Butman Professor of Religion, and she has been a guest speaker at Emory, Duke, Princeton, and Yale –as well as a guest on SuperSoul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey. Taylor and her husband Ed live on a farm in the foothills of the Appalachians, sharing space with wild turkeys, red foxes, white-tailed deer and far too many chickens.

Plenary Workshop: “Provocations” with Barbara Brown Taylor

Most writers shun provocations, which can arrive in any number of forms: writer’s block, whining pets, low word counts, leg cramps, roof leaks, and imposter’s syndrome among many others.  Because these are all part of the human condition, you might call them the shadow side of incarnation.  But provocations can also be a writer’s best friends, at least for those who are willing to let them in instead of shutting them out.  In this workshop session, Barbara Brown Taylor will lead us in some low-level provocations designed to freshen up our writing by bumping us off the beaten path.


Pitching the Perfect Proposal: An Author’s Perspective – Brent Bill

A good proposal might get read. A great one will get noticed. Whether you are writing a book, a magazine article, a newspaper op-ed, or an online essay, getting published means convincing an editor to pay attention.  In this workshop, we’ll look at the ingredients that make for the perfect pitch — one that shows that you’ve got something interesting to say and the skill to say it well. Workshop participants are invited to send Brent (brentbil@brentbill.com) their proposals in advance for critique.

With more than 20 books published since 1983, Brent Bill has learned a thing or three about writing great proposals. His titles include Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker: A Humble Stumble Toward Simplicity and Grace; Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer; Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment; and Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality (whose second edition was published last year). An ESR alumnus and former ESR professor, Brent lives on Ploughshares Farm – 50 acres of Indiana farmland being reclaimed for native hardwood forests and warm season prairie grasses.


World Building:  A Beginners Guide – Maurice Broaddus

Speculative fiction is about imagining possibilities: imagining worlds and people. It wrestles with the big questions of life (Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going?) and the implications of those answers. Speculative fiction, then, is rooted in the language of faith.  But writing it is a particular creative challenge: authors have to build worlds that operate within consistent systems, worlds that out-imagine their readers.  Whether your story takes place in a far off land or an alternate version of an existing one; whether it is extrapolating science into futuristic technologies with its impact on society; or whether it is conjuring new forms of magic – making your world believable is key. This workshop will help get you started by developing a basic checklist of items to address as you build the universe for your characters to play in.

A community organizer and teacher, Maurice Broaddus’s work has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Weird Tales, Apex Magazine, Asimov’s, Cemetery Dance, Black Static, and many more. Some of his stories have been collected in The Voices of Martyrs. He wrote the urban fantasy trilogy, The Knights of Breton Court, and he co-authored the play Finding Home: Indiana at 200. His novellas include Buffalo Soldier, I Can Transform You, Orgy of Souls, Bleed with Me, and Devil’s Marionette. He is the co-editor of periodicals and anthologies including Dark Faith: Invocations, Streets of Shadows, and People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror. Learn more about him at MauriceBroaddus.com.

How Do You Build a Faithful Presence Online? – Grace Ji-Sun Kim

Whether we like it or not, many of our society’s most important conversations happen online. As people of faith, we can cultivate an online presence that contributes to a more loving, caring, just, and peaceful world. But to do so effectively, we have to understand the particular tools, etiquette, and opportunities offered by different platforms – including personal webpages, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other forms of social media.  This workshop will give you tips on adapting your writing to different platforms, creating a social media presence that makes the most impact for good.

An associate professor of theology at ESR and ordained Presbyterian minister (PCUSA), Grace Ji-Sun Kim is author or editor of 12 books.  They include Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love; Mother Daughter Speak: Lessons on Life (co-written with her daughter); Planetary Solidarity: Global Women’s Voices on Christian Doctrine and Climate Justice; and Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World.  Grace has also written for TIME, Sojourners, The Huffington Post, and The Nation, among others. Find her online at https://gracejisunkim.wordpress.com/ or @Gracejisunkim.

Sacred Storytelling: Writing in Community – Amy Lyles Wilson

When writing with others, we discover what distinguishes us as individuals as well as what connects us as fellow human beings. We are reminded we’re not alone. We learn to listen, and we are listened to. In this workshop, we’ll write in response to prompts, share some stories, and dream of ways we can spearhead writing together in our own communities. Through story we minister one to another as we welcome the stranger, comfort the grieving, and companion the lonely. Through story, we honor our shared divinity.

