Rev. Raymond K. Robinson has been hired as Interim Director of Admissions for Eden Theological Seminary. Rev. Robinson will serve in this role from February 1, 2019, through June, 2019.

Rev. Robinson most recently worked as an Assistant Director and Academic Advisor at the Webster University Westport Campus in St. Louis, Missouri. In this position, he assisted, advised and counseled students on their academic journey from recruitment to graduation.

Rev. Robinson is very familiar with Eden Seminary. He is a 2014 graduate of Eden’s Master of Divinity degree program.

For over 25 years, Rev. Robinson has served and volunteered as Youth Minister, Choir President, Bible class teacher, and Associate Minister in various churches in Iowa, Missouri and Mississippi. Throughout his life, he has valued opportunities to communicate with students about their faith, their goals, and their futures.

In 2018, Rev. Robinson received the Salute to Excellence in Education Award from the St Louis American Foundation for his many years of work and dedication. He and his spouse Rosalyn have two teenage daughters.

Rev. Robinson can be contacted at Eden at 314-918-2501 or [email protected] beginning February 1.

Rev. Tiffany Pittman, the current Director of Admissions, has accepted a call to serve as pastor of Emmanuel UCC Weldon Springs and Good Shephard UCC Saint Charles, Missouri, effective in February 2019.

Racial injustice in the St. Louis region came into the spotlight in 2014, but the fight against inequality in the region continues as countless individuals and organizations fight for equality in the community. One of those individuals is Laurie Anzilotti. One of those organizations is Faith & For the Sake of All.

Faith & For the Sake of All reaches out to the St. Louis faith community to diminish racial disparities in the region. St. Louis native Anzilotti, a third-year Masters of Divinity student at Eden Theological Seminary, became involved as part of her contextual education at Eden. Eden is one of the few seminaries that sees a pedagogical benefit to learning concurrently in the classroom and in an outside contextual placement for three years through work with churches, social justice agencies and nonprofits, which helps students integrate the theology they are learning in their classroom with the ministry they are encountering in their work context.

“The contextual education requirement at Eden is unique. It immediately in year one puts people into the context of ministry, in addition to classroom learning. It’s putting you in the world as a seminarian, which is a half-step to being in the world as a minister or priest. It helps you know if the job is for you,” explains Anzilotti.

Anzilotti, who will be ordained as a priest of the Episcopal Church this summer, is pursuing a “bi-vocational” educational experience focused on two things: the priestly call to build a church community centered around the Eucharist; and the church’s and laity’s roles in standing for the gospel and against injustice in the world.

“The first year contextual education program is designed toward social justice and work in the world,” Anzilotti shares. “My first placement in 2016 was with the Interfaith Partnership because my personal call to the priesthood was driven by a desire to work on social justice issues in an interfaith context.”

Two years earlier, a group led by Washington University and St. Louis University released For the Sake of All, a report which identified disparities in the health and well-being between African Americans and white St. Louisans and why they matter to everyone. The Faith & For the Sake of All initiative grew out of this report as a means to deepen congregations’ understanding of and response to issues of race inequality in the region.

Created through a grant awarded to Emanuel Episcopal Church in St. Louis from the Trinity Episcopal Church of Wall Street in New York, the purpose of Faith & For the Sake of All was to inform and activate St. Louis’ faith community in responding to the report’s findings through a workshop called, “Mobilizing the Faithful.”

By the time Anzilotti became involved in 2016, it was time to update the initial curriculum in response to the results of a survey of workshop participants.  The survey showed three things. “First, better training was needed for volunteers who would present the workshops. Second, volunteers and participants needed clear steps on how to take concrete action on the recommendations,” Anzilotti recalls. “And third, people wanted to be connected to each other in that work.” Interfaith Partnership, working through a memorandum of understanding with Emanuel Episcopal Church, was charged with updating the workshop curriculum. That responsibility fell to Anzilotti. She was in her mid-40s and already had extensive professional background in teaching and curriculum development in high schools and camps, which made her the ideal person for the job.

