Members of the staff including Mark Wardell, Angeli Chin and Ismael Hernandez attended Acton University in Grand Rapids, MI this past summer. Accompanying them were Chairperson Carmen Salome and board member Samuel Rodriquez, as well as Kara Jeudy, Development Director of The Salvation Army of Lee, Hendry and Glades.
What is Acton University?
- Four days that integrate sound economics, business, philosophy, theology, and intellectual history
- A customized learning plan that you create: featuring over 120 courses taught by over 80 experts: an international, world class faculty
- An exploration of the intellectual foundations of freedom, and respect for the dignity and value of the human person
- A place to learn about the classical foundations of economics, philosophy, theology, liberty and how they apply to our culture today
- A unique educational experience enabling you to lead with a greater understanding of the intersection of liberty and morality
- An international, ecumenical network of attendees helping you to apply your knowledge in shaping culture towards a free and virtuous society
Our very own Ismael Hernandez was a presenter for two courses at Acton University. This year, FVI members were some of the 1,028 people attending from all over the world.
“It was a great learning experience, with an intense schedule of lectures and learning opportunities. In my opinion, all staff of organizations serving those in need ought to have this learning experience as part of their job,” states Ismael Hernandez.
Make Wardell, PhD shares his experience below:
A group of five of us from the Freedom & Virtue Institute has just been treated to attend a very special conference. The Acton University 2017 Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan was outstanding in every respect!
• From very generous donors like Mark and Laura Lauer, to the opportunity to meet a European friend and colleague from 20 years ago;
• from the personalized attention to every individual attendee as exemplified by meeting each participant as they arrived into GRR airport from the four corners of the globe (Australasia, Europe, Africa, South America and Asia) and from the four corners of North America, to the personalized schedule of chosen classes for every individual participant;
• from the financial support for travel, tuition and accommodation received by most of the participants, to the three square meals and snacks provided free to all participants every day;
• from the opening plenary delivered by Samuel Gregg, to the closing lecture presented by Ismael Hernandez;
• from the hours of scholarly instruction, to the hours of questions, answers and debate;
• from the Acton University 2017 App specific for the conference containing information and handout-notes on every lecture, to the equally specific Sli-Do App allowing conferees to ask questions electronically on their smart phones during plenary sessions; and
• from the opportunity to converse with like-minded proponents of a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by Christian principles, to the possibility of forming expansive networking connections with scholars, theologians and practitioners committed to religious freedom;
• Acton University 2017 was exemplary.
Within the delectable tapestry of information delight on offer, I’m sure that every participant at the conference had their own personal highlights. For me there were many, but here are three at the top of my list. First, being exposed as a first-time conferee to a well-synthesized CORE curriculum of Christian principles and concepts of anthropology, economics and government that promote the ability of each individual person to flourish in a free and virtuous society.
Second, was the plenary by Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Moore argued that in response to secular pressure to shut down the Christian voice, Christians should get off defense and onto offense, insisting on the right for anyone to have honest discussions and debates in the public square without degeneration by any side to name-calling and disrespect, and that Christians should teach internally and externally the limitations of the state to bind people’s consciences.
Third, were the two excellent lectures by our own Ismael Hernandez who taught that race is a social construct, not a biological condition, and therefore that racism is not based on any tangible reality and could be extinguished if we all look inside ourselves, examine our assumptions and realign them with the biblical mandate that all men and women are created equal in the image and likeness of God and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ismael taught that hope for the inner city will be realized when ‘helpers’ stop seeing themselves as saviors trying to rescue the poor, but rather that metamorphosis out of a state of poverty will come when the poor are empowered by enablers who challenge them and who are witnesses of transformation when the poor exercise their own engines of creativity and self-reliance.