A Hospitable Space for New Viewpoints - Christy Yates on the Thursday Evening Salons


I had the privilege of interviewing our Associate Director, Christy Yates, who facilitates our monthly Thursday Evening Salons. Each Salon takes a slightly different shape and I hope you enjoy hearing Christy's vision behind the series. Our next Salon will be December 4 at 7:30pm featuring Dr. Willis Jenkins on food ethics. Hope you join us!

- Anna Elliott


Anna: Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Christy: My family just moved to Charlottesville this past summer. For the 8 years prior to moving here, I worked with college students through service-learning and community engagement. I believe strongly that our faith and sense of vocation develop best when we're exposed to differing viewpoints and serving in the 'real world'.  Staying in the college bubble, especially with students just like us, is much more comfortable, but usually reinforces our own point of view. Pulling students out of that bubble is, to me, one of the most exciting journeys to take. I am also mom to four crazy kids, wife to a philosopher and writer, as well as a painter (www.christenyates.com) which is one of the ways I get to work out my own reflections on what it means to be human.


Anna: What is your vision for the Thursday Evening Salons at the Bonhoeffer House?

Christy: Theological Horizons has a history of offering academics, artists and activists to share their thoughts on life and faith. What I love about these events is that they happen in the warmth and generous hospitality of a home with student, faculty and community members all present. The lines between these divisions get blurred. It's a safe place to ask questions and hear viewpoints that you might not normally hear in the classroom or even in a church or community setting. In that sense, it reminds me of my family dinner table, growing up with a seminary professor as a dad and various friends and students often present. From universalism to gender and sexuality issues to money and social justice to the arts and food ethics....everything is open to discussion!

Paul Jones speaks at a Salon, November 2014

Anna: What do you hope attendees will take away from a Salon?

Christy: My hopes for these monthly events are that people would experience the wonderful risk of looking at issues from another person's point of view, that they would meet folks they wouldn't normally meet, that they would have an invitation to step into new habits of being, and that, above all, they'd experience the radical hospitality and grace of God through a faithful and loving community.

Anna: Could you tell us a little about the upcoming Salon with Willis Jenkins?

Christy: We're really excited to host Willis who comes to us from Yale University. He grew up on a farm near here and did his doctorate studies at UVa and I just learned he won the 2014 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence for his book "The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity (Georgetown University Press, 2013)   He'll be talking about the ethics of food and we're also excited to have a local farmer - Jesse Straight of Whiffletree Farm who happened to have Willis as a TA in undergrad at UVa - come and share about his work. Finally, we're hoping to have a few other local producers selling their goods whether it's food related or arts and craft. This will be a great opportunity to practice the implications of what Willis talks about and shop more ethically for the holidays. It'll be fun!