The Seventh Summer Institute on Theology and Disability

The Seventh Summer Institute on Theology and Disability

Monday, May 23, 2016- Thursday, May 26, 2016
Location: Holland, MI

Western Theological Seminary and Hope College are hosting the 7th Summer Institute on Theology and Disability in Holland, Michigan, May 23-26, 2016.  Western Seminary is beginning a new certificate program in ministries with people with disabilities under the leadership of Dr. Benjamin Conner.  The first Friendship House in the United States is also at Western, a residence for seminary students that also includes adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in shared apartments. Holland, Michigan is on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The Summer Institute on Theology and Disability is a four day intensive institute that brings together leading scholars and writers in the areas of theology and disability with clergy, religious leaders, practitioners, laity and others who are interested and involved in inclusive ministries and faith supports.  It seeks to explore the ways that disability impacts all of the major theological disciplines as well as the many dimensions of religious life and faith community practices. One of our key goals is to appreciate the diversity of perspectives that come from scholars, practitioners, and people with disabilities and their families from a wide range of religious traditions and from a wide array of experiences with disability.

The core faculty for the Summer Institute includes Bill Gaventa, Hans Reinders, John Swinton, and Erik Carter. Tom Reynolds, Amos Yong, Julia Watts Belser, and Darla Schumm. The planning team includes Neil Cudney, David Morstad and Mark Crenshaw. That core faculty serves as advisers, speakers, and mentors/faculty to the participants during the week to create a community of learning, with input from new speakers each year. The Plenary Speakers for the 2016 Summer Institute will include Jeff McNair, Jill Hershaw, a session with Western Seminary faculty on ways they have sought to integrate disability into seminary curriculum, an inaugural Jean Vanier Lecture by Emerging Scholars and a plenary focused on Jewish perspectives on disability sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation. Workshop Leaders for the 2016 Institute are being solicited, with the program to be announced early in 2016.

The Summer Institute was sponsored for its first two years by the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council, and for 2012-2015 by the Bethesda Institute. The Summer Institute website that includes audiotapes from the first two years and videotapes of the plenaries from the last four is being moved this fall the national Collaborative on Faith and Disability, 

Organizations and/or individuals interested in helping to sponsor the 2016 Summer Institute on Theology and Disability and beyond are welcome to contact Bill Gaventa at [email protected]. To stay connected to the growing network related to the Summer Institute, link with our Facebook page at