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How do we shepherd the flock in the search for economically healthy and socially just urban communities? What is the role of the local church in sustainable human development? Where do we find guidance for those facing unemployment and neighborhood displacement? Join us to explore how moral and economic clarity give direction in our mission to be true disciples, fostering effective charity, empowering our congregations and creating a context for urban flourishing.

City FAVS conference participants will envision a new framework for examining complex problems facing today’s city, built upon a foundation of theological and economic clarity. Participants will network with other catalysts in their community, ground discussion in continued emphasis on real world applications of Biblical principles, and develop leadership capacity through the resources offered for each session.

Conference attendance is by application only. This conference is ideal for urban pastors and lay leaders. Conference fees, meals, and lodging will be covered for accepted applicants. Travel scholarships are available. Applications close September 20, 2018.


Trey Dimsdale, J.D.
Trey Dimsdale, J.D.
Acton Institute

Director of Program Outreach

Trey Dimsdale, J.D. came to the Acton Institute from Fort Worth, Texas, where he served as Associate Director and Research Fellow in Law and Public Policy for the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement. At the Land Center, Trey helped to administrate a very active calendar of events that involved students, academics, and pastors from around the broader Christian world. Trey is actively involved as a board member and advisor for the National Faith and Work Association, the Lausanne Movement’s Workplace Forum, and as an organizer of a program in the Balkans that seeks to equip unemployed and underemployed young people to launch new businesses.

Trey served for several years as assistant pastor for preaching, teaching, and theology on the staff of a church near Kansas City, Missouri where one of his primary responsibilities, in addition to regular preaching and teaching, was the oversight of a fully accredited K12 Christian school.

Trey holds a B.L.A. degree with emphases in Political Science, History, and Natural Sciences from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, as well as a master’s degree in theology and ethics. While in law school Trey was an active member and officer in the student division of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy, a member of the UMKC National Moot Court Team and Moot Court Board, and a staff editor of the Urban Lawyer journal, the official journal of the ABA’s Local Government Practice Division. He also served as a clerk with judges on the Jackson County, Missouri Circuit Court, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District, and the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

His academic interests include entrepreneurship, business ethics, legal ethics, political philosophy, and public theology.

Trey will be speaking on "Responding to the Reality of Urban Housing Problems" at this conference. 

Sarah, Estelle, Ph.D.
Sarah Estelle, Ph.D.
Hope College

Associate Professor of Economics

Dr. Sarah Estelle 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 earned her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Estelle will be speaking on "The Economic Way of Thinking" at this conference.

Ronjour Locke, M.Div.
Ronjour Locke, M.Div.
Acton Institute

Affiliate Pastor

Ronjour Locke, M.Div. serves as Instructor of Preaching and Urban Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as an affiliate pastor for the Acton Institute. Previously, he served in Baltimore as pastor of First Baptist Church of Brooklyn and as a member of the Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. He holds degrees from Lancaster Bible College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Professor Locke is happily married to Anne, and they have four children.

Professor Locke will be speaking on "The Identity and Mission of the Urban Church" at this conference. 

James Patterson, Ph.D.
James Patterson, Ph.D.
Ave Maria University

Assistant Professor of Politics

Professor James M. Patterson is an assistant professor of politics at Ave Maria University. He received his B.A. in Political Science and Media Studies at the University of Houston in 2002 and his Ph.D. in American Politics from the University of Virginia in 2012. His areas of research include race, religion, and American political development. He has held research positions at the Program for American Values and Institutions at Duke University and the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, as well as teaching positions at Hampden-Sydney College and Gettysburg College.

He has published academic work on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, and biblical narratives in American political rhetoric, and he has published more popular essays and book reviews for Modern Age, Society, Library of Law and Liberty, and Public Discourse. In early 2019, the University of Pennsylvania Press will publish his first book, Religion in the Public Square: Sheen, King, and Falwell. This book examines how very different religious leaders sought to influence national politics by preaching their interpretation of American political foundations. His next research project examines the religious assumptions beneath contemporary social science methodology. Professor Patterson is an Acton University alumnus and a member of the Values & Capitalism Program for the American Enterprise Institute. He lives in Ave Maria, Florida, with his wife Julia and his two children, Esme and Keats.

Professor Patterson will be speaking on "Government Intervention and Cycles of Poverty" at this conference.

Rev. Robert A. Sirico
Rev. Robert A. Sirico
Acton Institute


Rev. Robert A. Sirico received his Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America following undergraduate study at the University of Southern California and the University of London. During his studies and early ministry, he experienced a growing concern over the lack of training religious studies students receive in fundamental economic principles, leaving them poorly equipped to understand and address today's social problems. As a result of these concerns, Fr. Sirico co-founded the Acton Institute with Kris Alan Mauren in 1990.

