Annual religion conference fuses faith and citizenship

By NJOKI COLEMAN

Contributing Writer

Piedmont hosted its annual Religion and the Liberal Arts conference on the Athens campus last weekend. 

This year’s conference was titled “Faith & Citizenship: Religion in the Public Square,” and answered concerns about justice, privacy, hospitality, neighborliness and compassion that occupy both religions and political discourse.

On Feb. 22, the conference started at 5 p.m. with registration, a reception and a book signing by Barbara Brown Taylor, professor of religion at Piedmont College and David P. Gushee, Christian ethics professor and director of the Center of Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. 

The book signing was followed by a banquet address, “The Danger of Single Stories” by Taylor, concluding at 8 p.m. with a musical performance by Julie Powell Caldwell.

On Saturday, the conference was packed with activities from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The day consisted of a plenary address by Gushee, a talk-back session with the speakers, a choice of two workshops and a closing worship service. 

Taylor preached at the closing worship service, followed by a performance from the Piedmont College Haystack Society Choir. 

In addition to community members and church leaders, Piedmont students also attended the conference. 

Piedmont College Demorest took a van of students, who wanted to attend the conference. 

“I think it was a wonderful experience in which everyone should take advantage of in the future,” said junior mass communications major Katarina Hodge. 

“The workshops were amazing, but my favorite part was talking to a writer from CNN Digital.”

Representatives from CNN presented a workshop on reporting on religion and politics.

The conference had a number of workshops varying in topics from people of various faiths living together in neighborhoods and cities, civility in dialogue with those who have differences in perspective, concerning individual perspectives on religious politicking, to CNN Digital journalist’s writing about religion and politics. Each workshop was lead by a different presenter, whose careers are in the world of religion or politics.  Presenters varied from a Georgia State Representative, a spiritual director, an Iman Emeritus, and CNN journalists. 

Past Religion and Liberal Arts Conferences have brought more people to the community, because year after year continues to cultivate minds with enriched information pertaining to religion. Faith & Citizenship: Religion in the Public Square attributed to that allowing this Piedmont College tradition to become a long- lasting one.