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Summer Scholar-in-Residence

For nearly 150 years, The Episcopal Church of St. John in the Wilderness was a summer congregation that welcomed a priest in the warmer months to share the sacraments and proclaim the Gospel. Flat Rock’s first residents escaped low-country heat and humidity for a summer in the mountains filled with rich fellowship and spiritual rejuvenation at St. John in the Wilderness. In 2021, we began the Summer Scholar-in-Residence program to live out this tradition in a new way. Each summer, we invite a scholar-priest to preach and teach for a month and to provide nourishment for our parish and the greater Hendersonville community.


Each Summer Scholar is invited to shape the program so it may benefit their research and the parish’s life. The basic structure of the month is as follows:

  • Preaching some Sunday mornings.

  • Offering a formation program, including teaching a class on Sunday mornings and during the week.

  • Enjoying the hospitality of the parish, including housing in or near Flat Rock.

  • Taking time to work on scholarship and to find rest and renewal in a beautiful setting.

  • The program also includes a generous honorarium in gratitude for the scholar’s ministry.

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Dr. Phil Kenneson

2023 Summer Scholar-in-Residence


Signposts of the Kingdom:

Learning to Live Into God’s New Reality

The Gospels are clear that Jesus believed a new reality was breaking into our world; he called it the Kingdom of God, and he announced this as good news. Jesus invited people to live into this new reality as a way of bearing embodied witness to God’s deepest desires for all of God’s creation.  What might it look like in our day and time to be formed into a people who are signposts of God’s Kingdom, pointing to God’s new reality in the midst of the old that is passing away?  Our time together will explore some of the ways we might serve as such signposts by allowing the Spirit to cultivate in our life together ways of living that both lead to our deepest flourishing as human beings and point beyond ourselves to God’s new reality.

Sunday Formation

Sundays, May 28 - June 18, at 10:05am

In the Wilderness Room

Saintly Hors D'Oeuvres

Thursdays, June 1 - 22, at 5:00pm

In the Wilderness Room

Bring something to share!

Session Overviews

The Reign of God (Part I):
What's Up with Jesus and All This "Kingdom" Talk?

Sunday, May 28 at 10:05am

If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, you can't begin to understand what it means to be his disciple apart from the central notion of his ministry: the Kingdom (or Reign) of God. He announces it, teaches about it, invites people into it, illustrates it, and demonstrates its reality through his actions.  So what exactly is it and why does it matter today?

View the handout here.

God's Gift Economy: Learning to be a Community of Love

Sunday, June 4 at 10:05am

If the church is called to be a signpost of the Reign of God, bearing witness to the shape of this new social order and the character of this God, then we will need to know something about what makes this kingdom, this social order, different from the kingdoms of this world.  One vital difference that will frame the rest of our sessions is this: the Reign of God has a different kind of economy at its heart: a gift economy.  We explore what this means by looking at God’s gift of love.

View the handouts here.

God's Gift Economy: Learning to be a Community of Rest

Thursday, June 15 at 5:00pm

In a culture that prizes accomplishment and productivity more than anything, perhaps no gift within God’s economy is more counter-cultural than the gift of rest in all its dimensions. How might we learn to receive God’s gift of rest as a gift and perhaps even as a form of liberation?

View the handout here.

Listen to a recording of the session here.

Living Signposts: Saying Yes in Hope to the Work of God's Spirit

Thursday, June 22 at 5:00pm

In our final session we briefly review our journey together and remind ourselves what it looks like in our daily lives to be living signposts of God’s good and life-giving reign.

View the handouts here.

Listen to a recording of the session here.

The Reign of God (Part II): The Future Breaks into the Present--and Changes Everything

Thursday, June 1 at 5:00pm

To understand and live out our role as “signposts” of God’s reign, we’ll need to get more clarity around two crucial matters:  1) the early church’s conviction that God’s future had broken into the present in both Jesus’ resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost; and 2) how these two surprising events led the early church to see itself as empowered by the Spirit to live into God’s future now as an embodied anticipation of and witness to God’s desires for all of creation.

