Note - this is cross-posted at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship blog.
Laura and I attended the second trienniel Children’s Spirituality Conference at Concordia University in River Forest, IL for four days this week and had a great time. We heard six keynote speakers. My favorites were John Westerhof, Terry Fretheim and a joint presentation by Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May.
The group was challenged by Westerhof to think about how ministry to children should change as society is going through a period of change as we end the modern era. He pointed out that modernity caused us to see a sharp divide between logos and mythos and that modernity eliminated the mythos character of the divine texts.
Terry Fretheim gave a fascinating look at children in the Old Testament. While he said many fascinating things one thing that I took note of was how he urged us to look more carefully at the story of Ishmael and God’s special care for children who were endangered.
Scottie May and Catherine Stonehouse closed out the conference with a call for participants to introduce children to the biblical narrative, reinforcing the power of story and ended with a call for more research. It was probably my favorite session of the conference.
I enjoyed the small group session thread on theological perspectives on children and the church in which participants from a broad range of theological perspectives spoke from their denominational viewpoint (Lutheran, Anabaptist, Weslyan, Reformed and others) about the place of children. I especially appreciated Holly Allen and Catherine Stonehouse’s contributions.
In addition to large and small group sessions, we enjoyed networking, good food, good conversation, performances by three children’s groups (including the amazing Vivaldi Strings from Wheaton College) and a short break for a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio. All in all we had a great time and enjoyed the opportunity to learn and be around others who are concerned about ministy to children.
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