On November 16 Dr. Ryan McIlhenny and Dr. Scott Swanson accompanied twelve Providence students for the seven-hour drive to San Francisco for the Evangelical Theological Society Conference.
The conference lasted for three days and was held in the downtown Marriott Hotel. Scholars from a range of backgrounds came together to read their academic papers on theological and philosophical topics. Students were excited to listen to scholars that they had read in their classes: scholars such as Gordon McConville, Tremper Longman, and G.K. Beale. Lectures led to provoking discussions as the students and faculty argued over what the papers presented. “The lectures challenged all the students to look deeper at the things they believe,” said junior Christine Lehart, a Biblical and Theological studies major. “It made me think about what I believe and why I believe it.”
There was a lot of variety in the information presented due to the fact that the lecturers represented different denominations and theological backgrounds. The conference challenged the BTS majors to use the knowledge they have obtained over their years at Providence as well as their critical thinking skills to evaluate the talks.
Dr. McIlhenny, a native of San Francisco, facilitated sleeping arrangements for the students at the church where he grew up. “The congregation welcomed us with open arms, and treated us as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ,” said senior Josh Dykstra. Each morning students rode the metro system into the downtown area. They spent most of the day attending the lectures they thought most beneficial to their specific interests.
In the evenings, Dr. McIlhenny took the students around downtown to Lombard Street, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Factory for ice cream. He took a group of students to Haight-Ashbury and explained the history of its significance. “All in all, it was a very interesting, satisfying, and thought-provoking trip,” said junior Karolina Branson. “I learned a lot.”