November 6-8 — Nashville, Tennessee
Theme: “The Reconciliation of All, On Earth as In Heaven”
The Christian Universalist Association (CUA) successfully held its second annual conference, with about 30 people attending. Celebration 2009 was an exciting and diverse ecumenical gathering of Christians from across North America, coming together to celebrate the uplifting message of the reconciliation of all, on earth as in heaven. Four ministers were ordained in a ceremony of prayer and laying on of hands, having successfully completed the CUA ordination program — Rev. Jose A. Castillo Bayonet, Rev. Marsha Donne Hayden, Rev. Susan Currie Smith, and Rev. Eric Wolker Stetson — becoming the first ministers ordained by the Christian Universalist Association.
The Christian Universalist Celebration 2009 took place at Howard Congregational United Church of Christ, only a few minutes away from downtown Nashville.
FOOD & LODGING:
The following meals were provided on-site to all guests at the conference free of charge (covered by registration fee):
- Friday dinner
- Saturday lunch
- Saturday dinner
People attending Celebration 2009 were responsible for their own lodging expenses. We recommended staying in one of several hotels in the area.
Friday, November 6:
- 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.: Sign-in, informal fellowship and refreshments
- 5:00: Dinner
- 6:30: Worship & Inspiration — led by Rev. Eric Stetson, Rev. Woodrow Lucas, Rev. Dr. Linda Marie Nelson, and Charles and Paula Slagle
- 7:15: Keynote Address by Tim King
- 8:15: Q&A with Tim King
- 8:45: Informal fellowship and refreshments
Saturday, November 7:
- 8:30 a.m.: Sign-in, informal fellowship and refreshments
- Morning Session:
- 9:00: Worship & Inspiration — led by Rev. Kalen Fristad, Susan Smith, and Marquis Hunt
- 9:45: “Universalism: Past, Present and Powerful.” Message by Rev. Kalen Fristad
- 10:45: Intermission and refreshments
- 11:00: “Demythologizing Hell.” Message by Rev. Tim King
- Lunch and Informal Fellowship (12:00 to 1:45 p.m.)
- Afternoon Session:
- 1:45 p.m.: “Into the Universal Light: The Full Meaning of Universalism.” Message by Logan Geen
- 2:30: Intermission and refreshments
- 2:45: Workshops (short messages and Q&A): “Universalism and Human Emotions, Yours and Everyone Else’s” with Rhett Ellis, AND “The Spirituality of Universalism: Beyond a Faith with No Hell” with Logan Geen
- 3:45: Intermission and refreshments
- 4:00: “Just Do It.” Message by Susan Smith
- 4:45: Open Mic (time for several people from the audience to share thoughts, testimonies, etc.)
- Dinner and Informal Fellowship (5:30 to 7:30)
- Evening Session:
- 7:30: “Walking the Talk: Christian Universalism and Interfaith Reconciliation.” Message by Rev. Eric Stetson
- 8:30: Ordination Ceremony
Sunday, November 8:
- 1:00 p.m.: Worship service with brief message by Rev. Kalen Fristad and sermon by Woodrow Lucas, “From Breakdown to Breakthrough: Six Steps to Humpty Dumpty’s Recovery.”
- 2:00 to 2:30: Informal fellowship and refreshments
Note: Bios of the speakers listed here were current as of the time of the conference. Details about their career, religious affiliation, etc. may have changed since then.
Tim King is the coauthor of a 2006 book, Furious Pursuit: Why God Will Never Let You Go. He has worked both as a pastor and also as a business executive. He has spoken at Christian Universalist conferences in the past, and is a frequent speaker at various progressive spiritual events. He is an active leader in the attempt to bring peace to the Middle East through interfaith dialogue and reconciliation.
Rev. Kalen Fristad has been a United Methodist minister for over 30 years and currently leads three churches in Iowa. He is the author of a 2003 book, Destined for Salvation: God’s Promise to Save Everyone. He spent three years traveling across America full-time, speaking at numerous churches to share the message of God’s plan of salvation for all people, and continues to do speaking tours part-time. Rev. Fristad is the Chair of the Christian Universalist Association.
