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2024 KLC Annual Conference

Spirituality &

Public Theology

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In word, image and practice, our first annual conference explores the ongoing spiritual formation essential to our life and work.

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St Luke’s Church, Cambridge

11–13 JUNE 2024

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Spirituality & Public Theology

Our inaugural conference is an exciting opportunity four the KLC community to gather in person, to celebrate the people that God has brought together, and to share our extraordinary gifts with one another. Our conference explores the vital importance of deep spiritual formation for Christian public engagement, and promises thought-provoking key-note presentations, art, music, poetry, book launches, community, and many other avenues of enjoyment of God’s good world.

The theme for this year’s gathering is First Things First: Spirituality and Public Theology. Our aim at KLC is to accompany the Spirit on his mission, and in order to do this we need continually to attend to our spiritual formation. The journey in – spirituality – opens out to the journey out – our vocations in the world, and both are essential if we are to be salt and light. The gathering will include times of silence and worship, listening to one another’s stories, time for our hubs to gather as desired, rigorous exploration of the nature of public theology, and more. 

Space is limited. Take advantage now of our early-bird special to avoid disappointment.

Programme Summary

Below is an abbreviated version of the conference programme. Unless otherwise indicated, the conference activities take place at the beautiful St Luke’s church in Cambridge, a short walk from KLC’s home at Chesterton Mill.

You can now download the programme and short descriptions of our six electives by clicking the button below. Alternatively, see the abbreviated programme that follows.

Tuesday, 11 June

11:00Registration (at Chesterton Mill)
11:30Welcome and opening session
13:00Lunch
14:30Elective group sessions
17:00Evening prayer
18:00Evening meal 
19:30Keynote Address: Public Theology 

Wednesday, 12 June

10:30Coffee
11:00Elective group sessions
13:00Lunch
14:45Christianity, the Arts and Spirituality
17:00Evening prayer
18:00Evening meal
19:30Panel on spirituality and public theology 

Thursday, 13 June

10:30Coffee
11:00Elective group sessions
13:00Lunch
14:30Final session, Reflections, Eucharist
 Evening meal at the Carpenter’s Arms (for those still in Cambridge)

Elective Group Sessions

Our elective sessions run on each of the three conference days. Click the topics below to read more about the session plans. If you have secured your place at our conference, please click the button below and select your preferred elective-group option on the form.

Overview

The arts have an important place in the work of KLC, and at our first annual conference, the KLC community’s multifaceted and rich work in the arts will be on full display. 

We are delighted to welcome renowned playwright, Murray Watts, who will deliver a lecture on art and spirituality. Rachel Yonan, a violist and visiting scholar from Duke Divinity School, will present a talk accompanied by musical performances. The theme of Rachel’s address will be the importance of the voices of artists in scholarship on theology & the arts. 

We also look forward to celebrating the launch of Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker’s new edited volume, The Artistic Sphere, and unveiling the brand-new ArtWay.eu website, an online arts and faith publication founded by Marleen, which came under KLC’s stewardship in 2023.

Theme

The arts are uniquely able to straddle different spheres of reality. Art can lead us inwards, into the unseen, accompanying us on the spiritual pilgrimages we make. But it also externalises and makes manifest that which is invisible – grounding us in the very physical world of which we are a part. It incarnates what is spiritual – thus leading us out again. Art can carry what is most individual and communicate on a level that is most universally comprehensible. 

That is why it is an important component in the endeavour of public theology, and for the communal spiritual life that sustains this endeavour.

The arts track at the KLC conference aims to examine the potential of the arts as a means of spiritual formation and celebrate the arts as a gift that forms part of the riches of God’s good creation.

Elective sessions

The arts stream consists of three parallel sessions including:

  • A lecture by renowned Christian playwright and author, Murray Watts
  • A talk/musical performance by visiting scholar and musician, Rachel Yonan
  • A talk (speaker to be confirmed) on art and public theology today

 

Special events

Another important component of the arts stream will be the launch of The Artistic Sphere, including talks by its editors – Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker and Roger Henderson. The Artistic Sphere considers the relationship between the arts and the Neo-Calvinist tradition. Additionally, during this session, we will mark the launch of the redesigned ArtWay.eu website.

