2013 Covenant Conference

“MARRIAGE MATTERS”Marriage Matters


Registration and conference schedule: Click here.

Workshop information and preference form:  Click here.

Hotel reservations: Click here.   [Please call the hotel directly at (312) 943-7200 if you are informed online that the block is sold out; there is plenty of room for you!]

Download the conference brochure:  Click here.


“Marriage Matters” will be the theme of the 2013 Covenant Conference at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, October 31-November 2, 2013. Responding to the call from the 220th General Assembly to study our Reformed understanding of marriage, this conference will explore our tradition and the needs of the church today—especially with an eye to the ongoing conversation around same-gender marriage. A conference schedule (subject to change), and registration information, can be found here.  You can reserve a deeply discounted room right across the street at the Westin Hotel.

Keynote speakers are William Stacy Johnson of Princeton Theological Seminary, Amy Plantinga Pauw of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and Macky Alston of Auburn Media.  Preachers will be Brian Ellison, Frank Yamada, and Sharon Youngs.  This year’s event will also feature a pre-conference event beginning at 9 a.m. on October 31 on marriage liturgies and worship led by Kimberly Bracken Long of Columbia Theological Seminary. Workshop leaders will be announced as the conference date nears.

gratzThe conference will take place mostly in the new Gratz Center at Fourth Presbyterian Church, a beautiful five-story addition dedicated in 2012 and including classroom and conference space and the new Buchanan Chapel. The building includes lake views, wireless internet, and plenty of space for devotional reflection (including a labyrinth), fellowship and learning.

Registration is now open online at http://2013covnetconference.eventbrite.com/. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Westin Michigan Avenue, directly across the street from the church and next door to the John Hancock building. Reservations at a special group rate may be made through the hotel’s website: https://www.starwoodmeeting.com/Book/covenantnetwork. (We encourage all participants to stay at the Westin! The block is not full, so if you experience difficulty booking online, please call the hotel directly at (312) 943-7200, and then let us know so that we can follow up.)


About the Speakers 

Stacy Johnson

William Stacy Johnson is the author of A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law and Politics, which was released in a Second Edition last year.  He is Princeton Theological Seminary’s Arthur M. Adams Professor of Systematic Theology. An ordained Presbyterian minister and a lawyer, Johnson’s work over the years has focused on the future of Christian churches, and especially the theological, ethical, and spiritual challenges they face. He will speak on the place of the same-gender marriage conversation in the broader context of ongoing conversations about the future of the church and what it means to be Christian.


Amy Plantinga PauwAmy Plantinga Pauw is Henry P. Mobley Jr. Professor of Doctrinal Theology at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She has taught a variety of courses including Christology, ecclesiology, feminist and womanist ethics, and the theologies of Jonathan Edwards, Karl Barth, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. She has a growing interest in theologies of the global south and in the theological interpretation of Scripture. Amy Plantinga Pauw is general editor for Westminster John Knox Press’ theological commentary series, Belief, and serves on the board of the Louisville Institute. Her speech will help us think theologically about marriage as a foundational part of life in the Christian community.


mackyalstonMacky Alston is Director of Auburn Media, a division of the Center for Multifaith Education at Auburn Theological Seminary, training and equipping religious leaders in effective communication through media.  An award-winning documentary filmmaker, his work includes Love Free or Die, the movie about openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, and the Covenant Network’s own video Turning Points: Stories of Life and Change in the Church.  He is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary and serves on the board of the Hartley Film Foundation, a public charity that supports documentaries on world religions, spirituality, ethics and well-being.

About the Pre-Conference Workshop Leader

Kim Long
Kimberly Bracken Long is Associate Professor of Worship at Columbia Theological Seminary, where she is currently researching the theology and history of marriage. She is interested in the formation of ministers for liturgical leadership in the church, with a particular emphasis on the sacramental and eschatological dimensions of worship.  She will lead a pre-conference event on liturgical aspects of the same-gender marriage conversation.



About the Preachers

Frank Yamada

Frank Yamada is the President of McCormick Theological Seminary.  A Presbyterian minister and a member of the McCormick faculty since 2008, his doctoral studies included Hebrew Bible with an emphasis in hermeneutics, feminist theory, and culturally-contextual biblical interpretation.  He is the author of Configurations of Rape in the Hebrew Bible: A Literary Analysis of Three Rape Narratives (Peter Lang, 2008), and was an editor and contributor to The Peoples’ Bible, a cross-cultural study Bible from Augsburg Fortress Press (2008).


Sharon Youngs has been the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Oak Ridge, TN, since October 2012.  She came to Oak Ridge from Louisville, where she had served the PC(USA) through the Office of the General Assembly, most recently as Assistant Stated Clerk and Communications Coordinator.

Brian EllisonBrian Ellison 
has been Executive Director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians since August 2012.  He came to the Covenant Network from a 13-year pastorate at Parkville (MO) Presbyterian Church, and has contributed varieties of service at the presbytery and General Assembly levels of the PC(USA).


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