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While modern medicine has advanced in many areas, serious chronic illness is on the rise. For many, the gift of life continues amid affliction, including chronic pain, fatigue, and other forms of physical and mental distress.

Most Christians rightly seek healing through prayer and medical interventions. We pray and long for a bodily cure. But what happens when illness persists?


Christians today usually live within a narrow set of storylines about how God works in relation to illness. The chronically ill and their communities often assume God's calling -- to bear witness to God's love -- is paused while they are ill, that a life of discipleship can only resume once they are "healed."


Thankfully, Scripture and church history offer more compelling visions of God’s ongoing calling and work. We need these pathways, which have been forgotten or obscured, to revitalize the modern Christian imagination.


For this reason, the Girod Chair is launching the Faith and Illness Initiative (FII), a think-tank-like set of gatherings with a lofty goal:

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to discover a theology of vocation and virtue
for Christians living with chronic illness
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Monday, September 18
12:15-1:15 p.m.

Western Theological Seminary
Lunch Panel

"Light in the Darkness: Discipleship and Witness for Christians with Chronic Mental Illness"

View the Recording >

Tuesday, September 19

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Graves Hall, Hope College

Evening Panel

"A Long Obedience: Cultivating Christian Virtue in Long-Term Illness"

View the Recording >

Join a virtual reading group for Christians living with chronic illness and their caregivers. Reading groups meet 3 times (to be scheduled) prior to each colloquy. 

The 2023 book selection was:

On Getting Out of Bed

by Alan Noble

and a short article,

"The Strength to Be Patient," by Gerald McKenny and Stanley Hauerwas

Check out this list of resources, including book and article recommendations, scholarly works, and prayers and liturgies for use in worship.

Coming soon!

This small group of 12-14 people meets to read, discuss, and share life together for the duration of the 3-day colloquy. See the full Information Document.

Applications for the 2023 colloquy group are closed.

Sign up to be notified when the 2024 application is available.

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Church Historian
Illness, Pain, and Healthcare in Early Christianity

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Family Physician and Writer

Litein, Kenya

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Author, Rejoicing in Lament and 
The End of the Christian Life