Christianity and Civil Government Focus of LARCUM Conference

By Colleen Rowan
CHARLESTON—Christianity and Civil Government and its history, theology and implications for citizens, pastors and institutions will be the focus of the LARCUM Conference of West Virginia’s upcoming gathering in Charleston.
LARCUM, which stands for Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic, United Methodist, will hold the sixth-annual conference at St. John XXIII Pastoral Center in Charleston Sept. 9-11 gathering religious leaders of the participating denominations and their faithful.
LARCUM Conference organizers describe the gathering as a continuing educational opportunity, and a journey for Christian unity.
“In addition to the dynamic speakers there will be opportunities to pray, socialize and collaborate with colleagues and individuals from other denominations,” organizers said.
The conference will begin at 2 p.m. with opening prayer and an introduction session “The Law and Matters of Religion: An Overview of the Current State of Affairs.” Each judicatory has provided a speaker for the conference, and each speaker will present two sessions. There will also be a question and answer session with a panel of participating presenters.
Jesuit Father Brian O’Donnell will be the presenter for the Roman Catholic Church; the Lutheran presenters will be the Rt. Rev. Matthew Riegel, and Dr. Philip Michelbach, Ph.D.; the Episcopalian presenter will be the Rev. Dr. Jason Fout; and the Methodist presenter will be the Rev. Dr. Clayton Childers.
Father O’Donnell is a member of the Society of Jesus and is the director of the Catholic Conference of West Virginia representing the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston on a wide array of issues to the state legislature and state agencies. He strives to deepen the Catholic laity’s knowledge of the social justice stances of the Catholic Church. He previously worked for the Appalachian Institute aimed at exposing students and others to social issues in Appalachia. Father O’Donnell has Master’s Degrees in modern European history and philosophy, and a doctorate from the Science, Technology, and Society program at MIT.
Rev. Riegel is bishop of the WV-WMD Synod. He earned M.Div. and S.T.M. degrees from LTSG. His research interests include the sanctification of ecclesiastical politics.
Dr. Michelbach is an associate professor in political science at West Virginia University. Dr. Michelbach earned a doctorate from the University of California, San Diego. His research interests are in the area of political theory and include German political thought, democratic theory, and distributive justice. He has taught introductory courses in political theory as well as more specialized classes in ancient, modern, and American political thought. His research has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science. He is currently revising a book manuscript on the tradition of German political thought beginning with Martin Luther in the 16th century and extending to contemporary democratic theory through G.W.F. Hegel in the 19th century.
Rev. Dr. Fout is associate professor of Anglican Theology at Bexley Seabury. He has degrees from the University of Cambridge, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He teaches courses on Anglican theology and ethics, Christology, and liturgics as well as a course on urbanism, architecture and city planning for church and community leaders. He also teaches the Learning from London travel course on contemporary mission and evangelism. His research interests include constructive theology, particularly Christology and issues around divine and human agency; theological exegesis of scripture; historical and contemporary Anglican theology; theological analysis of the built environment; scriptural reasoning; and missional theology.
Rev. Dr. Childers has served seventeen years as director of Conference Relations for the Board of Church and Society, the international public policy and social action agency of the United Methodist Church. He holds degrees from Furman University, Southeastern Seminary, and Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Prior to coming to Washington, D.C., he served for 11 years as a United Methodist pastor in South Carolina. In his current position, he has traveled widely, leading training events in 45 of the 55 conferences in the United States and in 25 countries.
Registration for the LARCUM Conference begins at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 9. The conference will end after lunch Sept. 11. The cost for the entire conference is $105 per person for regis-tration/double room occupancy (roommate must be listed), $125 for registration/single room occupancy, or $25 for a commuter.
To register for the conference, visit and click on Events and then on LARCUM.