Past Events


View information about our past events: workshops, conferences, and experiential courses.

Fighting Fire with Food [March 2017]

Fighting Fire with Food: Growing Health for the Beloved Community

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Greater Cleveland Avenue Christian Church, Winston-Salem

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. There will be a free reception following the talk.

How can churches address the mounting challenges of a broken food system and the significant health disparities in our communities? Rev. Heber Brown and Rev. Richard Joyner will share their experiences of leading faith communities to find creative ways to overcome these challenges and nurture community resilience.

Rev. Heber Brown will tell the story of the Black Church Food Security Network, which was birthed in the Baltimore Uprising of 2015. The network assists historic African American congregations in starting gardens on church-owned land and pairs churches with farmers to create a pipeline of fresh produce from soil to sanctuary.

Rev. Richard Joyner will share the story of the Conetoe Family Life Center, which emerged in 2007 as a response to the poverty, malnutrition, and premature death affecting one community in eastern North Carolina. Its programs focus on educating children and youth through gardening and providing healthy food for the community. They believe that “by caring for the soil, their plants, their bees, and each other, the children at Conetoe Family Life Center learn what it takes to keep themselves and their community, thriving.”

sponsored by the School of Divinity’s Food, Health, and Ecological Well-Being Program, in partnership with the following community partners: Greater Cleveland Avenue Christian Church (host), Forsyth County Food Consortium, Cooperative Extension of Forsyth County, Partners in Health and Wholeness, H.O.S.E.A. Project, Drum Majors Alliance of Social Justice & Reconciliation, and United Way of Forsyth County

Sustainable Spiritualities with Terry Tempest Williams [February 2017]

Writing Resistance: Sustainable Spiritualities in the Anthropocene with Terry Tempest Williams

February 6 – 9, 2017
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem

williams-terry-tempest-2014-zoe%cc%88-rodriguez-photography-%c2%b7-zoe%cc%88-robert-swift-rodriguez-400x273From February 6-9, Terry Tempest Williams will visit Wake Forest University. Williams is a well-known writer, naturalist, and advocate for wild places. Throughout her life, Williams has published books of numerous genres, including poetry, nonfiction, documentary, essay collections, as well as children’s books. On top of this, Williams was a Guggenheim Fellow, and has won a number of prestigious conservation and literary awards. During her visit, Williams will host a four-day writing workshop, deliver a public lecture and reading, and engage with interested faculty.

Student Writing Workshop
February 6-9: Williams will host a four-day Writing Workshop, allowing graduate and undergraduate Wake Forest students the opportunity to hone their writing skills with a well-known and respected author. Completion of the Writing Workshop (all four dates) will count as a 1-credit hour course. Note the workshops must be taken consecutively and will run from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on February 6-9. Interested students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply for the workshop. Applications are due on January 16 by 5:00 p.m. Accepted students will then be registered for the workshop (ENV 301; REL 701).

Public Lecture and Reading
February 7: Williams will deliver a lecture and book reading that is free and open to the public. The lecture will be in the Byrum Welcome Center Auditorium and will begin at 6:00 p.m. A reception will follow. To attend, RSVP via EventBrite.

Williams’s visit is sponsored by the Provost’s Fund for Academic Excellence, the Pro Humanitate Institute, the Humanities Institute, the Writing Program, the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability, the Divinity School, the Environmental Program, the Religion and Public Engagement Concentration, and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department.

Cultivating the Soul and the Soil [January 2017]

Cultivating the Soul and the Soil: Growing Food, Community and Jewish Spirituality at Adamah Farm

Thursday, January 19, 2017
to 6:00pm
Wingate Hall, Room 202

ShamuHow can weeding, harvesting and pickling provide the backdrop for personal growth and community building? How do we use farming as a way of teaching and learning the fundamentals of ecology, religion and spirituality? For the past 13 years Adamah Farm in the Berkshire hills of western Connecticut has been growing a community of young leaders who are changing the way we think about Judaism, and about food, farming, and sustainability.

Dr. Shamu Sadeh has been a professor of environmental studies, farmer, Jewish educator, writer, and wilderness guide. He has taught ecology, Judaic Studies, and environmental studies at Portland State University, Berkshire Community College, Southern Vermont College and the Wild Rockies Field Institute. His essays and articles on Jewish ethics, environmentalism, and family history have been published in Orion, Tikkun, The Washington Jewish Week, Response, Kerem, and the anthology Ecology and the Jewish Spirit (1998, Jewish Lights Publishing). Shamu holds a B.A. from Bowdoin College, a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from University of Montana, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Portland State University. He co-founded and has directed the Adamah Farm and Fellowship for the past 13 years. He has the ancestral connections for his work at Adamah because his great grandparents were Jewish farmers who practiced the mystical art of composting. Shamu lives with his wife and two kids at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Connecticut.

co-sponsored by the Food, Health, and Ecological Well-Being Program at the School of Divinity and Temple Emanuel (Winston-Salem), WFU Hillel, WFU Jewish Life Department, and WFU Global Food Committee

Faith in Literature Festival [October 2016]

UNC Asheville and the Wake Forest University School of Divinity jointly convened  Faith in Literature: A Festival of Contemporary Writers of the Spirit on Oct. 21-22, 2016 on UNC Asheville’s campus.

