Tuesday, September 8, 2009 marked Opening Day for the 146th academic year at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). The day started with Opening Eucharist with a sermon by LTSP President Philip Krey and a lecture by LTSP Professor Richard Stewart entitled Who Saitheth that: IT IS NOT E-SAY TO BE GREEN? President Krey in the monthly President's message video also reflected on the opening of the new year with comments from 4 students in the incoming class and conversation with LTSP Director of Admissions Louise Johnson and Associate Director of Admissions Matt O'Rear.
Opening Eucharist Sermon by President Philip Krey
We have a God who breaks the boundaries that separate us from each other and from him
The story of Jesus' healing of a Greek woman's daughter because of her faith in Mark 7: 24-29 reveals far more than the significance of healing. "Healing is important, and we shall continue to pray for people in our community who are in need of healing," said the Rev. Dr. Philip D. W. Krey, as he preached a sermon to open the 146th academic year at LTSP.
Beyond healing, the Mark text story and others in the Gospels reveal "a God who works beyond boundaries and traditional identities...It is a God who breaks the boundaries that separate us from each other and us from him," Krey preached. Krey noted that boundaries are important. "Unboundaried leaders are destructive to the communities they lead...When you write a paper for colleagues here you will never never finish your work if you do not set boundaries. But being overboundaried can be destructive too if it means as part of your ministry you will never make a hospital call when you have a day off," Krey said. As may be true of modern day church leaders, Jesus appears to have been caught by contradictions regarding boundaries. He was on retreat and crowds were pursuing him when he healed the Greek woman's daughter. "You can't hide when you are on vacation when you are a church leader," Krey said. He also noted that when leaders and believers are willing to cross lines of diversity and boundaries they have an opportunity to learn from people God draws forth from the margins of cultures and societies.leading to an ever greater inclusiveness for people of faith.
Krey noted that at times when an individual may not be able to hear God, others with faith in our communities may sustain us. "We have a God who speaks across diverse boundaries, a God who listens to our cries and prayers and who has spoken plainly as a force for our healing."
Being green (good stewards today) means thinking outside the box of our experience
"When we mistreat our natural resources we are mistreating ourselves," said Associate Professor Richard N. Stewart in his keynote address kicking off the 146th academic year for The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Stewart, who teaches stewardship and parish administration at LTSP, challenged his audience of seminarians, faculty and staff, to prepare themselves to "think and act outside the normal boxes of your experience and your own training" in order to make best use of the resources entrusted to us by God in our own "small portion" of God's kingdom.
In challenging remarks entitled "Who Saith that It Is Not E-Say to Be Green?" Prof. Stewart said that the "e" forms of stewardship involve the following descriptors – electronic, ecological, evangelism, environmental, ecumenical, equality, equity and egalitarian. He recounted numerous examples of out-of-the-box use of resources, ranging from a Lakewood, OH, church's garden on its property that furnishes food for the hungry to unselfish and long-term disaster-relief experiences he'd known early in his career in Xenia, OH, in a four-year effort to rebuild after a tornado. He talked about the meaning of tithe and "giving as you are able" as described in scriptural passages in Deuteronomy and Genesis. And he described technological innovations and practical initiatives, such as the green teams of the seminary and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod that support believers and their leaders to "think green" creatively in today's church.
He illustrated his points with inspirational stories,including the work of two LTSP alum mission pastors, the Rev. Matthew Cimorelli in New jersey and the Rev. Marilyn Lange in San Antonio, TX. Both have used innovative approaches with their congregations to make the best use of resources in their place and time.
Stewart has taught at the seminary for 20 years and recently completed a sabbatical in South Africa. He is now the senior member of the seminary faculty.
Continuing with introductions for the start of the 146th academic year at LTSP, in his newest message LTSP President Philip Krey and his guests talk about the new academic year and introduce some of the newest students at the seminary.
Here is a photo gallery from opening day events.