Nov 16, 2009

Christian Legal Society National Conference

I'm a bit late on this, but I wanted to give a summary of the shenanigans at the CLS National Conference last month in San Diego.

The plenary speakers were great. It's odd, though, that what stands out for me about Gordon and Gail MacDonald and Mike McIntosh is not what they told us-- though their talks were excellent-- but what they did. Their gracious service to CLS from beginning to end of the conference was humbling.

Gordon and Gail MacDonald did more than just come and speak. They were there for the entire conference, presented workshops, and met in small groups with attendees. Gordon closed our conference with the Sunday morning preaching as well. What a blessing from this gracious couple! Mike McIntosh* not only encouraged us through his speaking, but also gave of his time and resources, helped to mobilize his entire congregation and sister churches, and practically put his staff at our disposal to make the conference successful. Evan Wickham and his wife Sandy led worship for the 120+ law students there-- at no cost or effort on our part. They did an amazing job, and we are grateful to them as well.

We loved our small group discussions after breakfast, the fellowship at each evening's banquet, and the time to get to know like-minded folks from around the country. The highlight presentation for most of us was from Restore International's Bob Goff, who challenged us to "look for the fingerprints of Jesus" in the opportunities we're faced with, and say "yes." Bob's story-- and stories-- about his compassionate work in his family and around the world were challenging and hilarious.

On the law student front, I think we had the most edifying National Law Student Convention to date. We had about 120 law students from more than 20 different law schools, who took part in worship, workshops, and networking throughout the weekend.

After introducing students to the four CLS ministries (Attorney Ministries, Christian Legal Aid, the Center for Law and Religious Freedom, and Law Student Ministries), and giving Fred Potter, our new CEO at CLS, say a few words, we heard from LSM Deputy Director Dan Kim on what it means to be in Christian community as a law student. We spent the rest of the conference in workshops:

Professor John Nagle led a discusion on Social Justice and Creation Care; Wendy McMahon, Judge Mary Libby Payne, and Merilyn Steele presented a panel on women's issues; Brent Amato, Gary Maedor, Ann Buwalda, and Sylvia Chen spoke on career options and integration of faith and practice; Center Senior Counsel Kim Colby spoke on religious liberty; and InterVarsity Graduate and Faculty staff worker Gary Cameron and I facilitated a discussion on ministry on campus.

Rock-star bookman Byron Borger was with us as well, speaking on Developing a Christian Worldview through Reading. He was a great encouragement to all of us-- you can read some of his reflections on the conference on his excellent Booknotes Blog.

Finally, the annual scholars' symposium was a big hit, thanks to Dr. Dave VanDrunen of Westminster Seminary California, who addressed a small, but energetic group of law professors, deans, students, and lawyers on "Justice as Human Vocation."

We're still exploring dates and locations for next year's national conference, but I hope you'll join us!

*I don't have a link yet to Mike's plenary session in San Diego, but here's a clip of his testimony in another setting, from

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