This two-day event was a gathering of 11 writers whose work deeply engages—by embracing, complicating, or wrestling with—a faith tradition or spiritual practice. The event featured writers from several faith traditions and will include readings, panel discussions, guided conversations that involve audience members, and two open productions of On Being with Krista Tippettwho is participating thanks to festival partner WCQS – Western North Carolina Public Radio.

Krista Tippett, broadcaster and New York Times best-selling author, conducted featured conversations that were recorded for her Peabody Award-winning public radio broadcast and podcast, On Being. Tippett’s interview guests included poet and P. B. Parris Visiting Writer, Marilyn Nelson, on Friday, Oct. 21, and Pulitzer Prize winner and Goodman Endowed Visiting Artist, Isabel Wilkerson, who reads on Saturday, Oct. 22. Wilkerson’s reading also was a part of Pulitzer NC: The Power of Words, presented by the North Carolina Humanities Council.

The festival was supported in partnership with WCQS, Asheville’s NPR station, with additional support from Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café as well as UNC Asheville’s Center for Jewish Studies, Center for Diversity Education, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute; and the NEH Distinguished Professor in the Humanities. This project was also made possible in part by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Conference co-organizers are Richard Chess and Evan Gurney of UNC Asheville’s faculty, and Fred Bahnson from the Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

Featured Conversations

Krista TippettBecoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living, author and host of NPR’s On Being

Marilyn NelsonFaster Than Light: New and Selected Poems; The Fields of Praise: Earlier New and Selected Poems; Carver: A Life in Poems; poet, fiction, and non-fiction

Isabel WilkersonThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, non-fiction

Writers, Poets and Playwrights

Fred Bahnson is the author of Soil & Sacrament (Simon & Schuster)His essays have appeared in Oxford AmericanImageOrionThe SunWashington Post, and Best American Spiritual Writing 2007. He is the recipient of the Pilgrimage Essay Award, a Kellogg Food & Community fellowship, and a North Carolina Artist fellowship in creative nonfiction from the NC Arts Council. He is Assistant Professor of the Practice of Ecological Well-Being at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

Scott CairnsSlow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems; Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer(non-fiction, memoir), poet, non-fiction

Amy GottliebThe Beautiful Possible (novel), fiction writer

Shadab Zeest HashmiKohl & Chalk; Baker of Tarifa, poet

David Brendan HopesThe Glacier’s DaughterA Childhood in the Milky Way, poet and professor of English at UNC Asheville

Alicia Jo RabinsDivinity School, poet, musician

Laurie PattonThe Bhagavad Gita (Penguin Classics Series); Angel’s Task: Poems in Biblical Time, translator, poet, scholar

Lauren WinnerGirl Meets GodMudhouse Sabbath, non-fiction, assistant professor of Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School

Bread in the Wilderness [Summer 2016]

“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” (Psalm 78:19) During the morning lecture presentations, Bill Brown will discuss biblical texts that convey the wonder and surprise of God’s work in creation, from Genesis to the Psalms to Revelation.  It is no coincidence that Scripture is bookended by creation: “the heavens and the earth” in Genesis 1 and the “new heavens and new earth” in Revelation 21-22.  And what happens in between is no less cosmic!  God’s story is also creation’s story.  Creation is no mere setting for God’s saving work; creation is a character in partnership with God.  Every morning we will explore the character of creation in the Bible, creation’s voice, its praise and lament, creation’s provision and abundance, creation’s wounds and renewal, and how you and I can join in God’s work for creation. In the afternoons we will explore, through three workshops, how these ideas can be put into practice.

Find Out More

A Report from Bread in the Wildnerness

Gospel Call to Sustainability: Living an Integrated Life [April 2016]

The Gospel Call to Sustainability:
A Model for Living an Integrated Life

Tuesday, April 12, 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Wingate Hall, Room 302
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem NC

How are we to live as people of faith in a world devastated by ongoing ecological peril and endless war? Jesus’ nonviolent love teaches us how to read the signs of the times as ones of urgency as we attempt to live in harmony with our sacred planet and its inhabitants, human and non-human.

For the past 34 years, Suzanne Belote Shanley and Brayton Shanley have been a attempting to live with others an integrated life as co-founders of The Agape Community.  They will present a community model of sustainability on 34 acres of land in Central MA which includes practicing contemplation, prayer, education in nonviolence and maintaining green buildings, constructed from the ground up, which include solar energy, compost toilet and a community organic garden among other ecological features.

Find Out More »

From Living Water to Running Water [April 2016]

From Living Water to Running Water

Saturday, April 9, 2016, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Elkin Presbyterian Church, Elkin NC
Cost: Free

Water is a powerful religious symbol. In Genesis, God’s Spirit dances over chaotic waters to stir up and give birth to the wonders of creation. Isaiah promises that God’s people will be like well-watered gardens, like springs whose waters never fail. In the New Testament, Jesus is baptized in the waters of the Jordan River, and in Revelation, a river of the water of life flows clear as crystal. But many people in the world today lack access to clean water. Water is not plentiful in all places and in some places, waters flow less abundantly than ever before. This workshop explores relationships between the waters that sustain our everyday lives and the waters of baptism. Participants will consider how a greater awareness of the sacramental dimensions of the “places” where we live and work nourishes our capacity to contribute to communal and global water health and well-being. Workshop participants will participate in a creek walk, learn about local water gifts and challenges, and imagine ways to infuse Sunday worship with what they experience and learn.

Find Out More »

The Wisdom of Trees with Dr. Diana Bersford-Kroeger [April 2016]

Call of the Forest: A Documentary Film Screening and Talk
by Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Monday, April 4, 2016, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Scales Fine Arts Center, Brendle Recital Hall
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
Free and open to the public.

