2018: Defining Beauty


The 2018 Gathering will take place at the Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center in Techny, IL from July 12-14.



Our Gathering title is intentionally ambiguous: “beauty” is a word that needs to be defined and beauty ought to be defining of our lives as persons created in the image of God.

Scripture takes up the idea of beauty from beginning to end but not always in obvious ways:

And God saw that it was beautiful.” (Genesis 1, Septuagint)

She has done a beautiful thing for me” (Mt 26:10; Mk 14:6)

Live such beautiful lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your beautiful deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)

Some of our guiding assumptions/questions:

  1. “Beauty” and the “beautiful” are not simply aesthetic categories but fully moral ones, too.
  2. How is beauty related to goodness and truth?
  3. How is beauty connected to privilege and power, and how do we access beauty as a form of resistance?
  4. How can we name the beauty at the center of the Christian story?
  5. How is beauty implicated in everyday discipleship?
  6. How do different traditions find and make beauty in their worship?
  7. Why is so much explicitly Christian art so bad?
  8. How do culturally dominant images of beauty distort our imagination?



Our Gathering preacher is Miriam Perkins. https://www.milligan.edu/people/perkins-miriam/
 Brian Volck will lead us in visio divina. http://www.brianvolck.com/
 Shannon Schaefer and David Butzu will coordinate our worship. We will sing a cappella in
different musical styles at our opening worship, foot washing service, and closing worship. Additional
liturgies: compline on Thursday and Friday; vigils/lauds on Friday and Saturday; vespers on Friday.

Plenary Speakers:

Natalie Carnes (systematic theologian)
Scott Cairns (poet, essayist, librettist)
https://www.faithandleadership.com/scott-cairns- words-lead- you-ideas
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and- poets/poets/detail/scott-cairns
Tim Lowly (painter) and Sherrie R. Lowly (United Methodist pastor)

http://www.christianitytoday.com/amyjuliabecker/2014/april/parenting-child- who-is- profoundly-
Debra Dean Murphy (theologian, EP board member)


Several workshops will explore beauty in various ways. Tentative subjects so far: “dark beauty” and “beauty in
congregational life.”

Beautiful Things:

We plan to create the space and time to share beautiful things with one another. We will invite attendees to
bring, for example, a painting, photographs, woodwork, textiles, knitting/crochet, jewelry. Or maybe a
beautiful story, poem, reading, or song. When registering for the Gathering, participants interested in this will
be asked to indicate whether they’re bringing something to display or to perform.