Author, biblical storyteller, and theologian.
Keynote Theme: Biblical Storytelling in Difficult Times
Richard Ward is an author, biblical storyteller, and theologian. As Professor Emeritus at the Phillips Seminary, he brings a rich background in performance studies and practices to the Festival Gathering. He is particularly interested in the arts of storytelling and oral interpretation of Scripture as they inform and enrich ministry. Richard is the coeditor of “Craddock Stories” with Mike Graves and Fred Craddock. Most recently, with David Trobisch, Richard co-authored “Bring the Word to Life: Exploring the New Testament through Performing It.” He’s published other books and several contributions and articles for the disciplines of homiletics, performance theory, and communication studies. Ward served on the editorial boards for “Feasting on the Word: A Lectionary Commentary Series” and “Feasting on the Gospels” for Westminster John Knox Press. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Ward previously served on the faculties of Iliff School of Theology, Yale Divinity School, and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.
Thelma Ruffin Thomas believes that stories are gifts wrapped in words. They touch people by expressing the whole range of human experiences.
Ms. Thomas is an active member of St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan. She is an International Storyteller and renowned Biblical Storyteller, Artistic Director of the Pearls of Wisdom-Elder Share the Arts (ESTA), Professional Developer, teaching artist, and mentor.
She is a member of the following: Network of Biblical Storytellers (NBS), National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS), African Folk Heritage Circle (Treasurer), a chapter of The National Association of Black Storytellers, and retired librarian from the New York Public Library.
As a Biblical Storyteller, her repertoire includes stories of heroines such as: Priscilla, Miriam, Deborah, Jael and many others. Her riveting biblical stories have been heard around the world in places such as: Ghana, Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya, The Gambia, and Australia.
As an International Storyteller she specializes in many genres of contemporary literature, personal narratives and stories culled from her many years of experience growing up in Harlem and working with intergenerational populations.
Ms. Thomas was a featured storyteller at the Network of Biblical Storytellers (NBS) and is the recipient of the National Storytelling Network (NSN), Oracle Service Award.
Learn how to engage children in deepening their understanding of biblical stories by seeing how Echo Mimes, Liquid Pictures, Number Stories and Drama Bags can all be used to invite children of all ages to be able to tell bible stories.
Carole Danby, after more than 30 years, retired in December 2020 from her position with the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia as a children and families trainer and workshop leader. Carole has been part of two International trips with NBSI, one to the Philippines and the other to Chennai, India where she demonstrated various drama techniques with hundreds of participants. Carole has been a dedicated member of the Australian Network of Biblical Storytellers for more than 20 years and has attended 8 Festival Gatherings since 2008.
Beyond what you have learned about your biblical text, its context, its cultural setting, its historic background, its original language, and the meaning of its translated words, lies the energy of the vocal sounds themselves. The thud, slice or explosion of consonants, the yawning or piercing of vowels, all come together to create a flow that arrests the ear of the listener and fires the expression of the teller. In this workshop, we will explore sounds as a key to connecting text, teller and listener. Elizabeth will share this method of preparing a text for speech and invite you to actively join in the process.
Elizabeth Adkisson is an ABS certified Master Biblical Storyteller. Her ABS educational resource, “Finding God Alive! Reclaiming the life in the Stories of God through Communication and Embodiment Skills” has been the basis of several FG workshops. Coming from 30+ years of directing and teaching performance skills, she focuses on adapting those skills to benefit biblical storytellers.
Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of us all? Is it Ruth? t Abigail? Or, is it Esther? Why do we seek the answer to this? It’s perhaps a significant question to explore in understanding what made the eastern women ravishingly beautiful. Explore the different essential oils, get a taste of eastern beauty traditions, understand the reason behind the preparation, and finally see how the story took a dramatic turn because of the preparation.
Sandhya Ruban, India’s first certified biblical storyteller from the NBS Academy of Biblical Storytelling, is now working towards being certified on the master’s level. A passionate storyteller, speaker, and preacher at multicultural church organizations, she is co-curator and board member of the Chennai International Storytelling Festival and founder of NBS India. She uses biblical storytelling to minister to women worldwide, with a special focus on rural women in India who are illiterate.
Linnea Good and Catherine Stuart
What do Biblical Storytelling and Ukulele have in common? They are joyful expressions of the spirit, meant for all! Learn about this unique program, born out of the online exile of this year, which combines into worship the telling of scripture with an art-and-faith process, prayer and praise, and ukulele instrument learning. Linnea and Catherine will take you through a sampling of the Ukulele Church hour, and give ideas and options for biblical storytelling applications, liturgical seasons and their music, and other ideas for intergenerational music that pairs with biblical telling. Bring your uke if you have one and can play C Am F G7. Come if you have no uke and don’t play – but beware: by the end of our fast 90 minutes, you will be hooked.
A composer, educator and storyteller well known in the Canadian church, Linnea Good has written music for denominational hymnbooks and resources around the globe. Now an award-winning community musical animator, she teaches piano and ukulele in her home, organizing local music camps, conferences, and most recently online ukulele lessons with students of all ages.
