Wilberforce Conference 2016


Recordings & Reflections

We hope you enjoy these brief reflections and recordings (where available) from each afternoon session.

Please note: audio was not consistent, and these recordings are unlikely to reflect the actual experience, so please enjoy these as a sampling and plan on coming next year! The recording from Can Women Have It All? is mercifully clear, so we recommend you check out that one at the least.

In case you want to learn more about the panels and speakers, panel descriptions and full speaker bios were included in the Wilberforce Conference Program Guide which can be found below.


1: Signpost in a strange land

Dr. Steve Garber opened the conference with a wonderful talk that unfortunately was not recorded. Garber's reflections placed William Wilberforce in conversation with novelist Walker Percy, a UNC graduate. Garber challenged conference attendees not to "make As while flunking life," and asked people to consider why William Wilberforce was equipped to take a lifelong stand as an abolitionist while a similarly positioned and educated Thomas Jefferson was not. While Garber's talk was not recorded, other lectures can be found on Youtube, including this QIdeas presentation on Vocation, or his talk "Getting All A's & Still Failing at Life from Covenant College."


2A: Life, Risk & Calling

Mr. Charles Merritt, the director of the Entrepreneurship Minor at UNC, moderated "Life, Risk, and Calling: Finding What You Want and Realizing What You Need to Leave Behind." The panelists were Rachel Haughey, founder of NEAT Coffee in Westport, CT; Bill Keyes, a member of the UNC Board of Trustees and the founder of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship; and Brad McGinity, cofounder and leader of the sales team at Windsor Circle. The panelists and moderator addressed the challenges and sacrifices that come with new ventures, particularly as entrepreneurs, but also as these challenges and sacrifices relate to taking risk with general career decisions. Notably, Mr. Keyes said that it is less risky to do something "risky" that you know God is calling you to than to do something "conventional" that you know He is not calling you to. For me, this panel was the highlight of my Fall, not only in getting to work with the panelists and moderator in preparation, but also in watching the panelists interact and build off of one another. The room was packed and it truly felt like important words were being spoken; I was very grateful to just be present.

- Joe Yardley ('19)


2B: Medicine as Christian Vocation?

This panel included Dr Mark Miller, a plastic surgeon and CEO of a cosmeceutical company; Dr Joan Perry, a pediatrician at Kinston Pediatrics; and Dr John Thorp, the Director of General Obstetrics and Gynecology at UNC Hospitals and Vice Chair for Research. The panel was moderated by Dr. Farr Curlin, a Professor of Medicine and a Professor of Medical Humanities at Duke University. The general focus of this panel was to explore how these physicians feel that their faith influences the way that they practice medicine on a daily basis. Medicine can be a very consuming profession and it can be difficult to integrate a faith life into such a mentally and emotionally draining vocation. The panelists explored such questions as looking at a time when their faith specifically impacted how they dealt with a patient and how a patient's faith had influenced their interaction with that patient. One great opportunity of the profession, Dr. Curlin remarked, was the privilege of being in a place to observe the mystery of the Holy Spirit's work in the life of someone who had been vulnerable to the truth of God's Word and had been able to come to know him in a moment of crisis at the end of a long life of abuse and rejection of God. As physicians, there is a unique opportunity to be present in some of the worst crises that some people will ever face and to be the hands and feet of Christ in those moments. "Illness is the occasion in which God often acts in ways that are really profound: sanctifying and renewing people and showing forth God's love and goodness." This gives Christians a very different view of illness from a culture which is often very animated by a fear of death and dying and gives Christians a unique and needed voice in healthcare professions.

- Sam Weeks ('17)


2C: Truth and Creativity Without Apology

The Truth and Creativity Without Apology panel featured Stephen King, UNC professor of Interactive Media, Jesma Reynolds, creative director for Walter Magazine, and Charlie Tuggle, Senior Associate Dean of and professor in UNC's Media and Journalism school. King, Reynolds, and Tuggle discussed the tremendous impact journalists make on our society. Moreover, they explained how their Christian worldviews and lifestyles clarify and even exemplify their purpose as individuals striving to work for the Lord in a society that so often uses earthly, personal gain as motivation to be successful. Tuggle in particular commented on how it can be easy for Christians to use the concept of Grace to excuse the production of content that lacks quality, falling short of industry standards. In fact, Tuggle expressed, Christians should be those who work passionately to surpass "standard" since we know the Lord is delighted and is glorified when we work heartily for Him, not just for man, referring to Colossians 3:23-24. It was a great, much-needed reminder -- especially for students at UNC -- that the hard work we do isn't overlooked, and that we should take delight in our work because our Heavenly Father delights in it also.

