Being the Body of Christ

Through the catechumenate, newcomers and congregating disciples gather together regularly to share and reflect upon the core narrative of Jesus Christ and to practice being the Body of Christ.  But this is no dress-rehearsal.  Catechumenal formation is the church being church at the foot of the cross, where questions of doubt, despair and suffering are met with God’s promises of faith, hope and love.  In this plenary, we will explore how the open-ended yet structured process of the catechumenate — with recurring practices of scripture reading, praying, worshipping, baptizing, communing and serving — is itself the Spirited, purposeful movement of the Body of Christ in, with and under the world God loves.

The Rev. Dr. Jessicah Krey Duckworth is Program Director in the Religion Division at Lilly Endowment Inc., a private, non-operating foundation based in Indianapolis, IN. Her portfolio includes grantmaking that supports the exploration of Christian vocation across the lifespan, initiatives for pastors and faculty in religion and theology and the interpretation of religion in cultural institutions in North America.   She taught at Luther Seminary (MN) and Wesley Theological Seminary (D.C.). Jessicah is a graduate of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and completed her PhD in 2009 in Practical Theology with an emphasis on Christian Education at Princeton Theological Seminary.  Published by Fortress Press in 2013, Jessicah’s book is Wide Welcome: How the Unsettling Presence of Newcomers Can Save the Church.



God Forms Faith from Word and Water

This presentation will establish a theological foundation for the urgency of catechumenal formation for the 21st Century Church.  It will also bring that theology to life in the stories of signs and wonders ​that new Christians and a renewed congregation experience through their shared lives of worship and service.

Pastor Paul Hoffman, a graduate of Gettysburg Seminary, has been ordained for 35 years.  He has served four parishes in three states, and currently holds a call from the Northwest Washington Synod, ELCA as a writer and teacher.  For almost twenty years, Paul led the congregation of Phinney Ridge Lutheran in Seattle through the ministry of the adult catechumenate, and out of that practice his two books were formed:  Faith Forming Faith and Faith Shaping Ministry.  Paul has taught widely about the practice of baptismal formation, and currently leads formational mentoring groups of rostered leaders in six synods.


From Font to Meal to Service and Unity

Through Baptism and Mystagogy (infants), or through Catechesis and Baptism (adults), new Christians are welcomed to the Eucharist and equipped by Word and Sacrament for Service and Ministry in the world.  As Aidan Kavanagh once put, “Baptism is the way that Eucharist begins,” and Eucharist is the way that the baptismal life is continually nurtured and sustained.  By means of examples grounded in classic liturgical sources as well as contemporary issues confronting us, this plenary address will focus on how we form Christians through the catechumenal process arguing that, unlike the proverbial chicken and egg debate, what comes first – Holy Baptism or Eucharist? – does matter.

The Rev. Dr Maxwell E. Johnson is professor of theology (liturgy) at the University of Notre Dame, from where he earned his PhD in1992.  He is also a pastor in the ELCA and licensed for Word and Sacrament ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana.  He does regular supply in both Lutheran and Episcopal congregations.  His academic interests include early Christian liturgical sources, the Rites of Christian Initiation, the feasts and seasons of the Liturgical Year, and ecumenical liturgical issues, including Mariology.  He is the author, co-author, or editor of 20 books and over 70 book chapters or articles in scholarly publications.


How Baptism Doesn’t Form Us: Why We Seek Other Ways to Grow the Church

Among Martin Luther’s greatest contributions is what we might call a baptismal spirituality, or even a baptismal way of living. From a Lutheran perspective, “washing with water in the name of the triune God before the Christian assembly is at the center of one’s whole life as a Christian, no matter when in life baptism occurs.” Why, then, do fonts remain small and covered and often out-of-the-way? Why are we slow to touch the baptismal water and to make the sign of the cross? Why isn’t every congregation engaged in catechumenal ministry? Why do other stories Guide our church’s life?  Could be that we desire to be formed in ways other than the ways baptism informs us?  Is it possible that the church born from the font is not the church we want?

Craig Alan Satterlee, Ph.D. is bishop of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod ELCA. Bishop Satterlee is also a liturgical scholar, homiletician, and teacher of worship and preaching.    A past president of the North American Academy of Liturgy, he served as the Carlson Professor of Homiletics at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Dean of the ACTS Doctor of Ministry in Preaching program, and adjunct professor in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.  A prolific writer, Dr. Satterlee’s books include Ambrose of Milan’s Method of Mystagogical Preaching, The Christian Life: Baptism and Life Passages, and When God Speaks through Worship: Stories Congregations Live By.
















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