#IamEden – We are Eden!

We challenge you, our Eden family, to encourage prospective students to consider Eden for this fall.

The time has never been better.  Half price tuition this year. Application process expedited.  Fees waived.

It has been a busy summer in ministry and mission for all of us. As the COVID 19 health crisis has gripped our world, churches and organizations have had to adapt. At Eden, we have noticed and celebrated the ways in which Eden alumni and friends have been innovating in worship, justice witness, faith formation, and compassion to continue in ministry while keeping people safe. At Eden we have no less adapted – building an entirely online schedule for fall 2020 for our vibrant community of learning and faith. In addition to a fully online course and contextual education schedule, faculty and staff have prepared for community life structured with many opportunities to engage in chapel worship, student cabinet leadership, supplementary learning and formation activities (weekly forums held by our Dean of Students in self-care, ministry formation, etc.), networking events, social events, and social justice and community engagement.

If there were ever a time to engage at Eden – it’s now.

  • Tuition is half price
  • Application fees are waived (with code: “IamEden)
  • Schedule is accessible (online and flexible for work and family life)
  • Contextual Education has adapted to virtual learning – innovate in ministry with trained supervisors and Eden faculty (many placements offer $400 per month)
  • Student satisfaction is high (spring 2020 on-line evaluations show Eden students are highly satisfied with the new format)
  • Faculty and staff are excited and engaged
  • The world needs the church and its ministry more than ever, and vital/well educated/trained leaders to serve

Connect with Eden Admissions Staff.  Call 314-918-2642.
Or Email:  [email protected]

 

Growing up in southern Indiana, Karen Pepmeier and her friends would comb the farm fields during harvest season, gathering leftover ears of corn to raise money for their youth group.

“You hate to see it lay in the field and rot,” Pepmeier said. “If you grow up in one of these areas, you’re very familiar with the waste that occurs there.”

Nearly 50 years later, Pepmeier, now a student at Eden Theological Seminary, has assembled a group of volunteers and farmers to funnel this excess produce into food deserts in St. Louis. The program has harvested thousands of pounds of vegetables from Indiana farms this summer, distributing it to St. Louis food pantries and soup kitchens.

For many farmers, having leftover produce is an unavoidable issue.

At harvest time, farmworkers move quickly along the rows of sweet corn, selecting only unblemished ears of a certain size, said Jana Vieck, whose family has farmed in southern Indiana since the 1860s.

“When you’re shopping at the grocery store, you’re looking for a pristine ear of corn,” said Vieck, former dean of the College of Health Science and Human Performance at Vincennes University. “If it’s not big enough or if it’s not perfect, people typically don’t want it.”

Given that farmers are often operating on razor-thin profit margins, it also doesn’t make financial sense to harvest every single vegetable, Vieck said. From a business perspective, leaving leftover produce in the fields is usually the most economical option.

She and her husband, Lonny Vieck, who works for a fertilizer company, have partnered with Pepmeier to collect the excess produce and send it to food pantries in St. Louis. They’ve also become de facto representatives of the fledgling project, persuading their friends and family to open their fields to the volunteers.

For the Viecks, sharing excess crops with marginalized communities — or gleaning, as it’s known in the Bible — is an important part of their faith.

“My husband and I really believe that if your faith is just about going to church on Sunday, then you’ve missed the whole point,” Vieck said. “If we know that there are people who are hungry and we know that this food is here, how could we not participate in this?”

Connecting urban and rural

Students and staff from Eden Theological Seminary have made three trips this summer to Vincennes, Indiana, a farming community on the Illinois border.

Volunteers spend several hours filling buckets with sweet corn and potatoes, which is later bagged and stuffed in pickup trucks, backseats and car trunks.

“We’re driving more cars so we can socially distance, but that also means we have more room for produce,” said Kristen Leslie, a professor at Eden Theological Seminary and program co-organizer. “Our cars always smell like corn by the time we get home.”

Since mid-July, the group has collected and distributed more than 3,000 pounds of sweet corn and potatoes. But bringing fresh produce to food insecure areas in St. Louis is just one component of the program, Leslie added.

“If that was all we were interested in, just making sure food didn’t go unused, there are actually much more efficient ways to do that than what we’re doing,” Leslie said. “But we’re interested in connecting communities.”

Volunteers from St. Louis, who may have never set foot on a farm, have a brief window into the challenges of small-scale farming, trying to time their harvest based on the weather or push a tractor out of the squelching mud.