On exhibit at St Luke’s will be seven paintings by Bulgarian artist, Silvia Dimitrova, depicting seven women from the Bible. Bishop Graham Kings, who commissioned the paintings, will host a guided walk-through of the exhibit for all conference attendees.

Speaker Biographies

Murray Watts is best known as a playwright and screenwriter.  His work as a writer in TV, radio, film and theatre has won awards and received critical acclaim.

He is the writer of many screenplays which include The Dream, starring Jeremy Irons (BBC 2) and the feature film The Miracle Maker (BBC/S4C/ICON) which was released to international acclaim in 2000 and was ABC network’s highest rated movie for Easter 2000/1. He was the screenwriter for KJB – The Book That Changed the World (1A Productions/Discovery Channel/BBC Scotland). KJB was awarded the Movie Guide Epiphany Prize for the most inspirational Programme on US TV in 2011. 

He has also written and directed many plays over the last 40 years, including the award-winning The Fatherland for Bush Theatre in 1989 (which he later adapted as The Monday Play for BBC Radio 4). 

He is currently the screenwriter for several feature films in development, including Power and Glory, a film about Michael Faraday.

Murray Watts  is the founder and director of The Wayfarer Trust, an international arts charity offering support and encouragement to people in the world of arts and media (www.wayfarertrust.org

Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker is the founder of ArtWay.eu, an online publication and resource in Dutch and English about the visual arts and faith for individuals and congregations. She did her studies in musicology at the University of Amsterdam, complemented by minors in art history and liturgical studies at the Free University in Amsterdam. She has, for many years, worked as a freelance editor, translator and writer. She edited the Complete Works of her father, art historian Hans Rookmaaker, contributed to books, and wrote articles about popular music, liturgy, and the visual arts. She was the editor of a Dutch book of visual meditations for Lent (2012) and co-authored a Dutch handbook for art in the church (2015). In 2019 she co-curated the Art Stations of the Cross in Amsterdam. She lives in Langbroek in the Netherlands.

Rachel Yonan serves as the Artistic & Executive Director of the Marinus Ensemble and has been on the faculty of Duke University and Eastern University. She completed her Diploma in Viola Performance at the Curtis Institute of Music, and graduated Magna cum Laude from Rice University with a degree in Viola Performance and a concentration in German Literature. Praised for her expressive playing and rich evocative tone, Rachel has become a presence in the music world. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in concert halls across the United States, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and China; and on National Public Radio and Canadian Public Radio. Her appearances include concerts at the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, Open Chamber Music at Prussia Cove (UK), Ascoli Piceno Festival (Italy), Bay Chamber Concerts and the Rochester Chamber Music Society.

Programme

Tuesday, 11 June 

14:30 – Parallel session

Wednesday, 12 June

11:00 – Parallel session

14:45 – The launch of The Artistic Sphere along with addresses by Roger Henderson and Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

Thursday, 13 June

11:00 – Parallel session

SESSION 1

Title: Modern Cosmology on Trial

Talk by Dr. Ben D. Normann, associate professor at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Abstract: A brief overview of modern cosmology with an emphasis on its status in terms of observation is given. Is the dark sector of the universe justified? What should we make of the perceived crisis lurking in the shadows of seemingly incompatible observational data? 

SESSION 2

Title: Beauty, Physics, and Plato’s Project

Talk by Dr. Mitch Stokes, Senior fellow at New St. Andrews College.

Abstract: It is shown how physics and philosophy have grown up together in the West, and how the current debate in physics over beauty is really (albeit often unknowingly) about Plato’s agenda. Finally, we discuss why all this is crucial for Christians to understand, especially in academia.

