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Worship & the Arts Symposium

Seasons of the Soul: Enacting the mystery of faith

Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017

...the art of theater...[is] the difference...between a straight line and a spiral; between giving answers and asking questions; between an interest and the passion; between control and risk. Between the arrogance of knowing and the humility of mystery.

— Ted Swartz in Laughter is Sacred Space

2017 Keynote Speaker

Ted Swartz is a theologian of a different sort. Both theater and seminary trained, Ted has found a unique and entertaining discovery: at the intersection of humor and biblical story is often a greater understanding of the text. Or, at the very least, a different understanding. Call it “comedic exegesis.” 

Blending poignancy and humor with biblical story, Ted has an uncanny ability to bring archaic biblical characters to life in a way that helps anyone identify with people who were at one time only names in a big Book. It’s through this portrayal of these life-like characters that comedy emerges and audiences see God’s story in a whole new light.

Ted has written or co-written more than 14 shows and the book Laughter is Sacred Space (Herald Press, 2012).

Ted lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Along with writing and acting, his loves include his wife, Sue; three sons, Eliot, Ian and Derek; daughters-in-law, Katrina, Hanna and Chelsea; granddaughters Mona Quinn and Hattie Claire… oh, and baseball. 

2017 Art Gallery Exhibition

Jerry Holsopple, an artist, photographer and renowned videographer, teaches photography and digital media-related courses. Jerry was the Artist in Residence at The Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary during the fall of 2015. He created a major project, 7×7: Laments for an Age of Sexualized Power. Jerry spent the 2009-2010 academic year as a Fulbright scholar at LCC International University in Lithuania. Jerry is the recipient of more than a dozen awards in recognition of his video, public service announcements, and websites. Journey Toward Forgiveness, a documentary that he produced, originally aired on ABC in December of 2001 and was aired again in 2003 and 2008 on the Hallmark Channel. Jerry’s photographic work has periodically been on exhibit and two series, “On the Way” and “Art of the Call” are permanently installed. While much of Jerry’s work focuses on the visual he also enjoys playing acoustic stringed instruments such as guitars, mandolins and bouzoukis, and writing songs. Jerry and his wife Mary, have two children, Dirk and Kate.

2017 Schedule 

Friday, Nov. 17
11 a.m. Bethel College convocation: Life as Comedy with Ted Swartz
(free and open to the public)
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
7 p.m. Slightly Left of Normal: Theatrical Musing from Ted Swartz on Life, God and other Minor Details
(drama only - $12 adult, $10 senior citizen, $5 children 12 and under)
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
Saturday, Nov. 18
8:30 a.m. Registration Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
9–10:15 a.m. Welcome and plenary session I
Chasing Goosebumps: Creating Theater from Biblical Text
 —Ted Swartz
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
10:15 a.m. Break Luyken Fine Arts Center
10:45 a.m.–noon Concurrent Workshop Session I
  • Workshop 1: Sing a New World Into Being
    with Cynthia Neufeld Smith and Tom Harder

    Share the vision and progress of the Mennonite Worship and Song Collection project.
  • Workshop 2: The Worshipping Body: Corporate and Corporeal 
    with Laurel Koerner, assistant professor and director of theater, Tabor College

    Explorations in activating our bodies in the context of corporate worship, toward expressivity, receptiveness and unity.
James A. Will Academic Center
noon–1 p.m. Lunch The Caf, Schultz Student Center
1:30–2:45 p.m. Concurrent Workshop Session II
  • Workshop 3: Laments: Discoveries in the Process of Art Making
    with Jerry Holsopple
  • Workshop 4: Finding the Drama in Reading Scripture
    with John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of communication arts, Nelson W. and Gladys I. Krehbiel Distinguished Chair in Speech and Forensics, Bethel College

    Participants will explore ways to approach scripture reading as dramatic performance. McCabe-Juhnke will outline a process for analyzing dramatic elements in literary texts and demonstrate its application to the performance of Biblical texts in worship contexts.
James A. Will Academic Center
2:45 p.m. Break Luyken Fine Arts Center
3:15–4:45 p.m. Plenary Session II - Panel discussion: Enacting the Mystery in Worship and Drama
Panelists: Patricia Shelly, professor of Bible and Religion, Bethel College; John McCabe-Juhnke, Laurel Koerner
Response: Ted Swartz

Each panelists will address the topic from theological and theater perspectives, Ted will respond, and then open the conversation to questions and comments from the audience.

Introduction to Jerry Holsopple exhibit — "7x7: Laments for an Age of Sexualized Power"
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center
5 p.m. Reception for Jerry Holsopple exhibit Robert W. Regier Art Gallery, Luyken Fine Arts Center
6–7 p.m. Supper The Caf, Schultz Student Center
7:30 p.m. Worship Service: Singing the Mystery of Faith
(free and open to the public;
non-perishable food and funds collected for Harvest of Love)
Joliffe Auditorium, Memorial Hall
Monday, Nov. 20
11 a.m. Bethel College convocation: Shattered Spaces and Truth-telling with Jerry Holsopple
(free and open to the public)
Krehbiel Auditorium, Luyken Fine Arts Center


Worship and the Arts Planning Committee

  • Peter Goerzen, campus pastor and church relations director, committee chair
  • William Eash, professor of music
  • Greta Hiebert, development office assistant
  • Lori L. Livengood, vice president for marketing and communications
  • John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of communication arts, Nelson W. and Gladys I. Krehbiel Distinguished Chair in Speech and Forensics
  • Austin Regier, events coordinators
  • Matt Rodenberg, marketing intern
  • Eric Schrag, vice president for advancement
  • Patricia Shelly, professor of Bible and religion

Made possible by the Reimer-Boese Worship and the Arts Endowment

The Reimer/Boese Worship and Arts Endowment celebrates the lives of Katharina Voth Reimer and Thomas U. Reimer, and Maria Schroeder Boese and Abraham L. Boese. The former are the parents, the latter the birth parents of donor Dr. Rosella Reimer Duerksen, both of whose birth parents died in her infancy.

The endowment is intended to assist Bethel College in providing lectures, musical events, workshops or conferences which focus on the arts as tools for the communication of the faith. It is anticipated that, while some events may primarily serve the student body of the college, others will serve the broader community as well.

Registration fees

Reservations requested by Nov. 11 in order to be included in drama and the meals.

$40 for all or part of the symposium; includes Friday evening drama, Saturday lunch and supper.
$25 per person when 3 or more people from the same congregation register and pay as a group; includes Friday evening drama, Saturday lunch and supper. Please use the online form or send a list of of participants from your congregation along with payment to Greta Hiebert.
Bethel College faculty, staff and students, Hesston College students:
free (including Friday evening drama); lunch and supper available in the cafeteria for the regular faculty/staff and student prices.

If you need assistance please contact Greta Hiebert.


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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.