January 20, 2006

Samford Conference Explores Role of Faith in Social Movements

"... Major discussion topics during the four-day event included social movements in a contemporary world, reflections on the Civil Rights Movement, agents of renewal, and social justice within the context of a Christian faith..."

Faith in Action conferenceby Mary Wimberley

Over 120 faculty and students from 12 colleges and universities throughout the nation met at Samford Jan. 12-15 to explore the role of faith in social movements of the past, present and future.

During the Faith in Action national student conference, participants discussed topics ranging from the struggle for black women's leadership during the Civil Rights Movement to intercultural explorations in South Africa.

The immersion experience provided a forum to discuss faith, learning and justice issues, and included visits to seminal civil rights venues, according to program organizer Dr. Nancy C. Biggio.

Major discussion topics during the four-day event included social movements in a contemporary world, reflections on the Civil Rights Movement, agents of renewal, and social justice within the context of a Christian faith.

Keynote speakers included Karen Jackson-Weaver, executive director, New Jersey Amistad Commission; Dr. Wayne Flynt, historian and professor emeritus, Auburn University; and David Beckmann, executive director, Bread for the World movement against hunger.

Participants visited Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and Civil Rights Institute, as well as the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute and Pettus Bridge in Selma and the Rosa Parks Museum and Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery.

On Saturday evening, they engaged in a poverty simulation experience in Samford's Bashinksy Fieldhouse.

The Faith in Action conference was sponsored by Samford in Mission (SIM), a grant initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation.

Registrants represented schools that have received grants from Lilly Endowment, Inc., to study the intersection of theology and vocation. Participants came from as far as Santa Clara University in California and St. Bonaventure University in New York.

"We are very excited about the conference and greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm of participants from across the country," said Biggio, SIM special projects coordinator.

Samford faculty involved in the conference included Biggio, Theresa Davidson, Beth McGinnis, Chris Metress, Paul Richardson, Dan Sandifer-Stech, Lynette Sandley, Joe Scrivner and Carol Ann Vaughn. Provost Brad Creed welcomed participants and Associate Provost Mark Bateman closed the event.

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