Festival History


Originally hosted by the English department at Calvin College (now Calvin University), the Festival of Faith & Writing is now produced by the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing (CCFW) and its team of faculty, staff, and students.

The Festival of Faith & Writing is a biennial celebration that draws more than 2,000 people from across the world to the campus of Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Rooted in Reformed theology about common grace and the goodness of creation, the Festival of Faith & Writing creates space for meaningful discussion and shared discovery among people with different religious beliefs and practices. Over three days every other April, the Festival brings diverse voices together to offer thoughtful reflection through lectures, readings, conversations, films, workshops, concerts, plays, and more. It’s an absolute feast for readers, including those who also write.

Since the first gathering inaugurated by the Calvin English department in 1990, the Festival has welcomed to Calvin more than 15,000 attendees and hundreds of renowned writers, including Maya Angelou, John Updike, Elie Wiesel, Marilynne Robinson, Zadie Smith, Miroslav Volf, Salman Rushdie, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ashley Bryan, Frederick Buechner, George Saunders, Christian Wiman, Katherine Paterson, Jonathan Safran Foer, Luci Shaw, Tobias Wolff, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Kwame Alexander, Mary Karr, Rachel Held Evans, Edwidge Danticat, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Yancey, Jacqueline Woodson, Anne Lamott, Ann Voskamp, Kate Bowler, and Michael Chabon.

TAKE A PEEK AT THE SCHEDULES FROM SOME PAST FESTIVALS

HIGHLIGHTED SPEAKERS FROM PAST FESTIVALS

2018: Edwidge Danticat, Carrie Newcomer & Parker Palmer, Bill McKibben, Kwame Alexander, Lea Thau, Anya Silver, Kate Bowler, Austin Channing Brown, Luci Shaw, Oliver de la Paz, Jen Hatmaker, Amit Majmudar, Diane Glancy, Lisa Sharon Harper, Marie Howe, Nate Marshall, Fleming Rutledge

2016: Zadie Smith, Tobias Wolff, George Saunders, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Christian Wiman, Paul Harding, John Darnielle, Shane McCrae, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Chigozie Obioma, Makoto Fujimura, Dani Shapiro, Saladin Ahmed, M.T. Anderson, Ashley Bryan

2014: Anne Lamott, James McBride, Rachel Held Evans, Richard Foster, Miroslav Volf, Bret Lott, Marilyn Nelson, G. Willow Wilson, Gene Luen Yang

2012: Jonathan Safran Foer, Marilynne Robinson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Gary Schmidt, Shane Claiborne, Leila Aboulela

2010: Wally Lamb, Eugene Peterson, Kate DiCamillo, Richard Rodriguez, Parker Palmer, Mary Karr, Scott Cairns

2008: Michael Chabon, Yann Martel, Katherine Paterson, Mary Gordon, Elizabeth Berg, Franz Wright, Francine Rivers

2006: Salman Rushdie, Marilynne Robinson, Walter Wangerin, Alice McDermott, Thomas Lynch, Lauren Winner, Nikki Grimes, Luci Shaw

2004: Frederick Buechner, Patricia Hampl, Leif Enger, Bret Lott, Joyce Carol Oates, Barbara Brown Taylor, Katherine Paterson

2002: Kathleen Norris, Oscar Hijuelos, Kaye Gibbons, Jan Karon, Ernest Gaines, Ron Hansen, Stephen Dunn, Yaffa Eliach, Virginia Stem Owens, Robert Clark, Michael Card

2000: Maya Angelou, Anne Lamott, Chaim Potok, John Leax, James McBride, Paul Schrader, Donald Hall, Jane Yolen, Clyde Edgerton

1998: John Updike, Elie Wiesel, Katherine Paterson, Dan Taylor, Philip Yancey, Bruce Cockburn, Jon Hassler, David James Duncan, Hugh Cook

1996: Madeleine L’Engle, Annie Dillard, Donald Hall, Lee Smith, James Schaap

1994: Doris Betts, Kaye Gibbons, Denise Giardina, Luci Shaw

1992: Frederick Buechner

1990: Will D. Campbell, Larry Woiwode