Posts

Monday September 30 at 1:30 P.M. in Mulder Chapel

Faith Following Ferguson: Five Years Later

Five years have passed since the killing of 18 year old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO police officer.  Brown’s killing sparked a protest movement for racial justice that has not been seen since the Civil Rights movement.  In her book, Ferguson and Faith, Dr. Leah Gunning Francis explored the role of local clergy in this movement and the various ways their faith commitments compelled them to join in.  She has since reconnected with many of these clergy to learn about what’s been happening these past five years.  What have been some of the effects of this movement on the St. Louis region?  How have clergy continued to live out their public faith now that the cameras have gone?  In this lecture, Dr. Gunning Francis will reflect on these learnings and their implications for our nation for such a time as this.

 

Bio:

Dr. Leah Gunning Francis is the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dr. Gunning Francis is also the author of the book Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community (Chalice Press, 2015). She interviewed more than two dozen clergy and young activists who were actively involved in the movement for racial justice in Ferguson and beyond. Dr. Gunning Francis researched and wrote Ferguson and Faith while serving as the Associate Dean for Contextual Education and Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ferguson and Faith is a collection of stories of courage and hope. Dr. Gunning Francis gleaned from these stories seeds of possibilities that, if nurtured, could serve us well into the future. These are the stories that were rarely imaged on television, yet they are integral to the fight for justice in Ferguson and resonate with the struggle for human dignity around the country.

In 2012, Dr. Gunning Francis was awarded the prestigious Engaged Scholars Fellowship to study issues of risk among middle-class African American young men. She argues that the meta-narrative about young black men puts all of them “at risk,” regardless of socioeconomic class, and utilizes the narrated experiences of black mothers to construct a new narrative about young black men that honors their humanity and is concerned for their well-being.

Dr. Gunning Francis’ additional research interests focus on transformative education as reflected in her doctoral dissertation, Beyond “Band-Aids” and Bootstraps: Toward a Womanist Vision of Christian Education as Social Transformation. Her writing reflects her commitment to the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of women, men and children; and highlights her particular interest in underserved and minority communities.

Dr. Gunning Francis has provided pastoral leadership for congregations in Georgia, Illinois and Ohio. She has received numerous awards to include the Candler School of Theology’s G. Ray Jordan award for excellence in integrating academic study with constructive leadership and service, and the Fund for Theological Education’s Doctoral Fellow Award. In 2015, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Fontbonne University.

Dr. Gunning Francis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Hampton University; a Master of Divinity degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University; and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

A native of Willingboro, New Jersey, Dr. Gunning Francis is married to Rev. Rodney Francis. They live in Indianapolis with their tween-aged children. To learn more about Dr. Gunning Francis visit www.leahgunningfrancis.com.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

“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.

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

Events

Please Join us on Wednesday October 30 at 2 P.M. in Hope College’s Dimnent Chapel for the installation service of Dr. Felix Theonugraha as Western’s twelfth president! A short reception will follow. For more details about Inauguration week, visit www.westernsem.edu/inauguration

Thurs., October 17, at 7 p.m., in Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall, Hope College

This panel will bring together scholars and pastors from around the country who have written about the challenges and opportunities in developing a theology of singleness for the church. With adult singleness at historic highs in the American context, this is a pressing issue on both practical and theological levels. Please join us!
Welcome given by Dr. Todd Billings
Panel moderated by Dr. Trygve Johnson
The panelists:

Dr. Jana Bennett (pronounced Yanna) is Professor of Theological Ethics in the Religious Studies Department at the University of Dayton. She holds a PhD from Duke University, where she studied with Stanley Hauerwas and wrote her dissertation, published as Water is Thicker than Blood: An Augustinian Theology of Marriage and Singleness (Oxford, 2008). Her most recent books include a co-edited book (with David Cloutier), Naming Our Sins: How Recognizing The Seven Deadly Vices Can Renew the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Catholic University of America Press, 2019), as well as Singleness and the Church: A New Theology of the Single Life (Oxford, 2017). She is married with three children. Despite being married, she is intensely interested in conversations about Christian singleness because the church universal cannot be wholly the Body of Christ with attention to, and celebration of, the many single people in its midst.

Dr. Wesley Hill is associate professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality (Zondervan, second edition 2016), Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters (Eerdmans, 2015), and Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian (Brazos, 2015). His book on the Lord’s Prayer is forthcoming in 2019 from Lexham Press. A contributing editor for Comment magazine, he writes regularly for Christianity Today, The Living Church, and other publications, including SpiritualFriendship.org which he co-founded.

Dr. Matt Jenson is Associate Professor of Theology in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University in La Mirada, CA.  Dr. Jenson teaches across the humanities and biblical and theological studies in a Socratic pedagogy, closely mentoring students throughout their four years. Having grown up in southern California, Jenson holds a B.A. in literature and philosophy from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), where he was part of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts. He is also ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church. According to Dr. Jenson,  “…the great surprise of my life — and a part of my life that has brought much sorrow, anxiety, and, thanks be to God, real transformation — has been that I remain single at 43. Single, and now dating (what a strange thing to do in your 40s), so I am currently experiencing these questions neither as someone who is single and knows he will remain so nor as someone who is married.”

 

Rev. Steven Rodriguez is the pastor of Lakeview Community Church in Rochester, New York, a congregation of the Reformed Church in America. He has been married to his wife Joanna for thirteen years, and they have three young children. He is currently working on a book with his friend, Rev. Kevin Slusher, on how marriage and celibacy both witness to the cross and the new creation in Christ. 

 

 

 

Rev. Kevin Slusher is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America. For the past five years he has served as pastor of the Reformed Church of Port Ewen in Port Ewen, NY. He blogs at kevinslusher.com. As a gay and celibate Christian he has also contributed to Spiritual Friendship. Some of his favorite theologians, and those most influential for him are: Augustine, Barth, Bonhoeffer, and W. H. Auden, among others. For his book project with Rev. Steven Rodriguez, Peter Brown and Eugene Rogers have been significant interlocutors as well. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Gordon H. Girod Chair of Reformed Theology at WTS and the Hope College Campus Ministries Office