Finding Community at Christian Academic Conferences

I included a bit about this in Friday’s Week in Review, but I wanted to give the topic its own post. Last week, I attended the 2010 Stone-Campbell Conference, an annual academic conference for colleges affiliated with the Stone-Campbell/Restoration Movement – Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, Disciples of Christ. It’s organized by William Baker at Cincinnati Christian University, and several people had recommended that I make a connection with the event. I’m glad I did.

I was struck by a few things:

  • There was some very good content being presented.
  • There were lots of Christian scholars, at every career stage: tenured faculty, tenure-track, adjunct, graduate student, even a sizable contingent of undergraduates.
  • Out of a few hundred attendees, I met only one person from a secular university.

Part of it, I’m sure, was the marketing and the subject matter. Most of the papers presented dealt with some aspect of theology, Biblical studies, church history, etc., and many of them were quite specific to the Stone-Campbell Movement. Still, there were enough interdisciplinary or generalist papers that I think most academics would have been able to find something of interest – if, that is, you weren’t interested enough in building relationships with Christian academics committed to their faith and scholarship. I’m not sure that I would recommend traveling across the country to attend if it didn’t fit your subject matter, but for someone local, it would be well worth the price (I think I only paid $30 to register). I’d be willing to bet that there are lots of denominational conferences like this around the country.

So, my questions:

    • Have you attended a Christian academic conference like this one?
    • Did you find it to be a worthwhile experience, assuming that you weren’t attending for professional reasons?
    • Would you recommend it to other “secular” scholars?


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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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    Kelly commented on April 12, 2010 Reply

    Last year I attended the annual conference for Christian Connections in International Health. It was so awesome, very encouraging, and a breath of fresh air. I think I was most encouraged to find that there were so many fellow Christians in this area, doing high quality research and putting it into action in global health areas (HIV, malaria, clean water, etc…) It was nice to see that they had the right motivation in addition to the intellectual/scientific interest.

    What amazes me is the perception that Christians involved in sciences and areas like global health don’t or can’t do top notch work – that was clearly refuted at this conference. So yes, in a way I would encourage secular scholars to come; on the other hand, it was nice to have a retreat where we could be encouraged in our faith and vocation just as Christians!

    Joel commented on April 23, 2010 Reply

    I really doubt that I will ever attend a Christian faculty conference. I am at a secular university. It would take awhile to explain, and could be viewed as super-unhelpful to ESN, whom I view as valuable allies. If anyone really wants to know you can email me back-channel at

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