The Rev. Catherine Stuart serves as Regional Minister for Children, Youth and Young Adults in the Atlantic Regions of The United Church of Canada. She is passionate about music and its role in faith formation and biblical storytelling. Most recently, she began an online faith formation program called Ukulele Church, along with Linnea Good (who is also her esteemed Ukulele teacher).
Did you ever wonder how you could affect spiritual formation through biblical storytelling? If you are interested in using biblical storytelling with intergenerational groups or any particular age group, this workshop will give you ideas and tools to foster the spiritual growth of your participants through storytelling, discussion, and creative activity.
Barbara Tucker is a retired teacher-librarian with over 40 years’ experience teaching people of all ages in church and public schools. She holds masters’ degrees in education from the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ever the lifelong learner, she holds a basic level certificate from the Academy for Biblical Storytelling.
The story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and the story of Jesus’ trial before Pilate have been connected with the subordination of women and Christian anti-Semitism. In both cases, reading the stories as sources of doctrine has led to their interpretation as stories of blame: the woman for the origins of sin and “the Jews” for the death of the Messiah. In this workshop,
we’ll explore retelling the stories as experiences of involvement rather than blame. Telling the stories makes all the difference.
Thomas E. Boomershine is an internationally known speaker and author in the interpretation of the narratives of the Bible as oral story in antiquity and in the communication systems of the digital age. An ordained minister and former professor at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, Tom now writes and produces multimedia resources for the interpretation of the Bible in digital culture. He is author of Story Journey and The Messiah of Peace and is founder of the Network of Biblical Storytellers, Int’l.
Few experiences rival the insight, personal growth, and community building that occurs when a community stages an epic telling of a biblical composition. In this session, New Testament professor Cliff Barbarick will outline the process he uses to foster these experiences in his college classes. Hopefully, learning about his process will inspire you to create something similar in your own education or ministry context.
Cliff Barbarick is an Associate Professor in the Department of Bible, Missions, and Ministry at Abilene Christian University. In his New Testament classes, he regularly performs biblical stories with his students as a way to help them explore the biblical compositions more deeply. Recent class performances include the Gospel of Mark, 2 Corinthians, and 1 Peter.
While learning Biblical stories we gather background information such as cultural material that we cannot use in the telling. Connections emerge between stories with common characters, themes or that occur within the same gospel. For 30 years, Philip has been writing first-person eye-witness accounts told by Biblical characters using this sort of information and the wider context of the stories. In this workshop he will pass on skills he has learned and practiced.
Philip Liebelt is a retired minister, a biblical storyteller for 31 years, and also a writer of first-person monologues. His MEd. was on Biblical Storytelling as a pedagogy for Christian Education. For 12 years he was National Coordinator of NBS Australia. His books include “Making Connections: Telling Luke’s Parables” and “The Innkeeper of Jericho and Other Eye-witnesses from the Beginning,” Since 1998, he has told 90 minutes of ‘Luke’ and is writing a book from that experience.
Throughout history the Bible has been used as a weapon resulting in religious trauma. During this workshop, participants will engage how the art of Biblical Narrative can begin the conversation to heal religious trauma. This workshop will engage questions such as: How are we telling Biblical stories in a world where these stories have created dogma to marginalize God’s people? Are we taking the time to recognize our own biases, trauma, and experience with biblical stories, and what are we doing to confront and heal that? What stories are we choosing to tell to those who have experienced religious trauma? How are we choosing these stories?
Theresa Eggleston is a newly commissioned Deacon in the Upper NY Annual Conference of the UMC. She works in camp & retreat ministries where she extends radical Christian hospitality to all people. Theresa loves seeing when a biblical story ‘clicks’ and campers and adults alike realize there is a good God, God loves them, and God wants a relationship with them. Theresa is a basic certified biblical storyteller through ABS and is currently working through the master’s certification.
How do I turn silent marks on paper into a lively biblical storytelling experience? This learn-by-doing workshop will introduce you to the art of biblical storytelling as we learn, explore, connect, and tell Jesus’ story about a widow and a judge (Luke 18:1-8). Learning the story “by heart” will help us not “lose heart” which is why Jesus told this parable. Our focus will be on internalizing this particular story, but the workshop will also jumpstart your ability to learn any story at home on your own. Bonus feature: tips on the performance basics of movement, eye contact, and dealing with stage fright.
Amelia Boomershine is an ordained Deacon in the West Ohio Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. She and her husband Tom have a non-profit ministry called GoTell Communications whose mission is “to empower people to tell biblical stories by heart as a spiritual discipline for embodying Jesus’ way of peace in the world.” Amelia has told and taught biblical stories to adults, youth, and children in the U.S. and around the world, in churches, prisons, and the local jail. She has written biblical storytelling curricula to accompany “The Story Keepers” video series and is author of A Breath of Fresh Air: Biblical Storytelling for Prisoners.