Participants in the Big Tent Theology, Worship, and Education Conference, Aug. 1–3, in Louisville, will be encouraged to use their head, heart, and hands in practicing their faith.

This is the emphasis behind the conference theme, “Thinking, Praying, Living,” said the Rev. Chip Hardwick, director of Theology, Worship, and Education for the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

“Different Christians focus on different aspects — they major in the head or heart or hands,” Hardwick said. “This conference tries to bring all three together.” 

The event is one of 10 national conferences scheduled as part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Big Tent celebration.

The conference’s three keynote speakers will each address one aspect of the theme:

  • The Rev. Ron Peters, president of the Interdenominational Center in Atlanta, a consortium of six historically black theological schools, will talk about “Thinking the Faith.” 
  • The Rev. Claudio Carvalhaes, a theologian and artist, born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, will speak on “Praying the Faith in a Multicultural Context.” 
  • The Rev. Cynthia Campbell, pastor of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville and former president of McCormick Theological Seminary, will explore ways of “Living the Faith.” 

The threefold theme is also reflected in workshops focused on thinking (the content of faith; what Christians believe); praying (becoming empowered by Christ through the practice of spiritual disciplines); and living out Christian faith in the world. 

As an added bonus, two workshops will introduce participants to a new study of marriage developed by the PC(USA)’s Theology and Worship office in response to a referral by the 220th General Assembly (2012). The study gives a theological and historical overview of the church’s understanding of Christian marriage using confessional documents and the Book of Order

The study offers “a much fuller view” than the popular understanding of marriage as a union between two people who are attracted to each other romantically, Hardwick said. It also “helps people to think about both heterosexual marriage and same-gender marriage in a more nuanced way.” 

Eva Stimson, former editor of “Presbyterians Today” magazine, will be covering the Theology, Worship and Education Conference at Big Tent for Presbyterian News Service.