Anzilotti started with reviewing and having wide-ranging conversations with early participants about how they would re-imagine the curriculum. She also relied heavily on support from her peers and teachers at Eden. Anzilotti says that while contextual education appears very much “out in the world,” it remains very rooted in Eden. It allowed her to engage with faculty and staff in a deep and collegial way.

Her successful efforts with updating the curriculum led Anzilotti to her second-year internship, when she was asked by Emanuel Episcopal Church to intern with the church and to broaden her scope beyond curriculum to include all aspects of the Faith & For the Sake of All initiative. In year three, she remained with Emanuel Episcopal Church and divided her time evenly between priestly liturgical and pastoral training and Faith & For the Sake of All.

“It was exactly the work I wanted to do when I entered seminary: to be a priest that worked in the community on issues of justice,” Anzilotti says.

Increased success of the program led to even bigger questions of what to do next. Anzilotti’s efforts focused first on recruiting and training volunteers, getting connections in the community and signing up churches to participate in the workshops. Success in those efforts brought even more volunteers and more training. The critical question changed again, this time asking, “How can volunteers go beyond awareness and instead actively advocate for systemic change?”

Eden’s Professor Deb Krause challenged Anzilotti to think about advocacy partners. Krause’s counsel, along with the support from the rest of her faculty and peer community at Eden, was instrumental in shaping the evolution of Faith & For the Sake of All during this time.

A particularly valuable experience was her third year directed study entitled, “Faith Based Community Organizing” in which she looked at secular, interfaith, Jewish, Evangelical, and Catholic community organizing models and applied her studies directly to the work she was doing with Faith & For the Sake of All.

Faith & For the Sake of All now offers two workshops, “Mobilizing the Faithful: Health” and “Mobilizing the Faithful: Housing,” a new workshop that will be released this coming February. In addition to workshops, the initiative offers advocacy training in conjunction with advocacy partners in the region. The organization continues work with For the Sake of All (now known as Health Equity Works) and George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, to research and respond to racial justice issues in the St. Louis region.

“Contextual education taught me about the interfaith landscape in St. Louis, that service work can be very siloed by faith and that social justice work is relational,” Anzilotti reflects. “The only way we’ll wind up changing systemic issues is through relationships. It is those relationships that I’ve been able to make through my contextual education experience for which I’m most thankful.”

As Faith & For the Sake of All grows, so too does Eden’s connection to it. Reverend Gabrielle Kennedy, a third year Eden student and ordained deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, joined the Faith & For the Sake of All staff in October 2018, and Eden is co-sponsor of the February 3rd Housing Advocacy Fair which will feature the new “Mobilizing the Faithful: Housing” workshop and eight partner agencies focused on eliminating segregation.

For more information about Faith & For the Sake of All and the “For the Sake of All” and “Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide,” reports, visit www.forthesakeofall.org.

 

 

 

 

February 3, 2019, Faith & For the Sake of All will hold a Housing Equity Fair from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the grounds of Eden Theological Seminary. The Housing Equity Fair will feature many of the housing groups which contributed to the ”Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide” report and will premiere the new Faith & For the Sake of All “Mobilizing the Faithful Housing” workshop. Housing groups will speak to their particular connection to the report’s findings and will provide attendees with examples of concrete actions they can take to dismantle the housing divide in St. Louis. The event is co-sponsored by Jewish Community Relations Council, We Stories, The YWCA, Eden and Faith & for the Sake of All. For more information on the event visit Housing Equity Fair.

 

Black and White Photo Credit: Tim Reed

 

After nearly a century, German returned to the halls of Eden Theological Seminary last August with the arrival of Dr. Gabriele Metzner, a noted scholar from Germany’s Evangelisches Predigerseminar Lutherstadt Wittenberg. As Metzner taught in the classroom, sang in the choir and broke bread with students and faculty, she reconnected the Eden family with its German roots.

Metzner came to teach an Intensive Focused Learning (IFL) class titled, “Pastoral Identity and Christian Education – a German Perspective.” She made the most of those three months and her Eden experience.

Her overall impression?

