Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Philadelphia pastor lives with HIV - and preaches about it

LTSP alum The Rev. Andrena Ingram, pastor of St. Michael's Lutheran Church ELCA in Germantown, tells her story in a column by writer Annette John-Hall in the Nov. 23 Philadelphia Inquirer. The column was on page one of the Local section, and is online.

While a student at LTSP, Andrena told her story, Andrena 'set free', to The Lutheran in 2005.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Share your latest!

Have something to share? Life change? New call? Something to celebrate? Share in the comments area...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Evening Shared - eCONNECTION Fall 2010


A Reflection on Christian-Muslim Relations

The Rev. Dr. David G. Grafton, Associate Professor, Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and Director of Graduate Studies, shared this email, written 8/29/2010, with his LTSP colleagues.

Dear Colleagues,

This last Friday my family and I were, once again, invited to a friend’s house for iftar, the breaking of the fast for Muslims during the month of Ramadan. We had a wonderful evening of food, friendship, and sharing of texts. We were not only seated at the family table and served a delicious meal of home cooked goods, but we found ourselves engaged in a conversation about Moses being “tongue tied” and his speech before Pharaoh in both the Qur’an and Exodus. All the of the teenagers, both veiled and not, were bored with our conversation and watched David Hasselhoff attempting to sing and dance on the television. (Is that really assimilation?) The meal began with a blessing from the Faithah, the first chapter of the Qur’an, and concluded with my prayer from Psalm 104. It was a wonderful evening.

This morning at church I was greeted by the words of Christ: “You will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you” (Lk 14:10). I was struck how my family and I had experienced this Gospel lesson for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost. We received Christ’s teachings and his hospitality in the home and invitation of a Muslim family.

David Grafton

Join the conversation - post your comments below.

Prof. Grafton explored Bible and Qur'ān - A Comparative Approach for the 2010 Fall Forum 2010 - watch his keynote lectures.

The 411 on the Emerging Church - eCONNECTION Fall 2010

The Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman, Assistant Professor of Homiletics

Imagine attending a church service in a warehouse-type space with few elements that resemble traditional church anywhere in the room except for an altar with a foot high cross in the center. On one side of the room is a seven piece band with electric guitars, drums, bongos, violin, acoustic guitar, and vocalists. The band is playing a U2 song and hymns from around the globe to reflect our connectivity on a global scale. In several of the corners of the room are worship centers – a communion table, a prayer wall on which to place prayer cards, an art station to express your creative side, and a Lectio Divina station to intentionally focus on the Word. Seated in the room are persons with a variety of religious experiences, from diverse denominational backgrounds, from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, reflecting a wide range of age and socio-economic statuses, and a diversity of familial situations. Like the worship space, the people present are dressed casually. They are relaxed and seem to be extremely passionate about the experience. The service is infused with energy and the folks are engaged in praising God and connecting to each other.1 This is a new kind of church – a church trying to BE the church in new and exciting ways. Worship is one element of this lived reality; the other is next door to the church: a church run thrift shop and ministry center that addresses the needs of the surrounding community. This community of faith is not concerned with doing what has always been done in the church, because they know that for many in the room continuing what is normative was what drove them from the traditional church in the first place. Those within the movement, however, do not condemn or deny the place of the traditional church. Instead, they acknowledge that some are thirsting for something different, and they strive to provide that.

This worship description is an example of an Emerging Church. Like other Christian traditions, they believe in the transformational power of Jesus and tell his story every chance they get. They are not focused on bricks and mortar. They are all about mission, living within their community in intentional ways, worshiping in a passionate and contextualized manner, and ministering with communal outreach. The Emerging Church is a movement clearly reflected within some mainline denominations, but exists outside of any denominational structure as well. The Emerging Church is focused on attracting both churched and unchurched folks to create new communities of faith. It is focused on being the body of Christ incarnationally in the world – being the hands and feet of Christ in their daily walk. Some within the Emerging Church
self-identify as emergent, while others are just trying to find a new way to reach people regardless of labels. However, they all fully embrace the fact that our culture has shifted from a “church culture” to a “secular culture.” Those within the movement believe that the Church will survive only by embracing that fact and by intentionally changing to create communities that reflect this new paradigm.2

The Emerging Church Movement is attempting to revitalize the church, much like Luther did 500 years ago. Changing times have throughout history called for different methods to spread the gospel. The church is constantly being reformed and changed – sometimes subtly and sometimes with cataclysmic results. This movement wants to tap into the changing dynamics of postmodern culture to create a new landscape to experience God.3 The interesting thing about this movement is it cannot be fixed or defined universally – it is expressed in a number of very different realities based on the needs of that particular community of faith. Culture is still shifting, and the church needs to be flexible enough to shift with it – thus the evolution is not complete. So they are living into what they believe the church might be in the future. They are living into a reality where the church is relevant to a younger, postmodern generation and to their needs; however, it is not limited to any one age group. Emerging Churches see themselves as a community being the church in the world instead of folks “going to church.”4 For some, the Emerging Church is going too far, but the last time I left a traditional worship service I can say definitively that I did not hear my pre-teen say, “Mom that was so cool. I was engaged and thought church was something for me.” He is the audience, the congregation, of the future. Will his needs be met by the traditional church? I don’t yet know. But I hope the Church continues to stretch and grow to meet the needs of the generations to come. If not, he, like others, will be looking for the nearest Emerging Church to call his faith home.

