Future of the church worldwide and mainline Protestants role to be explored in 2011 Theologian-in-Residence lecture series
The future of the church worldwide and how mainline denominations in the United States can be faithful and creative during a time of change will be explored in the 2011 Theologian-in-Residence lecture series in February at Tusculum College.
Rev. Gradye Parsons, current stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian (U.S.A.), and the Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, his predecessor as stated clerk, will lead the annual lecture series, co-sponsored by the Holston Presbytery and Tusculum College.
This year’s series will take place on February 1, 8 and 15 in the Chalmers Conference Center of the Niswonger Commons on the Tusculum campus. Dr. Kirkpatrick will lead the first two sessions with the concluding session led by Rev. Parsons.
A native of Tennessee, Rev. Parsons joined the Office of the General Assembly in 2000. Previously, he served congregations in Newport and Bristol for 15 years before becoming the executive presbyter and stated clerk of Holston Presbytery in 1994. He was elected stated clerk in 2008.
Rev. Parsons graduated from the University of Tennessee and received his Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He did post-graduate work at Columbia Theological Seminary, with Edwin Friedman and with the Alban Institute. He was ordained in 1979 by Holston Presbytery.
Dr. Kirkpatrick is a visiting professor for ecumenical studies and global ministries at Louisville Seminary. He is one of the major leaders in the global ecumenical movement having just completed a six-year term as president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) - now the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), he served from 1996-2008 as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly. His service as stated clerk was preceded by 15 years of service as the director of the Worldwide Ministries Division of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
On Feb. 1, Dr. Kirkpatrick’s topic will be “The Changing Center of Gravity of Christianity from the Global North to the Global South.” Explored in this session will be the transformation of Christianity over its 2,000 year history as its cultural home has moved form the Middle East to the Hellenistic world to Europe and the Americas and now to Africa and other parts of the “global south.” The implications for Americans to be faithful as the “minority” expression of the Christian faith and how to maintain vital partnership with the new “majority” in Africa and Latin America will also be explored.
Dr. Kirkpatrick’s topic for Feb. 8 will be “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Other Mainline Churches in North America in the 21st Century.” To be explored will be the dramatic changes that have happened in the religious landscape in North America in the last fifty years and the impact of those on the ministry of mainline churches (with a special focus on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The series will conclude on Feb. 15 with Rev. Parsons’ session, “Trends Beyond the Mainline Protestants.” Drawing on insights from Phyllis Tickle, Brian McLaren and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the future for church experience will be considered. There are no concrete answers to where the church is going but there is the adventure of walking by faith into the future.
Each session will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at about 1:30 p.m. Lunch is included. There is no admission fee to the sessions but reservations are required.
To make reservations or for more information about the series, please contact Eugenia Estes in the Office of Church Relations at 423-636-7304 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.