LTSP Notes – January 2016
An Audacious South Africa Experience
A reflection from the Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman, Associate Dean for First Theological Degrees, Associate Professor of Homiletics, and Director of United Methodist Studies, LTSP
I was blessed to go to South Africa for two weeks this month, January 3-16. I traveled to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Robben Island, Pretoria/Tshwane, Soweto, Stellenbosch/Paarl, the Dinokeng Reserve, and Cape Point with a group of 14 amazing people on a humanitarian/social justice tour.
We traveled with Mission Vision Tours with “the intent to engage conversations of race and racism, systemic oppression of groups of peoples, and to explore solutions to such injustices.” (From MV Tours Humanitarian Travel Letter) Our guide, Deon Kitching, was the most engaging travel companion and we learned so much from his wit and wisdom.
We met with authors, pastors, Truth and Reconciliation Commission members, spent a day with kids from an orphanage, wadded in the Indian Ocean, spent time at a game reserve, visited townships, went on a wine tasting tour (I had a tea tasting experience), and saw elephants up close and personal. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am humbled by the experience.
One of the things that I was most excited about was hearing the stories of those living in South Africa who have experienced the pain, racism, and systemic oppression related to Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa. There was much to learn. I tried to open my heart and mind to hear what they had to say. I sat there and soaked in all I could. I am a changed person due to the powerful and profound experiences I got to be part of. I am still processing parts of the trip and will be for some time.
We sat in a room with 15 pastors in Gugulethu Township and talked about church and ministry. We walked on Cape Point and saw penguins. We stood outside Nelson Mandela’s prison cell and I sat under the grape arbor where he wrote and hid his book on Robben Island. We visited with the director of an AIDS orphanage whose work is impacting generations of children and mothers living with HIV/AIDS.
We watched the most amazing sunsets in the African bush veld and felt the power of God in the stories we heard. We visited with Golden, the Flowerman, who takes tin cans and turns them into art pieces. We witnessed and heard about the realities of race still affecting the people of South Africa years after Apartheid officially ended. We had the blessing of worshipping with the JL Zwane Presbyterian Church community and heard pastors on the ground in South Africa talk about their work. And we saw elephants, giraffes, rhinos, hippos, cheetahs (we actually also visited a place where we interacted with cheetahs), and more.
This trip will help lay the groundwork for one of my next book projects about social justice preaching. But more than that, this trip is one that will stay with me for decades. South Africa is a complex and stunning place.
It was an audacious trip. And the work being done in South Africa on the issues of race, systemic oppression, economic injustice, HIV/AIDS, and gender is audacious work. I just hope the ways I continue to be impacted and changed by this experience will lead me to be audacious as well.
Library Connector Construction
Construction on the connector between the Krauth Memorial Library and The Brossman Center continues apace. Here are a few recent photos:
Jonas Visits LTSP
Winter Storm Jonas visited Mt. Airy the weekend of January 22-24, leaving well over a foot of snow for the maintenance team to clear. Spring semester 2016 began Monday, January 25 with a slight delay before the start of classes. Here’s a photo gallery:
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Rivera
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Hispanic Ministry, and Director of the Latino Concentration
Professor Rivera gave a presentation on “Are Science and Religion Compatible?” at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in early January 2016.
The Rev. Dr. Katie Day
The Charles A. Scheiren Professor, Church and Society, and Director of the Metropolitan/Urban Concentration
“I’m looking forward to teaching two courses in January that seem like they’ve never been more timely–one on church buildings (The Stewardship of Bricks and Mortar) and one on interfaith relations (Leadership in a Multifaith Society). What is particularly exciting is who we’re partnering with. Bricks and Mortar is being largely taught by the staff of Partners for Sacred Places, a national consulting group that works with congregations to assess their buildings in light of their ministry and then to develop capital campaigns. I will be co-teaching the Multifaith course with Rabbi Nancy Kreimer at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; half the students will be rabbinical students, and half will be seminarians. Both courses are bringing in clergy doing some Epipany continuing education as well as MDiv and MAR students. And January used to be so blah!”
Dr. Jon Pahl
Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Professor in the History of Christianity
Professor Pahl taught a four week series on “American Christian Women: Leading the Way in Loving One’s Neighbor” at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in November. The class studied the life and work of women like Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, Jarena Lee, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many others. Jon also lectured in Washington, DC, at a conference on “The Forgotten Luther: Advocate for the Poor.” Jon’s contribution, which is slated to be published, was entitled “An Economic Reading of Luther’s Catechisms in Long Context.” Finally, Jon spoke near his hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin, on the topic of “Peacebuilding Beyond Empire and ISIS: What American Christians and Muslims can do together to grow stronger families, communities, and civil society.” He continues to play his sax with “The Groove Grace Group” and other musical ministries.