Annual Members’ Meeting and Dinner

The Annual Member’s Meeting and Dinner of the International Bonhoeffer Society – English Language Section (IBS-ELS) is held conjointly with the American Academy of Religion (AAR) conference every November. The dinner normally takes place on the Friday evening of the AAR in a local church near the conference center. Our time together consists of a wine reception, book display, catered meal, fellowship, and a little business. The reception normally begins around 5:45pm and the dinner and program begin around 6:15pm, lasting approximately two hours. All members and friends of the IBS-ELS are invited.

(Recent) Past Meetings and Dinner Programs

2020 & 2021 Virtual

Program: Fellowship and Meet the Author Sessions Over Zoom

This year, in conjunction with the AAR’s virtual meeting, we met together for an hour over Zoom. The virtual format allowed more members and friends to gather together, although each of us did, of course, have to bring our own food and drink to the gathering.

We set aside time for a few, short, break-out sessions in which we encouraged meeting and fellowship between seasoned and newer members. One of the break-out times was devoted to a “Meet the Author” session, focused on books published in 2019 and 2020. We also devoted a few minutes to Society business, a time in which friends and members can learn about the Society’s work and upcoming events.

2019 in San Diego

Program: Preserving Oral Tradition and Honoring Renate Bethge: Stories from First Generation Bonhoeffer Scholars

Keith Clements, Michael Lukens, John Matthews, Clifford Green, Pat Kelley

Living Water Church of the Nazarene

This year’s dinner served to honor a number of first generation Bonhoeffer scholar-teachers who have actively served the Society for decades as well as honor the memory of Renate Bethge, in light of her recent passing. To that end, a panel of scholars – including Clifford Green, Keith Clements, Michael Lukens, Pat Kelley, and John Matthews – shared stories from their personal experience with the Bethges that gave them new knowledge or insight about Bonhoeffer’s life and work or that influenced their scholarship and teaching. During this special evening we passed along and preserved these little known, personal, and transformative stories.

2018 in Denver

Program: What is the Role of Activism in an Academic Society?
Capitol Heights Presbyterian Church

Bonhoeffer scholars Stephen Haynes and Jeffrey Pugh were our guest speakers for the evening, reflecting on the place of activism in an academic society charged with promoting the legacy of Bonhoeffer. 

The Bonhoeffer Society has always held a dual commitment to textual and historical analyses of primary material and constructive readings addressing contemporary ecclesial and social concerns. Recently, though, the Society expanded its vision by expressing an explicit commitment to support lay leaders, practitioners, and community activists who turn to Bonhoeffer’s legacy as a resource for resisting injustice. Given the risks of appropriation and the increasing politicization of Bonhoeffer’s legacy, what this commitment entails is not entirely clear nor without controversy within the Society itself. Guiding us into deeper reflection, Stephen Haynes drew from his newly published book, The Battle for Bonhoeffer: Debating Discipleship in the Age of Trump (Eerdmans, 2018), and Jeffrey Pugh shared about his experience as a religious leader who placed his body on the front lines of resistance during the neo-Nazi demonstration in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.

2017 in Boston

Program: Guest speaker James Carroll 

James Carroll

The First Lutheran Church of Boston

James Carroll, the Roman Catholic, award-winning author, historian, novelist, and playwright, was our guest lecturer for the evening. Carroll spoke about the influence of Bonhoeffer’s work on his most recent book, Christ Actually.

2016 in San Antonio

Program: “My Bonhoeffer Story” by Alice Bond

Alice Bond in Prague

Alice Bond, a long-time member of the International Bonhoeffer Society, is what she describes as a “Non” member of the society – a non-academic theologian and a non-pastor. A nurse (now retired), Ms. Bond returned to college in her 40s, where she encountered and developed a passion for the life and legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a religion course taught by Bonhoeffer scholar J. Patrick Kelley. Her remarks, delivered at University Presbyterian Church, include stories of other ‘nons,’ including Mary Glazener, Eleanor Neel, Dean Skelley, David Krause, Gary Blount, and Walter & Piet Klemeyer.

Future Meetings

2024 in San Diego – AAR dates: November 23-26, 2024

2025 in Boston – AAR dates: November 22-25, 2025


The English Language Section is dedicated to advancing the theology and legacy of German pastor-theologian and Nazi resister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in the academy, church, and world, and has been on the forefront of this work for the last fifty years.

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