Rev. Eric Stetson is the author of a 2008 book called Christian Universalism: God’s Good News for All People, and owns and operates a ministry website at Christian-Universalism.com. He is one of three ministers leading Agapeosis Fellowship, a new Christian Universalist church in Nashville, Tennessee. Rev. Stetson’s spiritual journey has taken him through the Baha’i Faith, the Assemblies of God, the Unity Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Woodrow Lucas is a non-denominational charismatic Christian who has been involved in various types of ministry for the past 10 years. His ecumenical journey of faith has led him through Episcopalian, Baptist, Pentecostal, and Disciples of Christ churches, and he currently serves as a lay leader in the United Church of Christ. He holds Master of Theological Studies and Master of Business Administration degrees from Vanderbilt University and is pursuing a Ph.D. Woodrow Lucas is also a poet and prophetic voice, and the author of two spiritual fiction books based on his own life story.
Susan Smith Walker is a licensed minister at Exodus Missionary Outreach Church, a progressive non-denominational multi-ethnic congregation in North Carolina that emphasizes outreach to marginalized people. She is also the assistant executive director of Exodus Homes, a private non-profit faith-based United Way agency that provides 94 beds of supportive housing for homeless recovering addicts, alcoholics, and formerly incarcerated people, and she serves on the board of directors of Catawba Prison Ministries. She was a certified sign language interpreter for over 20 years.
Logan Geen is a master’s degree student in healthcare administration at Cornell University. He is a classical Christian Unitarian and Universalist, and writes a blog called “The New Unitarian Universalist” which discusses spiritual and social issues. He has a particular interest in mysticism and attends Spiritus Christi, a schismatic Catholic community. He draws inspiration from a wide range of traditions, both within and outside of Christianity.
Rhett Ellis is a former pastor who served Baptist churches for 14 years in the Mobile, Alabama area. He is the author of five spiritual-themed books and owns his own publishing company, Sparkling Bay Books. He has also served as a Christian youth minister, taught at a junior college, and worked as a newspaper reporter. He shares the Gospel in coffee shops and other social gathering places, and is beginning to plant a church.
Marquis D. Hunt is the founder and Spiritual Director of the LifeXchange, Center for Truth and Inner Peace, based in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is a life coach, musician and recording artist, and former church pastor. He has traveled extensively as a conference speaker as well as doing seminars in New Thought Christianity, artistic innovations and prophetic communication. Marquis Hunt considers himself a professional listener and sacred activist, using music, poetry, and prophetically streaming conversations to ignite new and fresh perspectives on living a life of love.
Charles Slagle is an evangelist and former prison minister who comes from a Pentecostal background. He is the author of two devotional books: From the Father’s Heart: A Glimpse of God’s Nature and Ways, and Power to Soar. In his most recent book, Absolute Assurance in Jesus Christ, he shares his testimony of how the miraculous revelation of God’s unconditionally committed love freed him from decades of wrestling with addictive behavior and manic depression.
Here are four speeches recorded at the conference.
Rev. Tim King shatters the myths about “eternal hell” and explains how these ideas were imported from pagan religions rather than coming from the teachings of the Hebrew prophets and Jesus Christ.
Walking the Talk: Christian Universalism and Interfaith Reconciliation
Rev. Eric Stetson explains how Christian Universalism is relevant to interfaith dialogue and reconciliation, and calls upon Christian Universalists to get over the narrow-minded tendency to think that our religion must defeat other religions in order for God’s plan to be fulfilled.
Just Do It
Rev. Susan Smith Walker discusses her own journey into Christian Universalist ministry and how the beliefs of Christian Universalism are relevant in recovery from drug/alcohol addiction, prison ministry, and ministering to the downtrodden.
From Breakdown to Breakthrough: Six Steps to Humpty Dumpty’s Recovery
Rev. Woodrow Lucas shares how God uses suffering, adversity and darkness to enable people to be transformed and resurrected into peace, glory and light.