“They’re learning about our lifestyle and where the food comes from, and we are learning about what happens to this food,” Vieck said. “Where’s the gap? Why are there areas that don’t have access to all this food when we’re in a country that has an abundance of it?”

For Pepmeier, it has been heartening to watch people from vastly different backgrounds sit down and have a conversation.

She hopes to expand the program and partner with other farmers in the St. Louis area, but she doesn’t want to lose the “cultural exchange and personal connection.”

“Bringing a truck full of produce is helpful for a day,” Pepmeier said. “But if we can teach people how to share food, how to grow food and how to look out for one another, in the grand scheme of things, I think that’s better.”

*virtual vigils * on-the-street-activism * behind-the-scenes planning with faith-based community organizing groups* Pentecost sermons and prayers
*statements to and from congregations *poetry writing

These actions and more are all ways in which Eden Seminary alumni, faculty, staff, students, members of the Board of Trustees are participating in the events of these days and beyond.  Racism as the core of the current triple crisis of state violence, economic chaos, and global pandemic reinforces Eden’s commitment to goals of “race equity and its intersecting oppressions, interfaith collegiality, and vocational resilience” for all curriculum, community, and programming.

The Illinois South Conference UCC presented a Peace Rally at the Conference office in Highland, IL. The group held a time of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to remind us of the time that George Floyd was held without breath and to think about the problems surrounding the system. As names of fallen Black brothers and sisters were called, a bell was rung to honor their lives. Conference Minister, Rev. Shana Johnson (Eden Class of 1997) thanked members of the Justice and Witness Team, including several Eden alumni: “A BIG thank you to P Jerry Bennett, (Class of 1992) Tim Darmour-Paul (Class of 1987), Kay Ahaus, Margie Lindhorst, Barb Bray, Sam Foskey, Norma Patterson (Eden LIFE), and Richard Ellerbrake (Class of 1958) for making this possible. Also thank you to Barbara W. VanAusdall, David Shanks and Jack Spratte (Class of 1970) (their roadie) for providing music.” Rev. Johnson speaks to the Belleville “News Democrat” about the importance of white church people showing up for Black lives.

Reflecting on Images, Iconoclasts, images of Jesus in light of public actions against Confederate statues. July 10th episode of “It’s Not Always Black and White” features Rev. Dr. Adam Ployd, Eden’s Assistant Professor of Church History and Historical Theology. Father Jon Stratton ( class of 2011) and Rev Aaron Wade ( class of 2012 ) host this weekly show.

Eden Alum, Jeanette Mott Oxford (Class of 1989) joins with Darryl Gray to outline the ways the MO Legislature’s latest crime bill continues the racist and predatory pattern of “tough in crime” approaches.

Rev. Dr. Jesse Williams, (Eden MDIV, DMin and former Trustee) Senior Pastor of Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem New York joined with many Baptist and other clergy colleagues in NYC for a silent march for freedom and justice on June 7.

Dr. Deborah Krause, in-coming president of Eden Seminary, speaks with alumni and on St. Louis Public Radio about the role of the Seminary in these times.

Eden’s Acting Academic Dean, Dr. Sharon Tan, adds signature to the “Statement of Solidarity by Asian and Asian Descent Presidents and Deans of the Association of Theological Schools” June 18th.

Alumni and students are involved in local actions against police violence.  In Florissant, MO, Rev. Renee Johnson ( class of 2020) and current students Rev. Zach Mullens and Rev. Larita Rice, offer leadership at a clergy press conference, June 8th.

Deaconess Foundation and CEO, Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson (class of 2009) has been awarded the “St. Louis American” 2020 Health Advocacy Organization of the Year. This award recognizes the health advocacy done by the Deaconness Foundation by supporting Black led advocacy organizations to leverage power for children, families and communities in St. Louis.

Eden faculty highlight voices of solidarity of diverse groups with Black colleagues and communities condemning anti-Blackness perpetuated through systems and structures.  Statement by the Steering Committee of the Association of Asian/North American Theological Educators (AANATE).

Eden Seminary is a co-sponsor of the  Jewish Congregation Shaare Emeth’s virtual event that spotlights the lawsuit Sines v. Kessler. The lawsuit holds accountable the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other far-right extremists who conspired to orchestrate a weekend of violence in Charlottesville in August 2017, which resulted in Heather Heyer’s death and extensive injuries.

A Virtual Vigil through the Eden Seminary Chapel on May 31st included voiced prayers of Eden alumni and faculty. Renee Johnson (class of 2020) “Holy Spirit transcend our differences and give us respect for humanity #blacklivesmatter#justiceforgeorgefloyd   

(pictured, Renee Johnson and Gabrielle Kennedy (class of 2020)

David Kniker (class of 1965) “For the gift of all who care and make their caring real, God in your grace . . .”