“Eden is more oriented to contextual education, with more diversity of student backgrounds, ages and denominations,” Metzner summarizes. “In Germany, it is more academic, more philosophical, more historical. All students come from four regional churches.”

And her students’?

“Dr. Metzner has a great curiosity about learning new things and she wanted to know as much about us as we wanted to know about her,” shares Antona Brent Smith, a third-year Eden student who feels visiting professors such as Metzner are invaluable to her Eden experience. “She connected with students not only by teaching, but by sitting down and learning about our lives. She was very intentional about it.”

Contextual Education Makes Eden Unique

The single biggest difference Metzner observed is that Eden integrates inside-the-classroom academic education and outside-the-classroom field experience, what Eden calls “contextual education,” into a single experience over three years. In Germany, the two are separated into unique phases, requiring seven to ten years to become an ordained pastor.

“In the Wittenberg seminary, the education takes place in two parts,” Metzner explains. “Theology studies at university for at least five years. This is followed by a two-and-a-half year internship in a congregation supervised by an experienced pastor, during which the interns visit Wittenberg nine times for pastoral training.

“Eden’s system of bringing together both parts of education was very interesting for me,” Metzner shares. “Eden showed me how to bring together academic studies with the contextual education in a parish and in the community.”

Because their theological and contextual experiences are inextricably intertwined, Metzner observed that Eden students more frequently apply theological concepts to concrete examples rather than theoretical contemplation. And because Eden students are embedded in the community, the concrete takes on a greater mind space for the student. Metzner was impressed with how this is brought to life in Eden classes on social ethics, black theology and constructive theology compared to “systematic” theology common of seminary programs.

Diversity Enriches the Eden Experience

At Evangelisches Predigerseminar Lutherstadt Wittenberg, seminary students are primarily younger, traditional students coming from four regional churches with the specific intent of becoming pastors. Metzner shares she was surprised at the diversity of Eden students across different backgrounds, denominations, ages and goals. She found it interesting to hear so many different perspectives on theological topics.

“I remember the first Reformation session with Adam Ployd when he asked, ‘What is faith? What is Grace? What is Scripture? The word? Baptism? The Church?’” Metzner recalls. “The answers were so different, every student with his or her own biography, their own ways of faith and of life so different from one another.”

Metzner was also intrigued by Eden’s students who do not seek to become pastors or who are studying non-degree classes, such as the NEXT Steps program for people of faith who are at least 55 years old and looking to transition or combine professional experiences and skills to benefit the world through causes of personal importance. There are no non-degree programs at Evangelisches Predigerseminar Lutherstadt Wittenberg and students attend with the express purpose of congregational ministry rather than alternative paths, such as the non-profit or community leadership goals of many Eden students.

“One thing you have here at Eden Seminary is the opportunity to bring new ideas to the education,” she says. “That’s important to me.”

The Spirit of Eden

When asked what of Eden she’ll carry back with her to Germany, she replied with the words of former Eden professor of theology and preeminent American expert of Old Testament theology, Walter Brueggemann.

“Walter Brueggemann writes in his book that Eden Seminary is not a place; it is a spirit,” Metzner concludes. “I felt it too during my time in Eden.”

While she arrived at Eden a stranger, Metzner now carries home the Eden spirit within her, making her forever a part of the Eden family.

From Carter to Comey, the legacy of “Washington’s Favorite Theologian”  endures.
Christianity Today, Elesha Coffman, May 19, 2017

Nearly 50 years since his death, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr still routinely makes headlines. A high-profile documentary, An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story, debuted earlier this year. Recently deposed FBI director James Comey “almost certainly” used his name for his private Twitter account. Ten years ago, TheAtlantic declared “Everybody Loves Reinhold”; last month, Religion & Politics called him “Washington’s Favorite Theologian.” He commands respect from left (Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama) and right (John McCain, David Brooks). So what’s the attraction?

Here are five aspects of Niebuhr’s work that help explain his enduring relevance.

