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Faith Communities in the 1st and 21st Centuries

August 25–26, 2017
Estes Park, Colorado

This Jesus Seminar “in the Rockies” compares early and current situations of Christ movements. The dynamic beginnings of 1st-century Jesus communities are legendary but sometimes forgotten or contested. The majority of 21st-century American churches are in cataclysmic decline, but thousands of others are experiencing creative and courageous growth. Join Hal Taussig and Sarah Morice Brubaker in exploring the social dimensions of today’s churches and early communities in search of inspiration and direction for the future.

Join us in Estes Park, the beautiful gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, for the Jesus Seminar in the Rockies. For travel & lodging information at this popular vacation spot, click here.

Hal Taussig (Ph.D., The Union Institute) has taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York. In local, national, and international contexts, he studies early texts in their original languages and addresses church issues of today. His many books include, most recently, A New New Testament (2013).

Sarah Morice Brubaker (Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) is Assistant Professor of Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her writing has appeared in The Christian Century, Geez, and Religion Dispatches. She is the author of The Place of the Spirit (2013).

Program Details

The Value of Faith Communities

How can faith communities generate creativity and authentic relationships for life in the world? How did these activities look in the 1st century? How might they look in the 21st? Morice Brubaker and Taussig will address this question in light of the ways in which faith communities often serve as sites of resistance to propaganda and bluster—both in the Roman Empire and in modern times.
Friday evening, 7:30–9 pm

Humor and Spiritual Practice in the Midst of First-Century Violence and Loss

Taussig will lead an exploration of community practice and celebration in difficult 1st-century circumstances. Placing the newly discovered text Thunder: Perfect Mind alongside the canonical Gospel of Mark, this session gives special attention to festive meals and gritty stories of early Christ groups.
Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

Theology, Civility, and Resistance

How can theology foster communities who don’t just say whatever suits their own consolidation of power? How, too, can theology address grave evil in more impactful ways than simply telling people to use their inside voices and take turns in an argument? Morice Brubaker examines how local congregations can express their own power with authenticity in the world.
Saturday, 11 am – noon

Integrative Presence of Local Churches in Larger Social Frames

Taussig revisits and critiques his previous work on larger social roles of local churches, A New Spiritual Home: Progressive Christianity at the Grass Roots and Reimagining Life Together in North America: A New Gospel of Community. Morice Brubaker compares 21st-century expectations of evangelical Christianity with other models in the broader culture, such as interfaith responses to the immigration executive order and congregations acting as sanctuaries during the Black Lives Matter protests.
Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

Closing Thoughts

Framed by brief presentations from Morice Brubaker and Taussig, participants will ask questions and discuss the day’s topics.
Saturday, 3–4 pm


Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies and its Journeys Class

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies
1700 Brodie
Estes Park, CO 80517

For local information, contact:

Lois Sumey
[email protected]


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by August 11th) $60
  • Additional Family Members $50

Single Sessions

  • Friday Evening Lecture $20
  • Saturday Morning Workshop $30
  • Saturday Afternoon Workshop $30

Refunds are available until two weeks before the event if requested in writing, minus a $10 administrative fee. No refunds will be given after that date.