Life after Christendom

Resident Aliens 25 Years Later

Duke Divinity School

October 13, 2014 to October 14, 2014


Twenty-five years ago, Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon challenged the Christian church to live as a vital embodiment of the Gospel, operating within today’s society but apart from its eroding values. The vision laid out in their book Resident Aliens still resonates with Christians today as we seek to be a faithful witness to the world.

Join Hauerwas and Willimon as they join with sociologist James Davison Hunter, Bishops Hope Morgan Ward, and Larry Goodpaster, and pastors throughout the country to examine the impact of this book on clergy, congregations, and seminaries.


Stanley Hauerwas, Ph.D.
Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Divinity and Law, Duke Divinity School

Stanley Hauerwas has sought to recover the significance of the virtues for understanding the nature of the Christian life. This search has led him to emphasize the importance of the church, as well as narrative, for understanding Christian existence. His work cuts across disciplinary lines as he is in conversation with systematic theology, philosophical theology and ethics, political theory, as well as the philosophy of social science and medical ethics. He was named "America’s Best Theologian" by Time magazine in 2001. Dr. Hauerwas, who holds a joint appointment in Duke Law School, delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectureship at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland in 2001.

His book, A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic, was selected as one of the 100 most important books on religion of the 20th century. Dr. Hauerwas recently authored Matthew: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006) and The State of the University: Academic Knowledges and the Knowledge of God, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007). His most recent books are Without Apology: Sermons for Christ’s Church (Seabury Books, 2013) and Approaching the End: Eschatological Reflections on Church, Politics, and Life (Eerdmans, 2013).

Read sermons by Hauerwas on Faith & Leadership »
View an interview with Hauerwas on Faith & Leadership »

Will Willimon, Ph.D.
Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School

An elder in the United Methodist Church, Will Willimon served as the dean of Duke Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University for 20 years. He returned to Duke after serving as the UMC Bishop of the North Alabama Conference from 2004 to 2012. Willimon is the author of 60 books. His Worship as Pastoral Care was selected as one of the 10 most useful books for pastors in 1979 by the Academy of Parish Clergy. More than a million copies of his books have been sold. His articles have appeared in many publications including Theology Today, Interpretation, Liturgy, Worship, and Christianity Today. He is editor-at-large for The Christian Century. His book Pastor: the Theology and Practice of Ordained Leadership is used in dozens of seminaries in the United States and Asia. He has taught in Germany and Asia in various seminaries. He is also serving as  the interim pastor at Duke Memorial UMC in Durham, N.C., through June 2014.

Read Willimon’s writings on Faith & Leadership »

James Davison Hunter
LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture, and Social Theory, University of Virginia
Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture

James Davison Hunter is LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture and Social Theory at the University of Virginia. He completed his doctorate at Rutgers University in 1981 and joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1983.

Professor Hunter has written eight books, edited three books, and published a wide range of essays, articles, and reviews all variously concerned with the problem of meaning and moral order in a time of political and cultural change in American life. Most recently, he published The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age without Good or Evil (2000), Is There A Culture War? A Dialogue on Values and American Public Life (with Alan Wolfe, 2006), and To Change the World (2010). These works have earned him national recognition and numerous literary awards.

Since 1995, he has served as the director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, a university-based interdisciplinary research center concerned with understanding contemporary cultural change and its implications for individuals, institutions, and society.  Over the years, his research findings have been presented to audiences on National Public Radio, C-SPAN, the National Endowment for the Arts, and at dozens of colleges and universities around the country including Columbia, Harvard, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, and the New School for Social Research. He also has been a consultant to the White House, the Bicentennial Commission for the U.S. Constitution, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Commission on Civic Renewal.

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward
The United Methodist Church, North Carolina Conference

A native North Carolinian, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward was raised on the Morgan family farm in northeastern North Carolina in the community of Corapeake. Her home church, Parkers United Methodist Church, is a rural congregation, part of a trio of churches that comprise the North Gates Charge . She attended Duke University and Duke Divinity School, graduating with her M.Div. in 1978. Her past ministry includes service as a youth director, teaching parent at the Methodist Home for Children, Christian educator, pastor, director of Connectional Ministries, and district superintendent in the North Carolina Conference.

Bishop Ward was elected to the episcopacy in July 2004 and assigned to the Mississippi Conference in 2004 and 2008. She was assigned to the North Carolina Conference in 2012.


 Monday, October 13

8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


Bryan Center

10:30 a.m.

Opening Session: Dean Richard Hays, with Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon

Reynolds Theater

11:15 a.m.

James A. Gray Lecture: James Davison Hunter

Reynolds Theater

12:30 p.m.

Lunch and Gathering Time
Alumni Homecoming Luncheon

  Alumni and friends will gather by class year:

   1989 and earlier:  York Room

   1990 and later: Divinity Cafe

Duke Divinity School


2:00 p.m.

James A. Gray Lecture: Panel featuring James Davison Hunter, Stanley Hauerwas, and Will Willimon

Reynolds Theater

3:00 p.m.

