Faith & Action Spring Conference

April 18, 2024

Faith & Action Spring Conference

Economic Disparities: What is our Role?

Christian Theological Seminary invites you to join representatives from area congregations, nonprofit, and government sectors on the morning of April 18th for the 2024 Faith & Action Spring Conference.  This year’s event will kick off with a keynote featuring Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington, President & Co-Founder of the Social Justice Training Institute and invited lecturer at Harvard University. Washington will explore the ways poverty, race, and class collude to impede meaningful change and the ways community members can dismantle the prevailing narratives that keep people in poverty. Following the keynote and discussion, there will be a panel discussion identifying policies that can reduce inequality and increase opportunity.

The Faith & Action Project is supported by: Mike and Sue Smith Family Fund, The Indianapolis Foundation, and The Petticrew Foundation.

Please note that attendance for the morning half of the Spring Conference (Keynote, Q&A, and Panel Discussion) is a prerequisite for organizations wanting to apply for a Faith & Action grant.  While attendance at the afternoon workshop is not required for the grant, it is an excellent learning opportunity. 

Spring Conference registration closes April 15.

Keynote Speaker

Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington

Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington headshot

Engaging at the Intersections:
Exploring Race, Class, and Poverty

Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington has been creating spaces for deeper and more authentic learning with a social justice lens for over 40 years.  He will share his deep understanding of the intersecting dynamics of race and poverty and offer tools and frameworks for doing our individual and collective part to address the issues.

Deuteronomy 15:11 is often cited as the reason that we can expect that poverty will never end. However, it also states that we as people of faith have a responsibility to take action if we care about humanity.

Rev. Dr. Washington will invite us to engage the dynamics of poverty with an intersectional lens. While we often see that poverty impacts populations differently based on race, this year’s focus will offer us an opportunity to explore how the intersections of race and class inform our analysis of the problems and should direct our actions.

Panel Discussion

Following the keynote presentation on April 18, there will be a moderated panel discussion with local non-profit leaders. Get informed on current public policy and be empowered to engage in advocacy work surrounding early childhood education, child poverty, housing insecurity, and mental health. Participants will learn:  

  • How you can plug into a coalition working to reduce poverty
  • How you can take action relative to Faith In Indiana’s campaign to reduce the incarceration of folks with mental illnesses and substance abuse
  • How you and your faith community can join GIMA’s efforts to reduce the number of evictions through their court watching initiative
  • Current policies that are directly related to supporting children at risk, specifically around education, childcare, and early learning

Building Capacity to Be a Change Agent

To be a bridge builder or a voice calling for change takes a lot of courage. How can we embody our faith traditions in ways that can lead to systemic change? How can we use our voice and position to fight for equity and economic mobility?

Cost for the workshop is $100 which includes lunch and Continuing Education credits.

This Workshop Will:  

  • Focus on developing tools and skills for productive, ground-up conversations about poverty and inequality.
  • Invite us to go deeper into living into our values to accomplish our goals and how to keep issues of poverty, equity, and inclusion grounded as matters of human dignity not as political issues.
  • Share best practices to handle situations when misinformation or incorrect narratives have been shared and tools for de-escalating elevated feelings around social justice.
  • Explore the dynamics that get in the way of real change and what actions we can implement.
  • Provide an opportunity for small group discussions on how our faith and sacred text guide our actions.
  • Register now because space is limited.
Article Discussions

Pre-Event Discussion Groups

To prepare for Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington’s presentation at the Faith & Action Spring Conference on April 18th and to encourage engagement with Washington’s ideas, themes, and solutions offered, CTS is hosting a pair of small group discussions hosted by CTS faculty member, Rev. Dr. Nick Peterson. The articles address multiple systemic issues, such as housing access and substance abuse resources and provide insights on how race and class can impact opportunity and wellbeing. Discussions will lend insights and prepare us for the spring conference themes.

  • April 9 – Online discussion group at 1pm Eastern
  • April 10 – In-Person discussion group at 12pm Eastern at Christian Theological Seminary
Nick Peterson Headshot

Rev. Dr. Nick Peterson
Christian Theological Seminary


April 9, 2024

  • 1pm Eastern – Pre-Event Article Discussion Group ONLINE

April 10, 2024

  • 12pm Eastern – Pre-Event Article Discussion Group IN-PERSON at Christian Theological Seminary

Main Event

April 18, 2024

  • 9am-12pm Eastern – Faith & Action Spring Conference (Main Event featuring keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington)
  • 12:15pm-3:30pm Eastern – Workshop and Lunch

Meet our Panelists and Speakers

Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington

Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington headshotRev. Dr. Jamie Washington

Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington has been creating spaces for deeper and more authentic learning with a social justice lens for over 40 years.  He will share his deep understanding of the intersecting dynamics of race and poverty and offer tools and frameworks for doing our individual and collective part to address the issues.

