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Big Tent 2017

Worship, Bible Study & Inspiration


Big Tent Description

 Worship & Bible Studies

Gathering Worship 
Thursday at 7:00 p.m., led by The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II.

Photo of J. Herbert Nelson, IIThe Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II serves as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The son, grandson, and nephew of Presbyterian pastors, Nelson is the first African American to lead the denomination. Nelson served as director of the PC(USA)’s Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. His service to the denomination also includes calls as pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and organizing pastor of Liberation Community Church in Memphis, Tennessee. As an extension to his ministry in the PC(USA), Nelson served as associate director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. 

Bible Study 
Friday at 8:30 a.m. and Saturday at 9:30 a.m. (Bible study breakouts at 8:30 a.m.)

Eric BarretoThe Big Tent Bible study will be led by Eric D. Barreto, Ph.D, of Princeton Theological Seminary. He will bring participants along to hang out in the book of Acts, with a focus on Pentecost, the Ethiopian Eunuch, Peter & Cornelius, with a brief trip into Luke. The two sessions will include presentation and conversation across two days of Big Tent. Come ready to learn something new, and contribute to the conversation. Bring your Bible in your preferred format.

Eric D. Barreto is Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary and an ordained Baptist minister. The author of Ethnic Negotiations: The Function of Race and Ethnicity in Acts 16 (Mohr Siebeck, 2010), the co-author of Exploring the Bible (Fortress Press, 2016), and editor of Reading Theologically (Fortress Press, 2014), he is also a regular contributor to, the Huffington Post,, and For more, go to and follow him on Twitter (@ericbarreto).

Closing Worship
Saturday at 1:30 p.m., led by Rev. Christine Hong.

Christine Hong Image

Rev. Christine Hong is Assistant Professor of Education Ministries at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA and Teaching Elder with Presbyterian Church (USA). Her research interests include de-colonial approaches to religious and interreligious education. Hong previously served as Assistant Professor of Worship and Evangelism at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (LPTS) and the Associate for Theology: Interfaith Relations at the national offices of PC(USA). She also currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Institute for Diversity and Civic Life. Her first book, Identity, Youth, and Gender in the Korean American Church (Palgrave Pivot, 2015) was released in July of 2015.

Inspirational Conversations

Plenary I - Grounding Big Tent in the St. Louis Context  
Thursday at 4:00 p.m.  

People of faith in the St. Louis area have faced profound challenges and opportunities over the last several years as national attention has focused on racial, civil, economic strife in Ferguson and elsewhere.  What does it mean to this community for Big Tent to be gathering here and what does it mean to the Presbyterian Church?  We begin this conference with an opportunity to set our work in the context of their experiences by inviting local leaders to share their stories and lessons of engagement in St. Louis.

Friday and Saturday

Three sessions of workshops are offered on Friday and Saturday, with over 50 offerings. Download the schedule of events for a complete list of all available workshops.

Photo of Denise Anderson & Jan Edmiston

Plenary II
Friday, 4:00 p.m.  

Rev. Denise Anderson and Rev. Jan Edmiston, Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly lead this plenary session titled, “At the Cross: Intersections the Church Must Navigate,” which introduces the  Always With Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor, by Liz Theoharis, as the second book in their church wide book study.  The focus of the plenary session will be the intersectional issues of race and poverty.  

Engagement with St. Louis Churches
Friday 5:30 - 9:30 p.m. 

Friday evening includes an invitation for Big Tent participants to travel to local Presbyterian congregations and participate in worship, share a meal, and engage in Holy Conversations around race. These conversations will be an extension of the ongoing dialog surrounding racial divisions and mistrust which have affected St. Louis and communities throughout the country. Participants will experience a process of honest and challenging conversations about race and leave with tools to further these discussions in their home congregations. This evening promises to be a unique and spirit-filled opportunity to join together with God’s people. Participating churches include: First Presbyterian Ferguson, Second Presbyterian St. Louis, Third Presbyterian St. Louis, Oak Hill Presbyterian, and Cote Brilliante Presbyterian. See the Schedule of Events for more information. Transportation is provided from the campus. Sign up is available as part of Big Tent registration.

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