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Two scholars will explore past and present rituals for community formation

Nov 03, 2008
By Toya Richards Hill

Exploring the importance of rites and rituals and why Christian communities need to develop new ones will be the topic of an upcoming luncheon at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

The noon-time presentation will take place Nov. 10 through the Seminary’s Office of Lifelong Learning. The event is part of the Louisville-based Center for Interfaith Relations’ 13th annual Festival of Faiths, taking place Nov. 9-15. The nationally attended Festival will celebrate the theme, “Coming of Age: Rite and Rituals.”

Louisville Seminary has taken part for a number of years in the festival, which includes various speakers, film screenings, and several community interfaith celebrations.

The luncheon is a way “to have something on this campus to show solidarity with the city’s interfaith effort,” said Dr. David R. Sawyer, director of lifelong learning and advanced degrees and professor of ministry at Louisville Seminary.

Two scholars –Dr. Claudio Carvalhaes and Dr. John Hale – will be the featured speakers for the lecture, entitled “Dark Caves, Bright Visions: Re-traditioning Ancient Rites of Passage.”

Hale, a professor of archaeology at the University of Louisville, will draw on his knowledge of the rituals coming out of Greek and Roman culture and the role those rites have played in transitional times for his talk, said Sawyer. “We will learn from him … how that applies to our current contexts.”

Carvalhaes, assistant professor of worship and preaching and the chapel coordinator at Louisville Seminary, will respond to Hale’s presentation by exploring how to create or recreate coming-of-age rituals for our age in a multicultural and multifaith setting, he added.

A theologian and an artist, Carvalhaes has done work over his career on rituals for worship and for Christian communities. He also is the author of Trangressões: religião, performance e arte (Transgressions: Religion, Performance and Art).

For clergy, church leaders, students, and others who attend the luncheon there will be “an opportunity to think about the role of ritual in one’s area, which I think in our culture ... is very much lacking,” Sawyer said. “It’s time for us as Christian communities and other communities to be thinking about coming-of-age rituals.”

Rituals help “to act out the changes in our lives and the community to which we belong,” he said. “Rituals can encourage and reinforce healthy spirituality and healthy living.”

To register for the luncheon, go to www.lpts.edu/lifelong-learning, or call Dr. Carol Webb, 800.264.1839.

For more information about other Festival of Faith events, Nov. 9-15, visit: The Festival of Faiths website.

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