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Pepperdine University Explores Resilient Faith During Virtual Harbor 2021 Event

May 26, 2021  | 2 min read

Harbor promotional image showing a lone sailboat sailing on the horizon at sunsetOn May 26, 2021, Pepperdine University presented Harbor 2021, a five-hour virtual event designed for spiritual community leaders, ministers, and the Pepperdine community. The virtual event comes more than a year after the in-person Harbor 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The event opened with Mike Cope, director of ministry outreach for the Office of Church Relations, introducing this year’s theme, Resilient Faith: A Day of Renewal for Church Leaders. Each of the many speakers of the day touched on the unique challenges of the past year while also encouraging the audience through key elements and purpose of ministry. Cope described faith as inherently resilient in its ability to accept reality, find meaning amidst struggles, and adapt and improvise in the face of such challenges. 

After Cope’s introduction, Pepperdine president Jim Gash (JD ’93) welcomed ministers expressing his excitement for the day ahead and his enthusiasm to see everyone in person at Harbor 2022. Following Gash’s welcome, Eric Wilson, preaching minister at the University Church of Christ recited Langston Hughes’ poem, “The Weary Blues,” as part of his prayer and blessing over the day. 

Tod Bolsinger, who serves as the vice president and chief of leadership formation and assistant professor of practical theology at the Fuller Theological Seminary, led the first session of the day with his discussion of tempered resilience. He encouraged the audience that to lead, one must be adaptive and vulnerable, and that to be vulnerable, one must also foster strong, multifaceted relationships. Following his presentation, Jason Locke, preaching minister at the College Church of Christ in Fresno, California, delved deeper into Bolsinger’s concept of tempered resilience in a thoughtful and compelling interview. 

Rick Gibson, senior vice chancellor at Pepperdine, joined David Kinnaman, author and president of Barna Group, in a discussion on the health and climate of ministry and how the church will adapt post-pandemic. 

Pepperdine chaplain Sara Barton led an interview with authors Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer on their book, A Church Called Tov, which carefully calls out the abuse of power in churches and lays out how churches may instead be marked by goodness. Terry and Sharon Hargrave spoke on how to find peace even as conflict and uncertainty allow for fear to take over one’s thoughts. 

"While we longed to host our Harbor audience on campus, we are grateful for those who participated in this virtual event," shares Cope. "It was especially good to see groups of church leaders gathered to watch together on social media. From an opening review of what Christian leaders reported through the pandemic by Barna president David Kinnaman to inspiration from N. T. Wright at the end, there was plenty to challenge and encourage leaders.”

Additional speakers included Landon Saunders, Randy Harris, Steve Cuss, Jim Martin, Rick Atchley, Daniel Rodriguez, Fate Hagood, and Don McLauglin. A common theme throughout the day’s sessions was to find hope and trust that God is at work in the challenges and that the new struggles are providing opportunity for new growth.

Cope closed the virtual lectures with a preview of the 2022 lectures study of 2 Corinthians and encouraged the more than 640 registrants that, despite the challenges of this last year, their striving to serve Christ is not in vain. 

To learn more about Harbor 2021 and access previous years of the Pepperdine Bible Lectures, visit the Harbor website.