I attended Open 2013: Open Theology & the Church in St. Paul, MN last month. The main speakers were Greg Boyd, Tom Oord, and John Sanders. The conference was held at Woodland Hills Church and hosted by the ReKnew team. I had a great time and wanted to tell you about it.
I flew up early on Thursday and hung out with a couple of old college buddies until the first session that evening. It was nice getting to catch up with my friends, Josh Crain and Samuel Holder.
The conference began that evening with Greg Boyd talking about the History and Hope of Open Theology in the church. Greg talked about the growing attraction of the open view and discussed its historical roots in church history. Q&A followed.
The next day Jessica Kelley gave a very moving message about the recent loss of her 4 year old son, Henry. Jessica shared how the open view made all the difference in her family’s experience of losing Henry to a brain tumor. I was already prepared to cry. I had read Jessica’s story a couple weeks before, and as a new father, I wept through the entire thing.
Unfortunately, there was a mix up and her talk wasn’t recorded. But you can read Jessica’s story over at her blog, Jess in Process. I expect that God is going to continue using Jessica and her family in some spectacular ways (even more so) in the days to come. I even told her myself. :-)
John Sanders gave the plenary address on Friday evening. He lectured on The Virtues Inherent in Open Theism. John fashioned his message to show that the open view allows for the best portrait of God over other views, especially that of classical theology. Q&A followed.
Tom Oord delivered an interesting informal classroom-styled message on Openness & Moment-by-Moment Relation. He even used the dry-erase board to draw his illustrations. Tom’s talk was stimulating as he made a case for holiness and “perfection” coming through our choosing from the best options among a world of possibilities.
One of my favorite parts of the conference was the table discussions on Friday and Saturday (during the day). I had the privilege of leading and moderating a group. It was encouraging to see and hear from so many people around the country (and globe) that are embracing the open view and learning how it is shaping their lives and ministries.
It’s still unclear if the conference will be annual, or every other year. One thing is for certain, the entire weekend was encouraging and uplifting to all in attendance. There is definitely a movement taking place within the church.
Finally, check out this video reflection of Open 2013.
THANK YOU to all those who put the conference together and had the vision to make it happen. I also want to thank our local congregation for assisting in the expenses of the trip. Thank you, Church at Birnham Woods. And a special thanks to Greg and Shelley Boyd for letting me crash at your house my last night in St. Paul. Your hospitality was a blessing.
D.D. Flowers, 2013.