View the handout here. 

Listen to a recording of the session here. 

God's Gift Economy: Learning to be a Community of Faith/Trust

Thursday, June 8 at 5:00pm

Once we understand love as the preeminent gift in God’s economy, we better see how the gift of faith (understood primarily as trust) flows from this initial gift as our fundamental response to God and God’s work in the world.  This foundational trust in turn undergirds all other gifts in God’s economy.

View the handouts here.

Listen to a recording of the session here.

Beyond Southern Hospitality

Sunday, June 18 at 8:45 and 11:00am

The Divine Dance

Sunday, June 4 at 8:45 and 11:00am

God's Gift Economy: Learning to be a Community of Forgiveness

Sunday, June 11 at 10:05am

Jesus is unnervingly clear that God’s beautiful gift of forgiveness is given not only for our own sake, but for the sake of others as this vital gift of God’s dynamic economy flows not only to us but through us.

View the handout here.

Listen to a recording of the session here.

God's Gift Economy: Learning to be a Community of Hospitality

Sunday, June 18 at 10:05am

Building on the lectionary readings for the day, we explore how God’s gift of hospitality may differ from our typical notions and practices, and how living into this more vulnerable form of hospitality may point in beautiful ways to God’s character and inbreaking reign.

View the handout here.

Listen to a recording of the session here. 

Dr. Phil Kenneson has taught at Milligan University in Johnson City, TN, for over 30 years. At Milligan, he serves as the Chair of Bible and Christian Ministries, the Associate Dean of the School of the Bible and Ministry, and as Professor of Theology and Philosophy. Dr. Kenneson has dedicated his career to shaping the lives of undergraduates to better understand the narrative of God’s redemptive work and how Christians live out that story in our world.

Dr. Kenneson's academic background includes attending college at Butler University, a Masters in Divinity from Emmanuel Christian Seminary, and a Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Duke University. Most significantly, at Duke he was mentored and worked with Stanley Hauerwas, whose writings and teachings about theology, ethics, and the Church have changed how many understand their identities as Christians. Dr. Kenneson has supported this work by being a member on the Board of the Ekklesia Project, an ecumenical community of scholars, pastors, and lay people who still believe God has a role for the Church to play in God’s cosmic work of restoration in the world. He has also taught Milligan’s capstone course, “Christ and Culture,” to Milligan’s seniors each year as they leave the university to be servant-leaders for Christ in the world.


Dr. Kenneson and his wife, Kim, have five adult children and are looking forward to being grandparents soon. He enjoys cooking for family and friends, running to clear his head, reading poetry to slow himself down, and hiking in the mountains to renew his sense of awe and wonder.

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The Rev. Dr. Robert MacSwain

2022 Summer Scholar-in-Residence

Dr. Rob MacSwain is the Associate Professor of Theology at the seminary at The University of the South, in Sewanee, TN. For a number of years, Dr. MacSwain has been researching how the lives of holy people serve as evidence of God’s existence.

Dr. MacSwain is no stranger to North Carolina, having been ordained as a priest of the Church in the eastern part of the state in 2002. He holds masters degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and The University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He completed his Ph.D. at The University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 2010. He has authored and edited several works including his book Solved by Sacrifice: Austin Farrer, Fideism, and the Evidence of Faith (2013). While in Flat Rock, he intends to relax in the mountains of Western North Carolina and he hopes to find time to continue working on his book to be titled The Saint is our Evidence.

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The Rev. Bill Brosend, PhD

2021 Summer Scholar-in-Residence

Our 2021 Summer Scholar-in-Residence ass The Rev. Bill Brosend, PhD. Fr. Bill is the Professor of New Testament at The School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. He has served as the Executive Director of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation and has enjoyed shaping seminarians to read and proclaim God’s word with wisdom and conviction.

In addition to preaching, Fr. Bill shared with us his study of the Parables of Jesus, who told stories like the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. Through these stories, Jesus gave listeners a glimpse of the Kingdom of God and invited them to live into God’s reality. 

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