Hosts, Keynotes, and Honored Guests
Hosts and Emcee
Jay F. Hein – President, The Sagamore Institute
Hein is president of The Sagamore Institute, an Indianapolis-based think tank that he helped found in 2004. He was Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives from August 2006 to August 2008. Hein serves as Distinguished Senior Fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for the Study of Religion and as director of the Foundation for American Renewal established by US Senator Dan Coats. Hein is a member of the Office Depot Foundation board of directors and managing director of ISOKO, an African free market think tank. Earlier in his career, Hein was a welfare reform policy advisor to Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin from 1994 to 1997 and director of civil society programs at the Hudson Institute from 1997 to 2004. Hein received a bachelor’s of arts degree from Eureka College and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Jerry Pattengale – University Professor
Pattengale (PhD, Miami, Ohio) has over twenty books, and has contributed to venues such as Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, Washington Post, Books & Culture, Religion News Service, InsideHigherEd.com, Patheos, Chicago Tribune, Christian Post, History Channel, and media outlets. He serves as executive director of education, Museum of the Bible (Washington, D.C.)-one of its two founding scholars. He is University Professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, its first, and has held several top administrative positions. Jerry has various international projects and awards and is editor-in-chief of the multifaceted, high-tech, Bible curriculum with the Museum (approximately 20 print volumes forthcoming 2017-18, a gamified online version, and two digital App versions), being used by 100,000 Israeli public school students. He has distinguished appointments at the Sagamore Institute, Tyndale House-Cambridge, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Excelsia College (Australia), and serves on the boards of the Religion News Service, Johnathan Edwards Center (Yale University), and as associate publisher of Christian Scholar’s Review. He is also executive director of Nationalconversations.com, which he co-founded with David Wright. The World’s Greatest Book (co-authored with Lawrence Schiffman) and The Global Impact Bible (gen. ed.) were released this fall with Worthy Publishing (Nashville, TN).
David W. Wright – President, Indiana Wesleyan University
Prior to his election as President in May 2013, Wright was Provost and Chief Academic Officer for five years. Before coming back to IWU in 2008, he was Dean of the School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University. Previously at Indiana Wesleyan University he served as Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, Chair of the Department of Graduate Studies in Ministry, and Vice President for Adult and Graduate Studies.
Wright has a strong interest in international higher education having focused his doctoral studies on the social foundations of higher education as well as on international and comparative studies in education. He spent seven years working in educational capacities in Haiti and England. His areas of professional expertise include higher education policy, the design and administration of non-traditional and online programs, and higher education leadership.
Wright holds the Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Ministries from Indiana Wesleyan University, a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies from George Fox University, and the Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation from the University of Kentucky. He has published three books, Finding Freedom from Fear: A Contemporary Study from the Psalms, Wisdom as a Lifestyle: Building Biblical Life-codes, and How God Makes the World a Better Place andhas contributed chapters to several professional books, and has published numerous articles.
Preconference and Keynote Speakers
Donald Cassell – Senior Fellow and Director Liberian Initiatives, Sagamore Institute
Donald L. Cassell, Jr., as Sagamore Senior Fellow and Director of the Liberian Initiative in the Africa portfolio, has spearheaded several projects, including a case study on the Liberian Philanthropy Secretariat, a database listing connections between the State of Indiana and Africa, the annual publication of the newsletter-journal Marketplace Liberia, and various papers on African growth and development. He have recently launched the ISOKO Leadership Workshop in Liberia. Additionally, he serves as co-host of Sagamore’s internship program and an Adjunct Professor at Anderson University.
Previous to his role at Sagamore, Mr. Cassell spent 20 years working as an architect in Indianapolis. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Construction Specification Institute (CSI).
A native of Liberia, Mr. Cassell graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts where he took undergraduate degrees in Architecture Engineering Technology. Mr. Cassell also studied at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he received his Master of Divinity.
