Do Christians today relate to the world around them differently than when the Christian church first shared the Gospel message in the first century? At Louisville Seminary’s 2004 Festival of Theology, two renowned scholars – Luke Timothy Johnson and Nancy Ammerman – will explore Christianity’s relationship to the world.
The three-day event, comprised of the Caldwell and Greenhoe Lecture series and worship experiences, will be held March 22-24 in conjunction with the annual reunion
of Louisville Seminary alums. The lectures and worship services are free and feature premier thinkers, preachers, and leaders in biblical studies, practical theology, sociology, and homiletics.
New Testament scholar Luke Timothy Johnson will look at the religious life of earliest Christianity in three lectures: The Old Conversations Renewed: Christianity and Paganism (Mar. 22, 2:30 p.m.); The Ways of Being Religious in the Mediterranean World (Mar. 23, 2:30 p.m.); and The Ways of Being Religious in Earliest Christianity (Mar. 23, 8 p.m.).
Johnson is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. A Roman Catholic layperson, he was for a considerable time a Benedictine monk and priest before becoming a biblical scholar. Johnson earned degrees from St. Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana, Indiana University, and Yale University. Later, he taught at Yale Divinity School and then became Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Indiana University (Bloomington).
For the Church Johnson has written several books including, The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why It Matters (2003); The Future of Catholic Biblical Scholarship with William Kurz (2002); and Religion Experience in Earliest Christianity (1998). His writings, particularly The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, are widely used in both colleges and seminaries. He is also the author of many scholarly commentaries including a two-volume edition on Luke-Acts (Liturgical Press, 1991, 1992) and James and the Pastorals (Anchor Bible, 1995 and 1999).
Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist whose expertise has served the Church, faith communities, the academy, and U.S. Departments of government, will explore how faith communities relate to the world through the contributions they make. She will offer three lectures: We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: People of Faith in a Twenty-first Century World (Mar. 22, 11:10 a.m.); Doing Good in the World: How Communities of Faith Make a Difference (Mar. 23, 11:10 a.m.); and A New Ecumenism: Nurturing Traditions in a Pluralistic World (Mar. 24, 11:10 a.m.).
A professor of sociology of religion, Ammerman recently moved from Hartford Seminary after eight years to teach in both the School of Theology and Department of Sociology at Boston University. She had taught at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and previously held appointments in the departments of sociology at Yale and Princeton, and in the department of religion at Columbia University.
Since 1987, Ammerman’s books have contributed to a broader understanding of differing faith communities throughout America. These include Studying Congregations: A New Handbook (Abingdon, 1998) edited by Ammerman and widely used among pastors; Baptist Battles: Social Change and Religious Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention (Rutgers, 1990); and Congregation and Community (Rutgers, 1997), a Lilly Endowment-funded study of twenty-three congregations in the U.S. that encountered various forms of neighborhood change. Her current project, Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and their Partners, Building Traditions, Building Community, based on conversations with representatives from more than 500 churches, describes the work of America’s diverse congregations, particularly what they contribute to their communities.
At the Festival worship services, Louisville Seminary will welcome Joanna Adams, a Presbyterian minister who served as co-pastor of Chicago’s historical Fourth Presbyterian Church. A much sought after preacher Adams has preached at gatherings of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Memorial Church of Harvard University, and other ecumenical events across the country. Her sermons for the Festival gathering are entitled Too Busy to Live and The Choice of a Lifetime (March 22 and 23, 10 a.m.). Adams is the author of several articles and has contributed to a number of publications, particularly on the topic of homiletics.
Eugenia Gamble will preach at the Reunion worship service (March 24, 10 a.m.). Gamble, alum of Louisville Seminary, is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Ala. She has also served as an associate executive presbyter and was a member of the Committee that helped to revise the “Brief Statement of Faith” now part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Confessions. Gamble is the author of “Out of the Whirlwind,” a regular column for Horizons Magazine. Her Glimpses of Home: Biblical Images of the Realm of God, the 1995-1996 Horizons Bible Study, won the Associated Church Press Award of Excellence (first place) for Bible Study (1995) and second place in the 1995 National Competition for the Federation of Press Women awards.
During the Alum Association Reunion events, held in conjunction with the Festival, Louisville Seminary will recognize three alums with the Distinguished Alum Award. The 2004 recipients are theologian Edward Farley, journalist and church editor Walter C. Sutton, and retired pastor Joseph L. Hunter. The Seminary will also announce the 2004 winners of the Mr. and Mrs. Olof Anderson, Sr. Fellowships for Excellence in Pastoral Ministry.
The week’s events will also feature the Moderator’s Dinner on March 23, during which Susan R. Andrews, moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), will speak on the state of the denomination. Tickets are required for this event.
The lectures and sermons are open to the public and will be presented in the Seminary’s Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel at 1044 Alta Vista Road. Worship is at 10 a.m. each day of the Festival. Reunion events require reservations. A detailed schedule and registration information can be found online at: www.lpts.edu/Festival&Reunion, or by calling the Festival of Theology office at 800.264.1839.