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The issue of poverty is as complex as it is ubiquitous. Whether domestic or international, the issues of poverty are often found in news headlines. Unfortunately, our responses to poverty have often been driven by a concern for immediate, rather than long term, effectiveness. It is morally imperative that we think first, then act.

The “Toward a Free and Virtuous Society: Rethinking Poverty” conference will equip its attendees in south Florida with a framework for how to think about poverty and address it. How does our view of the human person guide our efforts to help the material poor? What roles do the Church, civil society, and government have in addressing poverty?

Through lectures from an impressive lineup of scholars and practitioners, we hope to answer these questions in a both philosophical and practical manner.

This is an invite only event. All accepted applicants will receive lodging, conference meals, conference materials, and a travel stipend from the Acton Institute.


Christopher Brooks
Evangel Ministries

Senior Pastor

Chris Brooks is the senior pastor of Evangel Ministries, a thriving 1600-member church in the heart of Detroit. He also serves as campus dean of Moody Theological Seminary in Plymouth, Mich. A popular Detroit radio host since 2005, he is author of Kingdom Dreaming and Urban Apologetics. He graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in finance, completed his M.A. in Christian apologetics at Biola University, and graduated from the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.

Ismael Hernandez
Freedom & Virtue Institute

Founder and Executive Director

Ismael Hernandez is the founder and executive director of the Freedom & Virtue Institute. Ismael grew up in a communist household and joined the Socialist Party of Puerto Rico. Eventually, he surrendered Marxism and embraced free markets. He has a master’s Degree in Political Science and served for 15 years as in inner-city Catholic ministry in SW Florida.

In 2016, Ismael wrote his first book, Not Tragically Colored: Freedom, Personhood, and the Renewal of Black America—published by the Acton Institute. Ismael Hernandez currently lives in Fort Myers with his wife and three children.

Ronjour Locke, M.Div.
First Baptist Church of Brooklyn

Senior Pastor

Ronjour Locke pastors First Baptist Church of Brooklyn, located on the south side of Baltimore, MD. He is a graduate of Washington Bible College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is happily married to his wife, Annie, and they have four children.

Sarah Estelle, Ph.D.
Hope College

Associate Professor of Economics

Sarah Estelle, Ph.D. is an associate professor of economics at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. She is also the founding director of Hope's Markets & Morality student organization, which explores economic issues through a Christian lens and brings speakers and film screenings to campus to enrich the Hope community's understanding of markets.

In addition to her work with students, Dr. Estelle conducts applied microeconomic research on topics including parenting investments, higher education, welfare policy, and criminal justice reform, for which she has been recognized as a Ruch Faculty Fellow. Currently she is researching different conceptions of the role of the state through projects that bridge economic ideas with traditional Christian theology. Dr. Estelle’s earned her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Virginia.

Event Details

Start Date

End Date


JW Marriott Miami
1109 Brickell Ave.
Miami, FL 33131
United States

This is an invite only event.
All accepted applicants will receive lodging, conference meals, conference materials, and a travel stipend from the Acton Institute.

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