2019 West Coast Faculty Conference Recap

Connected: Dwelling in God's Love In Academia, Our Communities, Our Lives

In academia, we hold to the ideal of communal learning; yet we experience increasing loneliness and fragmentation. At the West Coast Faculty Conference held July 27 - August 2, 2019, we explored Connectedness. We learned about connection, but even more importantly, we experienced connection - first with God, and flowing out of this communion, with each other, with our campuses and with the world.

As university faculty and staff, you contribute to God’s kingdom in unique ways. But our experience as Christians in the academy can be a lonely one. We had a wonderful turnout for this year and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with colleagues. We experienced worship together, prayer, networking, exploring our vocational calling, and engaging in conversations of importance to life, work, and much more!

Our 2019 Keynote Speaker

Professor Felicia Wu Song of Westmont College and Professor Leon Harris of Talbot School of Theology served as our primary guest speakers at our 2019 Conference as we explored themes of connectedness – as we grow in intimacy with the Triune God, he grows us in our love for himself, each other and the world. For details about these special guests, please see their bios below.

Keynote Speakers

Felicia Song

Felicia Song is Associate Professor and Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. Having trained in History, Communication Studies and Sociology from Yale, Northwestern, and University of Virginia, and taught at Louisiana State University’s Manship School for Mass Communication, her research is oriented around the rapidly evolving digital technology industry and how the adoption of social media and digital devices fundamentally alters the landscapes of family, community, and organizational life. In addition to her book, Virtual Communities: Bowling Alone, Online Together (Peter Lang 2009), she has conducted research on expectant women’s online information-seeking habits and the evolution of “mommy bloggers” as social media professionals. Currently, she is working on a book project that explores how our contemporary digital habits form us and our imaginations about personhood, time, and place. When she is not working, she enjoys children’s chapter books, searching local consignment shops, and watching “The Great British Baking Show” with her husband and two children.

Leon Harris

Leon Harris is Associate Professor of Theology at Talbot School of Theology. He’s a preacher's kid from South Central Los Angeles. Harris graduated from Talbot School of Theology with M.Div. and Th.M. degrees, then he moved to Scotland and earned a PhD in Divinity from the University of Aberdeen, where he successfully defended his thesis on the topic of Pneumatology as Communion and Koinonia. He has presented several papers at theology conferences both in the U.K. and in the US (ETS and SPS). Harris has published a book titled The Holy Spirit As Communion: Colin Gunton's Pneumatology of Communion and Frank Macchia's Pneumatology of Koinonia. He enjoys participating in the life of the church, and is currently an elder and Life Group leader at Mariners Church, Irvine. He also enjoys reading, movies, attending plays and musicals, watching sports and traveling with his wife. Harris’ current research interests include Pneumatology, Ecclesiology, African American theology and Relational Ontology.

Bible Study Leaders

Dan Stringer

Dan Stringer is a Campus Minister with InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministries at the University of Hawai’i. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church and a graduate of Wheaton College (BA), Fuller Seminary (M.Div) and the University of Hawaii’s School of Social Work (MSW). Prior to joining InterVarsity GFM at the University of Southern California in 2016, he was a pastor and social worker in the Honolulu area.

Brennan Takayama

Brennan was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii and is serving as Hawaii’s first local Area Director. He attended Stanford University where he received his bachelor's in Human Biology (2006) and master's in Sociology of Education (2007), and he continued his education with a certificate in Hawaiian Studies from Hawaii Community College (2016). His research has focused on Native Hawaiian culture-based education and its effects on student outcomes, as well as demography in Hawaii and Asian America.

Brennan began working on staff with InterVarsity in 2007 and felt called to campus ministry through dreams and visions. Recently he's been excited to plant ministries with both students and faculty at community colleges and universities across Hawaii. Brennan enjoys ministry at the intersection of ethnic identity, faith, culture, and land.

He enjoys watching Black-ish, Fresh off the Boat, Kim's Convenience, and The Walking Dead. He also recently applied his research skills to compile a definitive ranking of all movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Worship Leader

Angela White

Angela White was born and raised in the Santa Barbara area.  She attended UCSB and Westmont College.  She has been an elementary school teacher for nearly 25 years, currently teaching lively kindergarteners.  Throughout that time, she has also served as a worship leader at El Montecito Presbyterian Church, Shoreline Community Church and now Santa Barbara Community Church for the last 16 years.  She has enjoyed leading worship for Mother Daughter Conferences at Forest Home as well as annual church retreats and Women’s Retreat leadership.  She is married to Andy White who is also an elementary teacher, guitar teacher, studio engineer and worship leader. They have two kids Abby (16) and Aaron (12) who are both musicians who regularly share their gifts of music with their youth group as well as in the main service at Santa Barbara Community Church.  In her free time she enjoys cooking and playing music with her family.

Seminars and Workshops

An additional bonus of the week was the elective seminars and workshops offered during Monday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon. These seminars reflect the wide variety of disciplines and interests of those who attend the conference. Seminars are open to faculty, staff and spouses. 2019 seminars included: An interactive workshops on best teaching practices, a session on ministering to our LGBTQ+ students and colleagues, and a “Doing Justice” experience that the children were able to join!

Photos coming soon!