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Summit to focus on ‘Holy Discomfort’

Registration is underway for the 117th year of Abilene Christian University’s Summit, Oct. 11-13, with the theme of “Holy Discomfort: Our Journey Toward God.”


The Summit Spring 2023 Anchor Point plenary session.
The Summit Spring 2023 Anchor Point plenary session.

Summit, sponsored by the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry, offers Christian leaders the opportunity to gather with others serving in similar roles. Attendees share practices and discuss ministry challenges to learn from, and encourage one another, all while forging relationships extending beyond Summit.

The conference now takes place annually in the fall, over three days, coinciding with ACU’s Homecoming weekend, and is centered around intentional groups for those with similar interests or leadership roles. Over the course of its 117-year history, organizers have made transitions to continue to meet the needs of their target audiences.

“As we have continued to listen to feedback from Summit participants, one of the things we heard the most is that they wished Summit could be a little bit longer, so we have lengthened Summit,” said Dr. Jennifer Schroeder, Summit director. “This gives us the opportunity to not only spend more time in our ministry communities but also hear from additional keynote speakers and have greater opportunities for worship.”

The fall 2023 communities include adult formation, children’s ministry, Hispanic ministry, missions, preaching ministry and small church ministry. There will also be a general interest community examining Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem in the second half of Luke’s gospel. Facilitators will craft each community’s discussions and learning experiences specifically toward the needs of the group.

“Summit is open to everyone, whether a person serves formally in ministry or not,” Schroeder said. “While we are focusing on specific areas of ministry, our general interest community maintains a more traditional lectureship model for those who simply want to dive more deeply into the word of God.”

Keynote speakers for Summit include:

  • Sara Gaston Barton, chaplain at Pepperdine University. Barton provides pastoral care and teaches adjunct ministry courses at Pepperdine and is on the preaching team at the Camarillo Church of Christ. Her previous professional experience includes teaching and serving as the campus minister at Rochester University in Michigan and working in women’s ministry in Jinja, Uganda. She is on the advisory board for the ministry journal, Discernment: Theology and Practice of Ministry.
  • Dr. Esau McCaulley, an associate professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the author of many books such as Sharing in the Son’s Inheritance and a children’s book Josie Johnson’s Hair and the Holy Spirit. McCaulley won Christianity Today’s book of the year for Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope. He is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.
  • Don McLaughlin, preaching minister for the North Atlanta Church of Christ in Atlanta, Georgia. McLaughlin began at the North Atlanta church following ministries in Ohio and Indiana. He and his wife, Susan, have focused their ministry on inspiring and equipping people to live fully into the vision of Christ for the world. McLaughlin is the author of Heaven in the Real World and Love First: Ending Hate Before It’s Too Late.

At Anchor Point, the Summit community will come together for dinner, worship led by Stephen Maxwell, and a concluding plenary session from McCaulley.

“McCaulley is a dedicated theologian, and he challenges us to think more deeply and wrestle with hard conversations through the lens of Scripture, and that, in and of itself, is a significant reason that we wanted to invite him to speak,” Schroeder said. “Our theme for this year – holy discomfort – compels us to recognize and embrace the experiences of others as we seek to grow closer to God and to each other, and the work and words of Esau McCaulley likewise echo that.”

Attendance is limited, and registration is open through Sept. 26. Participants are encouraged to stay and connect with friends and alumni at ACU’s Homecoming immediately following Summit.

Register or learn more at or visit the Summit Facebook Page.

— Connor Mullins

Sept. 12, 2023

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