June 17, 2020
By SHAHLA FARZAN
On Thursday, June 11, from 6:30-7:30pm Congregation Shaare Emeth will be hosting a virtual event spotlighting Integrity First America’s landmark lawsuit, Sines v. Kessler – a suit seeking to hold 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. This suit — scheduled to go to trial this October 2020 — has the potential to bankrupt and dismantle the leaders and hate groups at the center of this movement.
We hope that you will join us in the fight against white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate by agreeing to co-sponsor this program with us. The event will feature Amy Spitalnik, executive director of IFA, as well as Roberta Kaplan and Michael Bloch, the attorneys spearheading this lawsuit. You can read more about them below. As a co-sponsor we simply ask you to agree to publicize the event to your memberships and networks. There is no requirement to make a financial contribution to support IFA’s work, but if you or your organization are able to make a donation of any size, we encourage you to do so at: https://www.integrityfirstforamerica.org/donate.
More news available at: https://www.integrityfirstforamerica.org/newsroom/
In the halls of Eden Theological Seminary, professors and instructors do more than just teach. Many are offering their knowledge and expertise through writing, whether that be in a journal, encyclopedia, or book. These members of the Eden community have contributed to the world of writing with these recent works.
As the Assistant Professor of Church History and Historical Theology, Adam Ployd offered his insights to the Journal of Ecumenical Studies. This issue was a special edition that “arose out of the work of the “Violence in an Age of Genocide” study group, part of the National Council of Churches Faith and Order Convening Table”. Dr. Ployd authored both the introduction, “Introduction: Racialized Violence and the Churches’ Responsibility”, and his own essay, “What Makes a Martyr? The Movement for Black Lives and the Power of Rhetoric Old and New”.
“This essay explores the question of what makes a martyr by placing the early Christian discourse on martyrdom in conversation with the protest and commemoration practices surrounding recent killings of persons of color by United States law enforcement. It argues that white Christians, who are often skeptical of the application of martyrial language to the victims of such racialized violence, ought to be open to the theological significance of such practices. Doing so will allow us to learn new ways of understanding and participating in God’s justice and victory over the forces of death in our world.”
Laurel Kloepf-Taylor is the Associate Professor of Old Testament for Eden Theological Seminary. While she has her own published work, Give Me Children or I Shall Die: Children and Communal Survival in Biblical Literature (Emerging Scholars), Dr. Kloepf-Taylor has recently authored an entry for a new encyclopedia of children and childhood studies. She contributed to The SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies which “navigates our understanding of the historical, political, social and cultural dimensions of childhood”.
“Christian belief and practice has both shaped and been shaped by cultural constructions of childhood. The doctrine of the original sin in particular spread across the early Church’s geographic context in Roman-occupied Palestine and was then exported globally as one of the motivating factors for the missionaries who arrived with the rise of European imperial domination. Christian theology and practice have continued to shift in conversation with ongoing cultural encounters around children and childhood.”
As the Professor of Constructive Theology for Eden, Dr. Niles is no stranger to publishing works. Her research and teaching focuses on interfaith and comparative theology, constructive theology, theology and power, contextual theology with a focus on Asian theology, and missiology. Her newest piece, which will be released on August 4, 2020, is titled Doing Theology with Humility, Generosity, and Wonder: A Christian Theology of Pluralism. This book is to help open dialogues on interfaith and “plurality of religious faiths”. Dr. Niles other piece is titled Worshipping at the Feet of Our Ancestors: Hendrik Kraemer and the Making of Contextual Theology in South Asia (Contact Zone. Explorations in Intercultural Theology).
“This book looks at how Christians can think about their own theology in a manner that will allow them to not only be more open to interfaith dialogue but also to see that conversation as essential to what it means to be a Christian. For much of history, Christian theology has been used to undergird and justify imperial power. This has required a theological construction that advances a vision of belief that stands above and against the world and other faiths, or at the very least acts as the one vision under which all the others must unite.”