The first day of a two-day event (see below), join us for a special preview screening of a new feature-length documentary film about Beresford-Kroeger’s work, followed by Q&A with her.

Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees follows Diana Beresford-Kroeger as she tours some of the earth’s last, great forests, from Japan, Ireland, Germany, to the United States and Canada, meeting many of the world’s most ancient trees and educating people about their history and legacy – a history and legacy that is deeply entwined with our grand and benevolent neighbors, the trees.

From Winnipeg, Canada, which holds the largest population of American Elms anywhere in the world, to the sacred sakaki and cedar forests of Japan, the walnut and redwood trees of America and the great boreal forest of Canada, Diana tells us amazing stories of how trees protect and feed the planet, producing pheromones and oxygen, filtering our air and water of toxins and sequestering carbon. Like a keystone in the boreal forest, the green of the modified chloroplasts hold up the world.

Diana knows the science and the magic of what the trees hold within. She will tell you that trees have a larger genome than humans; that they talk to each other and they emit subsonic sound to attract migrating animals, birds and insects, and that they contain medicines that heal what we suffer from. She knows we must begin to value them for what they are: incredible banks of untapped answers to the diverse man-made problems of our world.

Find Out More »

co-sponsored by the WFU Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability



The Wisdom of Trees: A Walking Conversation
with Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Reynolda Gardens, Winston-Salem NC
Free and open to the public.

Following the film screening from Monday, join Diana Beresford-Kroeger for a walking conversation through Reynolda Gardens. The forest conducts a silent symphony of nature.  Carbon is banked out of the atmosphere and the salvation of oxygen is slipped back into the air.  Every leaf performs its quantum grab from the sun into the ring of sugar that smacks of food.  The miracle of medicine is released as aerosols that may touch the sky and resolve themselves as rain.  Even the dichotomy of one branch’s growth—of zero and one, our system of binary arithmetic—is an ancient proof of the divine.  Because nothingness holds the first place of existence in this universe.  And will be revealed as a sylvan embryo in the cathedral of the forest.  Again and again.

Find Out More »

co-sponsored by Reynolda Gardens

"Is God's Charity Broad Enough for Bears?" [March 2016]

“Is God’s Charity Broad Enough for Bears?”

Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
Wait Chapel, Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC
Free and open to the public.

johnson-lecture-news-header-675x300The School of Divinity is pleased to announce that Elizabeth Johnson, Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University, will be the 2016 Steelman Lecturer.

“Is God’s Charity Broad Enough Bears?” is inspired from an observation by the naturalist John Muir. Coming upon a dead bear in the woods, he scorned those religious folk who excluded such noble creatures from divine mercy. To the contrary, he wrote, “God’s charity is broad enough for bears.” Is it? Making use of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, this lecture explores key theological themes needed for conversion to the earth in this age of ecological crisis. Rather than forcing a choice between heaven or earth, we seek to invigorate ethical behavior that cares for plants and animals with a passion integral to belief in the living God.

Watch it now »


Pope Francis' Encyclical and Reflections on Our Common Home [February 2016]

Our Common Home: the Pope’s Encyclical, Climate Science, and Our Clean Energy Future

Tuesday, February 16, 2016, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Wake Forest University Charlotte Center
Charlotte, NC

The world needs an ecological conversion.

That’s the core message of Pope Francis’ powerful encyclical letter Laudato Sí (Praised Be). The human species has managed to run up a sizeable ecological deficit on all our earthly accounts—soil, water, and climate. From the way we feed ourselves, power our buildings, and transport our bodies, the evidence is clear: we need to transition away from fossil fuels and start building a clean energy economy.

We need to work across disciplines to create a holistic way of approaching climate change. Pope Francis’s words speak to a growing hunger for religious leaders to model ecological leadership, and signals a generative role that the church can play in the larger society.There is also a growing public desire for the business community to support clean energy, which benefits both people and planet.

Join us as we convene a lively panel discussion on this topic featuring a theologian, a climate scientist, and a local Charlotte business leader who is one of the country’s leading clean energy proponents.


  • Jay Faison, Founder and Managing Partner of ClearPath
    Charlotte, NC
  • Elizabeth O’Donnell Gandolfo, Earley Assistant Professor of Catholic and Latin American Studies
    Wake Forest University School of Divinity
  • Miles Silman, Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Presidential Chair in Conservation Biology
    Wake Forest College

Moderated by Fred Bahnson,Assistant Professor of the Practice of Ecological Well-Being and Director of the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity

co-sponsored by the WFU Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability.

Find Out More »


Speaking of Climate Change: Sharing Stories, Cultivating Resilience [February 2016]

Speaking of Climate Change: Sharing Stories, Cultivating Resilience

Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Porter Byrum Welcome Center, Kulynych Auditorium
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC

Climate change is upon us and agriculture is inextricably involved. Fundamental to our identity as a species, crucial to the health and well-being of our communities, the way that we eat fuels the 21st century challenges that threaten our way of life. Sharing our hopes, our fears, and our own stories of adaptation sparks the social learning and innovation that cultivates community resilience.

Laura Lengnick, soil scientist, and Dayna Reggero, visual storyteller, gather stories from across America to explore the connections between climate change, food, faith, and community resilience. Weaving these stories with the latest climate science and resilience thinking, Laura and Dayna share a message of hope for these troubling times.

