Carry Me, Tim Lowly © 2002, mixed media on panel, 108" x 48", private collection, Chicago. The following North Park University students are pictured (carrying Temma Lowly) and also provided collaborative assistance with this work: (clockwise from the top right) Krissa Harwood, Robin Spencer, Amanda Hasse, Heather Yanul, Yoonhee Kim and Michelle Ness.

2018: Defining Beauty


The 2018 Gathering will take place at the Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center in Techny, IL from July 12-14.


Photos from the Gathering are on the Facebook page

All available audio files are uploaded.  You can find them here: PodBean


Our Gathering title is intentionally ambiguous: “beauty” is a word that needs to be defined and beauty ought to be defining of our lives as persons created in the image of God.

Scripture takes up the idea of beauty from beginning to end but not always in obvious ways:

And God saw that it was beautiful.” (Genesis 1, Septuagint)

She has done a beautiful thing for me” (Mt 26:10; Mk 14:6)

Live such beautiful lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your beautiful deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)

Some of our guiding assumptions/questions:

  1. “Beauty” and the “beautiful” are not simply aesthetic categories but fully moral ones, too.
  2. How is beauty related to goodness and truth?
  3. How is beauty connected to privilege and power, and how do we access beauty as a form of resistance?
  4. How can we name the beauty at the center of the Christian story?
  5. How is beauty implicated in everyday discipleship?
  6. How do different traditions find and make beauty in their worship?
  7. Why is so much explicitly Christian art so bad?
  8. How do culturally dominant images of beauty distort our imagination?

Please view and share this file for details on our speakers and presentations. 



Our Gathering preacher is Miriam Perkins.

Brian Volck will lead us in visio divina.

Shannon Schaefer and David Butzu will coordinate our worship. We will sing a cappella in
different musical styles at our opening worship, foot washing service, and closing worship.

liturgies: compline on Thursday and Friday; vigils/lauds on Friday and Saturday; vespers on Friday.

Plenary Speakers:

Natalie Carnes

Scott Cairns words-lead- you-ideas poets/poets/detail/scott-cairns

Lanecia Rouse Tinsley and Cleve V. Tinsley IV

Tim Lowly and Sherrie R. Lowly who-is- profoundly-


Reggie Williams
Rethinking the Christian Moral Life in Light of the Harlem Renaissance

Shannon Schaefer
Beauty, Body, and American Culture

Janis Love and Jameson Love
The Young and the Beautiful

Daniel Train
Displacing Beauty: Flannery O’Connor and the Gift of Excess

Ragan Sutterfield
There Are No Unsacred Places: Icons, Liturgy, and Learning to See the Sacredness of Creation

Lee Kuiper
Reflected Light: Theology in Photography

Brian Volck
Dark Beauty: Finding God in Harsh and Dreadful Things


Beautiful Things:

We plan to create the space and time to share beautiful things with one another. We will invite attendees to
bring, for example, a painting, photographs, woodwork, textiles, knitting/crochet, jewelry. Or maybe a
beautiful story, poem, reading, or song. When registering for the Gathering, participants interested in this will
be asked to indicate whether they’re bringing something to display or to perform.

Children’s Formation:

The Ekklesia Project is committed to providing an element of spiritual formation for children during the annual gathering. Sessions concurrent with the four plenaries will address the topic of beauty in practical, sensory ways– with the themes of Beauty & Nature, Beauty & the Church, Beauty & the Arts, and Beauty & the Unlovely. Check the Children’s Formation (google doc) page for more details. 


  • Free parking at Techny Towers
  • For directions: Techny Towers directions
  • Public transportation options: PDF (this document may have changed, please confirm information when planning)
  • Sheraton Chicago Northbrook Hotel 847-480-1900 (1/2 mile from Techny Towers) Full participation in the Gathering is best when staying at Techny. If you plan to come in the day before the Gathering, or have other needs, there is a group rate available at the Sheraton. Our rate is under “Ekklesia Project Group Block,” or click here.