Convocation marks beginning of Seminary's 160th academic year
Tyler Mayfield gave the address “Raising Cain” and was installed as assistant professor of Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament at the Opening Convocation of the 160th fall Semester at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Convocation took take place in the Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel on Thursday, September 5, 2013. See Convocation photos here.
Fall Convocation marks the first day of classes of the fall semester. Forty new students were welcomed to the student body. Also welcomed to campus were three new employees: Greg Clark, director of Seminary Relations; Matthew Collins, director of the Ernest Miller White Library and associate professor of bibliography and research; and Caren Nichter, technical services specialist.
President Michael Jinkins gave the opening remarks, with a nod to Rosh Hashanah coinciding with the beginning of the Seminary’s 160th academic year. “This anniversary year has me thinking about the many faculty and staff members past and present who have invested their lives in our Seminary. I’m thinking about the multitudes of students who’ve passed through our doors.” He continued, “I’m thinking about the thousands of friends of the Seminary who’ve supported us and our mission through these 160 years.”
Jinkins went on to talk about it’s now “our turn” to make possible and ensure theological education for the future of the church. “It’s our turn to ensure a world-class seminary for generations to come. As we begin this new year, I ask that we be mindful of the generosity that makes it possible for us to have this precious gift of theological education. Let us be mindful of the future. May we as a Seminary continue to deserve the generosity of our friends. And may our friends continue to respond to the church’s need to have the best ministers and counselors possible.”
Mayfield’s address was based on Genesis 4: 1-16, the story of Cain and Abel. His message encouraged the Seminary to go beyond being a diverse campus, by actively engaging with and learning from those who are different.
“Diverse environments do not automatically create an understanding of or an appreciation for difference,” said Mayfield. “If we are to become religious leaders with the capacity to connect with people of all backgrounds, we have to go beyond the diverse environment and talk to one another, learn from one another, truly engage with one another.”
Mayfield drew an interesting parallel between the lines that divide people today and the lines that divided Cain and Abel in biblical times. “Only four chapters into the bible, differences emerge. As soon as Cain and Abel are introduced, there’s a focus on their differences: their names, their occupations, their offerings, the different responses they got from God, their conversations… Cain and Abel represent the presence of difference not only in their family, but in the world.”
Based on Isaiah 50: 4, “A short verse with a complicated web of tightly interwoven thoughts,” Johanna Bos, Dora Pierce professor of Bible and professor of Old Testament at Louisville Seminary, charged Mayfield with five points: “… a teacher is one who is always in the process of learning; as a teacher of Bible your knowledge is anchored in the Text, do not take yourself too seriously, teach always to cause the work of support for the deprived people of the human community, and teach with a listening ear.”
Following Bos’ charge, and in keeping with the theme of Mayfield’s message, Director of Field Education and Methodist Studies and Professor of Ministry Dianne Reistroffer led a charge to the Seminary in which she asked those gathered to be “faithful, justice-seeking community of interpreters, mindful of context and rooted in compassion.”
Mayfield joined the Louisville Seminary faculty in 2012. In January, he will co-lead the Seminary’s Middle East travel seminar to Israel and Palestine. Read his full bio here.
Four awards honoring current students were given at convocation.
- The E.L. Bell Memorial Prize went to Chelsea Guenther-Benham and David Wigger.
- The Burton Z Cooper Prize in Theology was given to Lynn Hasselbarth.
- The James A. Hyde Marriage and Family and Pastoral Counseling Theory & Practice Award was given to Jeni Strednak and Abbie Trowbridge.
- Dean K. Thompson Prize in Practical Theology went to Karol Farris and Lynn Hasselbarth.