Christopher Grundy (faculty) “For the long night of racial oppression and violence, and the hope for a new dawn.  God, in your grace…”

The Eden-initiated Facebook group “Leading On-Line: A community of practice for progressive Christian ministry” continued to embody a co-learning space for this moment.  Members this week shared their experiences as public theologians and preachers in these days.  Creativity emerged from the juxtaposition of Pentecost and the triple crisis.  Find this Facebook group to join the ongoing conversation.

In their weekly online conversation, “It’s Not Always Black and White,” Aaron Rogers (class of 2012) and Jon Stratton  (class of  2011) were joined this week by Cassandra Gould (class of 2010) and Faith Sandler  (The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis).  Their dialogue focused on “protest and the scourge of police violence” from the perspective of their experiences as part of organized protests.

Anthony L.D. Scott (class of 2013) challenged other preachers with this observation. “I’m leaning into news ways to lead and minister. I think finding new ways to get word out is what this moment is all about.  AND my church is sharing my sermon like wildfire.  How are y’all addressing this moment?  “Waiting for Rosa”  medium.com   and  Pentecost Sermon May 31st.

Amy G.S.A. Brooks (class of 2018) shared her Pentecost poetry Amy G.S.A. Brooks _Acts 2_Riot

Chuck Currie (class of 2006), part of organized protests in Oregon, along with his children, acknowledged the complexity of this moment. “If you are protesting or just out and about, please #WearAMask, your life is precious. The life of your neighbor is precious. With re-openings, some premature, and protests, we need protection to keep one another safe. #COVIDー19 #GeorgeFloydProtests #WeekendWisdom ”

Rebecca Turner (contextual education supervisor) wore worship leadership attire that embodied her Pentecost sermon.

 

 

Eden voices also have been conversation-partners and support statements of multiple denominational and interfaith organizations.

Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis Statement

United Church of Christ national officers

Missouri Mid-South Conference, United Church of Christ, Conference Minister
Pastoral Letter of Anguish 5-27-20 Ginny Brown Daniel

Eden walks in solidarity with statements of other UCC-related seminaries,
United Seminary of the Twin Cities (Minnesota)

Pacific School of Religion (California)

With the transition of Rev. Dr. Deborah Krause as Eden Seminary’s new president come changes to the structure and organization of the school. The Staff and faculty now collaborate in five teams: Programs, Advancement, Facilities, Finance, and President. The Programs Team, the largest of all, covers Admissions, International Students, Student Cabinet, Houses of Study, Chapel Worship, Degree and Non-degree Programs, Contextual Education,  Faculty, Walker Center, Library, and Archives.  This team’s co-leaders are Rev. Dr. Sonja B. Williams and Dr. Damayanthi Niles.

Rev. Dr. Sonja B. Williams is the Dean of Students and Eden’s new Visiting Professor of Practical Theology.  Joining the Eden community as Associate Dean of Students in 2019, Dr. Williams quickly impressed students and staff and faculty colleagues alike with her passion for justice and compassion for all.  From sharing spoken word poetry to deep listening, from honing academic rigor in Eden’s classrooms to empowering others in their vocations, Dean Williams has distinguished herself as a leader in the Eden community and the progressive Christian movement.

Alongside Dr. Williams is Rev. Dr. Damayanthi Niles, the Interim Academic Dean and Professor of Constructive Theology.  Dr. Niles brings a unique perspective as a “true citizen of the world.”  Having lived, worked, and studied in several countries, she can offer international insights and interpretations on theological issues.  Professor Niles works to meet all students where they are. She engages an eclectic assortment of texts to help them make the connection.

These two leaders, scholars, and teachers are collaborating with Eden’s faculty, staff, and students to create a vibrant, justice seeking, and joy-filled community of learning and faith

Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker will be joining Eden’s faculty this fall as visiting Professor of Contextual Education and Community Engagement. She will also be taking on the role of Director of Contextual Education.

Dr. Baker, who is as Eden alum (MDiv), has been teaching with the Eden faculty as an adjunct  colleague for the last 14 years. She has taught in Preaching and Worship, Social Justice Ministries, and Community Organizing.