Christopher Grundy is the well known Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship and Associate Dean of the Chapel for Eden Seminary. Most days, he can be found in a classroom or in the Eden Chapel, but he also shares his knowledge through writing and song. Most recently, Dr. Grundy contributed to the Proceedings of the North American Academy of Liturgy 2020, which “is an ecumenical and interreligious association of liturgical scholars who collaborate in research concerning public worship”. Dr. Grundy’s article story is titled This Is the World I Want to Live in: Toward a Theology of Practical Sacramentality. The article is to look at “what it means for a meal sacramental” and “what was the source of its sacramentality”.
“To whatever extent we can assent to these ideas, however far we are willing to go in stretching our traditions and mindsets, the sacramentality of all these meals presses us to ask what implications the various meals of Jesus’ ministry might have for our theologies and practices of Holy Communion. In particular, the practical sacramentality found in these meals challenges us to look again at the balance of signification and practical effects of our eucharistic rites. It also challenges us to be more curious about the sacramentality to be found specifically in the practicalities of radical eating practices.”
More information and where you can find these works will be on the Recent Faculty Publication page. There are links to read and or purchase these works that our Eden members have written.
In early May, the Eden Board of Trustees met and reviewed a plan for the coming academic year. The plan begins with the assumption that it might not be safe to gather on campus for as long as the entire academic year. Of course, if things change, the plan will be to gather again as soon as is safe. Nevertheless, the faculty and staff are putting in place a curriculum that meets our educational goals through further development of online programs
The impact of the virus has a bearing on more than just health. Eden’s plan for the coming year also attends to the overwhelming economic impact of this global pandemic. While it is difficult to predict the length of the economic challenges Eden is anticipating significant reductions in revenue.
Attending to these challenges, the board of trustees worked with President Greenhaw and President-elect Krause to develop a budget in support of the plan. The budget has required the consolidation of several key functions in the seminary and the reduction of positions. Staff will be organized into teams: Program, Advancement, Facilities and Finance, with each team coordinated by the Office of the President. The Program Team includes degree and non-degree programs. Advancement includes fundraising and communication. Facilities includes campus and technology operations. Finance includes accounting and human resources. The number one priority in the plan and the budget is Eden’s mission.
The trustees, while recognizing the constraints on Eden’s finances, are determined to not have the burden of this economic time fall on students. Eden has adopted a one-year reduction in tuition to help students continue their education uninterrupted.
Programs like the community lunch and Eden bookstore will be discontinued for the year and the staff who support them will be furloughed. The advancement office that had increased staff size to conduct a face to face campaign has reduced its staffing. Searches for replacement in administrative positions have been discontinued when a position has been vacated due to retirement or resignation. Custodial positions needed when the campus was open to more visitors have been reduced to meet the current needs.
The COVID-19 virus has been disruptive, both as a threat to human health and economic strength. The consequences reverberate in many people’s lives and are a source for great grief. This is not the first time in the history of Eden that an epidemic has affected the leaders and supporters of the school. In fact, Eden was founded in 1850 in the middle of a cholera epidemic that killed over 1 million worldwide. Facing each of these challenges, the leaders of the school have made difficult decisions and Eden has been able to continue its service to church and society. There is every reason to have hope for the future of Eden and its mission. The school has a strong board and a strong new president in Deborah Krause.
Expect to hear more about the plans of the seminary as the new teams outline their work for the coming year.
Things are happening on campus at Eden and we would love to have you join us! The plants are growing and so are the friendships. We have been tilling, planting, weeding, and creating community in the garden on campus. We are tucked behind the plant operations building next to the old garage (way behind Press Hall). We have tools and supplies, bring your gloves, mask, a bottle of water, and sunscreen. We have a large space and many different chores for social distancing. Our current plan is to garden on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10:00, Wednesday afternoons at 3:00 and Saturday mornings at 10:00. We will re-evaluate our times in mid-June and may make some schedule changes. We hope to see you there!
–Karen Pepmeier, M.Div. Student
Eden Theological Seminary hosted its 170th Commencement Ceremony on May 15th. This ceremony was different to say the least, as it was hosted through ZOOM and Facebook live. There was over 400 friends and family of the graduates that registered to view the event. While it was a ceremony from a distance, there was still joy to be found in celebrating the accomplishments of the students. Congratulations to the class of 2020!