Josh Riddick

Josh RiddickJosh Riddick

Josh Riddick (he/him/his) is the lead program organizer at Faith In Indiana and community organizer for the Black Church Coalition. He has called Indianapolis home for the last seven years after graduating from Spring Arbor University. Since moving to Indianapolis, Josh has been a pastor, racial equity trainer, and civic dialogue facilitator. Josh completed his graduate work in Missional Leadership from Rochester University in the spring of 2022. He is a spouse, parent, avid men’s and women’s basketball fan, reader, and hip-hop connoisseur. Josh is moved by the intersections of identity, spirituality, justice, and the development of emerging Black leaders.

Rabbi Dr. Aaron Spiegel

Rabbi Dr. Aaron Spiegel

Executive Director/President, GIMA

The Greater Indianapolis Multifaith Alliance gathers faith leaders representing diverse religious traditions into a sacred friendship, in order to collaborate on civic projects that serve the common good of greater Indianapolis, making our city a more equitable place.

Aaron was a founding director of the Center for Congregations, and architect and director of the Congregational Resource Guide. As a trans-denominational rabbi, his focus is helping congregations, nonprofits, and socially minded businesses implement high availability strategic plans and make positive social change.

After acting as Interim Executive Director for the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), he accepted the role of inaugural director of GIMA. Aaron is also the President of the Synagogue Studies Institute, collecting and interpreting data about synagogues for the American congregational landscape.

Aaron is an experienced leader and strategic planner in IT, nonprofit management, and digital marketing, as well as a consultant, published author, and seasoned public speaker.

Sam Snideman

Sam Snideman

Sam Snideman serves as Vice President of Government Relations for United Way of Central Indiana, where he leads advocacy and public policy work to reduce poverty and improve economic mobility for Hoosiers in the Central Indiana region. Prior to coming to United Way, Sam worked in a variety of policy and advocacy roles in government and higher education. Sam is also a fellow at the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University. Sam earned his Ed.D. (higher education) from Ball State University, M.A. (political science) from Texas A&M University, and his B.S. (political science) from Indiana State University.

Rev. Dr. Nick Peterson

Nick Peterson HeadshotRev. Dr. Nick Peterson

Dr. Nick Peterson is the Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Worship and the Assistant Director of the Ph.D. in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric Program at Christian Theological Seminary.  He holds a PhD from the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University, a Bachelor of Arts from Franklin & Marshall College in Africana Studies and Business Management, and a Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary.  His dissertation, On Being an Issue of Delores: A Meditation on Black Faith in an Antiblack World, explores how black faith engenders intramural care practices, which he calls black-on-black care.  This transformative care contends with and sometimes exceeds the constraints of antiblackness.  As a practical theologian, Peterson interrogates how intentional and unintentional practices shape Christian identities and configure worldviews.  Teaching in preaching and worship, he is acutely interested in the ways biblical interpretation, tradition, culture, and social location inform public proclamation and liturgy.  Dr. Peterson is an ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and has served broadly in the local church as assistant pastor, pastor, minister of music, and youth minister.  He has demonstrated commitment to ecumenism and has held positions in Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Mennonite, UCC, and UMC contexts.  Peterson and his spouse NaKisha have twin 6-year-old sons, Zayden and Zander.

Grants Process

The Faith & Action Project is looking for the next cohort of poverty-fighting innovators that will receive Faith & Action Grants. Applications for 2024 Faith & Action Grants will be available in March and due on May 7 at noon. 

The 2024 Faith & Action Grants Program will award grants to organizations working to break the cycle of poverty. We are looking to fund initiatives with exceptional promise that, with additional resources, can be replicated or otherwise accelerated.

Please note: Organizations planning to apply for a Faith & Action grant are required to have a representative attend the Faith & Action Spring Conference main event. Conference registration closes April 15. 

Faith & Action Project Grant Program

CTS, with support from the Mike and Sue Smith Family Fund, has created the Faith & Action Project to inspire collaboration among faith communities, nonprofits and government agencies in order to reduce poverty in the city. One of the primary ways we do that is through our annual grant program.

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