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July 28, 2010
National Bible Conference draws 800 to Denver
By Julie Filby
An enthusiastic crowd of 800 gathered at St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial July 16-17 for the fifth annual National Catholic Bible Conference themed “Scripture and God’s Plan for Your Life.”
“It’s our hope as a result of the fine speakers we brought together, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, people not only grow in what they know about God,” said Jeff Cavins, keynote speaker and developer of the popular “Great Adventure” Bible study series. “But that their everyday lives change as a result of this weekend.”
The conference kicked off with Mass, breakfast and a welcome address by Tim Gray, president of the Augustine Institute, conference sponsor along with Ascension Press and the Denver Catholic Biblical School.
Gray led the group in a resounding “Hail Mary” in honor the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel before introducing keynote speaker, Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. Gray recognized Archbishop Chaput for celebrating 45 years in religious life this year (he joined the Capuchin Franciscans in 1965) and 40 years in the priesthood.
In his talk “Fire on the Earth: God’s New Creation and the Meaning of Our Lives,” Archbishop Chaput said Scripture is the “one story that really matters” and “like every great story” it has structure. He explained that the beginning, middle and end of Scripture correspond to man’s creation, fall and redemption—and these three acts embody “God’s plan for each of us.”
“The story of Scripture is the greatest story ever told—a story of God’s creative power, man’s betrayal, God’s redemptive love; and a new destiny for humanity greater and more beautiful than anything any of us can imagine,” he said. “What man has violated, including himself, God makes new and better.”
He encouraged attendees to “live the life God calls you to right now, this weekend, in this conference.”
Participants chose from more than 20 break-out sessions, presented by national Bible scholars Gray, Cavins and his wife Emily, Sarah Christmyer, Curtin and Michaelann Martin, Scott Powell, Martha Fernandez-Sardina, Thomas Smith, Edward Sri, Steve Weidenkopf and Peter Williamson.
Julie and Tim Bolin, parishioners of St. Mary Cathedral in Cheyenne, were inspired to attend their first Bible conference after studying “The Great Adventure” at their parish.
“It’s exciting,” Julie, long-time organist, pianist and choir member at the cathedral, told the Denver Catholic Register. “It’s a neat opportunity to grow in my faith.”
The experience was emotional for the couple as well, as they grieve the death of Tim’s uncle, Msgr. William Delaney of Cheyenne, who died June 29.
“It’s very healing,” they agreed. “This will definitely help.”
Twenty-five states and the United Kingdom were represented at this year’s conference, including a contingency of 38 from Oklahoma, the state most widely represented after Colorado.
Carol Kmetz, parishioner of Church of St. Mary in Tulsa, was inspired to promote the conference in Tulsa churches after attending last year’s event.
“When you experience something you enjoy, you naturally want others to have that experience,” she said. “The speakers are top-notch and I came away with insights I never would’ve gotten on my own.”
She also appreciated the camaraderie of the assembly.
“There is something that affirms my Catholic faith when I’m in a place surrounded by hundreds of people that love the faith and have the same hunger to learn more about it,” she said.
In the final talk attendees gathered to hear Cavins’ keynote “The Plan: Living the Life You Don’t Have Time For.”
“The media and the ‘marketing machines’ understand that you’re searching for something. They know you’re searching for meaning in your life,” he said. “They know you’re stressed, and they know you don’t have enough hours in the day, so they offer a plan.”
When spiritual life can’t keep up in a quickly advancing world, he said it’s not Oprah, Dr. Phil or self-help books that provide the answer, but Christ’s example.
“We often stumble when our past and our future compete with our present,” he said. “Jesus Christ, who lives in the past and in the future, came to the present to show us how to live.”
After two years in Denver, organizers plan to move the conference to a location in the southeastern U.S. next year. CDs of conference talks can be purchased at www.catholicbibleconference. com.
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