Sider Institute Convenes Conference on “Tradition: Burden or Blessing?”

UPDATE: The Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Studies held its 2010 conference, “Tradition: Burden or Blessing?,” today.

“the search for piety and obedience” was there, offering a summary of the events.

A wrap-up — with some of my own thoughts on the conference — is forthcoming.

    Read our complete coverage of the conference, after the jump.

    4:59 P.M.: With thanks to the presenters and panelists, a dismissal.

    3:32 P.M.: Panelists share “What We Affirm and What Needs to Be Discussed Regarding Tradition.”

    • Evie Telfer, associate college pastor at Messiah College: How do we pass on the traditions to the next generation? Tell stories. Stories speak to both traditionalists and postmodernists.
    • John Reitz, senior pastor at Grantham Brethren in Christ Church:  We need to take a closer look at the principles that undergird our traditions and practices. We Brethren in Christ have a very goodstatement of our (core) values. But we might need a statement of the principles of our practice.
    • Greg Starr, associate pastor at New Hope Church: Tradition can be discovered and incorporated, and re-discovered and re-incorporated. Long-time Brethren in Christ can reclaim elements of denominational heritage, while newcomers can discover these elements for the first time.

    3:04 P.M.: Pearls of wisdom (and important questions) arising from our breakout conversations this afternoon:

    • “Let’s start thinking about tradition as a verb — passing on rather than defaulting.”
    • “Traditions based on belief in God free us from the materialism of this age.”
    • “Does the Brethren in Christ denomination as a whole care about keeping traditions like foot-washing, nonresistance, etc.?”
    • “How do we transfer valuable traditions — like love feasts, feet washing, etc. — into modern church life?”
    • “The Brethren in Christ have become much more mainstream evangelical than Anabaptist. Some of our traditions (like nonresistance) are imperiled by this fact.”
    • “Can tradition(s) survive in a postmodern world?”

    1:44 P.M.: E. Morris Sider, Brethren in Christ historian and author, poses questions related to the “Theology and Practice of Tradition in the Brethren in Christ Church”: What traditions have the Brethren in Christ valued? Why did we value them? And how have our observances of these traditions changed over the years?

    12:16 P.M.: Finally — lunchtime!

    12:05 P.M.: Wrap-up point from Yoder: In light of the tendency among some Protestants and evangelicals to rely only on the Bible (sola scriptura), it’s good to remember that throughout Christian history believers have relied also on tradition—the transmission of beliefs and ideas over the centuries.

    11:23 A.M.: Lawrence Yoder, professor emeritus of missiology at Eastern Mennonite Seminary (Harrisonburg, Va.), on “Transmitting Christian Faith Across the Centuries”: There is no part of Christian truth that is not Christian tradition: the Bible, as well as age-old practices, forms, and prayers, are part of it!

    10:47 A.M.: Final thoughts from Eby: Traditions also have the potential to unite, but also to divide. We need to be careful that our cherished traditions don’t isolate those around us, while simultaneously recognizing that there’s nothing wrong with being “different.”

    10:33 A.M.: John Eby, professor of sociology at Messiah College, discusses “The Wisdom and Folly of Tradition”: Traditions are human constructions—they give incredible value (especially in the church), but also can be thought about, rearranged, and changed.

    9:38 A.M.: I just finished speaking alongside Ruth Pawelski, Warren Hoffman, and (via video) Eduardo Llanes on a panel addressing “Attitudes and Perspectives Regarding Tradition.” Keywords: revival, change, innovation, sectarianism, and Scriptural.


    About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

    Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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    4 Responses to Sider Institute Convenes Conference on “Tradition: Burden or Blessing?”

    1. Amy says:

      Thanks for this coverage – Greg is there in attendance, so it’s exciting for me to see what’s going on!

    2. Karen D. says:

      Thanks for this report. I am sure if I had been stateside during this time, I would have been at this conference. I noted that you spoke alongside Ruth Pawelski. Ruth and I have become good friends over the past 10 years. Is it possible to get copies of the talks?

      • Devin Manzullo-Thomas says:

        Karen: All the papers (as well as the panel presentation in which Ruth Pawelski and I took part) will be published in the April 2011 issue of “Brethren in Christ History & Life.” You’re a subscriber, right? If not, I can see about getting you a copy.

    3. Pingback: Burden and Blessing?: Reflections on the 2010 Sider Institute Conference « the search for piety and obedience.

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