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Kirkpatrick says living life in community will help global Church flourish

by Louisville Seminary | Mar 24, 2010
By Toya Richards

The global church has much to share and teach in order to help all churches around the world to thrive. One way to gain insight into the strengths of the Church is through various Confessions, which are churches’ public statements of faith and belief. Using the Accra Confession as his foundation, Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick will emphasize during an upcoming lecture at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary that all people are created in the image of God and expected to live in covenant life with one another globally.

The Accra Confession is a reminder that “we are called to live our life in community,” Kirkpatrick, President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and Visiting Professor of Ecumenical and Global Ministries at Louisville Seminary, said in a recent interview. The call is to live as a model of sharing and reconciliation with others, he said.

Kirkpatrick will present his views at a lecture series that is part of the Seminary’s 2010 Festival of Theology and Reunion, scheduled for April 25-28.

The event will explore the theme “The Global Church: Implications for Mission and Ministry” and also include lectures by Rev. Dr. Allan Boesak, a major player in the Christian struggle against apartheid in his homeland of South Africa, and Louisville Seminary Professor Dr. Kathryn L. Johnson, the Paul Tudor Jones Professor of Church History and Professor of Historical Theology. Johnson is currently on a three-year leave to serve the Lutheran World Federation as Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Studies and Global Mission.

Various activities are scheduled for the Festival, including worship, a community lunch and reunion gatherings, and dialogue sessions with the lecturers.

Kirkpatrick, whose three-year teaching commitment with Louisville Seminary came following 12 years as Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), offers courses on the ecumenical church, congregational leadership and ministry, and practical theology. He couples his appointment at the Seminary with his ongoing work with WARC, among other international projects.

The Accra Confession, which will be the focus of Kirkpatrick’s lecture, states that working to create a more just economy is essential to the integrity of Christian faith. It was adopted by WARC’s 24th General Council in 2004 in Accra, Ghana, and calls upon Reformed Christians to engage injustices in the world as an integral part of their churches’ witness and mission.

“God loves us … and we are called to live and to live simply so that all may simply live,” Kirkpatrick said. We must “develop a spirituality based on sharing and love for one another in God.”

He also said the renewal of the Church in North America is connected to its learnings from churches in other parts of the world, and that the North America Church has much to learn from global partners. The North American Church must “join with those churches in a new sense of partnership.”

This year the Seminary’s Festival of Theology is focusing on just that. Through lectures, worship, and talk back sessions the event will explore why the Church, particularly in the global south, is flourishing through unity and diversity and what the Mainline Churches in North American can learn from them.

Kirkpatrick also pointed to his own life, saying that what has renewed and kept him going is to be in so many parts of the world among people who “have an incredible faith and witness.”

“We really need one another,” he proclaimed.

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The annual Festival of Theology is open to the public, and the endowed Greenhoe and Caldwell Lectureships enable the Seminary to bring to Louisville, Ky., nationally recognized theologians, authors, scholars, teachers, practitioners, and preachers, and to offer the event for a minimal general fee of $20 per person. All lectures and preaching will take place in the Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel on the Seminary campus, with discussion sessions held in nearby classrooms.

The Festival is being held in conjunction with the Louisville Seminary Alum Reunion, during which the Alum Association Board of Directors conducts its business. Some events associated with the Reunion include reservation fees. For a detailed schedule of events or to learn more about the speakers and preachers, visit the Festival webpage.

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