Conversations and Community

Engage in this series of conversations on various ways we can express hospitality. Sessions include content provided by the presenter and discussion. During morning events (February-April), participants are invited to attend chapel and lunch together following presentation. Event leaders will be available during lunch (until approximately 1:30 p.m.) for further discussion. 

Conversations will be held one Wednesday each month from October-December 2016 and February-April 2017. Note: October-December events will be held in the evening.

Registration and CEUs

Cost: $15/session                      CEUs: 0.15 for evening sessions; 0.2 for day sessions


Upcoming Session Themes and Leaders

April 19, 2017, 9:30-11:30 a.m. / Hospitality and the Old Testament / Jerome Creach, Robert C. Holland Professor of Old Testament, PTS

Although the Old Testament has no single word for "hospitality," the practice nonetheless represents one of the most important values for ancient Israel. Hospitality entailed welcoming, protecting, and feeding strangers who were in hostile environments. The Israelites were motivated toward hospitality in part because they remembered that they were once strangers in the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 16:12). They traced their foundation as a people to their ancestor Abraham's offering of hospitality to strangers and God's reward for Abraham's faithfulness in this regard (Genesis 18).

Previous Sessions

March 15, 2017, 9:30-11:30 a.m. / Hospitality and Disability / Debbie Creamer, Director, Accreditation and Institutional Evaluation, The Association of Theological Schools

Nearly 20 percent of the population has some sort of disability (according to the U.S. Census Bureau), most of us will encounter disability as we or our loved ones age, and all of us live with limits (making disability more "normal" than non-disability). Yet our communities still struggle to address basic issues of access (leveling the playing field so that folks with physical, cognitive, or emotional differences can simply show up) let alone make the important shift from access to hospitality. This session will invite conversation at practical, communal, and theological levels to reimagine hospitality that is truly accessible to all. An ASL interpreter will be present for this session.

Feb. 15, 2017, 9:30-11:30 a.m. / Hospitality and Ecumenism / Liddy Barlow, Executive Minister, Christian Associates of Southwest PA

The church might have been united for five minutes on the day of Pentecost, but ever since then, we have been quarreling, feuding, and dividing. A hospitable ecumenism insists that we not only tolerate, but indeed wholeheartedly welcome, perspectives very different from our own. How are we willing to change in order to make visible the unity for which Jesus prayed?

Dec. 7, 2016, 6:30-8:00 p.m. / Hospitality and Islam / 'Abdu Semi'h Tadese, Imam and Director of Religious Affairs, The Islamic University Center

The Islamic hospitality tradition commands inclusiveness, contrary to exclusive attitudes we see in many societies. Both the holy Qur'an and the Prophetic tradition are replete on the approach of Islam on this topic. For instance, in the chapter of Light, we read the following: "There is not upon the blind [any] constraint nor upon the lame constraint nor upon the ill constraint nor upon yourselves when you eat from your [own] houses or the houses of your fathers or the houses of your mothers or the houses of your brothers or the houses of your sisters..." Q. 24, V. 61

Nov. 16, 2016, 6:30-8:00 p.m. / Hospitality and Judaism / Paul Tuchman, Rabbi, Temple B'Nai Israel, Pittsburgh, Pa.

In Jewish tradition and history hospitality is directed both outward - towards "the stranger" - and inward among members of the Jewish community Using Biblical texts, rabbinic literature, and other Jewish sources, we will explore the significance of hospitality in Jewish tradition. Examples include the paried stories of Genesis 18-19, midrash about Abraham, and the story of Bar Kamtza. We will address implications for refugees and immigrants. Source material will be available in handouts. 

Oct. 19, 2016, 6:30-8:00 p.m. / Hospitality at The Table / Jenn Frayer-Griggs, Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Jesus calls us to welcome the stranger, but how do we do that when they are so, well, strange? We will share in conversation about The Table, an outreach ministry at Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, where we have discovered that when you share in a meal together, people do not seem so strange after all. They may even reveal a bit of the face of Christ.

Sept. 14, 2016, 9:30-11:30 a.m. / Hospitality and Educational Opportunity / Tom Johnson, Co-founder and Head of School, The Neighborhood Academy

During this session, Dr. Johnson will focus on the notion that The Neighborhood Academy and similar schools are an invitation to join the life of a community that many of us take for granted. This education that we offer is an invitation to the banquet table.