Purposefully situated in Bluefield, West Virginia, HopeWords Writers’ Conference wants to equip and encourage you to tell stories of hope. Once a thriving industrial center, Bluefield’s own story is one of boom and bust and of slowly rebuilding; the city embodies that gritty hope we all long for. 

Born out of this same impulse, HopeWords calls readers, writers, and thinkers to gather among her fog-topped mountains for a weekend of imagining the work of New Creation. Because of this, the conference is intentionally intimate and spare, believing renewal happens in quiet, steady ways.

This year’s conference will focus on the question of living between cultures and the unique potential it holds for creativity. On the one hand, there’s the possibility of cross-pollination. But beyond that, existing outside the center of a particular culture grants you a vantage point that simply isn’t possible if you’re in the mainstream. This topic is quintessential HopeWords insofar as the conference is held in the in-between place of Bluefield, WV. But it’s also an essentially Christian way of creating. To be a citizen of God’s kingdom is to be both in the world but not of the world—to live in-between. In this sense, our faith holds rich possibility for insight and creativity because it resides in both the “already” and the “not yet.”

So, this spring, make your way to Bluefield. Come visit with local artisans, walk among the hills, or simply sit with others who hope and dream—all while learning from world-class thinkers and writers. Make plans to stay through Sunday to worship with local congregations who have kept hope alive through the generations. And discover for yourself how a commitment to place, process, and presence can change everything. Register now.


A detailed schedule will be available closer to the conference date. Until then, here is the basic outline. The conference officially starts at 7pm Friday but we usually have some optional afternoon tours or activities that day. Saturday, the lectures end at 4pm but we have a great social event that evening and some of our speakers usually speak at local churches on Sunday morning. We would recommend arriving mid-day Friday and leaving Sunday afternoon. It is worth staying the extra time, if possible, but if you have limited time, you can participate in all the sessions from 7PM Friday to 4PM Saturday.

Featured Writers

Daniel Nayeri was born in Iran and spent some years as a refugee before immigrating to Oklahoma at age eight with his family. He is the author of several books for young readers, including Everything Sad is Untrue (A True Story), winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, the Christopher Medal, and the Middle Eastern Book Award. Nayeri’s latest release, The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams, was recently featured at the 2023 National Book Festival. He lives in the US with his wife and son.

Jackie Hill Perry is an author, bible teacher, and hip-hop artist. Since becoming a Christian, she has been compelled to use her speaking and teaching gifts to share the light of the gospel of God as authentically as she can. She is the author of Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been and Holier Than Thou. At home, she is a wife to Preston and Mommy to Eden, Autumn, Sage, and August.

Dr. Justo Gonzalez was born and raised in Cuba and was ordained as a minister within the Methodist church in 1957. In 1961, he became the youngest person to earn a doctorate in Theological History from Yale University. For thirty years, Dr. González taught at various theological institutions, beginning with eight years at the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico (1961-1969). He has given hundreds of lectures across the world and has also written over one hundred books. His two-volume set, History of Christianity, and his three volumes, History of Christian Thought, have been translated into eight languages. Since retiring from teaching full-time and ministry, he has dedicated his time to research, writing, and promoting Hispanic theological education. Dr. González was involved in the founding of the Asociación para la Educación Teológica Hispana (AETH), the Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI), and the Hispanic Summer Program (HSP). He values mentoring and encouraging Latinas and Latinos and other minority students.

Mitali Perkins has written many books for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near and Rickshaw Girl (adapted into a film by Sleeperwave Productions), all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. She has been nominated for a National Book Award, honored as a "Most Engaging Author" by independent booksellers, selected as a "Literary Light for Children" by the Associates of the Boston Public Library, and was invited to serve as a judge for the National Book Award and the Kirkus Prize. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the United States. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

S. D. Smith is the author of The Green Ember Series, a million-selling adventure saga featuring heroic #RabbitsWithSwords. The Green Ember spent time as the number one bestselling audiobook in the world on Audible. His newest novel, co-authored with his sixteen-year-old son, is a thrilling fantasy called Jack Zulu and the Waylander’s Key. Smith’s stories are captivating readers across the globe who are hungry for “new stories with an old soul.” Smith is a founder and owner of Story Warren, a publishing, events, and IP development house based in rural West Virginia. Story Warren exists to serve families as “allies in imagination.” S. D. Smith lives in Grandview, West Virginia with his wife and four kids.

Hannah Anderson is an author who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her work is shaped by the rhythms of rural life and include Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul and most recently Turning of Days: Lessons from Nature, Season, and Spirit and Heaven and Nature Sing.  Hannah is currently a student at Duke Divinity School where her studies focus on the intersection of theology and art. You can find more about her work at sometimesalight.com.

Dr. Lewis Brogdon serves as the Research Professor of Preaching and Black Church Studies and Director of the Institute for Black Church Studies at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky. He has served in numerous positions in undergraduate and graduate institutions like Simmons College of Kentucky, Claflin University, Bluefield College, and Louisville Seminary as a professor and administrator. Brogdon is an accomplished writer. He is the author of several books such as A Companion to Philemon (Cascade 2018), The Spirituality of Black Preaching (Seymour Press 2016), The New Pentecostal Message? (Cascade 2015), Dying to Lead: The Disturbing Trend of Clergy Suicide (Seymour Press 2015), Hope on the Brink (Cascade 2013) and No Longer a Slave but a Brother (Scholars Press 2013). As a regular contributor to Christian Ethics Today, Virginia Capital Connections Quarterly, and Black Politics Today, Brogdon authors numerous articles for both academic and non-academic audiences.

A word from friends

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Bluefield, there was a wonderful atmosphere at the conference, and I really admired the way Travis and others were helping their hometown recover and rebuild community.

If you're being called to write-I can not more highly recommend the HopeWords Writers' Conference in West Virginia. Thank you for convening such a humble cruciform community, unforgettable days of amazing grace!

It was stunning to be standing on this splendor of a stage...I savored every word, both in presenting and in my hearing.

I keep raving to everyone about how wonderful Hopewords is. Outstanding speakers and about the best run conference I've ever been to.

Location Information

  • The Granada Theater
  • 537 Commerce St, Bluefield, WV, 24701 US

Your Stay in Bluefield

You're welcome to book any accommodations that make sense for you in the Bluefield area. For solid choices that are 10 to 15 minutes from our venue, we recommend:


(Must call to receive conference rate and press Option 2 to speak to a local employee. If you are a member of a loyalty program, be sure to check the website, as the loyalty rate may be cheaper than the conference rate.)

Fairfield Inn & Suites -Princeton

107 Halls Ridge Road

Princeton, West Virginia


Nightly rate for conference $129.00 plus tax

Hampton Inn

277 Meadowfield Lane

Princeton, WV 24740


Nightly rate for conference $139.00 plus tax

Holiday Inn

805 Oakvale Road

Princeton, WV 24740


Nightly rate for conference $139.00 plus tax

Comfort Inn

38769 Gov G C Perry HWY

Bluefield, Va 24605


Nightly rate for conference $104.00 plus tax

Our Favorite Vacation Rentals (Some of these are a little further drive)

Find more lodging at https://visitmercercounty.com/lodging

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