Susan Tarr, retired librarian from the Library of Congress and active layperson discusses her activities in the church during Covid-19. The pandemic prompted a number of changes in providing Christian education for members at The Church of the Covenant (Presbyterian) in Arlington, VA. As an active layperson in the congregation, she described her interest in Christian education. With the development of the Covid-19 she was challenged to expand her familiarity with technology. She talked about involvement with two classes within the congregation: the adult Bible class and the confirmation class with youth. Her particular concern was for the youth. After her retirement from the Library of Congress where she was the Executive Director of the Federal Library and Information Center Committee for the last 10 years of a 30 year career in the system, she completed a Theological Studies degree at Wesley Seminary in D.C. In the program she discussed how that educational experience prepared her for the challenges of teaching during this pandemic.
Lent 2021 also marks a full year of COVID-19 in this country. The Seminary Explores speaks with author Rev. Andrew Taylor-Troutman, pastor of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina about his forthcoming book, what it was like to be a “Poll Chaplain” and writing for your audience. Taylor-Troutman holds an M.Div. from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia and an M.A.R. from the University of Virginia. His articles, essays and poems have appeared in Sojourners, Mockingbird, Ruminate, Bearings Online, The Chatham News Record and elsewhere. His books include Take My Hand: A Theological Memoir, Gently Between the Words: Stories and Poems, Earning Innocence and Parables of Parenthood: Interpreting the Gospels with Family.
Dr. Kirsi Stjerna, First Lutheran Los Angeles/Southwest California Synod Professor of Lutheran History and Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, discusses her newest book, Lutheran Theology: A Grammar of Faith. A book that emerged out of her years of teaching at the seminary level and the questions that students asked in the classroom. While the text is written for seminarians, it is designed for study in the local congregation as well. She expresses the believe that theology is about life and ultimate concerns. The key motif of the text is “Freedom.” Luther in his life demonstrated freedom for himself and others under the gospel. The extensive resources for further reading in each chapter will certainly benefit seminary students and congregational members.
Dr. Quintin Robertson, Instructor & Director of the Urban Theological Institute & Black Church Studies Program at United Lutheran Seminary, reflects on the 40th Anniversary of the Urban Theological Institute at United Lutheran Seminary. He shares a historical overview of the Institute focusing in on the unique features of the program. Robertson also describes the changes that have taken place in the Institute including increased endowment, online courses, and the Black Church concentration.
Mark S. Burrows joins The Seminary Explores to talk about his recent teaching on wonder and its significance in a pandemic – with some Mary Oliver and Rachel Carson in the mix. Burrows has taught at graduate theological schools in the U.S. and Europe, most recently The Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany. His Ph.D. and M.Div. are from Princeton Theological Seminary. An historian of medieval Christianity, his research and writing have focused on those creative minds among the mystics, visionaries, and poets who often found themselves living and working at the margins of Christianity.
This podcast was the final Seminary Explores program with Dr. Gerald Christianson who announced his retirement after 44 years of being a host of the program. He discussed the goal of the program, the types of interviewees the program sought to interview, and the theological underpinnings which guided the program.
He also talked about the justice issues he wish he had pursued. In addition, he recalled excitement on doing live shows in which an adult Sunday school class would observe the interview and then be able to ask the guest speaker questions following the recording. The podcast ended with him signing off for the last time. (Or is it?)
Pastor Andrew Geib, Associate Pastor, St. James Lutheran Church in Gettysburg, identified nine top stories in religion for the year 2019: ELCA Church Sanctuary issue, United Methodist possible split, Women in the Church, Collapse of Christianity, the burning of Notre Dame in Paris, and more. While the stories were mostly grim, he ends with word of hope for listeners.
Dr. Christian B. Keller, Professor of History and General Dwight D. Eisenhower Chair of National Security, Department of National Security and Strategy, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA, and author of The Great Partnership: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Fate of the Confederacy, argues that the Christian connection between Lee and Jackson was a significant glue that bonded the two generals’ friendship, and this in turn supported their strong professional relationship. Although one was Episcopal and the other a Presbyterian, they were both firm believers in Divine Providence, and as evangelical providentialists, were not that different from many Americans of that era.
Ron Couchman, a 52-year member of the Gettysburg College staff was the former Registrar and is currently working in Special Collections and College Archives, shares his personal story of coming out as a gay man with the help of therapy and his congregation, St. James, Gettysburg.
With the leadership of a task force of which he is a member and the support of the pastors, the congregation has adopted Reconciling in Christ which emphasizes welcome, equality, and justice. The task force holds a celebration of “Reconciling” each January. He recommends a helpful resource, “ReconcilingWorks,” as a way for congregations to build community beyond itself.
Guest host Carla Christopher spent time with Michael and Zach Zakar, authors of Pray the Gay Away, a book that chronicles their experience of coming out to their Christian Iranian mother and their own personal experiences during this process of self-discovery. They are advocates for LGBTQIA+ rights and offer support to youth who are coming out through their mobile app, My Twins Chat.
This deeply personal and at times humorous discussion will make you laugh and make you stop and think.