Rev. Dr. Joseph Small talks about church unity, denominations, and living as the Body of Christ:

“There’s something about the faith that impels us into relationship with each other. Now what happens, especially in American culture, is that denominations become institutionalized, become businesses that sell goods and services to their member congregations, become political institutions where significant issues of faith and morals are decided by voting. And of course, voting divides a question into two sides, as if any question that’s worth asking has only two sides… …the very method we have chosen to resolve disputes guarantees that the disputes will continue, because there are winners and losers of every single vote that’s ever taken.”

Today’s guest is Dr. Jana Bennett, Professor of Religion at the University of Dayton. Dr. Bennett is a moral theologian and author of Water is Thicker than Blood: An Augustinian Theology of Marriage and Singleness. Dr. Bennet was on campus for a colloquy hosted by the Girod Chair in Reformed Theology, during which she also participated on a panel discussing “A Theology of Singleness.” WTS student James Schetelich sat down to talk with her about her books and why marriage and singleness are important topics for the church.

When it comes to the work of racial justice, this year’s Stoutemire lecturer Dr. Leah Gunning Francis says two things the church needs are courage, and the will to listen.

“The dominant narrative in our world is ‘everyone has an equal chance of success.’ All you need to do is pull yourself up by the bootstraps and you can be successful just like XYZ person over here. Well we know that’s not true—the playing field is still not equal or level,” she says. “You now are going to have to take the time to listen to people’s experiences and perspectives that you might not be accustomed to listening to.”

Today’s guest is Dr. Amanda Drury, Director of Vision and Innovation at The Brain Kitchen in Marion, Indiana. Dr. Drury is also Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Indiana Wesleyan University where she writes and teaches about testimony, innovation, and youth ministry. Shari Oosting sat down with Amanda to find out how practice and theology meet through cooking, doing homework, and hanging out with kids at the Brain Kitchen.

This episode features WTS alumnus and Duke Divinity School Th.D. candidate, Alberto La Rosa. Alberto’s doctoral work focuses on a theology of immigration, and in this interview he shares why his work is important in today’s cultural moment, and what it is like to approach theology of immigration as an immigrant himself. Sara Sanchez, a current WTS student originally from Honduras, sat down with him.

“One of the things I love about songwriting in general is that It’s framed up in a storytelling tradition,” says artist Sandra McCracken. “When songs are done well they have that power to draw you in and shine a spotlight on places you weren’t noticing before.”

This episode features songwriter and worship artist, Sandra McCracken. Sandra joined us during “Doxophilia” – a week-long exploration of worship and worship renewal. WTS alum Rev. Jonathan Gabhart sat down to discuss Sandra’s work and music’s ability to connect the church and the larger world.

Today’s guest is Dr. Deanna Thompson, professor of religion at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN and author of “Glimpsing Resurrection: Cancer, Trauma, and Ministry.” Dr. Thompson was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2008 and is currently in remission. WTS student Katlyn DeVries sat down with Dr. Thompson to discuss how faith is experienced through the trauma of serious illness, and what connections she sees between cancer stories and the Christian story.

Former Grand Rapids Mayor, Rev. George Heartwell is a graduate of Western Theological Seminary (’88), who for 14 years led Heartside Ministries, working with and advocating for the city’s most disadvantaged residents. He also served two terms as City Commissioner from 1992-1999, before being elected mayor in 2003. Rev. Heartwell was Grand Rapids’ longest serving mayor, serving until 2016 and focusing on issues like sustainability, social justice, and community development.

“I believe that politics, narrowly defined, has no place in the pulpit. That said, to not preach a prophetic gospel is to diminish and de-fang if you will the power of the Gospel. The pastor in her or his preaching has to walk that really really difficult line between not being political, but being prophetic.” -Rev. Heartwell

Dr. David Dark, author of “Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious,” sits down to discuss public theology, pop-culture as witness, and his belief that “policy is liturgy writ large.”