Lighting The Darkness: The Luminary Scholarship Campaign
"Bar Theology" events provide space where current events and faith intersect
As Wesley seeks to live out its mission of being a prophetic voice in the public square, the seminary’s programs often take place in non-traditional settings -- even in a bar. “Bar Theology” is a series of conversations that launched in the spring of 2016 to engage with young adults in downtown Washington, D.C.
The event, held at various Busboys & Poets locations, is intended to spark conversations about faith, love, work and daily life experiences between individuals who attend and a guest speaker. Between 50 and 100 adults participated in each of three conversations this semester.
“These events meet a need in D.C. for spaces where current events and faith intersect in a nonthreatening, nonpartisan environment,” said Rev. Beth Ludlum, vice president for strategic initiatives and planning committee member. Bar Theology is a means of engaging with new people who might not otherwise enter the doors of a traditional church, she said.
This unique event began with an idea from Master of Divinity students Matthew Wilke and Zach Spoerl last fall. It grew as a collaboration among Wesley, Asbury United Methodist Church, Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church and Foundry United Methodist Church. Events like this are just one example of how our students embrace and live out Wesley’s mission, Ludlum said.
The series continued this semester with topics like “Faith, Race and Sexual Identity” with Asher Kolieboi, assistant university chaplain at Johns Hopkins University, and “Faith Perspectives on Women and the Impact of the 2016 Election” with Elaina Ramsey, director of the women and girls campaign at Sojourners and Wesley alumna.
“For the past 20 years, Wesley has been one of the most innovative seminaries in the country,” Ludlum said. “That’s been evident in everything from our extensive global work, to creative ways of offering degree programs and certificates, to innovative learning experiences in the city. Innovation at Wesley is defined by the alignment of the seminary’s mission with the current and future needs of the church and the world. We believe Jesus continually calls us to make all things new. Bar Theology, and other events like it, is a way of doing that.”