Amy Lyles Wilson believes it is the sharing of our stories that saves us. Toward that end, she founded Pilgrim Writers to help people tell the stories they need to tell. A native of Mississippi who calls Nashville, Tennessee, home, Amy Lyles works as a writer, editor, and teacher. She has thirty years of professional experience in the world of words, having been published in a variety of magazines and co-authored or contributed to nine books. Her essay “The Guts to Keep Going” was featured on National Public Radio. Amy Lyles has served as adjunct professor and writer-in-residence at the Earlham School of Religion, and led workshops across the South, as well as at the Chautauqua Institution. She is a trained spiritual director (Haden Institute), a certified facilitator of both Amherst Writers and Artists and SoulCollage® workshops, and holds degrees in English, journalism, and theology. http://www.amylyleswilson.com

The Art of Spiritual Writing –  Vinita Hampton Wright

The best spiritual writing often begins with the most personal insights and experiences. But writing that arises from our deepest joys and struggles is rarely ready for editors or readers.  It may be too specific to the writer to command wider interest. Specific theological language may be opaque — or a turn-off.  And even writers with great ideas may struggle to navigate the editorial process. An editor for 27 years, Vinita Hampton Wright has written an entire book – The Art of Spiritual Writing – on the nuts-and-bolts realities of turning deeply personal writing into writing that speaks to a broader audience. This workshop will help you see the path – and the potholes – to using your experience as a springboard to writing that ministers. Come to this workshop ready to write and then experiment with the raw material.

Vinita Hampton Wright has been a book editor for 27 years and is managing editor of Trade Books, Loyola Press, where she has worked for 18 years. She has published articles, novels, nonfiction books; her titles include The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Write Prose that Engages and Inspires Your Readers; The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity and Spirituality in the Writing Life; and Days of Deepening Friendship: For the Woman Who Wants Authentic Life With God.  After 7 years writing for the blog Days of Deepening Friendship, Vinita now writes regularly for http://www.ignatianspirituality.com.  She lives with her husband, their dog, and two cats in Chicago.

The Transborder Experience: Crossing Boundaries in Body, Mind, and Ink – Juan Armando Roxas Joo

Contemplative practice often has meaning beyond words – but can poetry help our mystical experience cross the border of the ineffable?  Can it allow it to enter into language?  Juan Armando Roxas Joo has bridged all sorts of borders in his work – from the political border between Texas and Mexico to the less tangible borders between language and experience. Join him in a workshop that will ask participants to make art from sounds, silence, images, and thoughts – the raw material for each creative writer’s participation in the divine creativity.  After discussing a few readings, workshop participants will have time for contemplation, creation, and discussion of their experiences.

A transborder poet, narrator, and essayist from Ciudad Juárez, México, Juan Armando Roxas Joo has published Sanctuaries Desert Sea / Santuarios desierto mar, Light / Luz, Vertebral River / Río vertebral, Ceremonial of Wind / Ceremonial de viento, and Lluvia de lunas. Rojas also co-edited the anthologies Sangre mía / Blood of Mine: Poetry of Border Violence, Gender and Identity in Ciudad Juárez (2013) and Canto a una Ciudad en el Desierto, a set of poetic denouncements against feminicide. Among other honors, the University of Coimbra, Portugal, named Roxas as its international resident poet in 2011. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Arizona in 2002 and taught at Amherst College, Massachusetts, before moving to Ohio Wesleyan University — where he currently teaches Spanish and Hispanic American Literature and serves as Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion.


Friday, November 3rd
6:00 pm Registration & Check-in
6:30 pm Keynote Presentation – Incarnations – Barbara Brown Taylor
8:15 pm Open Mic
Saturday, November 4th
8:00 am Registration & Breakfast
8:40 am Optional silent worship
9:00 am Welcome & Introduction
9:15 am Readings from Colloquium presenters
10:45 am Break
11:00 am Workshop Session I
12:30 pm Lunch
1:45 pm Plenary Workshop – Provocations – Barbara Brown Taylor
3:15 pm Break
3:30 pm Workshop Session II
5:10 pm Mullen Award Presentation & Closing

Watch past videos – ESR Video Archive page

Book Signing

Sharing why I wrote my book, “Embracing the Other”