VALPARAISO — The community is invited to all of the following events for Rooted in Spirit: Earth Is Speaking to Us at Valparaiso University during the New Church Swedenborgian convention held this year at Valparaiso University. Hosted by the La Porte New Church, the theme is earth-care and what community members can do about it.

Admission is free, reservations are not needed, and everyone is welcome.

The event starts with Keynote Speaker Matthew Fox on June 29 at 7 p.m. at the Harre Union Ball Room for a program titled, “Youth Leadership and Order of the Sacred Earth, and Other Ways Earth is Speaking to us Today”

In her struggle to survive, Mother Earth is busy at work awakening the young to new kinds of leadership—consider the role of Greta Thunberg, for example, and many more. Consider too the launching of Matthew Fox’s recent book, "Order of the Sacred Earth," called an "intergenerational vision for love and action." What is the role of elders and the youth at this critical time of Earth and Human history? What other awakenings are knocking at their hearts and minds as people struggle with climate change and the shadows of denial and despair that seek to distract people from their work for justice and compassion for future generations?

Matthew Fox will be the keynote speaker at this event and is the American theologian renowned for his books “Creation Spirituality,” “Original Blessing,” and The Cosmic Christ.” Fox perhaps has done the most to reframe a positive role for the natural world in Christian theology in the contemporary moment.

Also, come to these four ‘minicourse’ sessions:

• Nature’s Mystic Mirror

June 30, Sunday, 9:-10:30 a.m., Harre Union, Ball Room

(You're invited to stay on campus for the worship service from 11 a.m. in the Gloria Christi Chapel.)

Nature is both mirror and teacher. The observation of nature offers a way to develop a deep awareness of the correspondences between the natural and spiritual worlds. Nature provides a mirror into the spiritual world which in turn allows people to discern their own limitations and blocks, and can foster a global spirituality.

There are time-honored ways of immersing ourselves into the Natural World. Just as Swedenborg, Goethe, and Emerson, along with many others, drew correspondences and inspiration from the natural world, you will glean your own wisdom. This is a meditative class that will leave you feeling more at peace with-in and with-out.

Presenter: Rev. Christine Campbell, the New Church pastor at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

 

• Helen Keller’s Spiritual Legacy

June 30, Sunday, 3:30-5 p.m., Harre Union, Ball Room

Helen Keller (1880-1968) was one of the most famous people of her generation: a writer, an advocate for economic justice and international peace, an opponent of WWI, deaf and blind, and totally devoted to the theological vision of Emanuel Swedenborg. In this gathering, we will explore Helen Keller’s faith—what inspired her most about Swedenborg’s theology, and her life—the ways that she lived her faith: in action. Attendees will look to Helen as an example of lived Swedenborgian spirituality and consider how they can learn from her example and bring her legacy forward for a new generation.

Presenter: Rev. Sage Cole, pastor and director of Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is currently casting a vision to create The Helen Keller Center for Spiritual Life.

 

• The New Church in Nigeria: History, Challenges, and Prospects

July 1, Monday, 1-2:30 p.m., Harre Union, Ball Room

A large New Church body in Nigeria was founded in 1935 by Africanus Mensah, a West African. It flourished remarkably for many years, but suffered severely from the effects of the Biafra Civil War. It has been an independent Swedenborgian branch known as “The New Church in West Africa” since the 1980s.

In an illustrated presentation, attendees will look at the growth of the New Church in Nigeria, the remnants of what people were left with, and where people are now in their ministry work. What were the challenges of the past, and what are they now? Organizers will discuss disappointments and celebrate successes. This gathering will provide a rare opportunity to glimpse the world of African Swedenborgianism in one of its important story lines.

Presenter: Bishop Tosin Ogunbodede, a self-supporting minister of the New Church in Nigeria as well as a member of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and National Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and also the business service manager of Unity Bank Plc, Igbokoda Branch, Ondo State, Nigeria.

 

• Transcendence: The Power and Purpose of Prayer

July 2, Tuesday, 9-10:30 a.m., Harre Union, Ball Room

Prayer is a common practice in all religious teaching and is foundational in importance. The thinking behind the practice of prayer takes those praying in many different directions. Perhaps prayer has little to do with changing life situations but rather changing people.

People often might pray for healing, provisions, relief from suffering, etc., things that have to do with improving the quality of life in form and material. Emanuel Swedenborg and Scripture have much to say about the power and purpose of prayer. It may be different from what you think.

Presenter: Rev. Dan Burchett, pastor of Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes, California, as well as director of finance and administration.

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