1. He thought big.

Niebuhr titled his 1938–40 Gifford Lectures (the most illustrious theology lecture series in the world) “The Nature and Destiny of Man.” On page 1 of the published volume 1, he wrote, “Man has always been his own most vexing problem. How shall he think of himself?” By page 2, he was pondering “the admitted evils of human history,” “the question of the value of human life,” and “whether life is worth living.” These are not questions limited to a single church, era, or school of biblical interpretation. The resources Niebuhr brought to bear on them were similarly broad, encompassing Hebrew and Christian Scriptures; ancient, medieval, and modern theology and philosophy; and the social sciences.

Positively, the grand scale of Niebuhr’s work meant that he could engage almost anyone. Who hasn’t wondered about the problem of evil or the value of human life? (Scribner’s was sufficiently convinced of the appeal of The Nature and Destiny of Man to publish a two-volume, mass-market paperback edition in 1963. The Modern Library ranked it one of the top 20 non-fiction books of the 20th century.) On the other hand, big books full of big ideas are prone to divergent interpretation. It makes sense that people from different points on an ideological spectrum could look at Niebuhr and see what they’re looking for while missing what others see in the same work.

2. He acknowledged sin.

The early 1900s saw the rise of strain of liberal theology famously caricatured by Niebuhr’s brother, H. Richard Niebuhr, in the sentence: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” Reinhold joined his brother in disdaining this glib gospel, especially in light of the horrors of WWI and WWII. In earlier work, such as Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), he held out hope that individuals could choose selflessness and justice motivated by love, but he cautioned that groups of people would always seek their own advantage to the detriment of others. “The larger the group,” he wrote, “the more certainly will it express itself selfishly in the total human community.”

He eventually grew more pessimistic about individuals as well, viewing them as not only prone to do bad things but as indelibly tainted by original sin. In 1954, when asked by This Week magazine to identify the key verse in the Bible, he selected Ephesians 4:32 (“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”) Andrew Finstuen explained in Original Sin and Everyday Protestants, “For Niebuhr, without an acknowledgement of the universality and inescapability of sin, Christianity—and by extension his deeply Christian criticism—had no center of gravity.” Each historical recurrence of man’s inhumanity to man affirms this insight.

3. He prized action.

Niebuhr didn’t always agree with his brother. In 1932, they exchanged articles in The Christian Century on the topic of American intervention against Japanese imperialism and, more broadly, Christian involvement in politics. H. Richard argued for “The Grace of Doing Nothing,” but Reinhold countered, “Must We Do Nothing?” Reinhold became an early, vocal advocate for American entry into WWII, a stance that accelerated a rupture with the pacifist editor of the Century and led him to launch his own magazine, Christianity and Crisis.

The United States continued to pursue activist internationalism after WWII, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, so Niebuhr’s blessing of such actions remained popular. Although Niebuhr never held political office (his 1932 run for Congress, on the Socialist party ticket, failed), he became a political figure, founding Americans for Democratic Action and serving on the Council on Foreign Relations. In this sense, politicians who claim fealty to Niebuhr aren’t so much admiring a prophetic outsider as heaping laurels on a hero of their own tribe.

4. But … irony.

The main thing that prevented Niebuhr from being a court theologian for the American political class was his rich sense of irony, most notably expounded in The Irony of American History (1952). Just as the United States was draping itself in righteousness for an epic battle against godless Communism, Niebuhr warned how easily America’s virtues could become vices, how often the nation declaimed the speck in another’s eye while ignoring the plank in its own, how many times the best-laid plans resulted in disaster.

In a Pew Forum on Niebuhr in 2009, Wilfred M. McClay highlighted a quote from the book, “We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimated.” In other words, Niebuhr said to American leaders, go ahead and throw your weight around, but don’t pretend that your motives are pure, and don’t be shocked if you achieve something less than justice. The first part of that advice has been heeded more often than the latter two.

5. He really did write the Serenity Prayer.

Tracing the authorship of this famous prayer (“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”) became something of a cottage industry a few years ago, but the best available evidence supports Niebuhr’s authorship. This is relevant to assessing his enduring appeal for a couple of reasons.

