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Sirico Parables book

    Though June is famous for long, warm days, it means only one thing for Acton Institute staff and supporters: Acton University. For four days in late June, more than 1,000 people from many different backgrounds, cultures and countries came together for fellowship and education. The Institute’s 12th Acton University was held at the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids on June 20–23. There were more than 2,000 applications and of the attendees, one-fourth were students and over one-third were part of a fellowship.

    Acton University includes four plenaries, four sessions a day for three days and plenty of networking or special sessions. Attendees chose from nearly 120 sessions with topics on business, economics, Catholic social thought, environmental stewardship and more.

    Acton’s director of research, Sam Gregg, opened the event with Tuesday’s plenary. He advocated for persecuted Christians in the United States and abroad.

    The other evening plenaries included Russell Moore and Rev. Robert Sirico. Thursday attendees enjoyed a special plenary: a debate on the question “What does Christianity have to offer the poor?” The debate included not only some familiar to Acton, specifically Rev. Robert Sirico and economist Anne Bradley Rathbone, but also two new faces: Elizabeth Bruenig, assistant editor for Outlook and PostEverything at The Washington Post, and Michael Wear, former Obama White House staffer. The four had a lively discussion about the best way for the church to help impoverished people.

    This Acton University took advantage of several tech upgrades. Keynote and large-session participants were able to ask questions right from their laptops or phones using Sli.do, an audience interaction tool. One lecturer, unable to attend in person, gave his lecture via Skype. The Foundation Courses and evening plenaries were all livestreamed so people all over the world could virtually attend the event.

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