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Kathryn L. Johnson
Paul Tudor Jones Professor of Church History and Professor of Historical Theology
St. Olaf College, BA; Cambridge University, MA; Yale University, PhD

Kathryn L. Johnson joined the Louisville Seminary faculty in 1984 after study at St. Olaf College, Cambridge University and Yale. In 2012 she returned from an extended leave of absence that began with her sabbatical leave in 2007. Intending about six months in Geneva in an interim appointment, she instead spent four additional years in Switzerland, working for the international organization of her own tradition, the Lutheran World Federation. As Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs, she was responsible for contacts with other Christian communions. She oversaw bilateral theological dialogues with other traditions and also worked both with established bodies, like the World Council of Churches, and with new ones, like the Global Christian Forum, which embraces a range of Pentecostal and evangelical communities. Reconciliation between Lutherans and Anabaptist/Mennonite traditions, celebrated in 2010, was the subject of her Festival of Theology lecture that year at Louisville Seminary. She particularly enjoyed opportunities to see the Church in many diverse and fast-changing contexts, and to lead the LWF theological studies department as it explored a turn from cross-cultural investigations to “trans-contextual” conversations.

Now back at Louisville Seminary, Kathryn continues to learn about world Christianity and to participate in ecumenical dialogues. In 2013, she traveled to Kerala, India, with a group from the Master of Arts in Spirituality, the program LPTS shares with Bellarmine University. She has a deepened commitment to faithful life in the Church – to honoring its diversities and seeking to heal its division.  She seeks to encourage students to see their ministries as part of continuing streams of Christian witness, which have never been uncomplicated or complete.

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