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Opening the 153rd academic year with rite of matriculation and installation

Sep 01, 2005
At the beginning of each academic semester at Louisville Seminary, the student body, faculty, and community are called together for the purpose of theological education and building up the body of Christ. It is the experience called Convocation.

The 153rd Convocation and Installation service will be held on Thursday, September 8, at 10 a.m. in the Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel at Louisville Seminary. The public is invited to attend.

New to this year’s convocation service will be a rite of matriculation to welcome 48 new students and eight new employees and to reconstitute the community for the new year. Of the incoming class, 39 are enrolled in the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program, six in the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT) degree program, one in the Master of Arts in Religion (MA), and two in the Master of Theology (ThM) degree program. Four incoming students have enrolled in dual degree programs, combining theology (MDiv) with law and social work at the University of Louisville, marriage and family therapy at Louisville Seminary, and the Master of Arts in spirituality with Bellarmine University, and four returning students have added the MAMFT degree to their current MDiv studies.

More than half of the incoming class is Presbyterian (58.3%), with the rest representing African Methodist Episcopal, Christian Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Christian, and United Methodist faith traditions, among several others. These men and women represent 22 states from coast to coast including California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Michigan, and include seven students from Kentucky. Two are from Taiwan. The learning experience at Louisville Seminary will be further enriched by a growing diversity among the incoming students, reflected by 23% with racial/ethnic backgrounds, seven of whom are African American.

At Convocation services, one faculty member is invited to deliver an address or sermon. On occasion, a faculty member is installed to her/his teaching position or to an endowed professorship. At this year’s service, newly called Dr. Douglas L. Gragg will be installed to the position of Associate Professor of Bibliography and Research and Director of Library and Information Technology Services for the Ernest Miller White Library.

Gragg, who joined the faculty in June 2005, was previously head of public services and reference librarian at the Pitts Theology Library of Emory University in Atlanta. His eight-year tenure there followed service as an assistant professor of biblical languages and literature at Austin Graduate School of Theology in Texas, and as a visiting theological educator, editor, and Bible translation consultant in Eastern Europe.

Active in several professional societies, Gragg currently serves on the Publications Committee of the American Theological Library Association (ATLA). He has published a number of articles on religion in the ancient world, biblical literature, and theological education, and he recently completed a major research project on information literacy in theological education with the support of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. A founding member of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion, he is presently completing a comprehensive bibliography of the literature of that emerging research program for electronic publication. In his own current research, he is applying recent cognitive theories to analysis of the cultural and religious contexts of early Christianity.

Professor of Historical Theology Christopher Elwood will also participate in the service by preaching a convocation sermon entitled “Finding Treasure,” based on 1 Kings 3:5-15, in which Solomon asks God for wisdom above all other needs, and Matthew 13:44-53, in which Jesus, through several parables about treasure, describes the kingdom of heaven.

Elwood, an historical theologian, has taught at Louisville Seminary since 1996. His research and writing interests are in the history and theology of the Reformation period, the theology of John Calvin, and theological interpretations of gender and sexuality. He is the author of Calvin for Armchair Theologians (2002) and The Body Broken: The Calvinist Doctrine of the Eucharist and the Symbolization of Power in Sixteenth-Century France (1999).

Before teaching, Elwood was a secondary school headmaster in western Kenya and served as a pastor in Massachusetts. He is active in his local congregation and is a member of several organizations including the American Academy of Religion, the American Society of Church History, the American Historical Association, and the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference. As faculty resource for the Seminary More Light chapter, he is also involved with the national network of More Light Presbyterians.

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary was founded in 1853, in Danville, Kentucky. Its mission is to serve the church and the world by educating men and women for participation in the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ. The Seminary is one of ten theological schools of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and offers an inclusive and diverse community, welcoming individuals from wider ecumenical backgrounds.

For more information about this event, contact the Office of Communications at 800.264.1839 or 502.895.3411, ext. 362, or by email at lpts@lpts.edu.
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