Pastor’s Continuing Education Report – TCU Ministers’ Week 2010 – Feb 8-11

Forest Grove will have MP3 audio recordings of all sermons and lectures available for listening at the church.

THE WELLS SERMONS: Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins
Monday thru Wednesday evening worship

[Sharon E. Watkins serves as General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. She is an inspirational preacher, teacher and facilitator who shares her considerable skills in a variety of religious and ecumenical settings.]

Ken’s reflection: Dr. Watkins has just returned from a Sabbatical, during which she traveled extensively and spent time in interfaith conversation in the Middle East, an area that is of particular interest for her in her hope of seeing reconciliation among Jewish, Christian and Muslim populations and a peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian Dilema. Her preaching is passionate and inspiring, particularly for me as a preacher. I sat in the balcony and so had a unique perspective and was able to observe her use of a written manuscript during her sermon. She seemed to stay very close to her text, and yet was very free and conversational in her presentation style. She tells moving stories from her own encounters with wonderful people throughout the life of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Ecumenical Church, and the wider world in which all are God’s children whom God seeks to reclaim, redeem, and reconcile. She is passionate about our claiming our identity in the Christian Church as ‘a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.’


Tuesday morning lectures

[Ambiguous and complex contexts of empire pervade contemporary communities of faith: Roman empire, God’s empire, American empire. Often our spiritualized and individualized readings of the Gospels have helped us ignore our participation in these multiple locations, and the questions of societal vision and cultural interaction that they raise. These two presentations will engage the faces of empire in the Gospels, in ecclesial communities, and in daily life. 1) What a Difference an Empire Makes: the Empires of Rome/God are Among You 2) The Empire(s) Strike(s) Back.]

Ken’s reflection: Dr. Carter is very funny, which is disarming given the depth of his perception into the biblical text in light of his analysis of his own and other’s original research into the First Century world of the Roman Empire. His two lectures focused on giving the audience a better understanding and appreciation for the realities within the Roman Empire and how they may have impacted both the authors and audiences of the New Testament texts. He walked us around the city plan of ancient Pompeii and demonstrated how all of the major public structures mixed uses – Commerce, Local Government, Empirical Influence, Local Religion and Local Elite influences. He argues that this was true of most Greco/Roman Mediterranean cities, including Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, and the cities of Galatia. He then observed how the themes of empire affect our own lives and perspectives, from the residual effects of European Conquest and Empire, to the spread of Western and most specifically US cultural ideas and icons throughout the world. One example of this interplay was the reality that no first century person in the Roman Empire of any background would have argued for a separation of church and state, or the idea that religion and politics don’t mix. There was absolutely no way to separate the two, nor did it occur to anyone to try.


Wednesday morning lectures. (The scheduled speaker, Dr. Diana Butler Bass, was absent due to weather induced travel complications. Her substitute was Suzanne Stabile)

[Suzanne Stabile is a long time teacher of spiritual growth and development. For over twenty years she has served as a teacher, Retreat Director and Enneagram Master, through Life in the Trinity Ministry. She is co-founder and animator of this ministry along with her husband Rev. Joseph Stabile.]

Ken’s reflections: Suzanne Stabile was a wonderful surprise. She spoke with passion and humor about the struggles and delights of church life, as a pastor’s wife, and as someone who works with laity and clergy to form intentional spiritual communities. She spoke at length about ‘liminal space’ and ‘liminality’ – terms which in this setting refer to the ‘in-between-ness’ that marks contemporary existence for the culture and world at large, and for the North American church in particular. We are in the process of becoming – we are not what we were, are in a culture that is not what it was. Yet what the culture will be, and what we will be, is yet to be. One author has written that the western church goes through 500 year cycles in which it remakes itself – the last one being the time of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. We have already begun moving into the transition, but no one can know what might be. While this is an unsettling time, she observed that these are the only times that we grow – the unsettling in-between times. So, let us have faith that God will see us forward and will not forsake his people.

All the Ministers’ Week Information is available here.

As I noted above, these and the remaining recordings will be available for you hear. You no doubt will learn other things from them as you bring your own attentiveness to these wonderful teachers. Similar learning opportunities happen every month through the Stalcup School of Theology for the Laity, described in our ne

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