Carrie Newcomer and Pádraig Ó Tuama to join ESR and Bethany for 2021 Ministry of Writing Colloquium

Carrie Newcomer (photo courtesy of

The Earlham School of Religion and Bethany Theological Seminary will co-sponsor the 2021 Ministry of Writing Colloquium on October 22-23.

This year’s event features a performance by Quaker singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer, a lecture from poet-peacemaker Pádraig Ó Tuama and several writing workshops and “mini retreats.” All events are virtual.

“This year’s theme is grace, play, and delight—all things that feel in short supply in 2021, and all things that we need to stay afloat in a sea of very good reasons to worry,” said Ben Brazil, associate professor and director of the Ministry of Writing Program at Earlham School of Religion. “We designed this year’s colloquium to recharge our hopes.

“Like everyone else, we wish we could be together in person,” he said. “But Carrie and Padraig are extraordinary, and we think their artistry and spirit will come through, even online.”

The colloquium will ask participants to pay what they are able. Recommended fees are $20 for a single session, or $50 for the entire event. Registration for all events is required on ESR’s website.

The colloquium opens at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, with “An Evening with Carrie Newcomer.” Dubbed a “prairie mystic” by the Boston Globe, Newcomer has 19 albums and three books of poetry to her credit. Her new album, “Until Now,” also features a companion book of poetry. Her performance will take place on Mandolin, an online platform optimized for live performances.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, the colloquium continues with a morning plenary from Lis Valle, a minister and assistant professor of homiletics from the McCormick Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee. Multiple workshops focused on joyful, playful and graceful approaches to writing are scheduled throughout the day. Newcomer is also leading two “mini-retreat” sessions.

Pádraig Ó Tuama (photo by Trevor Brady)

Lis Valle

Ó Tuama will close the colloquium with a lecture at 6 p.m. that evening. He is the host of “Poetry Unbound” with On Being Studios and has written four books of poetry. In addition to spending six years leading the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization, Ó Tuama has advocated for LGBTQ inclusion and the value of the arts in public life.

The colloquium supports the writing and work of the joint Master of Arts: Theopoetics and Writing that is offered at ESR and Bethany Theological Seminary. This year’s colloquium also is taking place in conjunction with ESR’s Visit Week. All of ESR’s prospective students will be invited to attend.

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