Deacon Dialogue 2013

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Rev. Cynthia Wilson, a grammy nominated musician, will lead worship and music throughout this three-day gathering.

Learn more about Rev. Wilson
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is pleased to welcome you to Deacon Dialogue 2013! Our churches and communities are being enlivened everyday by deacons inspired to new forms of ministry, yet many challenges remain.  The 2013 Deacon Dialogue will gather deacons from across our nation to explore boundary crossing ministries in our current context and seek ways in which new boundaries can be crossed.  We will think intentionally about the following questions:

  • How are deacons part of the “quiet pentecost” that is occurring?
  • What is the current cultural context in which we minister? 
  • What are the boundaries we are already crossing?
  • Where / what are the boundaries we and the church still need to cross?
  • What do we (and the church) need to facilitate boundary crossings?

The featured speakers for the 2013 Deacon Dialogue include: 

  • Dr. Dwight Judy
  • Dr. Margaret Ann Crain
  • Dr. Angela Cowser
  • Dr. Virginia A. Lee 
Since the creation of the order of deacon in 1996, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has been at the forefront in deacon studies offering programs at the masters and certificate levels. Founded in 1853, Garrett-Evangelical is a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church.  Located on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, the seminary serves more than 500 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world. 


Speaker Biographies


Dr. Angela Cowser  (Ph.D. in Ethics from Vanderbilt University) is Assistant Professor of Sociology of Religion and Director of The Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She studies social movements, community organizations, and community organizing. Dr. Cowser has nine years of experience as an IAF (Industrial Areas Foundation) community organizer in Nashville, Tennessee with two organizations: Tying Nashville Together (TNT) and People of God Organized (POGO). She served as Director of Operations for Project HOME and as Program Director for A Better Start (a program to reduce infant mortality) in Philadelphia, PA. She is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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Dr. Margaret Ann Crain  is Professor of Christian Education and Director of the Deacon Program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She serves on the Northern Illinois Board of Ordained Ministry and has been a delegate to the Jurisdictional Conference of 2004 and the General and Jurisdictional Conferences of 2008. She is a member of the Commission on the Study of Ministry 2009-2012. Together with her husband, Jack L. Seymour, she is author of A Deacon's Heart: The New United Methodist Diaconate and several articles on the ministry of deacon in the UMC. They are also authors of Yearning for God: Reflections of Faithful Lives (Upper Room, 2003) and Educating Christians: The Intersection of Meaning, Learning, and Vocation (Abington, 2001). She is currently part of a research project, Greenhouses of Hope: Calling Congregations and the Practices that Nurture Young Leaders which is sponsored by The Fund for Theological Education.


Rev. Dwight H. Judy, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He helped design the United Methodist Professional Certification in Spiritual Formation, approved in 2000. He has offered retreats in spiritual formation since 1980. He regularly teaches core courses in spiritual formation and spiritual direction at the seminary. Dwight has served as a parish pastor and director of spiritual formation for a retreat center. He offers spiritual direction in Evanston and in Syracuse, Indiana. His books include A Quiet Pentecost: Inviting the Spirit into Congregational Life (Upper Room Books, 2013); Discerning Life Transitions: Listening Together in Spiritual Direction (Morehouse, 2010); Embracing God: Praying with Teresa of Avila (Abingdon, 1996); Quest for the Mystical Christ: Awakening the Heart of Faith (OSL Publications, 2003); Christian Meditation and Inner Healing (OSL Publications, 2000, 2010). He and his wife, Ruth, are parents of two grown sons.

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Dr. Virginia A. Leeis Associate Professor of Christian Education and Director of Deacon Studies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She is a deacon in the Virginia Annual Conference. She came to Garrett-Evangelical two years ago after teaching at Memphis Theological Seminary for twelve years. Having written her dissertation on the educational legacy of Georgia Harkness, Dr. Lee feels quite “at home” at Garrett-Evangelical and she is delighted to be a part of an institution that values and affirms the ministry of deacons.




Thursday, April 18, 2013


11:15-Worship with the Garrett-Evangelical Community in the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful



1:30-Deacons Crossing Boundaries: A Quiet Pentecost, Dr. Dwight Judy, Professor of Spiritual Formation, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Church and community are being enlivened by Deacons inspired to new forms of ministry. Be encouraged to listen deeply for your inspiration as Dwight Judy shares stories of new ministry applications from the book, A Quiet Pentecost: Inviting the Spirit into Congregational Life.


3:30-Dr. Margaret Ann Crain, Professor of Christian Education and First Director of Deacon Studies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.


Friday, April 19, 2013

8:00-Morning Prayer

8:30-Surveying the Landscape, Dr. Virginia A. Lee

9:00-The Deacon as Community Organizer, Dr. Angela Cowser

9:30-Workshops (A Deacon Formation workshop, led by GBHEM staff, will be held at this time.)



1:30-5:30-Service, Cultural, Historical and Sabbath Opportunities

6:00-Dinner on your own in Evanston

Saturday, April 20, 2013

9:00-Morning prayer

9:15-Boundary Crossings – The next steps


10:30-Closing Worship with Eucharist

11:45-Depart to Serve 

Registration Information

Individual or Group Online Registration (Credit card)
The registration fee is $150 per person and includes two lunches and admission to the banquet dinner on Thursday evening.  To register now, click the "Register (Individual)" or "Register (Group)" button below.  

Student Online Registration (Credit Card)
If you are a student you will need a coupon code to receive the 50% discount ($75).  Please contact Shane Nichols in the Office of Communications and Events at and a coupon code will be emailed to you within 24 hours.

Registration by Check 
To register by check please print and mail the Registration Form along with your check, payable to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, to:

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
ATTN: Virginia Lee
2121 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60201

Registration is limited to 125 people. If you have special needs or dietary restrictions while on campus please contact Dr. Virginia Lee, Deacon Studies Coordinator, by April 1st so we can plan accordingly.  If you have additional questions or needs you may also contact Dr. Lee at 847.866.4549 or   

***Garrett-Evangelical is pleased to offer 0.5 CEU Credit for any person who attends all sessions of the conference. For more information, please contact the Office of External Programs at 847.866.4547 or


Hotel Accommodations
Blocks of rooms have been reserved at special rates at Hilton Orrington/Evanston ($159/room/night) 847-866-8700 and at Best Western University Plaza ($114/room/night) 847-491-6400. Ask for the Garrett-Evangelical Deacon Dialogue room rate when you call. (Register early because there are a limited number of rooms available. Rates good until April 4).

***Please note, at the Best Western, when the number of individuals occupying a room exceeds two, there is a $10 per person charge for each additional person per day to cover the cost for continental breakfast.

On Campus Accommodations
A select number of rooms are available at Loder Hall, on the campus of Garrett-Evangelical, for $75 a night. To inquire, contact Diana Ahn in the Housing Office at 847.866.3950. 


The links below will help you make your way to Garrett-Evangelical and help you find your way around once you arrive. 





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