Baylor Professor to Speak at European Christian Arts Festival

Aug. 21, 2007

by Paige Patton, communication specialist, (254) 710-3321

Dr. Mark Ellis, professor of Jewish Studies and director of the Center of Jewish Studies at Baylor University, will speak at a festival on the Jewish faith and the role it plays throughout the world on Aug. 24, in Gloucestershire, England. Ellis will speak to groups of 500-800 people during the three-day event.

Ellis will join more than 18,000 people at the largest Christian arts and music festival in Europe. The Greenbelt Festival allows people from across the world to rally together for a series of discussions and lectures from world-class leaders who work for God's peace and friendship through creative and innovative ways, according to their website.

The Greenbelt Festival is an independent Christian charity organization, which is committed to justice, eliminating world poverty and promoting world unity. The work is primarily volunteer-based, and their mission is to work to express love, creativity and justice in the arts and contemporary culture in the light of the Christian gospel.

"For more than 40 years, the Greenbelt Festival has been speaking to the role of faith, politics and culture in an international setting," said Ellis. "It is unusual for such discussions to attract 20,000 plus people from all over the world each year and this is part of its appeal; to discuss faith and learning - as it should be - in an ecumenical environment. In our world, the discussion of faith and learning means little when placed in a narrow or singular setting. So I am pleased this year to be invited as a featured speaker of the festival and look forward to the discussions I will be having in this capacity."

The festival's theme is "Heaven in Ordinary," and Ellis will present three distinct but related discussions. His topics include the crisis in the Middle East, interfaith relations, Israel and the Palestinians along with larger questions of faith, violence and reconciliation throughout the world.

Greenbelt works in large part with social justice organization Christian Aid, an organization that works to expose and eliminate poverty. Other partnerships that help promote and put together the Greenbelt festival include organizations like the YMCA, Traidcraft and the Department for International Development, all of which emphasize the importance of reducing world poverty in order to create a more equal future for men and women everywhere. Representatives of Greenbelt believe that association with such organizations has helped attendees over the past few years to re-imagine the church as an "infectious global conspiracy."

Ellis, a member of the Society of Jewish Ethics, has traveled extensively because of his knowledge on the Jewish culture and religion. He is the author of more than 20 books and expects his most recent, Reading the Torah Out Loud, to come out later this year. Ellis is the recipient of numerous awards including induction into the Martin Luther King Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College and nomination for the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his book Unholy Alliance: Religion and Atrocity in Our Time.

The 33rd annual Greenbelt festival will be held at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, England, and is open to all ages.

For more information, contact Ellis at (254) 710-3609 or visit the Greenbelt website at http://www.greenbelt.org.uk.

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