Event registration link to be provided 4 weeks in advance of the event

Keynote Speaker

Richard Ward

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.

Featured Tellers

Thelma Ruffin Thomas

Biblical storyteller

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.


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