She has served, and is continuing to serve, as an organizer for Metropolitan Congregations United and has served as the chaplain for the Episcopal City Mission. Dr. Baker has also served as the founding pastor of Liberation Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Dr. Baker brings a passion for social justice work, and deep experience in interfaith and ecumenical collaboration for community engagement and transformation. As the lead organizer for MCU’s Break the Pipeline campaign she has worked to develop leaders and hold systems accountable for how they demean and destroy children, particularly Black and Brown children and their families.

This experience and capacity will strengthen Eden’s ability to form leaders with a theological imagination for collaborative ministries of social transformation, and with the capacity to do that collaboratively with people of different faith traditions.

July 1st marked a big day in Eden Theological Seminary history as Rev. Dr. Deborah Krause took office as Eden’s 14th president. She ushered in her first day with a welcoming message about her ideas and vision for the Seminary and community.   View video here.

With this message and her transition, this won’t be the only conversation with President Krause.  Throughout the months of July and August, Rev. Dr. Deborah will be hosting a series of interviews with members of the Eden Seminary faculty and staff. These will introduce the goals of faculty/staff teams for the function of the Seminary and of the ways she plans to work alongside them.

This series will start next week on July 8th, featuring Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker, Eden Seminary’s new Visiting Professor of Community Engagement and Contextual Education and Director of Contextual Education.

To view our new team members and set up follow this link!
http://www.eden.edu/eden-teams/

“I AM EDEN.” Sound familiar? If you have walked the halls of Eden seminary within the last year you will recall posters lining the corridors depicting faces of those engaging the spirit and mission that ignite Eden in transforming the world for the common good, through bold Christian discipleship. Along with the faces of Eden, you’ll encounter a phrase or two describing what makes a person “Eden.” Some imply a characteristic of courage and leadership. Others proclaim their passion for ministry and the church.

One wonders what Dr. Greenhaw’s poster would say: “An insightful strategic entrepreneur,” a “transformative storyteller,” a “dynamic preacher” or a “caring pastor and mentor?” Recent gifts made to Eden in honor of Dr. Greenhaw’s retirement include messages that shed light on this quandary.

Among the many well wishes for David’s retirement, “Nicholas” thanks Dr. Greenhaw not only for his service to Eden but “his generosity as a friend and mentor.” “John” thanks David Greenhaw, “for keeping Eden relevant to the times in which we live, at the forefront of theological education.” “Marylen’s” gift honors David’s “extraordinary leadership and friendship.”  “Dr. Oglesby’s” honorary gift accompanies his sentiment of “whenever there was a desire to explore new possibilities in theological education, your actions ignited my ethical imagination!” “Virginia’s” comments, along with her honorary gift to Eden, explain her thanksgiving for David’s “dynamic leadership of Eden Seminary, (your) wisdom and understanding, and (your) endearing and everlasting friendship.”

Other creative gifts to the seminary that demonstrate the community’s love and honor for David include Dr. Olivia Masih White and Dr. Terry White’s gift “for each year of service to the seminary.” Olivia said  “I first met David some 30+ years ago when we both served on the UCC Board for Homeland Ministries – Division of Education and Publication. This was many years before I became associated with Eden.  Later David invited me to serve on the board of Trustees of Eden Seminary. So to me “Eden is always David Greenhaw” – they can’t be separated. His commitment was not limited to Eden Seminary and theological education but to people, all the people he met, even someone like me. He is an expert in building relationships – you can call him ”Relationship Engineer/expert”. He understood how to make theological education relevant to the changes of the times. His commitment to bringing diversity, inclusion of new ideas, his ability to connect with everyone and maintaining friendships are some of the qualities that I admired in David. On the occasion of his retirement it seems the best way to honor his 23 years of dedicated service to Eden is by making a substantial donation.” 

The newly unveiled portrait of Eden’s president from 1997-2020, the Reverend Dr. David Greenhaw, now graces the hall of the Samuel D. Press building. The Eden community will be forever grateful for David’s leadership and as has been said by too many to count, his enduring friendship over the years. Dr. Greenhaw’s presidential portrait will remind us of who and what make Eden, Eden. May we continue as a community, and in Dr. Greenhaw’s honor, transforming the world and defining ourselves as THE seminary for the progressive Christian movement.

Offer a gift to the Seminary here

Dr. Greenhaw’s influence spans decades. Countless partnerships have been established with those engaged in the life of the church. His influence in congregational churches, institutions, and organizations has impacted those of many faiths and demographics. 

You are invited to a service of worship to celebrate Dr. David Greenhaw’s service to Eden Theological Seminary on June 28, 2020 at 2 pm through ZOOM and Facebook live. 

Retirement Service order of worship with participants