Religious leaders to examine challenges facing congregations

Understanding how current changes in American culture affect the spiritual lives of congregants is the focus of a two-day conference to be held Monday-Tuesday (Nov. 3-4) in the McKenna Hall auditorium at the University of Notre Dame.p. Titled “Congregational Ministry in the Twenty-First Century,” the conference will bring together distinguished religious leaders from around the country to discuss how societal trends and cultural shifts in American society can create obstacles and opportunities for spiritual growth.p. Participants in the conference, who represent several major Christian traditions, will present four public lectures addressing the state of churches today. They are:p. ? Monday, 7 p.m.?“Unity: Are You Living There or Just Visiting?” by Rev. Chris Williamson of the Strong Tower Bible Church in Franklin, Tenn.p. ? Tuesday, 1 p.m.?“Doing God’s Work in a Strange Land: The Social and Cultural World in which Clergy and Congregations Work Today,” by Jackson Carroll, Williams Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke Universityp. ? Tuesday, 2:30 p.m.?“The African-American Church and the Revolt Against the Enemy Within: A Theological, Racial, Self-critical Analysis of the Divisiveness that Disempowers Black People,” by Hycel B. Taylor II, senior pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church, Chicagop. ? Tuesday, 7 p.m.?“San Fernando Cathedral: Lessons for the 21st Century,” by Rev. Virgil Elizondo, visiting professor for the Institute for Latino Studies and theology at Notre Dame and former rector of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas.p. The conference is part of a longitudinal study sponsored by the Lilly Endowment and conducted by the sociology departments at Notre Dame and Rice University, both of which will track how faith changes as people move through life. Information gathered from the conference will be translated into survey questions to be used for the study. Now in the early phases of constructing a survey for the first wave of data collection, researchers expect to be in the field conducting interviews by May 2004, and plan to re-interview the same group of people every three years for the next 20-30 years to answer questions about the role of faith and the impact of congregations in a society marked by rapid change.p. More information is at:

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