One, many, many people—including countless members of Alcoholics Anonymous—know something of Niebuhr’s theology even if they have never heard his name. Two, the prayer is a reminder that Niebuhr was a pastor (Evangelical and Reformed Church) before he was a celebrated theologian and foreign policy expert, and faith was not merely an intellectual exercise for him. He speaks to leaders of the free world as well as individuals trapped in addiction. For all of these reasons, he remains worth wrestling with.

Elesha Coffman is assistant professor of history at Baylor University and author of The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline (Oxford).

 

Reinhold Niebuhr graduated from Eden Theological Seminary in 1913.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 1,500 people gathered in the gym of the Staenberg Family Center in Creve Coeur to denounce violent acts of hate on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, at an interfaith vigil at the Jewish Community Center. The event followed Saturday’s deadly shooting that killed 11 people at a Pennsylvania synagogue. Speakers from area Muslim, and Christian congregations, including Eden Seminary, joined Jewish leaders to liken the acts committed against Jews at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh to other recent attacks on groups singled out for their faith, race, ethnicity, country of origin or political ideology.

Because Eden Seminary plays an active role in the interfaith community in St. Louis, President David Greenhaw, as well as Eden alumni were included in the event. The speakers included Dr. Andrew Rehfeld who is the president and chief executive officer of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, President Greenhaw and other religious leaders and politicians.

In addition to the vigil, the Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis issued the following statement on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. The Interfaith Partnership (IP) of Greater St. Louis and the 30 communities of religion and conscience we represent mourn the loss of life at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue on October 27, 2018. Those of us who pray, pray for the victims and their families, and offer our prayers of healing for the entire community wounded by this violence. Those of us who do not pray dedicate ourselves to work tirelessly to create a world in which attacks such as this never occur. Together we condemn this attack, like far too many other such attacks, made on our Jewish sisters, brothers, and friends. As a community of many faiths and none we continue to pray and will continue to work for the day when all people can live in peace and safety.

Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis works with congregations and faith communities to promote peace, understanding and respect among people of all faiths and within the greater Saint Louis metro area. Eden Seminary is an active member of the IP and President Greenhaw is a member of the board.

 

Excerpts from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Photos by Christian Gooden of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

August 07, 2018
Written by Connie Larkman

A week-long retreat channeled the creativity of artists and activists in the United Church of Christ in an effort to confront the world we live in today. Nineteen participants, ecumenical partners and UCC clergy from across the wider Church, were welcomed to the National Setting and the Amistad Chapel in Cleveland, July 30-August 3. The group’s goal — to create a new and evolving language of faith for this moment in time that can be used to impact and resource local churches.

“I am thrilled that the staff called artists and activists among us to take what the spirit has offered and build a new worship experience,” the Rev. John Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, told the group on Wednesday morning, August 1. “You will help us to be more open, to feel free enough in presence of our creator to be fully who we are, without inhibition. It is the voice, the song, the words of the artist that bring full expression to the movement of the spirit. The artists and activists among us open the space for all of us to see who we are and who we can become.”

“We know that our public witness and justice work is not separate from the formation of our faith and what happens inside of church buildings with our faith communities. However, there are still very few resources and practices that bridge these areas of ministry and community building,” said the Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelway, minister of Congregational and Community Engagement, Justice and Local Church Ministries. She and the Rev. Susan Blain, minister for Faith Formation: Curator for Worship and Liturgical Arts, Local Church Ministries, convened the retreat.

“We invited the artists, activists and liturgists for two reasons,” Wispelwey continued. “First, to extend our current worship resources and the ministry of Worship Ways towards resourcing local churches beyond Sunday services with liturgical pieces, rituals and art. We are also imagining ways to accompany support and extend our systemic justice work with cultural work, storytelling, art and public liturgy.”

The gathering brought together spoken word poets and performers, liturgy scholars, designers and dancers, social activists and artists who work with painting and fabric art. Each of the participants was given the time and space to share their gifts with the group, through individual presentations, larger discussions, community meals, and worship.