Dayna draws on more than 20 years of experience to teach about the power of story-telling through film, video, press, social media and community collaboration. Laura brings 30 years of experience as a sustainable agriculture researcher and college educator to her teaching about the ecology of food systems, climate change, sustainability and resilience.

Find Out More »

co-sponsored by the WFU Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability

Pope Francis' Encyclical and Reflections on Our Common Home [January 2016]

Our Common Home: Reflections on the Pope’s Encyclical, Climate Justice, and the Call to Hope

Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Alumni Hall, University of North Carolina at Asheville
Asheville, NC

The world needs an ecological conversion.

That’s the core message of Pope Francis’ powerful encyclical letter Laudato Sí (Praised Be). The human species has managed to run up a sizeable ecological deficit on all our earthly accounts—soil, water, and climate. From the way we feed ourselves, power our buildings, and transport our bodies, the evidence is clear: we need to transition away from fossil fuels and start building a clean energy economy.

We need to work across disciplines to create a holistic way of approaching climate change. Pope Francis’s words speak to a growing hunger for religious leaders to model ecological leadership, and signals a generative role that the church can play in the larger society.

Join us as we convene a lively panel discussion on this topic featuring a theologian, a journalist, a climate scientist, and a local community activist. We invite your participation as we rethink how to achieve a flourishing economy while preserving this earth, our common home.


  • Dr. Gail R. O’Day, Dean and Professor of New Testament and Preaching
    Wake Forest University School of Divinity
  • Justin Catanoso, Journalism Program Director and Associate Professor of the Practice
    Wake Forest College
  • Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program
  • Dr. Laura Lengnick, Soil Scientist and Climate Change Consultant
    Asheville, NC

Find Out More »

co-sponsored by the Office of Sustainability at UNC Asheville and
Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina

Pope Francis' Encyclical and Reflections on Our Common Home [October 2015]

Laudato Si’ (“Praised Be”): The Impact of Pope Francis’ Encyclical and Reflections on Our Common Home

Tuesday, October 6, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
Kulynych Auditorium, Porter Byrum Welcome Center
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem NC

Conversations about climate change are often isolated among different disciplines. Scientists use the language of analysis and data; people of faith speak of morals and ethical obligation; journalists speak of social impact. And yet climate change is no respecter of geographic borders or academic disciplines; it is an issue that affects us all. With the publication of his widely-hailed encyclical Laudato Si’ (“Praised Be”), Pope Francis has called for a holistic way of approaching climate change, one that cuts across nationality, academic discipline, or religious difference. Join us as we convene a lively panel discussion featuring three WFU faculty–a theologian, a biologist, and a journalist– whose work in the context of Latin America can help us understand the impact of Laudato Si and rethink how we share this earth, our common home.


  • Elizabeth O’Donnell Gandolfo, Earley Assistant Professor of Catholic and Latin American Studies, School of Divinity
  • Justin Catanoso, Director of the Journalism Program, Associate Professor of the Practice, Wake Forest College (see video below)
  • Miles Silman, Professor of Biology, Wake Forest College
  • Moderated by Fred Bahnson, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Ecological Well-Being

Free and open to the public; registration recommended.

» This is a past event.

co-sponsored by

and the Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES)

New Heaven, New Earth [Summer 2015]

Summer Food and Faith Seminar – June 2015
Asheville, North Carolina

woodcut-bahnson-circle-300x297A New Heaven, A New Earth:
Food Justice, Ecology, and Revelation 

We live in an age when we can no longer ignore the ecological context in which all our personal and social actions play out. When we begin to learn more about the extent of our combined challenges—ecological degradation, social inequity, food insecurity, climate change—we quickly become overwhelmed. Our world is ill. We need healing. The magnitude of our generation’s challenges can easily lead to inaction, fatalism, and despair.

Yet the long arc of God’s redemptive work, as reported by the biblical writers, is a hopeful alternative to despair or naïve optimism. The world will be made whole, those biblical writers tell us, and we along with it. In the book of Revelation we discover a compelling set of images depicting that wholeness—the Tree of Life, the River of Life, the Heavenly Banquet Feast. This is a vision of heaven come down to earth. “See, the home of God is among mortals,” John the Seer reports. Far from simply a quaint picture of heaven, such imagery has to potential to help us reimagine how we live now, starting with our own bioregions.

Each morning during the course Dr. Rossing explored these images from Revelation as touchstones for thinking about the life of faith and how we grow and share food. In the afternoon, skilled practitioners in permaculture, ecology, and community organizing lead experiential learning workshops.

For people of faith in search of wisdom with which to respond to our current “ecology of injustice,” this course offered knowledge, tools, and disciplines to help us “seek the peace” of the places in which we dwell.

Find Out More

Adamah Jewish Farm [May 2015]

Jewish Environmental Fellowship for Emerging Christian Leaders
Adamah Farm, Falls Village, CT

From the Adamah website:  “Programs at Adamah integrate physical, social, spiritual, Jewish and ecological realms in order to inspire participants to a life of service – to the Jewish community and to the earth. We emphasize hands-on experience and peer leadership to empower participants with skills and confidence to make a difference, and we offer positive ways to connect to the core Jewish principles of awe and gratitude, which inspire participants well after they leave.” This course will be an immersion course that involves hands-on learning coupled with reading and study. Students will participate in organic farming, goat milking, making sauerkraut and kimchi, and yes, even chicken killing. The course will equip students with a deeper knowledge of Judaism and of the ecological roots of the Hebrew bible as practiced by a modern eco-Jewish community. Students will be empowered with environmental leadership skills, and will ground their theological learning in practical experience. Their newfound “Adamahnik” capabilities of integrating the physical, social, spiritual, Jewish, and ecological realms will inspire them to lives of service in their own communities. A course such as this, where future Christian leaders learn from their Jewish counterparts in a Jewish setting, creates unique possibilities for a new kind of interfaith dialogue. The model we create can be emulated by other religious institutions, leading to greater understanding, empathy, and mutual trust between religious groups.

