“Scholars and clergy have been lamenting the decline of Protestant congregations in America for nearly a century, describing empty churches and empty pews. While these can be frightening visions for ministers, emptiness is an important characteristic of Christian worship,” says Shannon Craigo-Snell, Professor of Theology at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Dr. Craigo Snell will explore these fears and hopes in her address, “The Empty Church,” which she will present as part of the opening Convocation of the 159th spring semester, February 9.
The Convocation service will be held at 11:30 a.m. in the Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel at Louisville Seminary (1044 Alta Vista Road), and the public is invited to attend.
Drawing on the work of theologian Karl Barth and theater director Peter Brook, and scripture from Mark 16:1-8, Craigo-Snell says, “The discipline of emptiness is vital to encountering the Holy. When we focus on filling the pews, do we forget to keep our altars empty?”
Craigo-Snell’s address is based on a portion of her forthcoming book, The Empty Church: Theatre, Theology, and Bodily Hope (Oxford University Press), and will bring together theology and theater as she presents a more hopeful perspective for contemporary mainline Protestant churches.
Professor Craigo-Snell joined the Louisville Seminary faculty in 2011 as a constructive theologian who is committed to bringing theology alive in the context of the global church. Her ability to engage students in theological conversations that are simultaneously Christian, biblical, historical, systematic, doctrinal, theatrical, multi-religious, and multi-cultural are well-suited to the Seminary’s mission of preparing men and women for ministry in a multi-religious world.
She earned degrees (PhD, MPhil, MA, and MDiv) at Yale University and Yale Divinity School. From 2001 to 2011 she taught in the Religious Studies department at Yale University, where she also earned several Yale fellowships and professional research grants. Her writing spans a wide scope of interdisciplinary diversity. In addition to several articles for journals such as The Ecumenist, Quaker Religious Thought, Jump Cut, and Modern Theology, she has written Silence, Love, and Death: Saying Yes to God in the Theology of Karl Rahner (Marquette University Press, 2008) and Living Christianity: A Pastoral Theology for Today (Fortress, 2009) with Shawnthea Monroe.
Service of Installation – New Faculty
As part of the Convocation service, Craigo Snell will be installed as Professor of Theology, and Rev. Dr. Lewis O. Brogdon will be installed to his position as Assistant Professor of New Testament and Black Church Studies.
Brogdon was appointed as Assistant Professor in 2011. A 2005 Louisville Seminary graduate, he received his Ph.D. from Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia. He first came to the Seminary as an experienced congregational pastor and teacher and served as Associate Director of Recruiting and Admissions beginning in 2006. In 2009, he added the responsibilities of director of the newly launched Black Church Studies program, which he is continuing in as a member of the Seminary faculty.
In addition to his doctoral dissertation, "Exclusion as Impediment to Conversion: an African American Interpretation of Paul’s Letter to Philemon" (2010), Brogdon has written for various publications, including “Marty’s Sunday: Revelation 7:13-17” in African American Lectionary (2009), “The Decline of African American Theology? A Critical Response to Thabiti Anyabwile” with Amos Yong in Journal of Reformed Theolog (2010); and a chapter on “African American Pentecostalism” in A Handbook of Pentecostal Christianity (Northern Illinois University Press, 2011). He has also published review essays on the Word of Faith Movement, the prosperity movement, and racism in American Protestantism in Pneuma: The Journal for Society of Pentecostal Studies.
Planning to attend: Caldwell Chapel is located on the campus of the Louisville Seminary at 1044 Alta Vista Road, Louisville, KY 40205. Professor Craigo-Snell’s address will be posted online at www.lpts.edu, “Chapel Sermons.”