Refreshments provided

Westbrook Cloister Walk,
Duke Divinity School

3:00 p.m.

Project BriDDDge Alumni Reception

Baker Room, Divinity Library
Duke Divinity School

3:30 p.m.


Duke Divinity School

5:00 p.m.


5:30 p.m.

Worship: A Service of the Word: Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, preaching

Duke Chapel




Tuesday, October 14

8:15 a.m.

Morning Prayer

Goodson Chapel,
Duke Divinity School

9:00 a.m.

Franklin S. Hickman Lecture: Will Willimon responds to pastors

Reynolds Theater

10:30 a.m.

Refreshments provided

Westbrook Cloister Walk,
Duke Divinity School

11:00 a.m.


Duke Divinity School

12:30 p.m.

Lunch and Gathering Time

Duke Divinity School

2:00 p.m.

Closing Reflections: David Crabtree interviews Will Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas

Reynolds Theater

3:15 p.m.



3:30 p.m.

Worship: A Service of the Word and Table
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, preaching
Bishop Larry Goodpaster, presiding

Duke Chapel


The seminars offered during Convocation & Pastors’ School are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy small-group learning with Duke faculty, guest leaders, and other attendees. Participants who attend the seminars and all lectures will receive one Continuing Education Unit (CEU). When registering, participants will have the opportunity to choose one two-day seminar, or two one-day seminars.

Two-Day Seminar Choices:

That the Nations Might Tremble—Two-Day Seminar only [FULL]
Stephen B. Chapman, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Duke Divinity School
Preaching after Christendom is no longer about “translation,” making the Bible “relevant,” or harmonizing biblical narratives with familiar contemporary norms and expectations, but rather unapologetically presenting the “world of the Bible” in all its wonderful strangeness. By focusing on the Old Testament lections for Advent (Year B), this seminar will demonstrate how close textual work, reliance on traditional Christian hermeneutics, and confidence in the particularity of theological speech can transform worship and preaching.

One-Day Seminar Choices:

Exploring the Meaning of 'Faithful Presence' – Monday only
James Davison Hunter, Professor of Religion, Culture, and Social Theory at the University of Virginia and Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture
A theology of "faithful presence" speaks to a theology and practice of incarnation. But in Hunter’s formulations, this has broad implications for personal and public life—implications that challenge some of the dominant assumptions of how the church could and should relate to the larger world. This seminar will explore some of these practical implications.

The Vision of Thriving Rural Communities – Monday only (TRC pastors only)
Brad Thie, Director, Thriving Rural Communities, Duke Divinity School
This seminar will discuss the vision of TRC and the integral part that rural fellows and partner churches fulfill within the initiative.  Participants will share in stories of hope and transformation in the lives of rural churches and communities, as well as discuss ongoing opportunities for continuing education and community development grants.

Pastor as Community Shepherd --Tuesday only
Brad Thie, Director, Thriving Rural Communities, Duke Divinity School
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep and leaves the 99 in search of the one lost sheep. Pastors build community through sacrifice:  caring for the flock and searching for the lost sheep. Churches and communities are longing for pastors guided by the chief shepherd who embody this sacrificial, dangerous, and rewarding calling.

Life after Christendom in a Global Context
Bishop Larry Goodpaster, Western North Carolina Conference of the UMC
In the 25 years since the publication of Resident Aliens, the world has changed dramatically: it is flatter and more connected, with the center of Christianity shifting to the global south. Bishop Goodpaster will facilitate a conversation about life after Christendom in this new reality, drawing on the global nature of the church and his years as president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. How might “resident aliens” serve to break down barriers and span boundaries that continue to separate us?

Embracing Technology Faithfully
L. Gregory Jones, Senior Strategist for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School and Professor of Theology
Human flourishing requires a wise understanding of and fruitful living in the digital ecosystems increasingly shaping our world. Yet too often we talk past each other about digital reality, either uncritically celebrating everything new or reacting negatively to it. In this seminar we will explore faithful alternatives to such polarization.

Creation after Christendom
Willie Jennings, Associate Professor of Theology and Black Church Studies, Duke Divinity School
This seminar outlines a doctrine of creation for Christians today. Christian doctrines of creation have been fundamentally distorted since the emergence of colonialism and by the project of civilization. This short seminar will explore what belief in creation means for Christians who live in the western world, especially North America.

Radical Eucharist:  Seeking Authentic Community [Monday--FULL]
Mary McClintock Fulkerson, Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity School
The words of our communion liturgy proclaim a radical reality of God’s inclusiveness that is in contrast with the realities of many of our congregations.  This seminar will explore the radical nature of the Eucharist and the ways it can be lived out in congregations and communities.

Leaning Both Ways at Once: Evangelism Between Church and World
Jeff Conklin-Miller, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Christian Formation, and Director of the Master of Arts in Christian Practice Degree Program, Duke Divinity School
Ongoing membership decline in mainline Protestantism continues to fuel interest in evangelistic practices that form vital congregations. While many focus on what are deemed best practices, few place evangelism within broader theological vision. In this seminar, we will envision the Church’s evangelism as a visible “People” interceding between God and the world as advocate and witness. Such a vision will expand our understanding of evangelistic practices as we reflect on fresh forms of ecclesial community and Christian witness appearing in the world.

