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An “ordinary radical” to share his message at Bethel

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Several churches and three colleges, including Bethel College, in south central Kansas are collaborating to bring Shane Claiborne, one of the most sought-after Christian speakers, to the area. Claiborne will appear twice on the Bethel campus, March 5 and 6.

Thursday, March 5, Bethel College and the Art Goering Memorial Fund of Faith Mennonite Church in Newton will sponsor Claiborne in a program geared especially to youth and young adults. The event is at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the Bethel campus and will also feature music by Bethel’s praise band, Lost in Lights. The next day, Friday, March 6, Claiborne will be in convocation at 11 a.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center as the annual Staley Lecturer. Both events are free and open to the public.

Claiborne will also speak at Sterling College and Hutchinson Community College Wednesday, March 4, and at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita Thursday morning, March 5, as part of a forum on the emerging church, in company with Chap Clark, professor of youth, family and culture at Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, Calif., and Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif. First Presbyterian and Northminster Presbyterian Churches in Hutchinson and the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation are sponsors of these events, along with the venues, with more information available at

Shane Claiborne is a founding partner of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner-city Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Eastern University, has done graduate work at Princeton Seminary and is now part of the Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia. He completed his academic work for Eastern at Wheaton (Ill.) College, during which time he did a year-long internship at the mega-church Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago.

He has spent 10 weeks working in Calcutta alongside Mother Teresa and three weeks in Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team, a project of Voices in the Wilderness and Christian Peacemaker Teams. While in Iraq, Claiborne witnessed military bombardment in Baghdad and in the militarized areas between Baghdad and Amman, took daily trips to bombed sites and visited hospitals and families.

The Simple Way is widely known for helping to give birth to and connect radical faith communities around the world, many of which have become known collectively as “the new monasticism.” The movement produced the book School(s) for Conversion – 12 Marks of the New Monasticism (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005).

These communities seek to follow Jesus, to rediscover the spirit of the early church and to incarnate the “kingdom of God” as “a way of life standing in stark contrast to the world of militarism and materialism.” Members of The Simple Way live out what they call their “little revolution” locally by feeding the hungry, doing collaborative art with children, running a community store, hanging out with neighbors and reclaiming trash-strewn lots by planting gardens. In this way, they “do much work to expose the fundamental structures that create poverty and to imagine alternatives to them,” according to The Simple Way Web site.

Claiborne serves on the Board of Directors for the Christian Community Development Association, one of the largest national associations of faith-based organizations whose pillars are “redistribution, relocation and reconciliation.” He writes and travels extensively, speaking about peacemaking, social justice and Jesus. Claiborne is scheduled to be a joint speaker for the Mennonite Church USA Assembly and Mennonite Youth Convention in Columbus, Ohio, this July.

Claiborne is featured in the DVD series Another World Is Possible – see – and is the author of several books, including The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical (Zondervan, 2006) and, with Chris Haw, Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals (Zondervan, 2008).

Before his death in 2007, Art Goering and his wife Rosie Goering, members of Faith Mennonite Church, established the Art Goering Memorial Fund to enable Faith Mennonite Church to sponsor a major speaker on peace and justice issues, in which Art Goering had great interest. Several members of the Board of Witness and Outreach at Faith have been coordinating the use of the fund to facilitate Shane Claiborne’s appearance on the Bethel campus.

The Staley Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series was established in 1969, named for its benefactors, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Staley of New York, who set it up to honor their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Staley and Mr. and Mrs. H.H. Haynes. Bethel College has been hosting Staley Lectures since 1972.

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’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

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