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Influential evangelical voice to be heard on campus

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – South central Kansans will have a chance to hear one of the most widely respected voices in North American evangelical Christianity in the 20th century and beyond when Ronald J. Sider visits the Bethel College campus Feb. 15-16.

Sider will deliver the next talk in the Peace Lecture Series sponsored by the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) at Bethel College, Sunday, Feb. 15, at 4:30 p.m., and will speak in Bethel College’s convocation Monday, Feb. 16, at 11 a.m. Both events are in Krehbiel Auditorium and both are free and open to the public.

Sider will also be the guest at Eden Mennonite Church in rural Moundridge for the annual Peace Sunday Feb. 15, speaking during the 9:30 a.m. worship service and more informally during the 10:40 a.m. Sunday school hour. Wichitans are invited to join Sider for breakfast Monday, Feb. 16, at 8 a.m. at Hope Mennonite Church, 868 N. Maize Road, where he will speak on “Is War Inevitable? An Evangelical Christian’s Response.”

Sider is professor of theology, holistic ministry and public policy and director of the Sider Center on Ministry and Public Policy at Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. (formerly Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary). Sider is also president of Evangelicals for Social Action. He is a widely known evangelical speaker and writer who has spoken on six continents and published 31 books and scores of articles.

Some Mennonites may know Sider best for the prophetic address he gave at the Mennonite World Conference Assembly in Strasbourg, France, in 1984, in which he first suggested the idea of groups of Christians being willing to serve as peacemakers in areas of conflict around the world with the same dedication that soldiers exhibit in going to war. From that seed came Christian Peacemaker Teams, and Sider has entitled his KIPCOR Peace Lecture “It’s Time to Get Serious About Christian Peacemaker Teams.” His convocation address bears the title of one of his recent books, “I Am Not a Social Activist.”

In 1982, The Christian Century named Sider one of the 12 “most influential persons in the field of religion in the U.S.” Christianity Today recognized Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (InterVarsity Press and Paulist Press, 1977/1997) as one of the 100 most influential religious books of the 20th century and the seventh most influential book in the evangelical world in the last 50 years.

His most recent books are The Scandal of Evangelical Politics: Why Are Christians Missing the Chance to Really Change the World? (Baker Books, 2008) and I Am Not a Social Activist: Making Jesus the Agenda (Herald Press, 2008). Among his other titles are The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? (Baker, 2005); Churches That Make a Difference: Reaching Your Community with Good News and Good Works (with Phil Olson and Heidi Rolland Unruh, Baker, 2002); and Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America (Baker, 1999). Sider is also the publisher of PRISM, the magazine of Evangelicals for Social Action, and a contributing editor for Christianity Today and Sojourners.

Several of Sider’s books will be for sale following his presentations at Bethel and he will be available to sign them.

Sider has also contributed chapters to more than 30 books and published more than 70 articles in scholarly journals and magazines including Scottish Journal of Theology, Christianity Today, New Testament Studies, The Christian Century, Novum Testamentum, Sojourners, International Review of Mission, Moody Monthly and New Catholic World.

Sider is a native of Waterloo, Ontario. He is a graduate of Waterloo Lutheran University and earned his M.A., B.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University. He has an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Westminster College and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Malone College.

Sider and his wife, Arbutus (Lichti) Sider, have three grown children and are members of Grantham (Pa.) Brethren in Christ Church and Oxford Circle Mennonite Church in Philadelphia. Ron Sider is an ordained minister in the Mennonite Church and Brethren in Christ Church.

The KIPCOR Peace Lecture Series, now in its 36th year, provides a forum to address issues of peace, justice and conflict resolution in the world and at home. The series has included Nobel laureates, scholars, performing artists, activists and visionaries. All lectures in the series are free and open to the public. The series receives support from the J. Winfield Fretz Lecture Fund and the Peace with Justice Task Force of the Kansas West Conference of the United Methodist Church, both of which support speakers and events on peace and justice. Other funding for the series comes from individual contributions to KIPCOR and, for Ron Sider’s visit, from Eden Mennonite Church.

For information on Sider’s lectures at Bethel College, call KIPCOR at 316-284-5217 or e-mail kipcor@bethelks.edu. For information on his appearance at Eden Mennonite Church or directions to the church, call 620-345-8320 or e-mail edenmc@mtelco.net. For information on the breakfast and lecture at Hope Mennonite Church or directions to the church, contact Lois Harder at 316-682-4555.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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