It was my joy to participate in the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, held at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, March 16-18, 2023. The theme was “In Our Own Tongues: Amplifying Pentecostalism’s Minoritized Voices,” and I was grateful for the opportunity to present a paper on “How the Apostles Read Ezekiel as Christian Scripture,” an abbreviated version of a forthcoming chapter in an edited volume to be released by IVP Academic, titled, The Prophets and the Apostolic Witness: Reading Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel as Christian Scripture. In this chapter, I intentionally highlighted the work of Pentecostal women scholars on Ezekiel, and on New Testament texts in which the apostles quote or allude to the prophet Ezekiel. The paper was well-received, and the feedback from scholars was helpful in polishing my chapter for the book.
I also had the opportunity to chair a session in which New Testament scholar Craig Keener gave a paper on Demonization in the biblical text and today, which was fascinating. He incorporated both social and cultural backgrounds of the ancient world as it relates to New Testament accounts of demonization along with personal stories and testimonies he shared from the lives of his students and from his own life personally. Moderation of the session was a delightful challenge with more than 100 in attendance and a lively Q&A following his presentation.
Personally, the highlight of academic conferences is the networking and relational connections made. I was thrilled for Vanguard University MA Theology student Elaine Lankford, who gave an outstanding paper on speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians, which was her first presentation at an academic conference. I felt so proud of her and the way she represented the Lord and Vanguard University. I also had the joy of rooming with Vanguard adjunct professor Sara Stabe, and we met Audrey McCormick, the niece of Dr. David Clark, who was my New Testament professor at Vanguard University during my MA program. I was able to share with her how he sparked my interest in eschatological literature of the Old Testament, an interest that continues to be my research passion to this day. I loved hearing about her important research on bridal imagery throughout the biblical text, as she is working on her Ph.D. in Contextual Theology at ORU.
Professionally, I was also able to connect with my acquisitions editor about my forthcoming book (contracted with Baker Academic). She offered wise guidance in terms of a systematic way to approach my research, field interviews, and writing. I am so thankful for the chance to work with her! I also connected with another acquisitions editor at Wipf and Stock to talk about ideas for future projects.
One major theme that emerged in the papers at this year’s conference, which is no surprise given the setting at Oral Roberts University, is the theme of divine healing. The papers that interested me the most were the ones dealing with communal and individual emotional healing from trauma and mental health issues, as well as papers connected to disability theology, an important field in which Pentecostal scholars are emerging. Society for Pentecostal Studies is a life-giving space for me, in which I experience professional growth and spiritual renewal. I am incredibly grateful to the Institute for Faculty Development for supporting me with the opportunity to share my research and to be shaped and sharpened by the research of my colleagues, as well as to be encouraged by fellowship, worship, and prayer.