"Conversations on Courage and Faith," the long-running lecture series at Christ Church Greenwich, continues on Jan. 9 with Dr. Tony Campolo, a Christian activist who will speak about his efforts to create support programs for at-risk kids throughout the U.S.
The series, which has attracted audiences from New York, Westchester and Fairfield Counties, is the brainchild of Ian Cron, a Greenwich native and former pastor of the non-denominational Trinity Church, in partnership with the Rev. Dr. James Lemler of Christ Church.
"I wanted to bring in the best thinkers on divergent views to stir the waters in this part of the country," Cron said, "to create a conversation that stimulated people to think about the ultimate questions of life: Where are we going? Who is God?"
The series, Cron explained, was inspired by conversations he held with Lemler, and by a quote from his spiritual hero, Father Thomas Merton: "The times are difficult. They call for courage and faith."
"For Christians, if you have courage without faith you can lapse into an angry or cynical activism," Cron said. "If you're all faith without courage you can end up with a sentimental piety that doesn't engage the world.
"You want to have commitment to both: a rich faith life and an engagement with the world," he continued, "where you are advancing the work of the Lord in very physical ways, like feeding the poor. It takes courage to live the life of faith. It always has."
Cron, who founded Trinity Church in 1999 as a spinoff from the Stanwich Congregational Church, stepped down last year as pastor to write, compose music, study, lecture and engage people on things spiritual. Though living with his family in Franklin, Tenn., Cron returns monthly to Greenwich to preach as an adjunct clergy member at Christ Church, and to pursue his doctorate in ministry at Fordham University. He says he lives a "portfolio life - like a portfolio of investments, but in ministry."
He loves more than anything, he said, to talk to people about issues that are related to God, "to see the light go on in their eyes," when he has said something clearly that has always been felt vaguely. "That's what I love: to experience in some shift in their thinking or experience of God," he said.
Cron brought a galley and book jacket of his soon-to-be published book, Jesus, My Father; The CIA, and Me: A Memoir...of Sorts. Cron's previous book, Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale, published in 2006, was given a new boost recently with the endorsement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams.
Cron's choice of speakers for the lecture series is eclectic. The most recent speaker in the series was Father Nigel Mumford, a former Royal Marine commando who first described surviving illness through prayer, then held a healing service.
The March 12 and 13 speaker/author Dr. Jeremy Begbie specializes in connecting theology and the arts.
Poet Maya Angelou will speak on April 2, during poetry month, along with the Rob Mathes Gospel Singers, who will perform her six favorite spirituals. "We're going to have the best band for her engagement," Cron said.
The final speaker in the series, Cron said, is one of the foremost theologians of our time, British New Testament scholar N.T Wright, who will speak on May 14-15 and hold an all-day retreat, "Reading the Gospels For All They're Worth" on May 14.
For more information about "Conversations on Courage and Faith" or to buy tickets, go to www.courageandfaith.org,