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Engagement Week 2013 in Review

Apr 19, 2013

Festival of Theology, alumni reunion and Grawemeyer lecture well attended; plans under way for 2014

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary alumni, faculty, students and members of the surrounding community enjoyed a celebratory, three-day “week” of engagement April 8-10 on the Seminary’s campus.  The main events were the alumni reunion and lectures given by Dr. Stephen Prothero and Grawemeyer Award-winner Dr. Leila Ahmed, but participants also enjoyed book-signings, one-time classes with seminary faculty and worship services. The theme of the event was “Engaging Religious Differences.” Click here to access a photo gallery of Engagement Week lectures and worship services.

Dr. Stephen Prothero gave two lectures during Engagement Week; the first was titled: “No Common Path: From Interfaith 1.0 to Interfaith 2.0,” and the second was: “No Common Creed: The American Bible from Thomas Jefferson to Barack Obama.” Click here for audio of Prothero’s lectures, which were supported by two annual, endowed lectureships—the Frank H. Caldwell and the Theodore M. Greenhoe lectures.

Dr. Leila Ahmed, who won the Grawemeyer Award in Religion this year for her book, “A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America,” delivered an address titled, “A Quiet Revolution: Broad Findings and Further Thoughts in Changing Times.” Click here for audio of Ahmed’s lecture, or click here for a video interview in which Ahmed describes her book.

“It was wonderful to have Dr. Ahmed on campus. She taught classes and met with students, faculty and alums,” said Shannon Craigo-Snell, faculty director for the Grawemeyer Award in Religion and professor of Theology at Louisville Seminary. “In one class she addressed historical relations between Islam, Christianity and Judaism; in the other she discussed short stories that explore human sexuality. Her Grawemeyer lecture drew many people from Louisville Seminary, two rows of students from Bellarmine, a number of U of L students and many people from the broader Louisville community. Dr. Ahmed started some great conversations that will continue for a long time!”

Both lecturers addressed topics related to the changing religious landscape in the United States, which is now the most religiously diverse nation in the world.

Alumni News
Three of Louisville Seminary’s most outstanding alums were recognized during the Distinguished Alum Awards dinner. Two Distinguished Alum Awards and one First Decade Award were given this year. The Distinguished Alum Awards went to Rev. Mark Baridon (MDiv, ’88) and Rev. Karen Devaisher (MDiv, ’92). Rev. Landon Whitsitt (MDiv, ’05) received the First Decade Award.

The Distinguished Alum award is presented to a seminary graduate who has advanced the Seminary’s mission and made a lasting impact on the Church and society through outstanding professional, volunteer or philanthropic accomplishments. The First Decade Award was instated in 2012, and is presented to a recent graduate who has made a significant impact on the Church and in his or her community during the first five to nine years of ministry and service. Click here to access a photo gallery of the Distinguished Alums Awards dinner.

The annual meeting of the Alumni Association Board also took place during Engagement Week. Board officers were elected, and three new members were inducted into the association. For the 2013-14 fiscal year, Terry Newland (MDiv, ‘78) was elected to serve as the association’s president. Leslie Smith Belden (MDiv, ’94, DMin ‘04) was elected vice president, and Jo Ann Knight (MDiv, ‘84) was elected secretary. New Alumni Association members include Amariah McIntosh (MDiv, ’01), Barbara Sloop (MDiv, ’93) and Landon Whitsitt (MDiv, ’05). 

“We have assembled a wonderful team to help build and strengthen relationships between alums and the Seminary in the coming year,” said Judy Johnston, director of the annual fund.  “Special thanks to former Alumni Association leaders Marie Cross, Skip Hansen and Wayne Yost for their valuable service during the past year.”     

Worship Services and Learning Opportunities
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Campbell, former president of McCormack Seminary and current senior minister of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville, served as the 2013 Festival Preacher. Campbell led two worship services during Engagement Week, including a ‘Necrology’ service honoring the lives of alumni and friends of the Seminary who died in the past year.

One of the most interactive aspects of the Engagement Week experience was the opportunity for guests to participate in classes taught by Dean Sue Garrett and current faculty members Drs. Lewis Brogdon, Kathryn Johnson, Tyler Mayfield and Brad Wigger.  Participants enjoyed lectures and classroom conversations.

Dean Garrett spoke about the topic “Keeping New Testament Study Relevant.” She commented afterward, “Alums bring to the conversation an acute sense of where their seminary training in biblical studies has and has not served them well. It was exciting to reflect with them about the challenges they face in their ministry and counseling settings due to parishioners’ and clients’ differing views of the Bible and interpretation, and about how seminary education can better prepare students to meet those challenges.” 

Plans for 2014
Preparations are under way for the 2014 Festival of Theology and alum reunion! Save the date: the festival and reunion will be held Sunday through Tuesday, April 6-8.

About Louisville Seminary
Founded in 1853, Louisville Seminary offers an inclusive and diverse learning community, welcoming students from wide ecumenical backgrounds while maintaining its long, historic commitment to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Louisville Seminary is committed to building bridges across the world's religious, racial and cultural divides. It is distinguished by its nationally-recognized marriage and family therapy and field education programs, the scholarship and church service among its faculty and a commitment to training women and men to participate in the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ.

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