Dr. Abson Joseph – Professor of New Testament, Indiana Wesleyan University
Dr. Abson Joseph is Professor of New Testament in the School of Theology and Ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University. He holds a Diploma in Theology from Caribbean Wesleyan College, Jamaica; Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary; and a Ph.D. in New Testament Interpretation from London School of Theology/Brunel University, England. Before joining the faculty at Indiana Wesleyan University, he served as Academic Dean at Caribbean Wesleyan College from 2005 to 2011. He is an ordained minister of the Wesleyan Church of Haiti.
Dr. Joseph is passionate about International Theological Education. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association, the accreditation agency for theological schools in the Caribbean. He chairs the Theological Commission and is a member of the Accrediting Commission of that association.
Dr. Joseph is the author of A Narratological Reading of 1 Peter (T&T Clark, 2012); co-editor of Shaping Theological Education in the Caribbean: A Community Approach (CETA, 2011); and has published several book chapters and articles. He currently is fulfilling three book contracts: Reading the Law from the Margins (IVP Academic), Hearing and Doing the Word of God (Baker Academic), and The Book of James: One Book Daily-Weekly Bible Study (Seedbed Publishing). He has read papers and taught in the US, Haiti, Jamaica, Russia, Belgium, Kenya, and New Zealand, among other places.
Dr. Joseph is married to Dr. Larisa Levicheva-Joseph. They have two daughters, Daniella and Sophie. Besides teaching, his other passions are music and sports.
Timothy Larsen – Carolyn and Fred McManis Professor of Christian Thought, Wheaton College
In addition to his efforts at Wheaton College, Larsen is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and has been a Visiting Fellow in History, Trinity College, Cambridge, and All Souls College, Oxford.
Larsen is a Fellow of both the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Anthropological Institute. He is the author of six books, including Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England (Oxford University Press, 2006), A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians(OUP, 2011), and The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith (OUP, 2014). He has edited nine books, including The Cambridge Companion to Evangelical Theology (CUP, 2007), Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture (IVP, 2013), and The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions: The Nineteenth Century (OUP, forthcoming).
Larsen is the General Editor of Oxford University Press’s Spiritual Lives biography series. He was a Contributing Editor of Books & Culture, and he has also written for the Times Literary Supplement, Christianity Today, Christian Century, Comment, World, Touchstone, Tablet, Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, CNN.com, and the Wall Street Journal.
Jo Anne Lyon – Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church
Lyon served The Wesleyan Church as General Superintendent from 2012-2016. Now acting Ambassador, Lyon serves on the board of directors of many organizations as representative of The Wesleyan Church including the National Association of Evangelicals Executive Committee, Christian Community Development Association, National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Asbury Theological Seminary Board, Council on Faith of the World Economic Forum, the President of The United States Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
As the founder and CEO of World Hope International, Alexandria, VA, Lyon directed the faith-based relief and development organization’s efforts in over 30 countries. Those efforts captured the attention of officials at the White House and other federal agencies who were seeking to understand how faith-based organizations were addressing some of the planet’s most pressing challenges.
Lyon holds a master’s degree in counseling, continued graduate studies in historical theology and has been granted five honorary doctorates. She has written several articles and publications, including the book The Ultimate Blessing and has served over 30 years in pastoral ministry. She has been adjunct professor of church and society at both Indiana Wesleyan University and Asbury Theological Seminary.
David Mahan – Executive Director of the Rivendell Institute at Yale
David Mahan is Executive Director of the Rivendell Institute at Yale, where he has served as a campus minister since 1987, and a Lecturer in Religion and Literature at the Institute of Sacred Music, Yale Divinity School. Mahan holds his Master’s degree in religion and literature from Yale Divinity School and his PhD in theology from the University of Cambridge. He has taught extensively on reading literature theologically, and is the author of several publications on this subject, including his book An Unexpected Light: Theology and Witness in the Poetry and Thought of Charles Williams, Micheal O’Siadhail, & Geoffrey Hill. He served as the Director of Yale Students for Christ (‘Cru’) from 1987 to 1995, and remains a campus minister at Yale as a member of Yale Religious Ministries. He is one of the co-founders of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers, a growing network of parachurch institutions affiliated with universities around the U.S.
