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Mission and justice to be addressed in aftermaths of 9/11 and in an environmental ethic

Oct 05, 2010
The Church’s vital ministries of evangelism and justice will be the focus of the 2010 Edwards-Presler Lectures at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, October 21, 2010, as two church scholars and leaders present their ideas at the intersection of faith and the transformation of the world.

Celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Henry H. and Marion A. Presler Lectureship on Mission and the combined fall lecture series, Canon Titus Presler, an Episcopal missiologist, writer, and consultant, will present “Mission in the Shadow of 9/11: Thinking Witness a Decade Later” at 11:30 a.m., and professor and theologian J. Milburn Thompson will present “If you Want Peace on Earth, Make Peace with Earth” at 7 p.m.

The endowed lectures series honors the late peace activist and Louisville Seminary Professor Emeritus Dr. George Edwards and his wife, Jean Edwards, and the lifetime missionary service of Henry H. Presler and his spouse, Marion Presler, who served in India. Both lectures will take place in the Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel at Louisville Seminary. They are open to the public, free of charge.

“As the youngest of Henry and Marion Presler’s five children, it is a privilege to offer the 2010 lecture established in my parents’ name at Louisville Seminary,” said Titus Presler, who also has mission experience in India and Zimbabwe.

In his lecture, Canon Titus Presler will focus on the shadow cast by 9/11 on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Muslim-Christian relations and how competing claims such as secularization and religious extremism affect a theology of mission. He cites the Taliban’s massacre of Christian missionaries in Afghanistan and the debate about the “ground zero mosque” as the most recent “signs of hardening stances amid many calls for respectful dialogue.”

“9/11 and its aftermaths can focus thinking about Christian witness in the 21st century,” he says.

Presler, the former president of the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, is the author of Going Global with God: Reconciling Mission in a World of Difference (2010), Horizons of Mission (2001), Transfigured Night: Mission and Culture in Zimbabwe’s Vigil Movement (1999), and numerous articles. He earned his degrees at Harvard College (A.B.), General Seminary (M.Div.), Boston University (Th.D.), and General and Seabury-Western (D.D.) and taught at Southwest, General Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, Episcopal Divinity School, and Gaul Theological College in Harare. While pastoring urban congregations he has catalyzed local, regional, and churchwide mission efforts. He chaired the Episcopal Church's Standing Commission on World Mission, was a researcher for the Global Anglicanism Project, and consults for the Anglican Indaba Project. And, he continues a contemporary conversation on mission, online at titusonmission.wordpress.com.

As the 2010 Edwards Lecturer, Dr. J. Milburn Thompson will address the Church’s response to faithful stewardship and care of the earth and creation from a Roman Catholic perspective. Initiated in part by Pope Benedict XVI's 2010 World Day of Peace message on this topic, the Bellarmine University professor will explore the Church’s environmental ethic to be peacemakers with Earth.

“George and Jean Edwards have been important influences on my life. It means a lot to me to have the opportunity to give this lecture which celebrates their witness and work for peace. Particularly after learning about the death of George Edwards, in June, I was all the more honored to be asked to give the Edwards Peacemaking Lecture and hope that it will be a fitting commemoration for him,” said Thompson.

Dr. Thompson, Chair of the Department of Theology at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., is a scholar of peacemaking and social justice from a liberation theology perspective. He is the author of Introducing Catholic Social Thought (2010) and Justice and Peace: A Christian Primer (1997; revised, 2003), which received the First Place Award for Educational Books from the Catholic Press Association; and numerous published articles and essays on moral theology and Christian social ethics. Thompson earned his degrees at Saint Thomas Seminary, St. Mary Seminary & University (B.A.), and Fordham University (M.A., Ph.D.). In 2008, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge, England, and the following year he was a panelist for “The Christian Tradition on War and Peace” at the Annual Meeting of the College Theology Society, held at the University of Notre Dame, Ind.

Edwards Peacemaking Lectureship on Peace and Justice was established in 1986 to support a visiting lecturer invited to the Louisville Seminary campus to teach a special course or to support programs in continuing or lay education dealing with racism, peacemaking, and justice. In 2006, Louisville Seminary inaugurated the endowed Henry H. and Marion A. Presler Lectureship on Mission to inspire the Seminary community and its wider lifelong learning community about issues of global mission and the role of American denominations in their historical and present witness in mission. By combining the two lectureships, Louisville Seminary has been able to offer as part of its Lifelong Learning Program a fall event in which justice and evangelism are held as tandem passions of the Church.

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