Read reflections from Jill Crainshaw, Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology.

Ecotones of the Spirit [Spring 2015]

ecotones-webpage-headerAn ecotone is the edge where two ecosystems meet – field and forest, ocean and estuary – and is a place rich with biological diversity, abundance, and opportunity. In this speaker series, we will explore the conversational ecotones where food justice meets faith, climate activism meets religious leadership, and where contemplative spirituality encounters the ecological crisis. Bringing together food activists, writers, and theologians, these gatherings will create a space where ecological and social challenges – food insecurity, climate change, environmental racism – can be held in tension with the Psalmist’s call to “be still and know that I am God.”

The series began on Thursday, March 19, and concluded with a half-day conference on Tuesday, April 14th. All events were free and open to the public.

>> Find Out More

An Evening with Vandana Shiva [November 2014]

Challenges & Realities of Feeding the World

Vandana ShivaDr. Vandana Shiva trained as a physicist at the University of Punjab, and completed her Ph.D. on the Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She later shifted to interdisciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India.

In 1982, she founded an independent institute – the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun – dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, working in close partnership with local communities and social movements. In 1991 she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed – and to promote organic farming and fair trade.

Dr. Shiva combines sharp intellectual inquiry with courageous activism, and her work spans teaching at universities worldwide to working with peasants in rural India. Time Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as an environmental ‘hero’ in 2003. In November 2010, Forbes Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as one of the Seven Most Powerful Women on the Globe.

Dr. Shiva’s contributions to gender issues are nationally and internationally recognized. Her book Staying Alive dramatically shifts popular perceptions of Third World women. She founded the gender unit at the International Centre for Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu, and was a founding Board Member of the Women Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).

This keynote lecture is co-sponsored by the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, WFU Office of Sustainability; the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability; Department of Biology; Department of Chemistry; Pro Humanitate Institute; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. It is free and open to the public.

“An Evening with Vandana Shiva” is part of the “Make Every Bite Count” speaker series. Our current farming methods affect more than just the produce and livestock that we grow. Sustainable agricultural practices can help us mitigate the impacts of a changing climate, adapt to an altered environment and increase our resilience as a species. But, the question remains, can sustainable agriculture feed the world? This provocative series investigates the foods that are central to our diets: who grows them, how they are grown, and what challenges and opportunities this holds for local, regional, and global food supplies.

GMO OMG: Documentary Film Screening & Discussion [October 2014]

GMO OMGGMO OMG director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert is in search of answers. How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice? And perhaps the ultimate question, which Seifert tests himself: is it even possible to reject the food system currently in place, or have we lost something we can’t gain back?

These and other questions take Seifert on a journey from his family’s table to Haiti, Paris, Norway, and the lobby of agra-giant Monsanto, from which he is unceremoniously ejected. Along the way we gain insight into a question that is of growing concern to citizens the world over: what’s on your plate?” (GMO OMG)

We hope that the film and discussion with the filmmaker will stimulate lively discussion of important and contested food-related issues.

This event is co-sponsored by the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative and the WFU Office of Sustainability. It is free and open to the public.

The “GMO OMG” Documentary Film Screening and Discussion is part of the “Make Every Bite Count” speaker series. Our current farming methods affect more than just the produce and livestock that we grow. Sustainable agricultural practices can help us mitigate the impacts of a changing climate, adapt to an altered environment and increase our resilience as a species. But, the question remains, can sustainable agriculture feed the world? This provocative series investigates the foods that are central to our diets: who grows them, how they are grown, and what challenges and opportunities this holds for local, regional, and global food supplies.


Sabbath Economics and Watershed Discipleship [Summer 2014]

The interlocking crises of deepening climate change, resource exhaustion, and social disparity are stalking our history.  To truly face these crises is to commit ourselves, as Christians and citizens, to radical and urgent changes that are both profoundly political and personal.  The “Transition Movement” is shorthand for perceptions and practices that center on ecological and economic resiliency, restoration, and renewal.  What might a Transition Church look like in the coming decade? What does Christian discipleship have to do with  our local watershed, our farms and gardens, and the ecosystems on which all life depends? Using the witness of the biblical writers as our guide, this course considered these questions over the span of five days.

The course combined classroom learning, worship, eating together, and hands-on learning. Morning sessions will were led by renowned biblical scholar and activist Ched Myers, who focused on “watershed discipleship” as a guiding metaphor and theological frame of reference.  Afternoons featured outdoor experiential education in local food gardens. Each day was bookended with a short service of Psalms, music, and silent prayer (Lauds and Vespers) as a contemplative frame to begin and end days together.