Doctor of Ministry
Master of Divinity
~Deborah W. Anderson
~Alan E. Bailey
~Helen Jacqueline French
~Phillip Anthony Harris
~Matthew Thomas Helis
~Renee T. Johnson
~Gabrielle Nichole Smith Kennedy
~Harold E. Long
~S. Jewell S. McGhee
~Barbara Burkhalter Schuette
~Tarrah Suzanne Vaupel
Master of Theological Studies
~Vivian Esi Williams
Yesterday, five upcoming graduates of Eden Seminary presented their D.Min. project and Masters’ theses for members of the Eden community, family and friends. In a virtual presentation platform, students shared results of their research and demonstrated the vitality of their scholarship for the future of the church in the United States and around the world. Congratulations to each of these students for successful project and thesis presentations.
Kevin Kelley – Doctor of Ministry
Noah McCarn – Master of Divinity
Gloria Kawang – Master of Theological Studies
Mtipe Koggani – Master of Theological Studies
Vivian Williams – Master of Theological Studies
Interested in learning about our Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program?
Spend time with us to help discern if continuing your theological education is your next step!
Doctor of Ministry Exploratory Days at Eden Seminary are happening
May 7, 8, & 27. Much more information and registration here.
Eden’s Doctor of Ministry is a flexible, personalized program of study:
You may be eligible for a free course, too!
Today, Eden Seminary hosted its first Virtual Awards Ceremony. This is a time to honor students for their hard work during the academic year. The ceremony was hosted over ZOOM since this is a time of being physically distant. Here are this year’s award recipients.
Honor Graduate Fellowship Award: Jewell McGhee and Noah McCarn
The Honor Graduate Fellowship Award recognizes the graduating Masters-level student who, in the judgment of the faculty, has the greatest academic promise and potential for further graduate study in theology.
Grauer Award: Gabrielle Kennedy
The Grauer Award recognizes promise for congregational ministry related to faithfulness in preaching and pastoral care. The recipient is the student judged by the faculty to demonstrate solid academic achievement, a love of Christ’s church and excellence in both preaching and pastoral care.
Senior Preacher: Renee Johnson
This awardee is chosen by the faculty as an affirmation of gifts for preaching and worship leadership. The senior preacher normally preaches at the in-person Spring Convocation. That Convocation was held on-line for 2020. Instead, Renee Johnson was the preacher for Eden Seminary Chapel on April 20th.
Edith and Robert T. Fauth Book Award: Rachel Helton and Sabrina Trupia
The Edith and Robert T. Fauth Book Award recognizes the importance of an educated and learned clergy, the importance of books and learning resources and the need for an adequate personal library of the pastor, and is given to the Master of Divinity student having the highest academic ranking at the end of the first year of study.
Kenneth M. Cooper Book Award: Karen Pepmeier
The Kenneth M. Cooper Book Award is given to any deserving student pursuing preparation for parish minister with priority consideration to a student of the Kentuckiana Association of the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the UCC
Kniker Family Book Award: Emma Landowski
The Kniker Family Book Award celebrates the call of Charles Kniker as the twelfth President of Eden Theological Seminary and is given to a UCC student selected by the administration.
Warren H. Seyfert Memorial Book Award: Cory Lovell
The Warren H. Seyfert Memorial Book Award is given to a student in loving memory and appreciation of the life and ministry of Warren H. Seyfert, a graduate of Eden Seminary in 1946. It represents his belief that religion should take hold of people’s lives during the week as well as on Sunday and that the pastor’s life should be an example of participation and leadership in wider community, particularly around the issues of social justice, mental health and ecumenism.
Robert L. Tiemann Book Award: Mark Waight
The Robert L. Tiemann Book Award is given in recognition of outstanding achievement of a student deemed to excel in business acumen, whose skills will be transferable and useful in the student’s ministry.
Milton and Jesse Hoffman Book Award: Timica Emerson
This Award recognizes the importance of books and learning resources and the need for an adequate personal library of the pastor. The Award is given to a Master of Divinity degree student with preference to a student from Hope United Church of Christ, St. Louis, or a student serving that congregation in the Contextual Education capacity.
In case you missed the live event or wish to share the students’ success with others, here is a video from the virtual ceremony.