On March 4-6 the ICOC Teachers Service Team and the Teleios Society presented a virtual conference entitled “Let Justice Roll.” This was the second annual conference of the Teachers Service Team.
- “This conference was balm for my soul.”
- “After this conference I feel like I finally can exhale.”
- “I’ve been to innumerable conferences over my thirty years as a disciple; ‘Let Justice Roll’ was the best conference I’ve ever attended.”
- “I’ll never forget Mr. Fred Gray. I loved his message. I LOVE his legacy.”
This year the ICOC Teachers Service Team partnered with the newly formed Teleios Society to present this academic conference. An academic conference is designed to dig deeper into specific topics associated with the Bible, theology, church history, and church practice. The point of the presentations is to create dialogue, discussion, and further exploration of the topics presented. The presenters are often specialists in their particular field. Many of these scholars teach at universities associated with the Stone-Campbell movement, and occasionally the speakers come from other faith traditions.
Last year the conference had around 200 participants. This year the conference had over 1,100 registered participants. The numbers of viewers is difficult to determine because multiple viewers participated with one registration.
Each day the morning kicked off with David Pocta and Dr. G. Steve Kinnard welcoming the participants to the conference. David and Steve informed the audience of the nature of an academic conference. They shared about the newly launched Teleios Society. The Greek word teleios means, “whole, mature, complete, or perfect.” The Teleios Society exists to promote the study of holistic Christian spirituality.
Steve and David also presented the first issue of Teleios , the journal of the Teleios Society. Many of the presentations at the conference will become articles for a future issue of Teleios . Subscribe at TeleiosJournal.com.
Thursday began with Dr. Kinnard presenting an introduction to biblical justice. Next, Suzette Lewis spoke on community action, sharing about her work with marginalized communities in Toronto, Canada. In the afternoon, James Becknell presented an incredibly moving lesson about biblical lament.
On Thursday evening, Dr. Newell Williams, the president of Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University, gave a history lesson on how particular members of the Stone-Campbell movement viewed communion and how communion ties into justice. Dr. Jamila Michener, associate professor at Cornell University, closed the day by talking about maintaining a spiritual perspective while working for justice.
On Friday, Dr. Benjamin Barnett shared a lesson on racial reconciliation based on his doctoral project. In the afternoon, 31 breakout classes were offered. These 31 classes and all the main speeches were recorded and can be purchased at TeleiosSociety.com.
Friday evening was an event of a lifetime as the conference presented an “Evening with Mr. Fred Gray, Esquire.” Mr. Gray is an icon from the Civil Rights Movement in America. He was the lawyer for Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the plaintiffs from the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. The evening involved music, spoken word and an interview with Mr. Gray. Mr. Gray was also presented with the first annual Teleios Society Award for Christian Service. After receiving the award, Mr. Gray addressed the audience and challenged us to continue the fight for justice, but to do so in a non-violent manner. The humility, courage, and Christian conviction of Mr. Gray’s life and message was evident to all. It was a night to be remembered and savored.
Saturday was a day of classes. Dr. Richard Hughes began the day with a jarring presentation on white supremacy. Dr. Jennifer Konzen taught an incredible lesson on empathy. Dr. Dan Rodriguez contributed a thought-provoking class on how all disciples of Jesus ought to consider themselves strangers and sojourners, immigrants in a strange land. Linda Biehl shared her own personal story of the death of her daughter in South Africa during the days of apartheid and how justice came for her and her family in an unusual way through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Dr. Jerry Taylor ended the day with a prophetic message that mirrored Dr. Hughes opening speech for the day.
If you weren’t able to attend the conference, we encourage you to purchase the recordings.
Next year the conference will be produced by the Teleios Society. We don’t know the exact details yet, but anticipate a hybrid conference in March, both in person and online.