>> See more about Sabbath Economics and Watershed Discipleship

 >> View photos

Half the Sky, Half the Earth: A Conference on Women, Food, and Faith [March 2014]

A stimulating and challenging day to explore the distinctive intersections of women, food, and faith in shaping a new food ecology.

sponsored by
the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity,
with generous support from Kalleiopeia Foundation

co-sponsored by the WFU’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program,
and The Humane Society of the United States

>> See more about Half the Sky, Half the Earth

Prayin', Truckin', Servin' [November 2013]

This event is sponsored by the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative and co-sponsored by Partners in Health and Wholeness (NC Council of Churches), in partnership with the following churches and faith communities: Morning Star Missionary Baptist, Temple Emanuel, Parkway United Church of Christ, Centenary UMC, The Greater Tabernacle Worship Center, and Macedonia Worship Center.

Following on the success of our February 2013 food justice conference, this follow-up gathering will focus more on skills that you can take back to your community. Using local presenters, each of our three sessions will feature lecture-style learning with small group discussion centered around our three themes:


> What do our scriptures and faith traditions teach us about food and its role in our lives? Hear from a Christian pastor, a Jewish rabbi, and a Muslim imam on their respective traditions and what we can learn from them.


> How can churches and faith communities improve healthy food access in urban areas? Learn about mobile farmers markets, food trucks, and other innovative projects already happening.


> When people of faith get together, we often share a meal. How can we make healthy food more available in our places of worship?


The conference is free; lunch is included.


8:30 – 9:00am Registration
9:00 – 9:30am Welcome, Interfaith Prayer and Song, and An Overview of Food Security in Forsyth County by Tyler Jenkins
9:30 – 10:45am Prayin’ – Hear from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions on rituals of eating, and how those rituals can help us care for ourselves, our neighbors, and the earth. Led by Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn, Bishop Todd Fulton, and Imam Khalid Griggs.
10:45 – 11:00am Break
11:00 – 12:00pm Truckin’ – Learn how to increase healthy food access in food deserts, including such innovative practices as healthy corner stores, mobile food trucks, and mobile farmers markets. Led by Tamica Patterson (Healthy Corner Store Initiative), Jon Barber (Mobile Farm Fresh), and Ben amd Marty Tennille (HOPE).
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch
1:00 – 2:00pm Servin’ – How can congregations and faith communities increase healthy food options in their places of worship? Led by Partners in Health and Wholeness (North Carolina Council of Churches) and friends.
2:00 – 2:30pm Choose one of three sessions (Prayin’, Truckin’, Servin’) and go deeper into dialogue with others working in this area. Chose one thing you can do, and find like-minded people to help you do it.
2:30 – 3:00pm Closing Thoughts and Departure


Creative Writing and Social Change, Asheville [November 2013]

Sponsored by the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, this writing workshop is aimed primarily for those working at the intersection of food & faith who want to learn creative writing skills to use in their work. Whether you’re a pastor, community gardener, non-profit leader, activist, or student, this workshop is aimed at helping you tell better stories through writing. The initiative thanks co-sponsors First UCC of Asheville and Warren Wilson College.

Friday, November 1  |  7:00 – 9:00pm  |  First UCC, Asheville

A Language To Make Us Whole – Writing, Activism, and Hope at the Margins

How can stories help us regain a sense of the world as holy, mysterious, and worthy of our care? How can language, especially as it’s used by people of faith and people called environmentalists, be used to heal and mend what is daily being torn assunder? Could it be that what we need now in this time of climate change and food insecurity is not more information, but better stories? Join us as writers Janisse Ray and Fred Bahnson talk about their work, which combines a rooted spirituality with a commitment to social change, and how stories can inspire people to care for their watersheds, foodsheds, and the people who inhabit them. This lecture is free and open to the public with Q&A and book-signing to follow.

Saturday, November 2  |  8:30 – 4:00pm  |  Upper Fellowship Hall, Warren Wilson College

Faithful Witness: A Workshop on Creative Writing and Social Change

In this writing workshop, Janisse Ray and Fred Bahnson will explore ideas of soil and sacrament, tapping into stories to recover a sense of the world as holy and worthy of our care. In a stimulating blend of journaling, writing prompts, brainstorming, and discussion, we will use creative nonfiction to investigate our personal relationships to food and food security. Only by telling our own stories of the changing world, and imagining new stories, can we create a future in which we honor the earth and its offerings. We’ll discover fun and self-revealing ways to tell these stories. The class will be both personal discovery as well as an inquiry into ways to carry the message beyond your own notebooks. You will leave inspired, more dedicated to your work, and in possession of a toolbox for incorporating writing into your faith and social justice work.


Regular $75
Student and Scholarship Rate* $35
Lunch included.


About the Presenters

Janisse RayWriter, naturalist, and activist Janisse Ray is author of five books of literary nonfiction and a collection of nature poetry. Her most recent book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food is a look at what’s happening to seeds. The book has won awards from the American Horticultural Society and Garden Writers Association, among others. Ray holds an MFA from the University of Montana and in 2007 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Unity College in Maine. She attempts to live a simple, sustainable life on Red Earth Farm in southern Georgia with her husband and daughter. Janisse is an organic gardener, tender of farm animals, slow-food cook, fermenter, and seed saver.

