Hearing the Word: Lutheran Perspectives on Biblical Interpretation was chosen as the 2009 theme in order to engage the crucial conversation facing the ELCA concerning various Lutheran approaches to scripture and what resources and challenges those approaches bring to diverse North American contexts. The hope for these lectures is that they will raise awareness about the various ways the Lutheran church has traditionally interpreted the Bible as well as explore a mixture of contemporary approaches to scriptural interpretation that Lutherans might offer today.
Five scholars affiliated with the ELCA have been invited to offer lectures out of their particular perspectives and scholarship. Each lecturer will travel to three sites where she or he will make a major presentation exploring important and innovative Lutheran perspectives on biblical interpretation and making a case for the promise of one, some, or even all of them. At most of the sites, a local respondent will reflect in a second session on the traveling lecturer’s presentation in light of its relevance to the regional context. A third session will be designed to bring the two speakers into conversation with each other and the audience.
The Hein-Fry lectures for 2009 will take place between February and April 2009. In order to expand the reach of this important conversation, the committee has elected to bring the lectures to seven additional sites beyond the ELCA's eight seminaries traditionally visited. These new sites include four ELCA affiliated colleges and three congregational forums in areas of the country not easily served by the eight seminaries. Thus, the Hein-Fry lectures will be visiting a total of fifteen sites in 2009.
The annual Hein-Fry Lecture Series identifies lively, pressing theological issues facing the church and offers free and open to the public lectures that stimulate intellectual inquiry and discussion of those issues throughout the church.
The goals of the endowed series are to:
- foster original scholarship,
- encourage broad dialogue throughout the church on a theological topic, and
- give seminary faculty, students, clergy, church leaders, and other interested persons access to leading theologians.
- The Hein Fry Lecture Series grows out of prestigious traditions dating back nearly 40 years in the histories of the ELCA predecessor church bodies.
The Hein-Fry Lecture Series is unique in that it addresses all the seminary communities within a major American denomination. This gives the Series great potential for engaging both the current theological leadership and a generation of ministerial candidates in discussion of a focused theological issue.
The series is coordinated by the Vocation and Education unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Lecture topics, speakers, and schedules are set by Hein-Fry Lecture Series Governing Committee.