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Convocation to address diversity, living in communion as keys to future of the church

by Louisville Seminary | Feb 08, 2010
At the opening convocation of the spring semester of the 157th academic year, the community and friends of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary will gather in Caldwell Chapel on February 11 to recognize the opening of the new semester. As part of this special service, Louisville Seminary will welcome 13 students, who will begin their studies in three degree programs. This is the second year that a cohort of more than three students has been enrolled in the spring semester.

The service will be held at 11:30 a.m. and will feature an address by the Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Visiting Professor of Ecumenical Studies and Global Ministries at the Seminary and President of World Alliance of Reformed Churches. The public is invited to attend.

Kirkpatrick, who also served as Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA) for 12 years, will speak on “Reconciled Diversity: An Ecumenical Vision for the 21st Century,” based on the Scripture passage II Corinthians 5: 16-21.

“The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the modern ecumenical movement. That movement has transformed the Christian Church and the world and, in the words of Stephen Neill, is ‘the great new fact of our time!’ However, it has not been static. Its guiding vision of Christian unity has moved from a primary focus on Church union and a world Christian civilization to a focus on reconciled diversity or diversity in communion,” said Kirkpatrick.

His Convocation Address will trace the history of this change in ecumenical understanding and the importance of reclaiming the biblical vision of welcoming diversity and living in communion – both in the church and in the world. Kirkpatrick said he will also explore the importance of “welcoming diversity, seeking reconciliation, and living in communion for the future of our planet, for justice in our world, for faithful witness in the church, and for molding Louisville Seminary into a community that models this vision in a post-modern world.”

To help carry out the theme of his message, Kirkpatrick enlisted the assistance of several students to create a worship liturgy that will celebrate diversity and shared life together in Communion. And, during the lunch hour following Convocation, a booksigning will celebrate the new publication by Louisville Seminary MDiv student Rebecca Barnes Davies for her book, 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth, which provides practical guidance on how we can live in communion with the diversity of the earth.

In January 2009, Dr. Kirkpatrick began teaching at Louisville Seminary in areas of his expertise: including the ecumenical church; the global church; Presbyterian polity and governance; the history, ministry, and mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); congregational leadership and ministry; and practical theology. Dr. Kirkpatrick is also teaching in Doctor of Ministry degree seminars and in Lifelong Learning events, which address the ecumenical and global church, middle governing body leadership, and church leadership.

As Stated Clerk, Dr. Kirkpatrick was responsible for interpreting the denomination’s Constitution, promoting the unity of the Church, conducting the sessions of the General Assembly, and preserving the historical records of the denomination. For twelve years, he communicated the actions of the Assembly and represented the denomination among worldwide organizations of religion, peace, and faith. Previously, he served 15 years as Director of the Worldwide Ministries Division, where he led the Presbyterian Church’s ministries in the United States and in more than 80 other nations in the areas of evangelism, education, health, world service, and development.

In addition to numerous published articles, he is the author of Is There a Future for the PCUSA? (Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 2008) and co-author with Louisville Seminary alum William Hopper of What Unites Presbyterians: Common Ground for Troubled Times.

Kirkpatrick has also served on the Council of Presidents, United States Chapter of the World Conference on Religion and Peace; as a member of the advisory committee for Americans United for Humanitarian Trade with Cuba; and as chair of Successful School Age Youth Community Investment Team and member of its cabinet. Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary was founded in 1853, in Danville, Ky. Its mission is to serve the church and the world by educating men and women for participation as pastors, chaplains, pastoral counselors, and leaders in the redemptive ministry of Jesus Christ. The Seminary is one of ten theological schools of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and offers an inclusive and diverse community, welcoming individuals from wider ecumenical backgrounds.

For more information about this event, contact the Office of Communications at 800.264.1839 or 502.895.3411, ext. 358, or by email at lpts@lpts.edu.

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