Fred BahnsonFred Bahnson directs the Food, Faith, & Religious Leadership Initiative. He is the author of Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith (Simon & Schuster) and co-author of Making Peace With the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile With Creation (InterVarsity). His narrative journalism and essays have appeared widely including Oxford American, Image, Orion, The Sun, Christian Century, and the anthologies Best American Spiritual Writing (Houghton Mifflin), Wendell Berry and Religion(University Press of Kentucky), and State of the World 2011—Innovations that Nourish the Planet (Norton). His writing has received a number of grants and awards, including a William Raney scholarship in nonfiction at Bread Loaf Writers Conference, an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press, a Kellogg Food & Community fellowship at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and a North Carolina Artist fellowship in creative nonfiction from the NC Arts Council. In addition to his writing, Bahnson is an experienced permaculture gardener. The co-founder of Anathoth Community Garden in Cedar Grove, NC, he has practiced and taught regenerative agriculture for the past ten years.

"For God's Sake, Let's Focus On the Earth" with Richard Cizik [October 2013]

On World Food Day, what better time to ask: What is my duty to God and Planet earth?  Stewards are not born, they are made.  We can choose our own destiny, boldly.  Come examine with Richard Cizik, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, the incredible hope that arises for all of creation when we partner with the Creator in the renewal and redemption of earth and the cosmos.  But beware. As Cizik says, “If you’ve never changed your mind about something, pinch yourself, you may be dead.”

Cizik will speak in Wait Chapel at 11am, followed by brown-bag lunch in Lower Auditiorium from 12:00noon – 1:00pm.

Sponsored by the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative and co-sponsored by the WFU Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability, Cizik’s visit is made possible through the support of the Good Steward Campaign.

About Richard Cizik

The Rev. Richard Cizik is President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, an internationally known Evangelical leader on “creation care.” For over 15 years he was a top leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, setting the organization’s policy on issues and lobbying the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court. In 2002, following meetings and conversations with fellow Evangelical and climate scientist John Houghton, Rich was convinced that addressing climate change and creation care should be part of the Evangelical agenda. His stance, based on Scripture passages such as Genesis 2:15, Revelation 11:18, represented a courageous witness from within the Evangelical community. In 2005, Rich was instrumental in creating the Evangelical Climate Initiative, signed by over 300 Evangelical leaders nationwide, which led Fast Company to name him one of its “Most Creative Minds” and Belief to name him among the “Most Inspiring Persons of the Year.” In Science magazine he was called “one of America’s most dynamic public speakers.” In 2008, Time named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people. Rich delivers a powerful, Biblically-based message in support of creation care. He’s spoken in hundreds of churches and on dozens of college campuses. He’ll challenge you to think more clearly, to care more deeply, and to act more boldly in your life as a follower of Jesus. “It’s time we return to being people known for our love and care of the earth and our fellow human beings,” Rich says. His inspirational style of speaking will engage, encourage, and challenge you to greater faith and works.

About World Food Day

On October 16, World Food Day, join the global movement to end hunger. Be a part of the solution and take action in your community and around the world.We can end hunger. It will take all of us. Learn more.

Many Hands: Perspectives from the Field [October 2013]

Many Hands: Perspectives from the Field

A workshop on farmwork justice, featuring guest speakers Chris Liu-Beers and Anna Jensen, that discusses immigrant labor in the fields of North Carolina and looks at workers’ experiences in the fields. Liu-Beers and Jensen will present these stories through workers’ own voices, including videos and photographs, as well as provide background for understanding the realities farmworkers face in the fields. They will also focus on ways that congregations and students can get involved through ministry and advocacy. Sponsored by the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative.

About the Speakers:

Chris Liu-Beers grew up in Delaware and went to college in Pennsylvania before moving to Durham, NC in 2003. A graduate of Duke Divinity School, he has been working with the NC Council of Churches since 2006. His commitment to immigrant rights, sustainability and social justice has been shaped in part by studying abroad in Jerusalem, Israel and Zacatecas, Mexico. As Program Associate with the NC Council of Churches, he works on immigration and farmworker-related advocacy, rural life issues, and the Council’s worship resources. Chris lives in Durham with his family.

Anna Jensen grew up in North Carolina and studied at UNC-Chapel Hill. Farmworkers and farmworker issues have been her passion since working with farmworkers one summer for a college internship. She has worked with farmworkers in the tobacco fields of eastern NC, where she acted as a health outreach worker with the NC Farmworkers Project, and the Central Valley of California, where she conducted research for her master’s thesis at UC Davis. She joined the staff of Toxic Free NC as their community organizer in May of this year, and works with farmworker communities, among others, on pesticide protection and advocacy. She is passionate about including all voices in policy work.

A Retreat on the Art of Homecoming [Summer 2013]

Sponsored by the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative
at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity

in partnership with Warren Wilson College

June 16 – 20, 2013
Warren Wilson College | Swannanoa, NC

How can we live at home in the world? Most of us have a roof over our heads, but we don’t often think of “home” in terms of our watersheds, fields, and communities. How can we learn to dwell within our local ecosystems in a way that sustains, rather than desecrates, God’s abundant creation? How do we become native to a place so that we can move outward from a center of ecological, emotional, and spiritual rootedness?

Whether you are a faith leader or a person who simply wants to go deeper into these issues in your own life, we invite you to join us for The Art of Homecoming, an immersion course from June 16-20.

The skills required to come home require the focus of the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—and it is your whole person who will benefit during this retreat. Following the 1,500 year old Christian monastic patterns of prayer, work, and study, we will follow a daily rhythm that combines spiritual disciplines and ecological practices, a rhythm that can sustain us for the long haul.

The course will take place on the campus of Warren Wilson College, in the lovely Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina. Mornings will feature experiential learning in the campus garden and surrounding area, with classes on biointensive gardening, permaculture, creating a community garden, and wild foods foraging. Afternoons will consist of lectures and discussion, engaging in both theological and scriptural reflection on the practices of field and table. After dinner a brief Vespers service of Psalms will conclude the day. Evenings are free to rest, read, or explore nearby Asheville.