The Rev. Erin Beardemphl attended Eden Seminary, has served several churches in associations, and is currently a stay at home mom who fills in for her colleagues. An artist who works in watercolor, Beardemphl uses her current faith community in California, Redlands UCC, as a laboratory for worship experiments. She shared some of what she has learned with the group in her presentation Wednesday morning.

“I asked kids to do a self-portrait and put inside it what makes them feel brave and strong,” she said. Beardemphl told the gathering she was looking for self-expression; she said what she discovered was amazing. “You can see the hope, fears and dreams and love of the artists in their work.”

Art, Beardemphl said, is an expression of who one is and who he/she is becoming. “If we could, in our churches and in our communities, show people that they really are creative beings, I expect the world would be so much more loving.”

Each of the participants took time over the course of the week to share their passion. The Rev. Maren Tirabassi, a longtime United Church of Christ pastor in New Hampshire and Massachusetts is a wordsmith and writer; an author of twenty books. She talked about encouraging people to express themselves by telling their stories, writing on whatever they can get their hands on —including paper plates or band aids. “Churches are an anthology of gathering stories,” Tirabassi said. “I teach people how to gather their words.”

“The national gathering of artists and activists was amazing. Bringing in a cross section of gifted people within the UCC and our ecumenical partners is all about intersection,” said the Rev. Justo González, II, a leader in the Sanctuary movement and an associate minister of the Michigan Conference UCC. “Amazing artists, poets, scholars, dancers, story tellers and activists went hog wild in conceptualizing worship and liturgy in traditional and creative, out of the box ways. Our aim is to provide pastors, worship leaders and liturgy planning teams creative ways connect congregations, those in the pews and the real life issues that are impacting our communities across the country. We strive to create intersectional worship resources that comfort, challenge, raise consciousness and provide strategies that move us beyond Sunday and our buildings to action. We hope to raise awareness and have congregations ask impacted communities what they need rather than assuming and overstepping our role.”

“If you are willing, in a community, to try, you’ll see things happen that you weren’t expecting,” Beardemphl said. “God created us to be creative, in His image. When we forget that we are made in God’s image, as creative beings, we forget that God is in us.”

“I am grateful to be invited to part of this amazing group,” Gonzalez said. “I thank Susan Blain and Tracy Wispelwey for planning this gathering and gifting me by inviting me to part of this team.”

“Thank you for presenting yourself here for the sake of a church that is crying out and hungry for presence of the sacred,” Dorhauer said. “I can’t wait to see what the church will become through the offering of your gifts.”

Webster Kirkwood Times July 13, 2018

Eden Theological Seminary has introduced a new program for professionals who have recently retired or are planning to retire and are exploring new purpose-filled engagement with their communities.

Called “NEXT Steps: Midlife and Beyond,” the program will meet a growing desire among baby boomers who are serious about transitioning their career experiences and talents to benefit causes of personal importance.

Beginning on Sept. 13, subject matter experts will guide the first group of up to 15 participants, ages 55 and up, to self-discovery through seminar-style discussions, guest speakers, study, networking and opportunities to explore the nonprofit world through interviewing and volunteering.

David Greenhaw, president of Eden Theological Seminary, will lead the fall session of NEXT Steps.

“Lots of people make financial plans for their retirement; fewer make plans about who they will be and what they will do,” said Greenhaw. “NEXT Steps is designed to help pull together the threads of a professional career, the needs of the world and one’s own beliefs and convictions.”

Greenhaw, who regularly leads educational programs in St. Louis and beyond, has organized the program around the theme of vocation.

Applications for the first participant group are due by Aug. 31. Sessions will take place on eight Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m., from September through December, at the Walker Leadership Institute on the campus of Eden Seminary, 475 E. Lockwood Ave. in Webster Groves.