SESSION 3

Title: The Mathematics and Physics Hub

Discussion lead by Dr. Mikael Normann

In this session we aim to establish a plan for the coming year and beyond. We will focus on the following topic:

  • The impact of our faith on our research.
  • Vision
  • The Abraham Kuyper Christian Leadership Fund
  • Contents for webpage/Video Ad

Lesslie Newbigin posed this question in his 1984 Warfield Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary, “What would be involved in a genuinely missionary encounter between the gospel and this whole way of perceiving, thinking, and living that we call ‘modern Western culture?’”(Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986], 1.) Newbigin raised this question after he returned home to England from the foreign mission field and discovered a new mission field in his own backyard.

KLC’s Missional Hub, now fifty years later, is wrestling with Newbigin’s perennial question by engaging in research related to mission in today’s changed and changing context. This changing landscape necessitates a missiological fluidity—a nimble, wise, agile and compassionate posture that prepares us for myriad gospel conversations; a confessional missiology—a missional theology centered on the Triune God, the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of all things; and a formative understanding of the role of God’s Spirit who invites and empowers us as God’s witnesses.

Important to our research is the conviction that the missio Dei is grounded in history. What better way to reinforce this conviction than to seize the rare opportunity of being in Cambridge to learn more about mission history in real-time. This immersive experience aims to prompt missiological reflection, encourage conversation, and inspire a new community of collaborators to consider “how then shall we live” amid today’s unique challenges and opportunities.

The Missio Dei and the Great Century of Mission: An Immersive Walking Tour

(*This experience will involve quite a bit of walking)

Hosted by:

Bishop Graham Kings, Founder of Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide

Dr Cas Monaco, VP Missiology FamilyLife

Janice Randall, Round Church Volunteer/Christian Heritage Cambridge

Our tour will begin at Holy Trinity Church (HTC) and the Henry Martyn Hall, epicenters for spiritual revival for world mission between 1782–1836. It was from here that the famed “Cambridge Seven” would sail to China in 1885 catalyzing a groundswell of Christian interest in missions at the time.

From there we will take a thirty-minute walk through historic Cambridge to Westminster College, founded in 1899. We will visit the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide (CCCW), founded in 1996 by Dr Graham Kings and funded by the Henry Martyn trust. We will hear from CCCW’s Director, Dr Muthraj Swamy and tour the library and archives.

We will wrap up our look back across mission history by viewing the portraits of Heroes of the Faith, twin sisters Dr Agnes Lewis and Dr Margaret Gibson, textual scholars of the Bible and founders of Westminster College. We will conclude by reflecting together on the ways this rich history influences a new era of mission and missiology.

The PhD sessions are intended for any prospective, current, or recent PhD students – or anyone generally who would like to explore the conference theme of spirituality as it relates to the academic vocation.

The PhD sessions will be hosted and moderated by Dr Michael Wagenman, KLC Director of PhD Studies and Union Theological College Research Associate (serving with Global Scholars Canada). 

The purpose of the PhD sessions is to provide PhD students with a unique collaborative space in which the conference theme of spirituality is directly related to our PhD research. How can we move towards a vision of academic work that is deeply sustained by, integrated with, and oriented towards a vibrant missional spirituality? These sessions will also allow current PhD students the opportunity to offer brief, formal presentations of their research to date and receive feedback from other session participants. An open and inviting forum for students to also bring their questions!

The Sessions:

  • Tuesday 2:30-4:00pm: A moderated group discussion on how Christian faith relates to the academic vocation. We will explore a philosophical framework for the inherent integrity of scholarship within a robust doctrine of creation and culture-making.
  • Wednesday 11:00am-12:30pm: Presentations of student research 
  • Thursday 11:00am-12:30pm: A moderated group discussion on what we’ve heard or learned in our time together and how we can take our experience at the conference back into our ongoing academic work.

Electing Hope: Christ-centered Formative Engagement in Elections

Overview

On December 28, 2023, Time Magazine declared that “2024 is not just an election year. It’s perhaps the election year. Globally more voters than ever in history will head to the polls as at least 64 countries (plus the EU) – representing a combined population of about 49% of the people in the world – are meant to hold national elections, the result of which, for many, will prove consequential for years to come.” 

