Scholars Conference with Diana Butler Bass, April 23-24, 2020

November 22, 2019
By: 
Sherri Dietrich, President, United Thank Offering Board

The United Thank Offering has been spreading the good news of gratitude for 130 years, but over the past decade, gratitude has become a phenomenon in both scientific circles and the popular press. Psychology research links gratitude and grateful behavior to improved physical and mental health, success, and of course, happiness. Christians have been singing the praises of gratitude for as long as there have been Christians, but why? What is the relationship between our faith as Christians/Episcopalians, gratitude, and God? Why does God call us to be thankful so many times in the Bible, and why do we repeat the call to be thankful so many times each Sunday in the liturgy of the Eucharist? These questions are way beyond my theological skills, which is why I am excited about The Theology of Gratitude scholars conference that UTO and Bexley Seabury Seminary are presenting in Chicago on April 23-24, 2020. This conference will feature keynote speaker Diana Butler Bass, author of Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks, and papers on gratitude presented by scholars in different fields of theology. The papers from the conference will also be published in the Anglican Theological Review in a special issue on gratitude to make them available to an audience well beyond the conference attendees.

UTO proposed this conference both because we want a firm theology of thankfulness behind our work and because we want to encourage scholarship, which is one of the legs of Anglicanism’s three-legged stool (faith, tradition, reason). Although eucharist means thanksgiving and we talk about giving thanks every Sunday, there is not much theological work on what thankfulness means and how it relates to our faith, but we hope this conference will begin to change that and will inspire more thought and conversation about gratitude in the Church.

If you want to learn more about The Theology of Gratitude conference, you will find information at https://unitedthankoffering.com/conference/. If you know a scholar who should submit a paper, please encourage her or him to visit our blog for guidelines. If you want to attend, we look forward to seeing you there.

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