inhabit conference 2013

Inhabit Conference

The mission of the Inhabit conference is to inspire racial unity by bringing together Wheaton College students, faculty, and staff along with local churches and local Christian organizations to respond to the challenge of promoting racial unity in the body of Christ: That they all may be one (John 17:20-23).


This conference is designed to explore the pattern and potential of racial and ethnic inclusivity in the body of Christ.  Together we want to advance a conversation about the ways that grace, love, compassion, justice, and inclusion are expressed in Christian community.  We hope to answer questions like these: How do we imagine inhabiting the multicultural reality of the Kingdom of God? How should Christians pursue racial unity?

Besides the workshops, there were several events as part of the conference:

  • DEFAMATION, a play that illuminates our common perceptions about race, religion, and class through a courtroom encounter
  • A community art project
  • A concert performance by the Harlem Gospel Choir

Plenary Sessions

The Necessity of Oneness

Dr. Tony Evans

It's not only good for a brothers and sisters to dwell in unity, it’s necessary for a family to dwell in unity – and this is especially true of family in Christ. In this session, you will learn why oneness is something the Church must work, wholeheartedly, to achieve.

Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

Dr. John Fea, Dr. George Marsden, Dr. Mark Noll
Host: Tracy McKenzie

There is a recent surge among Christians to “take America back” to when the government embraced biblical values. Does such a time exist? Noted Christian historians Fea, Marsden, and Noll will answer that question and more during this thought-provoking question and answer session. By the end of this session, you will be armed with more than enough historical proof to answer anyone who asks, “Was American founded as a Christian nation?”

My Story

Robyn Afrik
Hosts: Skot Welch and Rick Wilson

Born in Korea, adopted at birth by White Americans, and raised in a Christian family; Robyn Afrik shares her paradox as an Asian American with white identity. Her story will open up issues about “whiteness,” color consciousness, and true identity. 


The Second Conversion

Chris Beard

Conversion: “an about face.” This is the journey of a privileged, white leader, who is awakened to realize his unintentional racism and idolatry. This workshop highlights the pervasiveness of unidentified racist thought and action in the American Church. Do you harbor unintentional racism? Come to this class and see if there are any parallels in your life.

To Learn from History: What the USA Can Learn From Apartheid South Africa

Dr. Johann Buis

Churchill quoted an earlier sentiment reminding us that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. The lessons learned from Apartheid South Africa include Fear as a Guiding Principle; Difference as Virtue; Theological Minefields; and Reconciliation take(s) Two.

How You Might Talk Like a Racist and Not Even Know It

Dr. Brian Howell

Although there is no doubt that race and racism remain concerns in the present, it can often be hard to understand how racism is expressed. Most of us are nice people, and know mostly nice people, and find it hard to understand expressions of racial hatred or bigotry. In this workshop, I want to present the work of linguistic anthropologists to show how racism is often disguised in familiar American expressions and language use, and racism is often misrecognized due to wide spread linguistic ideologies, such that we all have a great deal of difficulty seeing, let alone naming, instances of racism. From public "gaffes," to jokes, and the linguistic creation of "White public space," racism survives in a number of hidden and covert ways that I hope this workshop will help us to recognize and reform.

Divided, We Fall

Ray McMillian

A searching look at the history of racism in the American Church, as well as a look into the future of the American Church, if we continue to allow the color line to divide us. These teachings will open your eyes to a sin that has remained, unchallenged, in the Church. You will learn how to properly identify the wedge of racism; and you will learn what you can do to help remove the wedge of racism. Pastors and leaders, especially, should attend this session and workshop.

Off to Work I Go! 

Dr. Tony Evans

After learning about the importance of oneness, one needs to learn how to walk in oneness. Dr. Evans will provide a model of urban and suburban Christian communities walking and working together. If you agree with unity, but struggle with putting the pedal to the metal, this workshop is for you.

Being a White in a World Full of Color: Striving to Live Out Biblical Principles

Dr. Wayne Gordon

How can white Christians display the Kingdom of God as part of the dominant minority? What does the Bible tell us about this? With over thirty-years of experience, being a white Christian in a predominately black urban community, Dr. Gordon will teach you how to put into practice what Jesus preached. This workshop will benefit anyone who wants to reach beyond what’s familiar for unity’s sake.   

Religion and Race in American Politics: A History Demanding Theological Evaluation 

Dr. John Fea, Dr. George Marsden, Dr. Mark Noll  

This talk examines key elements in American history relating to race and the Christian faith. You will learn the importance of theologically analyzing the foundations of America; and, how to identify the nation’s original sin. We all should know our history; don’t miss out on this informative plenary session.

How Can We Have Unity Without Repentance

Dr. Christine Folch

To build Christian unity requires repentance and talking about repentance means talking about sin. And it's hard to talk about sin (of any kind! No one wants to even consider that they've done wrong; but we have to address our "failings" or "shortcomings" or "just being human". This workshop will address historical issues and historical contexts when it comes to racial disunity. It is designed to facilitate good questions that draw each participant to self-examination.

Why Justice Doesn’t Roll Down

Dr. Troy Jackson

Justice is so important to God, that it’s the very foundation of his throne (Psalm 89:14). The Church has to walk in justice, in order to retain God’s favor. Dr. Jackson will explain what keeps the Church from pursuing justice; and challenge white Christians to move beyond comfort zones into justice and mercy.

The Kingdom of God and Global Ethnicity: Moving Beyond Current Superficialities in Church and Society

Dr. Hank Allen

This workshop examines ongoing challenges, selected current trends, and transformative possibilities in ethnic relations in the U.S. and beyond. Using a sociological viewpoint and over 40 years of tangible observations or experiences across various institutional domains, the aim is conceptual and theoretical clarity as well as encouraging practical vitality and longevity in combating tainted interactions, bogus stereotypes, and institutionalized discrimination. Participants are encouraged to bring their most complicated questions and complex problems for elaboration, dissection, discussion, and resolution. Biblical imperatives are assumed throughout the workshop.

He Will Inhabit the Praise of His People: Worship in Unity

Hasana & Rodney Sisco

The worship experience is one of falling before the almighty - the creator of the universe, the one who loves our souls and giving praise to Him. All the diversity in all of creation is His gift - why then do we try to worship in only one way? This workshop explores how our worship encourages or discourages Unity in the body of Christ. Music, Prayer, Images, and our style of worship all influence how we see the complex and diverse kingdom of God and how we understand our Lord.

Why Can't We Talk?

Skot Welch and Rick Wilson

Cross-racial conversations in the United States are not easy. Because people are scared to say something wrong, they don’t say anything. The purpose of this workshop will be to dive into this dialog and facilitate a safe place where you can make mistakes within your humanity.Our challenge during this workshop will be to figure out why these conversations crash. We'll discuss how the following statements form barriers to authentic, sustainable, cross-racial connections.

Q&A with Robyn Afrik

Robyn Afrik

Engage in a time of question and answer after Robyn’s plenary session.


For any additional information about the Inhabit conference, please contact Student Activities at (630)752-5181 or

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