So we and millions of fellow followers of Jesus will be impacted by elections this year- affected by the campaigns, the votes, and the outcomes. How we choose to engage will say much about our spiritual maturity – whether our faith is shaped our political ideology (or that of others) or whether we will have the courage, conviction, and creativity to seek speak and act into the debates and campaigns around us. This series of three workshops looks at how we prepare, experience, and deal with the result of elections.

Session 1: Before: preparation (Tom Kendall)

How do we prepare for General Elections? Getting our thinking straight, and behaviour rightly orientated for political engagement. 

Empowering the Church in the public square – why and how the local church should get involved in election campaigns. 

‘It’s about relationships stupid’ – building relationships with politicians – why, how and what do we expect?

Session 2: During: engagement (Peter Ladd) 

How will we vote… when we believe that there is no good choice to support? When deciding how to cast our vote, what’s more important, policy or character, leader or local representative? What about tactical voting? How do we balance our vote being a small action in a big event and it being used for the common good? How do we work out what issues are important to us? Should we vote on one single issue?

And in the amidst of the election, when things can get heated and adversarial, how do we get along with those we disagree with and who disagree with us? What is our attitude towards the apathetic or uninformed?

Session 3: After: outworking (Ross Hendry)

The election is a moment but in many ways the real work of politics only starts with the outcome of a vote. How do we chart the path between triumphalism and despair post election? How do we guard against making ‘our party’ or ‘our candidate’ an idol and adopting them as a pseudo savior? How do we put our theology into practice and avoid being political hobbyists?

Session 1

What are the goals of spiritual practices?

We will look at participation in the life of God, delight in God as well as the transformation of life in ever expanding circles as disciples of Jesus Christ: personal, family, church, work, neighbourhood, etc., How might a deeper appreciation of these goals encourage us to realign our priorities with ‘the one thing needful?’

Session 2

Prayer and Public Theology

This session has two components: first, we will discuss Jean Daniélou’s Prayer as a Political Problem, and secondly, we’ll draw from the deep tradition of the Church to examine different forms of prayers and explore the necessary context for a life of prayer.

Session 3

Spiritual Direction: What it isn’t; what it is, why it could be helpful and how to find a spiritual director

This session will be led by Rev. Dr Ian Randall who has extensive experience as a spiritual director and trains aspiring spiritual directors.

Panel Discussion

On Wednesday evening, we will hold a panel discussion to explore how spirituality and the various academic disciplines intersect so that as conscientious members of both Christian faith communities and civil communities.

we live as light and salt with greater intentionality and hope. What is our role in spiritual formation as academics or those who work in the public square to encourage the key dimensions of:

  • Wisdom – as informed by the wisdom literature of the Old Testament and articulated by Christian ethics as an essential aspect of maturity
  • Vocational holiness – enhancing the reputation of Christ through beautiful work
  • Faith, hope, love and joy – living the Christian virtues as a way to witness the reality of the Risen Christ in a fragmented and broken world

Conference Visitor's Guide

Regrettably, KLC is unable to offer accommodation to our conference delegates and the fees do not include any allocation towards lodgings.

To help you plan your trip, find accommodation, and get the most out of your time in Cambridge, download our handy visitors guide.

Be Part of our Conference

Attend in Person

To attend our conference, please fill in a registration form and purchase the appropriate ticket. Note: your place will only be confirmed upon receipt of payment. 

Attend Virtually

Sessions will be streamed online and recorded whenever possible. To participate virtually, please register your interest by clicking this button.

Conference Registration & Payment

Providentially, we have been able to keep our conference ticket-prices very low. Full tickets (including Students) include conference attendance, lunches and dinners, two books, and a copy of the latest issue of The Big Picture.

Night Rider tickets are available for people in Cambridge and surrounds who are unavailable during the day. The ticket includes access to dinners and evening events at the Mill.

NB: Please fill in the registration form and purchase a ticket for each delegate so that we can connect delegates and their payments.

Please fill in this form once per ticket holder. (If you don’t receive a confirmation email from us, please look for it in your spam folder.)

Please confirm your place at our conference by purchasing one of the ticket options below:

Students:

£70

Regular Ticket:

£100

Night Rider
(per evening):

£12

Where to find us