In these chaotic times, we know you have tough questions, and you expect clear answers. Like these guys:
So let’s be clear. Disease is part of the enemy’s strategy to attack God’s beautiful creation, both physically and spiritually. To defeat the enemy, it is incumbent upon us to protect the wellbeing of our neighbors and ourselves by not taking irresponsible risks, and to collaborate in love and truth with all people to overcome the crisis and care for human needs, without a spirit of fear or resentment.
We want to let you know that:
- We have exciting plans in store for Karam Forum 2021, which you can read about below, and
- As of now the event is still on the calendar for January 5-6 in Los Angeles, but
- We’re temporarily holding off on opening registration, just in case.
“But wait!” we hear you cry. “Doesn’t registration for Karam Forum usually open in the fall?”
We’re so glad you pay such careful attention to this important event! It has been the case in recent years that registration has opened in the fall. But your tireless ON director worked extra hard this year because he was planning to open registration with the April newsletter, in hopes of spreading the word on our campuses during the spring. And he had everything lined up to go for that, but during the public health crisis it seems imprudent to invite people to register for any kind of public event, however far off in the future.
We’ve even managed, despite California’s lockdown, to finalize a commitment with an amazing venue for the event – Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena. We’re thrilled to have a great home for Karam Forum 2021.
In the event that we do end up having to postpone the event, we will of course let you know. If that happens, we’ll work overtime to bring you a top-notch event at whatever calendar date suits the Lord, who knows better than we do what is the right time for Karam Forum to meet. As of now, though, we are still sitting on January 5-6 as the date for our next meeting.
Tide yourselves over while we await the opportunity to return to ordinary service by perusing these big plans that we are continuing to prepare in anticipation of Karam Forum 2021 in Los Angeles at Lake Avenue Church!
Keynote Addresses: Vocation and Pluralism in Theological Education
We’ll be hearing from Mark Labberton of Fuller Theological Seminary on vocation in theological education. As you likely know, Fuller has been undertaking some ambitious reforms to give vocation and related themes a new place in the theological curriculum; we’re looking forward to hearing from Labberton, who has led those efforts, on the critical role of vocation in the future of our seminaries. In the meantime, check out this classic talk from Labberton on “Beauty in Exile,” which also features former Karam Forum speaker Mako Fujimura.
John Nunes of Concordia College-New York will speak on the future of Christian higher education in a pluralistic and fragmented cultural environment. In a prior role at Lutheran World Relief, Nunes was one of the first to sound the alarm that the emerging model of “microfinance” was only a first step toward genuinely empowering the poor of the world – that microfinance, by itself, did not go far enough to remove the wealthy and privileged from positions of power over those they were seeking to help through aid programs. Today that critique of microfinance is standard-issue. Now, Nunes is a leader in Christian higher education and is thinking with equal boldness and insight about how much innovation is needed to meet the challenges of our complex and dynamic context. Check out this lecture he gave at Wheaton College entitled, “Tired of Talking about ‘Diversity’? Try This!”
Curricular Talks on History: Justice and the Church
One of our most distinctive features at Karam Forum is short and accessible talks that pack a big punch – our Economic Wisdom Project Talks. We’ve got a series of great presentations lined up that focus on history, the main area of the theological curriculum where our video library hasn’t yet been fleshed out. These talks are ambitious in that they each seek to bridge the gap between historical theology (careful attention to particular theological voices from the past) and Christian history (understanding the unfolding development of what God is doing in the world with and through his people).
- Gavin Ortlund of First Baptist Church of Ojai will give a TED-style talk on what the church today can learn from Gregory of Nyssa’s writings against slavery.
- Jennifer McNutt of Wheaton College will give a TED-style talk on how we can learn from the concern for justice we see in classic Reformation sources like the 95 Theses.
- Jennifer Woodruff Tait of St. John’s Episcopal Church and Charlie Self of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary will give a joint presentation on the Wesleyan movement and the Industrial Revolution, and what they mean for us.
Each of these talks zeros in on a period of major transition in the structures of culture, when the relationship between the church and the culture had to be reinvented – the 4th century transition from a persecuted church to a church with public leadership, the 16th century transition from the medieval social order to the early modern world, and the 18th/19th century transition from agricultural economies to industrial economies. Key leaders like Gregory, Luther and Wesley were both contributing to and responding to these changes, positioning the church to advance justice and mercy in the world.
Have we mentioned that we have a big library of these talks, and they’re specially designed for use in the classroom? Consider assigning one of our talks to your students!
We’re also assembling a lineup of collaborative presentations and panel discussions:
- Darrell Bock will speak on how the traditional fourfold division of the theological disciplines can hinder the application of theological knowledge to the way people live; a panel of ON leaders from across the disciplines will consider the issue together.
- Michaela O’Donnell Long of Fuller will invite Christians in the creative professions (this is L.A. after all!) to discuss the role of imagination and storytelling in vocation – not just their vocation, but everyone’s vocation – and what seminaries can contribute.
- Jack Miranda of the Jesse Miranda Center will join other leaders to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the Hispanic evangelical church.
- Paul Williams of the UK’s Bible Society has been speaking for decades on the future of work; at Karam Forum we’ve asked him to speak on “the future of the future of work,” emphasizing the need for theological leadership as technology reshapes the economy, with discussion from leaders in and out of the ON.
Plus we’ll meet local ministry leading the way in L.A., and much more!
So stay safe and sane, keep up to date on proper quarantine procedures, make sure your elderly or isolated neighbors have someone checking in on them (hint: that role may be yours), and join us in prayer for our churches, our communities, our nations, our world and Karam Forum 2021.
We most sincerely look forward to seeing you there.