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What is Renewal?

The Renewal Conference is Iliff’s annual community gathering to share our work, hear timely messages from a variety of experts, and spend time in fellowship. Each year, we focus on a different overall theme which is relevant to our society in those moments, and each day provides content focused on part of the conference theme. 

Below, we have included selected videos from Renewal 2020, which was the first such Iliff event to include both livestreaming and high-quality recordings of some conference events.

Watch this page for information about our future plans for Renewal!

Looking for information on previous Renewal Conferences?

Click here for Renewal 2019

Click here for Renewal 2018

Renewal 2020

Monday, February 3, 2020

Daily Theme(s)

How does theology contribute to conversations in the scientific world? Where does Artificial Intelligence fit into the emerging realities of life? 

Monday’s theme focused on Artificial Intelligence, and included topics identified by Iliff’s Artificial Intelligence Institute.

AAAS-DoSER LogoThis first day of the Renewal conference was underwritten by the Science for Seminaries project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion Program, whose generous support allowed us to:

  • Provide opportunities for some students to learn essential programming skills in Python,
  • Invite Dr. Philip Butler, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, and the Principal Investigator for the Seekr Project, to provide the opening plenary talk. He also serves on the Core Ethics Team of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, and serves on the Steering Committee of the AI & Religion Section of the American Academy of Religion. The title of his talk was Encoding Spirituality in Digital Eternalities. A video of his plenary talk is provided below.
  • Introduce participants to the work of Dr. Mohammad Mahoor, Director of Computer Vision and Social Robotics Laboratory at the University of Denver’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr. Mahoor introduced us to his work in the area of Socially Useful Artificial Intelligence, and, along with his students, offered some face-to-face interaction with Ryan, an AI-driven robot. A video of this presentation is provided below.
  • Hear about Iliff’s Artificial Intelligence Institute from Partner Director Alires Almon and Senior Researcher Dr. Ted Vial. A video of the panel conversation is provided below.

Other opportunities for conference participants included:

  • An opening reception with casual conversation and continental breakfast
  • Opening Chapel with Bishop Kym Lucas, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Colorado (the video is available on Facebook)
  • Lunchtime conversation sponsored by the Iliff AI Initiative and the Henry Luce Foundation

Some activities were curtailed due to weather, including our annual Authors’ Reception. Farther down on the page, you will find information about the authors who planned to participate.

Authors’ Reception (Cancelled Due to Weather)

A blizzard hit the Denver area on Monday afternoon, necessitating the cancellation of our evening activities. Sadly, this meant that we were unable to host our annual reception for those in the Iliff community who had recently published new books. Some were able to join us the next evening for the Alumni reception, but that was not possible for everyone. Therefore, we are including information regarding these Iliffians and their publications below, listed in the order they accepted the invitations.

A special thanks to caterer we invite to Iliff every year for this reception, Uno Mas, who graciously allowed us to cancel (with a full refund, no less). We look forward to enjoying their food again in the future!

Note: For your convenience, we’ve included links for each item at Amazon; this is not an endorsement of Amazon as source, and we do not receive anything for including the links (although that would be awesome).

Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter

Rebekah Simon-PeterRev. Simon-Peter received her Master of Divinity degree from Iliff in 1995, and a Master of Arts in Religion in 1998. Her latest book is Dream Like Jesus: Deepen Your Faith and Bring the Impossible to Life (Market Square Publishing, 2019).

Rev. Dr. Carrie Doehring

Dr. Doehring is the Clifford Baldridge Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Iliff. Her latest book is Military Moral Injury and Spiritual Care: A Resource for Religious Leaders and Professional Caregivers (Chalice Press, 2019).

Dr. Jeremy Garber

Jeremy GarberDr. Garber received his PhD from the Iliff and DU Joint Doctoral Program in 2014. He serves as the Academic Advising and Writing Center Coordinator at Iliff. His latest book is Another Way: Thinking Together about the Holy Spirit (Pickwick Publications, 2019).

Rev. Dr. Eric C. Smith

Eric SmithDr. Smith received his PhD from the Iliff and DU Joint Doctoral Program in 2013, and is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity and New Testament Studies at Iliff. His latest book is Paul the Progressive?: The Compassionate Christian’s Guide to Reclaiming the Apostle as an Ally (Chalice Press, 2019).

Br. Daniel Klawitter, OSL

Daniel KlawitterBr. Klawitter received his MDiv from Iliff in 2002. He serves as an Admissions Representative for Iliff. His portfolio lists two new books in the last two years: The Trickster: Poems for Very Clever Children & Silly Adults (White Bird Publications, 2019); and Quiet Insurrections (Kelsay Books, 2018).

Dr. Kelly Arora

Kelly AroraDr. Arora received her PhD from the Iliff and DU Joint Doctoral Program in 2011. Her latest book is Spirituality and Meaning Making in Chronic Illness: How Spiritual Caregivers Can Help People Navigate Long-term Health Conditions (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2020).

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Daily Theme(s)

How can we be re-inspired to make a difference? What does “making a difference” look like? How can our being in community bring change to a hurting world?

Tuesday, we focused on ways to make a difference in the world. Our offerings included:

  • Our annual Faculty Plenary session with Rev. Dr. Jennifer Leath, Assistant Professor of Religion and Social Justice. A video of this session is below.
  • A workshop provided by Iliff Alum Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter (MDiv ‘95, MAR ‘98) and Rev. Mary Beth Taylor, entitled Taking the Quantum Leap from Discipleship to Apostleship. A video is included below.
  • A lunch conversation with Dr. Eric Smith, Assistant Professor of Early Christianity and Contemporary Christian Practices, on Ancient and Modern Worship.
  • A panel of students reflecting on their involvement in the Iliff Center for Ecojustice and the recent trip to Peru.
  • Iliff students presenting their current scholarship and views on today’s issues.
  • An evening alumni reunion reception, with a celebration of the tenth year of the Journey MDiv program.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Daily Theme(s)

What does leadership look like in complex times? How do we lead effectively in times of division?

Wednesday, we talked about the challenges involved in making change in the world, and provided updates on Iliff’s present work and future plans. Offerings included:

  • Our annual Alumni Breakfast, with informational presentations by Iliff’s President Dr. Tom Wolfe, faculty, and staff.
  • An overview of Iliff’s Ministry Incubator, including remote presentations from Incubator participants.
  • A panel conversation on the future of United Methodism.
  • Closing chapel with Retired Bishop Gene Robinson, which can be viewed on Facebook.
  • Bishop Robinson’s Closing Plenary session. The video is included below.