Participants from all faith backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to apply. For more information, contact Brown at 314-918-2782 or [email protected]

Town & Style Magazine 7-18-18

Webster Groves

The Rev. Dr. David Greenhaw is a preacher, teacher, scholar and theologian. Greenhaw, president of Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves and an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, says many regular folks have too lofty a conception of the term ‘theology.’ “It’s just humans talking about God,” he says. In practice, however, Greenhaw notes that some clergy “talk at you about God. All human beings have to arrive at a concept of their own.” They must also arrive at a viable concept of their life’s work. Some people couldn’t imagine doing anything but devoting themselves to ‘the common good’ while supporting themselves and their families. But others work only to make enough money for a house with a two-car garage and two leased luxury vehicles, to send well-dressed kids to college and to play golf on the weekends. Then, retirement means they can play golf whenever they want. (But how much golf can one actually play after retirement?

To some of you, that’s surely an impertinent question.) Greenhaw never keeps score. He only hopes to make a satisfying shot or two. If he shanks one, he just drops another one of the dozens he’s collected at the fringes of the Forest Park course during walks. Life’s too precious to spend looking for lost balls in the weeds. And at 63, near the age when many of us get the gold watch, Greenhaw has invented a program for professionals who have recently retired, or are planning to, and wish to infuse the rest of their lives with meaning. ‘NEXT Steps: Midlife and Beyond’ is designed for baby boomers serious about transitioning their career experience and talents to benefit the greater community.

Beginning Sept.13, Greenhaw will guide the first 15 or so participants, age 55 and up, to self-discovery through seminar-style discussions, guest speakers, study, networking and opportunities to explore the nonprofit world. The eight sessions will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays September through December, and the first already has seven guests signed up and has reached ‘critical mass,’ Greenhaw notes. (Participants from all faith backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to apply.) “A growing number of baby boomers seek new social purpose in their lives,” says program coordinator Dr. Janet Brown. Some seek to start nonprofits. NEXT Steps guest speakers will include theologians, social entrepreneurs, and leaders in the business and nonprofit worlds. The program will be held on the Eden campus at Walker Leadership Institute. The institute strives to equip business leaders with skills and experiences to guide their organizations in better serving the common good, partnering with other academic, religious and business groups to host workshops, conferences and forums to identify, encourage and activate community leadership. “Lots of people make financial plans for their retirement, but fewer make plans about who they will be and what they will do,” Greenhaw emphasizes.

Applications for the first group are due by Aug. 31. Visit eden.edu for more details.

By Bill Beggs Jr.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 12, 2018

In 1939, the MS St. Louis, a German ocean liner, attempted to dock in the United States so that passengers seeking asylum from Nazi Germany could disembark. The U.S. State Department turned them away. Of more than 900 passengers, 254 were murdered; most were killed in Nazi concentration camps.

Last week, on the steps of the International Institute of St. Louis, a service of remembrance was held. Here, in the city sharing a name with the ill-fated ship, women and men from many faiths and nations gathered to keep mindful of this tragic history. Each of those rejected from America’s shores and subsequently killed by Nazis were memorialized, as the place of their murder was read aloud. Near the end of the service, those gathered chanted “never again.” I was among those chanting.

Yet even as I said “never again,” I felt dishonest — dishonest because we are right now doing it again. The U.S. government is turning away thousands of refugees, forcing them to return home, where dangerous and often deadly futures await. Our immigration policy is as mean-spirited and unwelcoming as it was in 1939. While I am glad for those who commit themselves to “never again,” in our time the call must be: Stop turning away our neighbors in need; find ways to be welcoming.

David Greenhaw • Webster Groves

Eden Theological Seminary president

Photo Caption/Credit
Central American families are camped out on a border bridge between Ciudad Miguel Aleman and Roma, Texas, on June 4, 2018. The migrants seeking asylum say they presented their documents to U.S. Customs officials on the bridge. But the officials said the families have to wait on the Mexican side of the bridge because there isn’t enough space for them to be processed. (Molly Hennessy-Fiske/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

June 6, 2018 – Webster Groves, Mo.

Change doesn’t come easy, yet Rev. Musa Maina of Kenya recently helped achieve a milestone transformation in the Reformed Church of East Africa (RCEA). For the first time in the church’s history, women are approved to be ordained ministers in the church.

“We continue on the path of female vocational calling with the first female ordination planned for July 2018,” he says. “Notices have been sent, and I feel a strong sense of God’s presence and God,” he says.