Children and Worship – Beyond the Controversies
Sarah Sumner, Director of Children’s Ministries at Myers Park UMC, Charlotte, N.C.
Ask parents about children in worship and they will choke, afraid their children can’t handle being still and “behaving.” Ask pastors about children in worship and they will probably shake their heads, unsure if their sermons and prayers reach children at all. Ask children about being in worship and they say it’s boring and they don’t know what’s going on. How do we help parents, pastors, and other members of the worshiping community embrace children as part of God’s family now? Using the experiences of leaders such as Jerome Berryman and Sonja Stewart, we will explore this question.

Abundant Ministry in a Slow Economy
Stephanie McGarrah, Former Assistant Secretary of Labor and Economic Analysis at the NC Department of Commerce; Public Policy Lecturer at UNC Chapel Hill
How can we faithfully respond to the needs of our communities while recognizing the realities of shrinking and changing public resources? This seminar will discuss the impact of economic trends in North Carolina on communities and congregations, and explore the opportunities and challenges for ministry that result from these trends.  

Ministry with Emerging Generations
Alaina Kleinbeck, Director, Duke Youth Academy, Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School
Congregational vitality depends on children, teenagers, and young adults to breath in creativity and innovation, yet most congregations struggle with creating spaces for their voices. Join us for insight into the religious and spiritual landscape of young people today and conversation around the practice that congregations can employ to better care for the young in discipleship and formational programs, worship, and other aspects of congregational life.

Creating Life-Giving Arts Ministry within the Church
Kathy Ammon, Threshold ARTS Ministry, Apex, N.C.
Come see and experience the visual testimony of Kathy Ammon, artist and founder of Threshold Arts Gathering, as she shares God’s call to unite the arts and the church more intentionally within ministry and mission. Witness what happens when the church opens doors to intentional space for discovery and cultivation of creative ”giftings” that equip and disciple the creatively inspired in their walk with Christ and his call on their life. Gain insight, tools, and resources to learn simple and profoundly effective ways to begin a fruitful arts ministry that becomes a gateway to authentic fellowship, healing transformation, and deep spiritual growth that empowers community and furthers the kingdom.

We invite you to join with friends old and new for these additional gatherings. To participate, please register for each as part of your Convocation & Pastors’ School registration. Pre-registration for the luncheon is required so that we can plan each event appropriately.  

Alumni Homecoming Luncheon
Divinity School

Alumni and friends will gather by class year:

1989 and earlier: York Room

1990 and later: Divinity Cafe

Join us Monday, Oct. 13, at 12:30 p.m. for the Alumni Homecoming Luncheon—a great opportunity to enjoy a relaxed picnic meal with friends and classmates, Dean Hays, and members of the national Alumni Council. The event is open to all Convocation participants and their guests. The menu will feature N.C. pulled pork barbecue, veggie burgers, green salad, cole slaw, fruit and dessert. Cost: $10.75 per person.

Project BriDDDge Alumni Reception
Baker Room, Divinity Library

The first Project BriDDDge took place in 1991, and over the past 23 years, we’ve amassed many memorable experiences. We welcome all BriDDDge alumni to gather on Monday, Oct. 13, from 3:00-3:30 p.m. to meet other BriDDDge alumni, share stories, and rekindle friendships. Light refreshments will be served.


Lodging reservations should be made directly with Durham motels or hotels.

Several local hotels offer special rates to Convocation & Pastors’ School participants. In order to receive these special rates, please refer to "Duke Divinity School/Convocation & Pastors' School" when you call to reserve your room. Rates cannot be guaranteed after the cutoff date listed.

Hilton Garden Inn
Rate: $109 per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 286-0774 by Wednesday, Sept. 11

Hilton Durham near Duke University
Rate: $104/single per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 383-8033 by Monday, Sept. 22

Millennium Hotel Durham
Rate: $99/single or $109/double per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 383-8575 by Monday, Sept. 29

Other properties are also located nearby. We offer the following list as a convenience:

Additional hotel information may be found at the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.


Online registration for Convocation & Pastors’ School has closed; however, we will accept onsite registrations on a first-come, first-served basis. You must register in order to attend lectures and seminars.  

Registration will be available Monday, Oct. 13 from 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in the Bryan Center.



Regular registration


Reduced rates available for:

  • Pastors of churches eligible for grants from The Duke Endowment Am I eligible?
  • Current Duke Divinity School students
  • 2014 Duke Divinity School graduates



Faculty/staff registration



The cost of this event is kept minimal due to the generous support of the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church, as well as The Duke Endowment and the Parish Ministry Fund, which provide financial assistance to clergy in support of their ongoing education.


Duke University is committed to providing access to programs for persons with disabilities. If you anticipate needing accommodations or have questions about physical access, please contact (919) 613-5323 in advance of the program.


Contact Duke Divinity School at or (919) 613-5323.