- MaryRachel Bulkeley ('18)


3: Gotta’ Serve Somebody: Ambition & Success

At 3 PM, the entire conference convened to listen to an interview between Tom Darden and David Walden. David is a UNC graduate who interned with Mr. Darden’s company while a student, and now is working with JP Morgan in New York. Darden’s biography of accomplishments personal and professional is impressive, but what I found to be most impactful about the interview was the clear insight everyone gained into his decision-making process. Darden attended Yale for law school after matriculating from UNC, where he realized that he above all thinks like an engineer. Realizing that law was not a good fit for his desires and skillset, Darden tacked toward looking for opportunities to run a business. It became apparent that for him, faith is primarily manifest in both the passionate pursuit of excellence and also in the careful stewardship of resources and successes. Success need not lead to egotism, and Darden made it clear that it is important to master one’s finances. Above all, I walked away from the interview encouraged about the opportunities to live with excellence and also with several practical steps for avoiding greed.

- Madison Perry (’06, JD ’13)


4A: Can Women Have it All?

In the "Can Women Have it All?" panel, panelists discussed the nature of being a modern woman of faith. Julia Sprunt Grumbles, the former VP of HR, PR and Corporate Marketing Resources of Turner Broadcasting, Willa Kane, a board member of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, and Jeanne Maurrasse, a brand manager for Unilever all shared their raw stories of how God is using their unique talents to take them down a divinely crafted path.

The women agreed that no one can really “have it all.” In reality, a Christian’s top priority should always be his or her relationship with God. Other priorities shift in our lives, and these shifts don’t look the same for every Christian.

“If I’m faithful to the opportunities that [God] brings me,” Kane said, “then I can say, for me, I am having it all.”

I appreciated that the panelists were realistic about the limits of of our lives, but also about the possibility of limitless satisfaction and peace that comes with knowing God.

- Mandy Spalding ('18)


4B: Seek the City

What does it mean to both live as a Christian and to lead as a business executive? How should we answer God’s call to love our cities? How difficult is it really to swim across the English Channel at night? In the panel, “Seek the City,” Summit College Director David Turner interviewed David Morken to answer these questions and more in a wide-ranging discussion on life, work, and what it means to love our cities well. Morken, the CEO ofBandwith.com, Chairman of Republic Wireless, and Co-Founder of DurhamCares, credits the success of his companies to a “Providence and perspiration partnership,” and an emphasis on a healthy work-life balance for his employees. Morken also spoke of his work with DurhamCares, a non-profit charity that seeks to bring awareness for excellent charities that are transforming Durham, North Carolina. For all those in attendance, this panel was a time of inspiration, and a true example of Christian leadership in our cities.

- Matthew McKnight ('18)


4c: Navigating Corporate Culture

Attending the Navigating Corporate Culture panel was a great experience for me. It was an excellent opportunity to hear several very accomplished professionals speak about how to do meaningful work in corporate environments and the challenges that arise in doing so. Those very accomplished professionals were Mary Fletcher Peña, Senior Commercial Attorney, Red Hat, Teresa Artis, Media Counsel, Trans World Radio, Michael Jacobs, Professor of Practice of Finance, Kenan-Flagler Business School, and Trevor Smith, President, Maupin Travel. Teresa in particular said something that really resonated with me, that if we as Christians want to gain influence for Christ in corporations that we work for, we must earn that influence through several ways, including by doing excellent work. People are valued at corporations by the quality of their work, so if Christians don’t create great work for their employers, why would any of their coworkers or superiors respect them enough to value their input? I also appreciated how Mary expressed that while Christian mentors at our corporations can be great, non-Christian mentors can also provide a potentially high value for us, particularly when it comes to advice on our professional lives. These remarks ultimately speak to the idea that Christians who are working for corporations need to be intentional about engaging with their non-believing coworkers and doing work that is meaningful in their eyes.  Ultimately, I learned a great deal from this panel, and I’m very grateful to have attended it.  

- Thomas Darden ('18)