On the St. Ambrose Conference on Bible and Justice

Matthew Johnstone

The St. Ambrose Conference on Bible and Justice, sponsored by St. Ambrose University with support from the CLBSJ, gathered about 100 scholars, activists, clergy and laity on the campus in Davenport, Iowa, May 30 – June 2.

Keynote speakers on empire (Richard Horsley), poverty (Elsa Tamez), gender (Elisabeth Schuessler Fiorenza) and environment (David Horrell) were accompanied by papers devoted to each of these topics. On behalf of the CLBSJ, Norman Gottwald made a special presentation, “Bridging the Academic – Activist Gap,” followed by a workshop focused on the conferees’ experiences in attempting such “bridge work.” Dr. Gottwald’s description of the mission and vision of the CLBSJ, its history, and its programs resonated with participants who, for their part, made a number of valuable suggestions to sharpen and extend the work of the Center and Library.

Among the suggestions was an emphasis on extending the reach of CLBSJ into the life of the church.  This could be done by offering seminars on aspects of church life, such as Preaching and Social Justice and Worship and Social Justice, and by developing a program to serve clergy sabbaticals.  Repeated testimony was given to the lack of biblical resources  and outright misinterpretation of the Bible among social activists  and church folk. To address this problem, it was proposed that CLBSJ open a YouTube account to prosper the integrity of biblical interpretation by providing easily accessible resources on specific requests.

We here at the CLBSJ are grateful for the participation and feedback of so many folks, and for the blessing that they have shared with us. We’re also very grateful for the input and feedback! Plans for more outreach-focused content for the CLBSJ are in the works - for now, questions or comments on Facebook or WordPress have an excellent chance of getting us in touch!

Thanks once again to Norman Gottwald and Matthew Coomber for their participation and support - it sounds like it was a wonderful time!