Thursday, April 27, 2023
9:00 AM – 5:15 PM


We live in what has been called “a secular age.” What are the implications of secularism for the pursuit of transcendence? Is God still able to break through the mundane or is he confined to immanence? And are people able to grasp the ineffable in the midst of the common? This conference will bring together pastors and other ministry professionals, theologians, philosophers, sociologists, and anyone interested in contemplating what is meant by transcendence, how it is experienced, and how it is expressed, in the midst of competing secular interests.

Join us for this one-day conference on Thursday, April 27, 2023. We are excited to have Dr. Christina M. Gschwandtner as our plenary speaker. Christina is a leading philosopher at Fordham University in New York City. We will also hear pre-recorded sessions from Dr. Charles Taylor, Dr. Merold Westphal, and Dr. Robert Wuthnow, and a closing plenary address by Dr. Stanley Porter. We have 45 presenters for our parallel sessions speaking on a variety of topics including church and culture, patristics, theology, literature, the arts, and the Bible. Registrants will be asked to select their parallel sessions prior to the conference. This conference will take place in person at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Livestream access may become available once we have reached capacity for our in person event, but we encourage you to attend in person to benefit more fully from this important discussion.


Plenary Speakers

Dr. Christina Gschwandtner - No photo by request

Christina M. Gschwandtner


Dr. Stanley E. PorterStanley E. Porter


The following speakers will join us by pre-recorded conversation:

Charles Taylor

Merold Westphal

Robert Wuthnow


Registration Is Now Open!

General Admission:  $75.00
Students/MDC Alumni/Seniors:  $60.00
MDC Students:  $40.00

Registration includes full-day conference attendance, lunch, and access to recorded sessions following the conference. Space is limited, so register early to secure your seat.


  • Schedule

    All times listed in Eastern Time (ET).

    Time Session
    9:00 AM Plenary 1:
    “Spirituality sans Sacred: The Shapes of the Secular in Postmodern Culture”
    Christina M. Gschwandtner
    10:15 AM Parallel Session 1
    11:15 AM Parallel Session 2
    12:00 PM Plenary 2:
    “Flight, Pursuit, Encounter: Traces of Transcendence in Immanence”
    Christina M. Gschwandtner
    12:45 PM Lunch (provided)
    2:00 PM Plenary Session 3:
    Pre-recorded sessions with Charles Taylor, Robert Wuthnow, and Merold Westphal, followed by discussion
    3:15 PM Parallel Session 3
    4:00 PM Parallel Session 4
    4:45 PM Plenary 4:
    “Secularism and the Pursuit of Transcendence: What Have We Pursued, and Have We Caught it?”
    Stanley E. Porter
    5:15 PM Dismissal
  • Parallel Sessions

    Registrants will choose four parallel presentations to attend throughout the day. Each session will have approximately 25 minutes for presentation and 5 minutes for questions and discussion. Please note, some sessions have been marked double, meaning they will have two presenters with 12 minutes each to allow for greater participation.

    Be sure to review the parallel sessions below and make a note of your preferred session for each time slot. Registrants will be asked to sign up for their preferred sessions prior to the conference, more information will be provided in March. Details on each paper presentation, including abstract, are provided at the link below.

    View Parallel Sessions

    Following the conference, a publication will be compiled from the research submitted.

  • Conference Hotels

    The following hotels have rooms blocked and discounts available for conference attendees:

    Visitors Inn
    649 Main St. West (Hwy 8 & 403)
    Hamilton, Ontario, Canada  L8S 1A2
    Phone/Fax: (905) 529-6979
    Toll Free: 1-800-387-4620

    Single occupancy: $119.00/night
    Double occupancy: $129.00/night

    Located just down the road from our campus, Visitors Inn is our preferred hotel for guests. To reserve a room at Visitors Inn, call the number above and mention McMaster Divinity College’s “Church & Culture Conference.”  You may also use the group confirmation number: #274488.

    Book by March 27th to receive the discounted rate.



    Staybridge Suites
    20 Caroline Street South
    Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8P 0B1

    Phone: 1-905-5271001

    $149.00/night (includes breakfast)

    Book your Queen Studio Suite at Staybridge Suites Hamilton-Downtown, an all-suite hotel. The Staybridge Suites offers spacious suites complete with fully-equipped kitchens and a work desk with free wireless Internet access. Get your day started right with a free hearty breakfast with items such as fresh fruits, eggs, muffins, and much more. Additional fee of $12.50/night for parking. Make sure to mention the code “MDC” for the group rate.

    Book by March 25th to receive the discounted rate.


    Homewood Suites
    40 Bay Street South
    Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8P 0B3

    Phone: (1) 905-667-1200


    $149.00/night (includes breakfast)

    Just two blocks from the FirstOntario Centre and the Hamilton Convention Centre, stay at Homewood Suites this April. Many unique, local restaurants, shops, and attractions are a short walk away in any direction. Start off each day with a free hot breakfast. WiFi is on us.

    Reservations can be made on-line at

    • Select your dates-with the number of rooms & desired occupancy. Click on “Add Special Rate Code”, under ‘Group Code’ please enter “DCG” to access your preferred group rates.

    Reservations may also be made by calling our front desk at 905-667-1200

    Book by March 27th to receive the discounted rate.

  • Directions and Parking

    Getting to McMaster Divinity College

    We are located on the campus of McMaster University, just off the ON-403 highway. The McMaster Divinity College building is the second building on the left when entering via the Sterling Street entrance to campus. As parking options are limited and to reduce your carbon footprint, we recommend carpooling or making use of public transit where possible. Both GO buses and HSR transit drop off on campus often. If you do wish to park on campus, more information is below.

    McMaster Divinity College
    1280 Main St W
    Hamilton, ON  L8S 4K1

    Download a Campus Map

    Please be advised there is a new closure on Sterling Street between Forsyth Avenue and Whitton Avenue. Please use King Street West to Forsyth Avenue to access our Sterling Street entrance. More details on the closure here.


    There are multiple parking options on campus, varying in availability and cost. You can find more information at, including:


    Please note, parking in the McMaster Divinity College lot (A) is prohibited. If you require accessible parking, please contact

  • Sign up for Email Updates

  • Promotional Materials

    Help us share this event at your church or school by hanging posters, adding it to your bulletin, or sharing it on social!

    View Facebook Event

    To request posters or other printed material or for more information, contact Melissa West, Director of Marketing and Communications.

  • Call For Papers

    Our call for papers is now closed and responses have been sent. We received an overwhelming response to our call for papers and would like to thank each person who submitted a proposal for their interest. Unfortunately we could only accept as many as we have the capacity to accommodate. We hope to see you at the conference.