Mark A. Noll – Francis A. McAnaney Professor Emeritus of History, University of Notre Dame
One of the nation’s foremost scholars of religious and cultural history, Noll is a prominent participant in dialogues between evangelical and Catholic scholars. Selected in 2005 by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America, Noll is the author of numerous books, including “God and Race in American Politics,” which traces the explosive political effects when religion and race intermingle. A former professor of religion and history at Wheaton College where he co-founded the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals, Noll has served as a visiting teacher at Harvard Divinity School, University of Chicago Divinity School, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Regent College of Vancouver, B.C.
Noll’s research concerns mostly the history of Christianity in the United States and Canada. He also teaches courses in the Civil War era, general Canadian history and the recent world history of Christianity. He is currently working on a book that tries to combine two large narratives about the Bible in American history: first, the rise and decline of a biblical civilization defined mostly by activistic, British-origin Protestants; and, second, the ever widening diversity of Bibles, biblical uses and other sacred Scriptures in a liberal America open to Christian believers of all kinds as well as the adherents of many other authoritative religious texts.
Don Smedley – Senior Fellow of the Rivendell Institute at Yale
Don Smedley is a Senior Fellow of the Rivendell Institute at Yale, where he has served since 1995, and a Teaching Fellow in Philosophy and guest lecturer in Religious Studies; as well as a member of Yale Religious Ministry and a Fellow of Berkeley College. Smedley holds a BA in Molecular Biology from the University of California, San Diego, a ThM from Dallas Seminary, and has seven years of graduate philosophy at Tufts University and Oriel College, the University of Oxford, and a Rotary Graduate Fellowship at the University of Aberdeen. He served on staff with Cru as an International Traveling Speaker from 1980 to 1991, prior to that as Minister to Single Adults at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas. He has worked in Muslim–Christian dialogue and diplomacy for the past ten years, having organized and participated in a panel with the first Muslims to present at the Evangelical Theological Society. Don has presented papers in political philosophy and politics and religion at the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Society of Christian Philosophers. He serves on the board of directors for the New England District of the Evangelical Free Church of America.
James K. A. Smith – Professor of Philosophy and the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview, Calvin College
Trained as a philosopher with a focus on contemporary French thought, Smith expanded on that scholarly platform to become an engaged public intellectual and cultural critic. An award-winning author and widely-traveled speaker, he has emerged as a thought leader with a unique gift of translation, building bridges between the academy, society, and the church.
The author of a number of influential books with the most recent being You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Brazos, 2016). Smith also regularly writes for magazines and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Slate, First Things, Christianity Today, Books & Culture, and The Hedgehog Review. He serves as editor-in-chief of Comment magazine.
Lauren F. Winner – Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality, Duke University Divinity School
Winner writes and lectures widely on Christian practice, the history of Christianity in America, and Jewish-Christian relations. Her books include Girl Meets God, Mudhouse Sabbath, a study of household religious practice in 18th-century Virginia, A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, and, most recently, a book on overlooked biblical tropes for God, Wearing God. She is completing a book called Characteristic Damage, which examines the effects of sin and damage on Christian practice.
Winner’s research has been supported by numerous institutions, including Monticello, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, and the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University. She has appeared on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and has served as a commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” She has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, Publishers Weekly, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today, and her essays have been included in several volumes of The Best Christian Writing. Winner, an Episcopal priest, is vicar of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Louisburg, N.C.
John Wilson – Editor of Education and Culture (Editor of Books and Culture,1995-2016)
John Wilson was the editor of Books & Culture from its first issue to its last (1995-2016). He is now the editor of Education & Culture, which launched at TBS (TheBestSchools.org) in March 2017. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, Christianity Today, First Things, Commonweal, and other publications. He and his wife, Wendy, live in Wheaton, Illinois.