August Forum 2017: Faith & Action

Sundays in August  •  9:30-10:30  • Breakfast starting at 9:00  •  Fellowship Hall

I will show you my faith by my actions.
— James 2:18

This year during the month of August, we will examine some of the most complex global issues of our day through the lens of Scripture and ask together, “How does my faith in Christ direct my actions?” 

August 6:

Contemplative Grounding for Healing the World
Margaret Benefiel, PhD., Executive Director, The Shalem Institute, Washington, D.C.

“Marches. Online petitions. Letters to the editor. Am I doing any good? I ask myself. Am I making a difference? Is there another way? In the face of injustice, wars, and humanity’s inhumanity to humanity, I long to be faithful to doing my part to heal the world. This session will focus on contemplative grounding for healing the world.”

Margaret became executive director of the Shalem Institute in July 2015. Prior to coming to Shalem, she ran her own consulting, speaking, training, and coaching business, Executive Soul, helping leaders and organizations nurture their souls and express their deepest values institutionally. At the same time, she taught as adjunct faculty at Andover Newton Theological School in the area of contemplative leadership. Margaret is a Quaker and holds a B.A. in History from Princeton University, an M.A. in Mathematics from Portland State University, an M.A. in Theology from Earlham School of Religion, and a PhD in Spirituality from Catholic University of America. She has written extensively on various aspects of contemplative leadership and spirituality at work, including The Soul of Supervision; The Soul of a Leader: Finding Your Path to Fulfillment and Success; and Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership in Organizations.

August 13:

Christians and Muslims in Relationship
Rev. Steven D. Martin, Director of Communications and Development, National Council of Churches USA

“After I made my first film in 2001 entitled, “Muslims in Appalachia,” I have been concerned with the beautiful people that make up the Muslim community, both their rich life and culture, and the dangers they face as America becomes more anxious. In this session I will bring my perspective on my experiences with Muslims around the world and how the teachings of Jesus have shaped my work with this community.”

Steven has served United Methodist Churches as pastor for twenty years and is a graduate of Candler School of Theology. He brings his expertise in theology, the intersection of faith and politics, and media production to bear upon today’s most challenging problems. He has produced several films for public television, including Muslims in Appalachia; Islam in America After September 11th; Theologians Under Hitler; God With US: Baptism and the Jews in the Third Reich; Elisabeth of Berlin; and most recently, Islam in America: The Christian Truth. His writing has appeared in America’s top national media outlets including the Washington Post and USA Today. He speaks frequently at churches, seminaries, and conventions across the US.

August 20

Religious Liberty Based on Compassion
Rev. Charles Watson Jr., Education and Outreach Specialist, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

Charles Watson 600w.jpg

"My theology didn't have an answer for why children were dying. As a chaplain intern at Children's Hospital of Atlanta, I wept, prayed and mourned with families at the lowest point of their lives. I learned that the pain didn't care about the religion of the family, but that their faith was sometimes their only hope. In this session I will explain why compassion should compel us all to be religious liberty advocates."

Charles Watson Jr. is the Education and Outreach Specialist of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C. His work is focused on expanding the base of support for religious liberty and engaging the next generation of advocates. A graduate of The Citadel, Watson earned a Master of Divinity degree at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology. He previously served as the Children’s Director of Buckhead Baptist Church in Atlanta and as a hospice chaplain resident, endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Watson is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

August 27

Sitting With the Trauma of Racism
Rev. LeDayne Polaski, Executive Director, Bautistas Por La Paz (Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America)

“I came to an interest in trauma through my interest in conflict transformation. Unaddressed traumatic experiences underlie much of the painful conflict we experience. As I have delved further into antiracism work, I have become convinced that White America's unwillingness to acknowledge and address trauma is at the heart of the US's seeming inability to move forward on issues of race and racism. In this session we'll explore why and how we might sit with our trauma and that of others long enough to be transformed and changed.”

LeDayne became BPFNA's Executive Director in 2015, having served the organization in a variety of roles since 1998. A life-long Carolinian, she is a graduate of Furman University in Greenville, where her commitment to issues of peace and justice began. She received an M.Div. in 1993 from the Divinity School at Duke University in Durham, NC, and was ordained in Durham at Watts Street Baptist Church. LeDayne and her husband, Tom, a professor of mathematics at Winthrop University, are active members of Park Road Baptist Church in Charlotte.