Theme Speakers

Two theme presenters will be featured this year.Dr. Gil Waldkoenig, Director, Town and Country Church Institute, Gettysburg P.A., will focus on the church’s witness in environmental concerns as an important resource for community building, sustainable living, and proclamation of the Gospel in fresh and clear tones.

Dr. Rene Van Acker, Associate Dean, External Relations for the Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph, will examine the important role of the community in supporting farmers in their move toward sustainability and the fundamental role in sustainable farming for institutions that help to build community, including churches.

The Rev. Gilson A. C. Waldkoenig 

Gilson Waldkoenig, PhD is Professor of Church in Society at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, PA, where he has been on faculty since 1995, and is director of the Town and Country Church Institute. He grew up in Appalachia and later served ELCA congregations in small town and rural places. He studied the church’s adaptation to dramatic rural social change in The Lost Land (1995) and Symbiotic Community (1996). For Cooperating Congregations (2000), Gil conducted dozens of interviews in Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and Lutheran congregations in rural Alabama, Maine, West Virginia and North Dakota. He wrote on church closings for Ending With Hope (2002), religious groups in The Encyclopedia of Appalachia (2006), and “The Rural Church Movement” for The Encyclopedia of Rural America (2008). An enthusiastic dad and husband, Gil enjoys hiking and volunteers in outdoor ministry.Visit Rev Gilson A.C. Waldkoenig’s page at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.

 

Word of the Land: Gospel, Ecology and Sustainable Community

The land is troubled locally and globally: from environmental distress in particular landscapes, to greenhouse gasses warming the planet. The church’s hopeful voice in and for the land and all creation resounds in recent statements from across the ecumenical church, and is backed by scripture and historical texts. But it is often mis-characterized, if not denied, by some. In the local community, the church’s witness in environmental concerns is an important resource for community building, sustainable living, and proclamation of the Gospel in fresh and clear tones. This presentation will summarize the church’s ecumenical voice in environmental issues, highlighting its witness that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for both local communities and a world in environmental distress.

Dr. Rene Van Acker

Dr. Rene Van Acker is Associate Dean, External Relations for the Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph and Professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture. Rene was previously a professor of weed science and crop management at the University of Manitoba. His research interests include weed ecology, multi-functional agriculture and the coexistence of GM and non-GM crops. While in Manitoba, Rene co-founded an ad hoc group called the Agriculture Renewal Alliance which hosted events across rural Manitoba designed to promote ideas for rural community renewal.  Rene holds BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Guelph and a PhD from the University of Reading in the UK. Rene and his wife Susie have three children and live in Guelph.Visit Dr. Rene Van Acker’s page at the University of Guelph.

 

Community Building to Aid an Ailing Farming Sector

With will, creativity and perseverance people can overcome tremendous challenges, but will, creativity and perseverance are fed by love and support. In industrialized nations (and increasingly in developing nations) the sustainability of farms is in chronic jeopardy. In the emerging neo-modern era, there are signs of some farms emerging from this jeopardy, and the common element among these farms is the will, creativity and perseverance of the operators driven by community support. The role of community in sustainable farming is fundamental, suggesting that there is a fundamental role in sustainable farming for institutions that help to build community, including churches.   

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