As president of the Acton Institute, Fr. Sirico lectures at colleges, universities, and business organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad. His writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters are published in a variety of journals, including: the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalForbes, the London Financial Times, the Washington Times, the Detroit News, and National Review. Fr. Sirico is often called upon by members of the broadcast media for statements regarding economics, civil rights, and issues of religious concern, and has provided commentary for CNNABC, the BBCNPR, and CBS' 60 Minutes, among others.

In April of 1999, Fr. Sirico was awarded an honorary doctorate in Christian Ethics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and in May of 2001, Universidad Francisco Marroquin awarded him an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences. He is a member of the prestigious Mont Pèlerin Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the Philadelphia Society, and is on the Board of Advisors of the Civic Institute in Prague. Father Sirico also served on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1994 to 1998. His pastoral ministry has included a chaplaincy to AIDS patients at the National Institutes of Health. He is the Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Acton Institute maintains a vigorous editorial outreach, especially through its president, Rev. Robert A. Sirico. This site maintains an archive of many of his essays and reviews.

Father Sirico holds dual Italian and American citizenship.

Father Sirico will be delivering the evening address on the opening night of this conference.

Oye Waddell
Oye Waddell
Hustle PHX

Executive Director

Oye Waddell is the Founder and CEO of Hustle Phoenix, a non-profit organization that exists to equip and catalyze under-served entrepreneurs  with the intellectual, social and financial capital they need to create sustainable business ventures for the common good. Fueled by his visionary style of leadership and the belief that all people have dignity, Oye knows that some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the United States are in underserved, urban communities.  

Prior to moving to Phoenix, Oye served as Executive Director of Eternal Sports Outreach in Los Angeles, which sought to empower young athletes to become business and civic leaders. There he recruited volunteer coaches/administrators, evaluated the effectiveness of development programs and utilized evaluation data to revise instructional objectives and methods.

Once in Phoenix, Oye founded and served as CEO of Gameplan AZ--an athletic consulting company dedicated to providing student-athletes and their families the tools to navigate and dominate the athletic recruiting process.  While Oye’s long track record in urban education and entrepreneurship began as a teacher in both Compton and Los Angeles, he continues to invest in students by serving on the American Enterprise Institute with the Ideas Council where he invests in student leaders at Christian colleges. At Arizona State University, too, Oye is a Venture Mentor—for student-athletes at Arizona State University that aim to start businesses.

More recently, Oye served as a pastor at New City Church, leading members and the broader community to understand, embrace, and accomplish their mission to develop disciples locally and globally, as well as engage followers in worship, community and ministry.

Currently, Oye Waddell serves as pastor of Sojourn Village PHX--a community dedicated to seeking the flourishing of an urban/inner-city community named South Phoenix. With this same passion for families, Oye is also the CEO of the Hustle Real Estate Investment Fund which is designed to serve as a pathway to homeownership for low income individuals, helping to stabilize low income neighborhoods and bring stability to families.  

Oye was selected by the Phoenix Business Journal as among the city's Top 40 Under 40 Business Men and Women for 2018.  He is also a member of the Camelback Society an association of men called to the marketplace who intend to live all aspects of their lives before Christ. Conscious Capitalism a movement that focuses on businesses that have a purpose beyond profit. Oye Waddell has also been a Ted Style Talk Speaker on topics such as “Hustling for the Common Good” at Purdue University as well as a business conference speaker for Balle, an organization that fights for the flourishing of local businesses.

Oye attended the University of Washington on a full athletic football scholarship. He later earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a Master of Education from Arizona State University.

Oye, his wife Crys, and their four young children--Chariot, Clover, Crescent and Oye II--currently reside in Phoenix, Arizona.

Oye will be speaking on "Employment and the Challenges of Urban Entrepreneurship" at this conference.

John D. Wilsey, Ph.D.
John D. Wilsey, Ph.D.
Acton Institute

Affiliate Scholar

John D. Wilsey, Ph.D. is Affiliate Scholar in Theology and History at the Acton Institute. He is Associate Professor of Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of One Nation Under God: An Evangelical Critique of Christian America (Pickwick, 2011) and American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea (IVP Academic, 2015); he also edited Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous work, which recently appeared under the title Democracy in America: A New Abridgment for Students (Lexham, 2016). Wilsey is 2017-18 William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life with the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is doing research for a new biography of John Foster Dulles, scheduled to appear in Eerdmans’ Library of Religious Biography series.

Professor Wilsey will be speaking on "Citizenship in an Urban Context" at this conference.

Event Details

Start Date

End Date


Sheraton Lincoln Harbor Hotel
500 Harbor Blvd.
Weehawken, NJ 07086
United States


The event will begin at 4PM on Thursday, November 8 and will conclude with lunch at noon on Saturday, November 10.


Conference fees, meals, and lodging will be covered for accepted applicants. Travel scholarships are available. 

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