Join the conversation - post your comments below.


1 The service described in this paragraph occurred at Circle of Hope, a community of faith of the Brethren In Christ Church, at Broad and Washington in Philadelphia, PA on Sunday, September 26, 2010. It is very typical of a worship service of the Emerging Church.
2 Edward Hammett and James R. Pierce. Preaching People Under 40 while Keeping People over 60: Being Church for all Generations. (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2007), 7.
3 Rob Bell. Velvet Jesus: Repainting the Christian Faith. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 12.
4 Dan Kimball. The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations. (Grand Rapids, MI: Emergent YS/Zondervan, 2003), 95. This phrase, while difficult for many to hear, is an important dynamic for church leaders to grasp. Many postmoderns and emerging church participants have experienced church in this way in the past and crave a different way of expressing their faith. The phrase clearly does not reflect the reality for many in the traditional churches who passionately worship, do vital ministry, and live missionally. These persons typically have not found that in their own experiences with the traditional church.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bible and Qur'ān - A Comparative Approach: Fall Forum 2010

Christians and Muslims are shaped and guided by their Scriptures. Yet, the Bible and the Qur'an serve distinct roles and functions within each faith tradition. How do Christians and Muslims approach and interpret their texts for faith and life? This Fall Forum will investigate how Lutheran theological views and exegetical principles might compare and contrast with a variety of Muslim perspectives of their own Book of Faith. This was the theme of LTSP's 2010 Fall Forum, with keynotes by The Rev. Dr. David D. Grafton, Associate Professor, Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and Director of Graduate Studies, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

First Keynote: "Bible and Qur'ān as Scripture I - A Theological Comparative Approach Between Lutherans and Orthodox Islam"

Second Keynote: "Bible and Qur'ān as Scripture II - Lutheran Exegetical and Sunni Tafsīr Principles"

More on Fall Forum

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Rev. Leslie E. Evans MDiv '82, nurse and Episcopal priest, has died

The Rev. Leslie E. Evans, 64, of Bristol Township, a nurse, Episcopal priest, and college and prison chaplain, died of encephalopathy on Tuesday, Nov. 2, at Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol Township.

The remainder of the story is on philly.com, website of The Philadelphia Inquirer: http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/20101111_The_Rev__Leslie_E__Evans__nurse_and_Episcopal_priest.html

(Photo from philly.com)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Prof. Kiran Sebastian presents Quodlibet - video

The Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian, H. George Anderson Professor of Mission and Cultures and Director, Multicultural Mission Resource Center at LTSP, was the 2010 distinguished presenter for Quodlibet, where each year a member of the faculty at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia is presented with "any question whatsoever" and responds in this tradition-based, rigorous academic exercise. Watch his lively presentation:

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Church History: Giving Public Theology Memory" topic of Nov. 16 Convocation

The study of the histories of the church not only grounds our current experience in the traditions and stories of the past, but also helps to find new applications for old solutions to issues facing the church today. Participants will hear how the very latest historical research has an impact on ministry in today's church and world, and will have the opportunity to ask the presenters any question they want. Faculty members at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) will address the topic from a number of viewpoints at the convocation "Church History: Giving Public Theology Memory" on Tuesday, November 16, 2010. The convocation is scheduled for 11:30 am in Benbow Hall, The Brossman Center on the seminary campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, and is free and open to the public.

The participating faculty members and their presentations addressing the topic will be:

- The Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian: "Three Reasons Why Cyprian Will Change Your

- The Rev. Dr. Philip D. Krey: "How Augustine Helps Me Interpret the Bible"

- The Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Wengert: "Philip Melanchthon's Enormous Ecumenical Error and How We Fixed It"

- Dr. Jon Pahl: "Speaking Truth to (American) Power in Love"

- Dr. Karl Krueger: "Don't Burn the Books of the Bible!"

- The Rev. Dr. David D. Grafton: "What Say You of Muhammad?"

The November 16 convocation is the latest on the LTSP theme for the 2010-2011 academic year, Theological Education in the Changed Context of the Church and Society. Future convocations will explore the topics "Teaching Theology in the Seminary Curriculum: A Symposium by Systematicians," "Teaching the Practice of Ministry in the Seminary Curriculum: A Symposium by the Integrative Area," and "Seminary Education: What the Church Expects" with Bishop Roy Riley, New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.