For anyone interested in the intersection of Christian spirituality, ecological restoration, and redemptive agriculture, then this course is for you.

>> See more about the retreat.

Interfaith Conversations on Food, Faith, and Sustainability [March 2013]

Nigel SavageNigel Savage, founder and director of Hazon, will speak about the rise of the Jewish Food Movement, describing how traditional understandings of kosher are expanding to include an emphasis on food justice, sustainable agriculture, and local food economies. Hazon, which means “vision,” is the largest faith-based environmental organization in the country, and has become a leader in creating a more just, sustainable food economy. This is an interfaith gathering and everyone is welcome to attend.


All events are free. Sponsored by the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, and co-sponsored by Temple Emanuel of Winston Salem, The Jewish Studies Program at UNC Asheville, and Mars Hill College.



Monday March 18
Winston-Salem, NC

  • 12:00 – 1:00pm
    Brown Bag Lunch Conversation with Nigel Savage and students in Wingate Hall, Room 301A
  • 7:30 – 8:30pm
    Lecture and Q&A at Temple Emanuel (201 Oakwood Dr | Winston Salem, NC 27103 | (336) 722-6640)

Tuesday March 19
Asheville, NC

  • 11:00am – 12:00noon
    Nigel Savage speaking at Chapel Service, Mars Hill College
  • 12:00noon – 1:00pm
    Lunch Event at Mars Hill College
  • Afternoon meeting with UNC Asheville students, Time and Location TBD
  • 7:00 -8:30pm
    Evening Lecture and Q&A at Asheville Jewish Community Center (236 Charlotte Street | Asheville, NC 28801 | (828) 253-0701)

Food, Faith, and Justice: A Common Calling [February 2013]

Food, Faith, and Justice: A Common Calling

A visionary gathering exploring the role of churches and faith communities in promoting health in the Piedmont Triad through improving access to healthy food for all.
being held at The Enterprise Banquet and Conference Center | Winston-Salem, NC

The Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, along with Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Translational Science Institute and Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, will host a conference in Winston-Salem on food justice and the role of faith communities. This conference will explore the innovative ways minority communities are creating better food access, and the hopeful contribution faith communities can make toward that effort.

Keynote Speakers

yakiniMalik Yakini
James Beard Award winning food activitst | Detroit, MI

 Malik Yakini’s inspirational discussion at D-town Farms about urban agriculture and social justice for Lean, Mean, and Green.


johnstonHaile Johnston
Founder, Common Market | Philadelphia, PA

 Halie Johnston talking about “The Whole Life Food Continuum.”

The Spirituality of Eating [October 2012]

The Spirituality of Eating | a seminar with noted eco-theologian Norman Wirzba

October 12-13, 2012 | Asheville, NC

The Food, Faith & Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, in partnership with First Baptist Church of Asheville, will sponsor two events on The Spirituality of Food on October 12-13 in Asheville.

These linked events begin Friday evening Oct.12 at 7pm at Malaprops Bookstore where Norman Wirzba, eco-theologian and Research Professor of Theology, Ecology, and Rural Life at Duke Divinity School, will give a free public lecture. He will describe how eating, ranging from production to consumption, is a moral and spiritual act, and will suggest ways that we as eaters can help promote a communion of life. Following the lecture Wirzba will be joined by Fred Bahnson, Director of the Food & Faith Initiative, for a Q&A with the audience. Bahnson and Wirzba will also be signing copies of their recently co-authored book Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile With Creation (InterVarsity, 2012). This event is free and open to the public.

On Saturday Oct.13th, Bahnson and Wirzba will lead an in-depth seminar on The Spirituality of Eating. Expanding on the topic of their book, Bahnson and Wirzba will look at a Christian vision of caring for the earth through the way we grow and share food. The workshop will explore scriptural and theological understandings of eating, agriculture, and creation care, and will conclude with a look at current models of church-supported agriculture. Says Bahnson: “For those tired of the litany of environmental and societal problems, this workshop will offer a hopeful look at a more holistic spirituality of eating, one approached through the scriptural lens of reconciliation and the witness of modern faith communities engaged in sustainable agriculture ministries.

First Baptist Church of Asheville will co-sponsor and host the seminar, which runs from 8:30-5pm. ”This seminar is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the intimate, but too often ignored, connections between the good news and the good earth, between our hungers for bread and for peace, and between the supper table and the Lord’s Table,” said Senior Pastor Guy Sayles. “It’s a call to take as grace and gift what we too often just take for granted.”


8:30 – 9:00am Registration and Coffee
9:00 – 10:00am Lecture: Food, Land, and Membership: The Scriptural Witness (Norman Wirzba)
10:00 – 10:30am Break
10:30 – 11:15am Small Group Study
11:15 – 12:00noon Reconvene for Discussion with Norman Wirzba
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch
1:00 – 2:00pm Lecture: Soil and Sacrament: Toward a Common Spirituality of Food (Fred Bahnson)
2:00 – 2:15pm Break
2:15 – 3:00pm Small Group Study
3:00 – 4:00pm Reconvene for Panel with Bahnson, Wirzba, and Others


The cost for the Saturday seminar is $45/person and $25 for students or low-income attendees. Registration cost includes a delicious all-local catered lunch. Space is limited.