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Center for Renewal Studies Hosts Holy Spirit Conference

By Brett Wilson | March 8, 2013

Special guest Paul Chang-Ha Lim from Vanderbilt University shares his paper on the Holy Spirit in Early English Englightenment at the Center's first renewal theology conference.

Nearly 150 attendees and plenary speakers participated in the first academic conference hosted by Regent University's Center for Renewal Studies March 1-2. These participants represented the Catholic, Orthodox, Charismatic, Reformed, Pentecostal-Charismatic and other Christian traditions, demonstrating the success of the Center's mission to transcend boundaries and bridge publics around the issue of the Holy Spirit.

This inaugural conference promoted research on the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, as that work has unfolded across the Christian traditions. Conference participants also explored the implications and applications of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life.

"There was a rich denominational mix, which was something that we hoped would happen," said Dr. Dale Coulter, assistant professor in the School of Divinity and conference coordinator. "We received a lot of different papers, and I think it turned out to be quite positive."

In its efforts to bridge the separation and isolation of the churches and schools in the contexts of the Christian life, the Center focuses on the concept of renewal. Understanding renewal as the Holy Spirit's lively and uninhibited work of unifying different traditions and disciplines cultivates transformation of the entire life of the church.

But, according to Coulter, renewal is not reserved just for scholars or pastors, or even specific denominations. It is for every Christian seeking to increase their faith and learn from the disciplines of those outside of their denominational comfort zones.

"We're hopeful that this conference will help everyone to think more deeply about how the Holy Spirit interacts with their own lives, especially as they're praying and seeking to be led by the Spirit," said Coulter.

According to Dr. Wolfgang Vondey, director of the Center for Renewal Studies, another goal of the conference was to awaken Regent students and faculty so that they can see and respond to the renewal happening on the campus around them.

"Of course it's already happening at Regent—you can see it on our campus," said Vondey. "You can see it by what the different schools do, by the expansion [of the campus] and by the variety of students and faculty we have."

Nearly 40 Christian denominations are represented among Regent's faculty, staff and students, which provides for an environment of mutual respect and understanding among different faith traditions.

Vondey added that this conference was more than a presentation of scholarly papers, but was a unique way to create conversations among church groups who may not have been able to converse otherwise.

"We have diversities, and they're important," said Vondey. "We need to protect our diversities but remove the obstacles that prohibit fellowship and understanding."

Learn More about the Center for Renewal Studies.


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