Annual Meeting 2014



The 4th Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers was held at the Cove in Asheville, NC on July 7 – 9, 2014.

Group Photo

Our speaker this year was Dr. George Marsden, the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame. He has a BA from Haverford College, a BD from Westminster Theological Seminary, and an MA and PhD from Yale. Dr. Marsden has taught at Calvin College, Duke Divinity School, and the University of Notre Dame. His most recent book is The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief (New York: Basic Books). Currently, his work involves C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.



Below is a complete schedule of events, followed by detailed descriptions of each Directed Discussion:


Monday, July 7


Directed Discussion I: 1:30-5:00 pm

  • Welcome and Introduction: Drew Trotter, Executive Director, Consortium of Christian Study Centers
  • Moderating: Karl Johnson, Executive Director, Chesterton House
  • Life Together: Spiritual Formation through Intentional Christian Community at Vista House: Rimes McElveen, Executive Director, Mere Christianity Forum
  • Toward Strange Bedfellows: Developing Faculty Relationships by the Agency of Christian Virtue: Missy DeRegibus, Director, COGITO
  • Going Deeper: The Colin MacLaurin Fellows Program: Bryan Bademan, Executive Director, MacLaurinCSF
  • Panel Discussion


Optional Evening Session: 7:15 pm

  • Movie Viewing and Discussion: Doubt, Moderated by Sam Heath


Tuesday, July 8


Directed Discussion II: 9:00-11:30am

  • Moderating: David Mahan, Executive Director, Rivendell Institute
  • David Mahan and Richard Horner, Executive Director, Christian Study Center of Gainesville: Taking and Talking the Long View: Vision and Mission


Directed Discussion III: 1:30-4:00pm

  • George Marsden: First Principles for Cultivating American Pluralism: Beyond Twilight of the American Enlightenment with Special Reference to Higher Education in America
  • Free Time: 4:00-6:00pm


Directed Discussion IV: 7:30-9:30pm

  • George Marsden: The Continuing Vitality of C.S. Lewis: Lewis’s Mere Christianity in Princeton University Press’s Series The Lives of Great Religious Books


Wednesday, July 9


Directed Discussion V: 9:00-12:00pm

  • Moderating: Bill Wilder, Executive Director, Center for Christian Study
  • Bill Wilder and Drew Trotter: Wisdom for the Sake of Love: Bringing Order into Ministry
  • Wrap-up: Drew Trotter


Detailed Descriptions of Directed Discussions:


Directed Discussion I

“Best Practices–Programming”

Karl Johnson

Monday, July 7

Because most of us spend most of our time running programs of various sorts, we began Annual Meeting by highlighting a small number of especially well-run programs and learning from the folks who run them. Highlighted topics included intentional Christian community, faculty relationships, and an experimental fellows program.  These short sessions were light on presentation and heavy on conversation. In addition, the afternoon session began and ended with structured conversations designed to facilitate conversation among as many other attendees as possible.

“Life Together: Spiritual Formation through Intentional Christian Community at Vista House” with Rimes McElveen, Executive Director, Mere Christianity Forum


“Toward Strange Bedfellows: Developing Faculty Relationships by Agency of Christian Virtue” with Missy DeRegibus, Director, COGITO


“Going Deeper: The Colin MacLaurin Fellows Program” with Bryan Bademan, Executive Director, MacLaurinCSF



Directed Discussion II

“Taking and Talking the Long View: Vision & Mission”

Dave Mahan, Richard Horner

Tuesday, July 8

In this session we considered the development of vision and mission as a process of both definition and discovery, of formation and implementation. During the first half of our session we focused on the big picture, considering how our vision of the future involves our passion for change and the distinctive calling, strengths, and opportunities of our center. The second half of our session focused on mission and implementation. Our tendency is to pour hours and hours into shaping mission statements, put them in a notebook or file cabinet, and then go ahead and do whatever we were going to do anyway. We considered questions such as: How can we effectively put our mission statements to work for us? How can we turn a long-term vision into manageable, short-term pieces? How can we balance focus with flexibility? How can we keep the vision and mission clear but also keep it fresh?


Directed Discussion III

 “First Principles for Cultivating American Pluralism”

George Marsden

Tuesday, July 8

One of the functions of study centers might be to encourage dialogue and mutual understanding with those with whom they disagree. For doing that while maintaining our own integrity, we ought to be clear in our own minds regarding our first principles for understanding how we can at the same time have fundamental differences with others but also a basis for common understanding and cooperation. We also can benefit from having a principled vision for the sort of pluralistic society we would like to see. These issues were considered in the context of the historical background described Dr. Marsden’s insightful talk concerning his book The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief.


Directed Discussion IV

“The Continuing Vitality of C. S. Lewis”

George Marsden

Tuesday, July 8

Why does C. S. Lewis remain such an effective apologist today? Since 2001 Mere Christianity has sold over three million copies in English alone. This discussion analyzed the strengths of Lewis’s presentation, with a view to understanding how the principles that he employed might be used by others today. It also considered some critiques of Lewis. Dr. Marsden helpfully considered the issues in light of his work on Mere Christianity for Princeton University Press’s series, “The Lives of Great Religious Books.”


Directed Discussion V

 “Wisdom for the Sake of Love: Bringing Order into Ministry”

Bill Wilder, Drew Trotter

Wednesday, July 9

Even before the fall, bringing God’s goodness to the world involved extending his wise ordering of creation throughout the human sphere. Though this “administrative” area of work sometimes seem particularly marked by a curse, it is nonetheless (and, indeed, all the more) necessary. This session will thus consider ways to bring fruitful order into ministry, from board, staff and volunteer management to the stewardship and allocation of financial resources. Among other things we may discuss board and staff structure (including a board policy manual); the relative importance of communications, development and operations personnel in an expanding ministry team; various revenue structures (including endowments and time-delimited funds); and strategies for effective meetings.