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Illuminate Conference

Author and theologian Frederick Buechner famously wrote, “Pay attention to the things that bring a tear to your eye or a lump in your throat because they are signs that the holy is drawing near.”

Paintings, poetry, music, and other creative mediums hold strong potential to do just that—to indirectly communicate powerful truths, many of which have eternal consequences. Are we open to what they're telling us? Will we utilize these tools to share important stories (including The Story) with others?

REGISTER NOW AND JOIN US APRIL 4-5 for education + inspiration!

We can't wait to explore the intersections of art and faith together with you through presentations, performances, workshops, and conversations over meals.

We've got a fantastic initial lineup of confirmed session leaders and performers for the conference (see sample list below). Check out Illuminate's schedule for the exciting collection of inspiring topics on tap.


Illuminate will include nearly 30 different speakers, performers, and workshop leaders. Click on the images below to learn more about select presenters.

Andrew Peterson

Recording artist, songwriter, producer, filmmaker, publisher and award-winning author of “The Wingfeather Saga,” Andrew Peterson is also founder and president of The Rabbit Room, which has published thirty books to date and fosters community and spiritual formation through music, story and art. Known for songs like “Be Kind To Yourself,” "Is He Worthy,” “The Silence Of God” and more, Peterson has received three Dove Award nominations.

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Jason Emmanuel Petty, better known by his stage name Propaganda, is a Christian rapper, spoken word artist, and poet armed with a bold message. His ideas stem from where he sits at the intersection. He sees how cultures cross and inspire one another, and can see the oneness of us all. Propaganda will cause you to nod your head, but more importantly he will stretch your mind and heart.

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Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt

Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt, PhD, is associate professor of art and art history at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. She enjoys writing for general audiences on the intersection of art history, politics, and pop culture. In 2023, Baker Academic published Weichbrodt’s book “Redeeming Vision: A Christian Guide to Looking at and Learning from Art.”

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Douglas McKelvey

Douglas McKelvey moved to Nashville in 1991 to participate in the early work of Art House Foundation, an organization dedicated to a shared exploration of faith and the arts. In the decades since, he has worked as an author, song lyricist, scriptwriter, and video director. “Every Moment Holy,” McKelvey’s collection of liturgies, has sold over 300,000 copies across two volumes and five editions.

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Karen Swallow Prior

Karen Swallow Prior, PhD, is the author of “On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books” (2018); “Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist” (2014); and “Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me” (2012). Her writing has appeared at Christianity Today, New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Gospel Coalition, and other places.

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David Beckmann

Rev. Beckmann is an adjunct professor of Humanities at Lee University and founder of the C.S. Lewis Society of Chattanooga. He is also former director of the Christian Study Center at the Kilns, the home of C.S. Lewis. Beckmann is the author of "Life with the Professor: The True Story Behind the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."

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Mary McCampbell

Mary McCampbell, PhD, is an author, professor, and speaker. In 2022, Fortress Press published her book “Imagining Our Neighbors as Ourselves: How Art Shapes Empathy.” You can find McCampbell’s writing in publications such as Image Journal, The Other Journal, Relevant Magazine, Christ and Pop Culture, and The Curator.

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Gennevieve Brown-Kibble

Gennevieve Brown-Kibble, DMA, joined the faculty of Southern Adventist University’s School of Music as director of choral studies in 2005. She teaches applied voice, choral conducting, and music history. Under her direction, choirs have performed in Australia, Canada, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.

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Ned Bustard

Ned Bustard is a graphic designer, children’s book illustrator, author, and printmaker. A sample of the books he has worked on includes “Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver,” “Every Moment Holy,” “The Light Princess,” and “The Lost Tales of Sir Galahad.” Bustard is creative director of Square Halo Books, curator of the Square Halo Gallery in Lancaster, PA, and serves on the board of the Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art.

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Charlie Newton

Charlie Newton received his MFA from Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University before also studying abroad in Cortona, Italy. In 2012, Newton and his wife founded SPLASH, a free art school for urban youth in Chattanooga that serves approximately 150 children between the ages of 4-15. “I desperately want to use art to plant seeds of positivity and hope in their lives.”

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Giselle Hasel

Southern Adventist University professor Giselle Hasel, MFA, enjoys exploring philosophical and religious movements in the history of art. Prior to teaching, she worked as an illustrator at the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and Horn Archaeological Museum. Her archaeology and art history illustrations have been published in numerous reference works, including a volume by Harvard University Press.

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Alan Wyatt

Lee University professor Alan Wyatt, MM, is conductor of the school’s Jazz Ensemble and teaches course such as Applied Saxophone, Commercial Music Theory, and History and Improvisation. He also serves as the Area Coordinator for the Music Business degree program. Wyatt maintains his high level of performance through engagements with the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, among others.

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“All of us are meaning-seekers. We approach every painting, novel, film, symphony, or ballet unconsciously hoping it will move us one step further on the journey toward answering the question ‘Why am I here?’

People living in the postmodern world, however, are faced with an excruciating dilemma. Their hearts long to find ultimate meaning, while at the same time, their critical minds do not believe it exists. We are homesick but have no home.

So we turn to the arts and aesthetics to satisfy our thirst for the Absolute. But if we want to find our true meaning in life, our search cannot end there. Art or beauty is not the destination; it is a signpost pointing toward our desired destination.”

-Ian Morgan Cron, "Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale"

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