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Louisville Seminary's 163rd Commencement and Baccalaureate to take place Sunday, May 14, 2017

Apr 24, 2017

On Sunday, May 14, 2017, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary will celebrate its 163rd Commencement. The commencement exercises will take place at Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville (3701 Old Brownsboro Road, 40207) and will begin at 3:30 p.m.

J-Herbert-NelsonThis year’s commencement speaker is the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II (pictured), who serves as the stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In this capacity, Nelson is the chief executive of the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly.

Nelson received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Louisville Seminary in 2002. The seminary presented Nelson with the Distinguished Alum Award in 2014 for his personal and professional achievements and commitment to the church. In 2016, Nelson was the Louisville Seminary Festival of Theology and Alum Reunion preacher. Prior to his service in the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly, Nelson was director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., where he advocated the social witness perspectives and policies of the Presbyterian General Assembly.

In a sermon Nelson delivered to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, he challenged the group to work beyond agencies and silos and be one church committed to transforming lives. For his part, Nelson has sought opportunities for the church to lend a hand in addressing the world’s needs. For example, Nelson endorsed the church’s new resource of immigration and sanctuary (“Welcome and the Law,” 2017), joined other faith leaders in signing an ecumenical declaration on behalf of refugees (“Protecting Welcome, Restoring Hope,” 2017), and signed an amicus brief opposing President Trump's travel ban. In an article Nelson wrote for Louisville Seminary’s Mosaic magazine, Nelson said, “We are citizens guided by the One who sustains us, and it is our responsibility to influence power and change public policy for the greater good.” (Nelson, “The Hot Issues,” Mosaic, Fall 2016, p. 11.)

Prior to Louisville Seminary’s commencement exercises, the seminary will hold its baccalaureate service at the Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel, which is located on the seminary’s campus (1044 Alta Vista Road, 40205). The service begins at 10:30 a.m. This year’s baccalaureate preacher is the Rev. Dr. J. Bradley Wigger (pictured), Louisville Seminary’s Second Presbyterian Church Professor of Christian Education. Wigger’s sermon will focus on Zachariah 8:1-8 and Ruth 1:16-17.

Wigger joined Louisville Seminary’s faculty in 1997 and has authored several articles and books. His most recent publication is a picture book for children, Thank You, God (Eerdmans, 2014), and was preceded by Original Knowing: How Religion, Science, and the Human Mind Point to the Irreducible Depth of Life (Cascade, 2012). He has also written a book of table, devotional and bedtime prayers, rooted in the Psalms, called Together We Pray: A Prayer Book for Families (Chalice, 2005); a book for parents called The Power of God at Home: Nurturing Our Children in Love and Grace (Jossey-Bass, 2003); and a book based on his doctoral research in epistemology, The Texture of Mystery: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry into Perception and Learning (Bucknell University Press, 1998).

In 2009, Wigger began conducting research in children’s cognitive development as part of Oxford University’s Cognition, Religion, and Theology project, and has since interviewed more than 500 children in five countries about invisible friends, deities, ancestors, angels, and more. In March 2017, Wigger was selected as a 2017-2018 Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology. The Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology program was established in 1993 to identify leading scholars in theological studies and provide them with the necessary financial support and recognition to facilitate their work. Wigger’s Luce project focuses on the religious imagination of children and puts three sources of research in conversation: (1) theories of childhood cognition/imagination; (2) theological understandings of children; and (3) empirical information derived directly from children. He argues that prevalent understandings of childhood and children's faith are rooted in an often unrecognized Freudian-Piagetian developmental picture that itself is suspicious of religion.

Louisville Seminary’s baccalaureate service and commencement exercises are free and open to the public.
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