Rev. Dr. Michael S. Koppel: How we connect with God in and through our bodies is vitally important

Rev. Dr. Michael Koppel

Rev. Dr. Michael S. Koppel is a keynote speaker at ABHMS’ Space for Grace & Spiritual Caregivers Conference 2024 in April.

As a seminary faculty member at a theological seminary, I help prepare the next generation of clergy and lay people for service in and beyond the church. I focus on the ministry of cultivating caring and meaningful conversation that contributes to healing and empowerment for individuals and communities. I look forward to Space for Grace & Spiritual Caregivers Conference 2024 as we make connections, share resources and ignite possibilities for living imaginatively as people of faith in the 21st century. As we together honor differences and celebrate commonalities, we stretch and strengthen one another for God’s service in the world. That’s good stuff!

In my talk, I reflect on how we connect with God in and through our bodies. Too often we think about faith in ways that reinforce a mind-body split. This can lead to self-alienation and impedes holistic, healthy relationships between people, God and each other. Listening to our own body story and the body stories of others offers a pathway to care-filled responses that meet real needs. The plenary will explore the connections between our embodied experience and faithful spiritual care for people of all generations. In this experiential plenary, I offer practical tools for ministry.

I am looking forward to being present for the entire conference! The plenaries and workshops offer the chance to explore and to engage the insights and creativity of skilled practitioners and thought leaders. It feels like going to a banquet with lots of sumptuous food. I cannot wait to sample all this gathering has to offer!

The Reverend Dr. Michael S. Koppel is the Howard Chandler Robbins professor of pastoral theology and congregational care and former associate dean for academic affairs at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. He is also an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has ministered in numerous capacities in California, Ohio and New York. A prolific author, Koppel wrote “Body Connections: Body-Based Spiritual Care” (Abingdon Press), preceded by “Open-Hearted Ministry: Play as Key to Pastoral Leadership” (Fortress Press). Koppel has also coauthored and coedited books with Wesley colleague Denise Dombkowski Hopkins, the most recent being “Biblical and Pastoral Bridgework” (Wipf and Stock, 2023). Koppel has provided academic leadership to the Deans’ Council, Washington Theological Consortium; Society for Pastoral Theology Steering Committee; Pastoral Care Committee of Sibley Memorial Hospital; and the editorial board of the Journal for Pastoral Theology. He holds a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a Doctor of Philosophy from Claremont School of Theology.