Rev. Maina attributes this progressive church advancement, in part, to the insight he gained while studying at Eden Theological Seminary, Webster Groves, Mo. “We owe this to God who in Revelation 21:3, makes a dwelling place among people. I owe the boldness to the formation I received especially at Eden. Whatever lies ahead, one thing I know for sure is that I have no apologies over it,” says Rev. Maina.

This realization fueled Rev. Mania’s process of transforming church politics to ordain women minsters. While already a pastor and faculty member of the Reformed Institute of Theological Training (RITT) in Kenya, Maina decided to further pursue his religious education at Eden. He earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies (MTS), graduating in 2005. Thus, began the long path Maina followed to change RCEA policy on women as ministers.

Eden Theological Seminary is a graduate school preparing women and men for ordained Christian ministry. One of six seminaries of the United Church of Christ, the Eden community is committed to advancing the greater good. The school welcomes everyone, regardless of denomination, gender, race or background.

After returning to Kenya, Rev. Maina continued his leadership role in RITT and worked as a moderator for the RCEA. The partnership of RITT/RCEA and Eden allowed him to collaborate and engage the RCEA in new progressive ideas that were more inclusive of women as preachers and worship leaders.

His efforts, with support from Eden and others, resulted in the first RCEA woman, Everlyne Biboko, to attend Eden and earn a MTS degree to prepare for ordination in the RCEA church.

David Greenhaw, Eden Theological Seminary president and professor of preaching and worship, says, “While at Eden, Rev. Maina used our program to help expand his knowledge of critical biblical interpretation. It also exposed him to women in leadership roles in many U.S. churches.

“Our program provides a religious education with a global scope, yet it’s intimate in setting,” says Greenhaw. “Students live, learn and worship alongside classmates from diverse backgrounds. We help establish a career path for our students through a family of faculty mentors and other students from across the U.S. and the world.

“While studying at Eden, students enjoy easy access to entertainment and culture offered in the St. Louis area. They leave our seminary with a graduate degree in theology and lifelong friendships built with roots in Christ.”

Enrollment in the Eden graduate programs ranges from 160 to 200 students. In 2017, the entering class consisted of a 50-50 ratio of gender and race from multiple Christian denominations. Student ages range from those in their 20’s to those in their 60’s and 70’s. It’s a diverse student base for exploring different theologies and interpretive approaches.

Deborah Krause, dean of Eden Theological Seminary, describes the educational experience at Eden as partnership between faculty, students and global communities. Sharing knowledge and developing friendships within the global community helped pave the way for the sort of transformation that Maina pursued.

“Rev. Maina told us coming to Eden early in his ministry offered him insight into a more progressive theological context and expanded his understanding of who God has called to church leadership,” she says. “His years of effort since graduating from Eden helped lead to the November 2017 RCEA reform which approved of women ordination.”

During a sabbatical to Kenya, Krause also broadened her friendships and experienced a knowledge exchange that enriched her work as a teacher of Biblical interpretation.

Krause explains that while in Kenya she taught classes and met with RCEA faculty, many of which were men. During her conversations, she says, “It became apparent that these teachers recognized that women’s church leadership was a positive trend that would continue. Yet, there were some parts of the church still holding the traditional view that only men could be leaders.”

While Krause was in Kenya, she and Rev. Maina visited many churches where she was invited to preach and lead worship. “This was an opportunity for me to learn about the RCEA and for Rev. Maina to engage the church with an example of women’s leadership,” says Krause.

“Such a partnership offers opportunity for transformation for all involved. Exposing people to different ideas and approaches relies upon a true partnership between Eden and our students. That’s how transformative change happens.”

Ultimately, the Eden mission is simple, says Eden president Greenhaw. “When you look around at towns, communities and countries around the world, you see the influence of the Christian church. Not just in congregations, but in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and outreach ministries of many kinds. The church makes its mark every day.

“Eden welcomes everyone, and we hope to provide an exchange of ideas that can be transformative to help our graduates influence positive change for the better good when they return to their home communities.”