Staff, faculty and students will have the opportunity to learn about gender issues in Christian higher education from scholars across the nation as they present their work on the ACU campus
ACU is hosting the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Conference, titled “Changing Faces: Changing Opportunities and Campus Climates for Women and Men,” Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in the Robert D. and Shirley Hunter Welcome Center.
Faculty members are offered a discounted registration price of $75, said Dr. Cheryl Bacon, professor and chair of the department of journalism and mass communication. Students may attend any of the sessions free of charge, and will receive Chapel credit for the sessions that overlap the Chapel hour.
Students and faculty are invited to hear keynote speaker Lauren Winner on Thursday, Sept. 30, Bacon said. Winner will speak after lunch, and extra seating will be provided for any walk-ins.
Bacon said the conference is an opportunity for students and faculty to learn about the changing roles of women in Christian colleges, and to hear ACU scholars from multiple departments speak.
“We don’t typically get to hear our colleagues from other studies present their research,” Bacon said.
Six ACU professors will speak at the conference. Dr. Jeanene Reese, associate professor of Bible, will present her survey of students in Christianity and Culture classesÂ taught last spring. Her study indicates that students have been influenced by feminist theology in several ways. These findings fit with research Reese completed with her graduate assistant, Amanda Pittman, about characteristics of Generation Y.
“As conservative Christians, many of us think we haven’t been influenced by feminist theology,” Reese said. “But four or five characteristic of feminist theology fit well into many students’ ideology.”
Churches of Christ have been wrestling with the role of gender in their public life and practice, said Dr. Stephen Johnson, associate professor of ministry and preaching. He and Dr. Lynette Sharp Penya, associate professor of communication, surveyed congregations of the Churches of Christ across America. Among those surveyed were several churches interested in greater involvement for women, and 14 in which women could preach.
“There are many more congregations of the Churches of Christ that have sought to be more gender inclusive in their public life than we thought,” Johnson said. “They’re from every region of the country and have been exploring this for the past 50 years.”
Both Johnson and Penya will present at the CCCU conference, though each will focus on separate research they have conducted. Johnson will share his study of four female graduate students of theology, he said.
Johnson recorded in-depth interviews with the four women, all from a Church of Christ background. The women shared their experiences in the church, how they received their sense of calling and how they plan to address those callings in the future.
The women described how the church nurtured their gifts and passions, but rejected the women’s offer to serve in the church, Johnson said. After seven years of higher education, the women had no idea what they were going to do in the future, Johnson said.
“Their sense of identity as children and servants of God collides against the gendered identity formed in them by the church,” Johnson said.
Johnson fashioned the interview into a single narrative combining the four women’s voices, and posted the audio production on the web at www.halfthechurch.wordpress.com.
Johnson said this conference offers students and faculty an important opportunity to engage a change of mindset that has impacted society around the world.
“This isn’t only about women and ministry,” Johnson said. “This conference is about our gendered selves and how well we are able to relate to each other in ways that reflect the nature and life of God.”
A complete schedule and registration link can be found at www.cccu.org/conferences_events. Faculty can send a copy of their receipt registration to Clint Buck in the Provost’s Office for reimbursement.
Select conference schedule for Thursday, Sept. 30:
|9:30 – 11:15 a.m.|
|Theological Worlds Investigation: Dr. Jeanene Reese and Amanda Pittman;Â Preceding the Revolution: Discovering the Diversity of our Campus’ Scholarly Community: Dr. Susan Lewis and Laura Carroll
How We Got There: Spiritual Literalism, Fundamentalism, Religious Proscription, and Gender as Predictors of Gender-Roles Attitudes in Religious Contexts: Dr. Lynette Sharp Penya
|11:30 a.m.- 1:15 p.m.||Lauren Winner|
|1:30 – 3:00 p.m.||She Is Called: Calling and Vocation for Women in Churches of Christ: Dr. Stephen Johnson|