LOUISVILLE — Dean K. Thompson, a longtime pastor, was inaugurated and installed as the eighth president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary on April 23 and stressed, in his inaugural address, the importance of finding one’s vocation in a particular context.
He spoke, for example, of Louisville seminary’s cooperation in theological education with “a host of sister churches,” ranging from African Methodist Episcopal to Pentecostal to Roman Catholic. The seminary has official covenants with four denominations — United Methodist, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion and Christian Methodist Episcopal — to train their ministers, and the school’s students come from 22 denominations or faith traditions.
Thompson talked of this seminary’s strong tradition of producing “a high percentage of pastors, both women and men, who remain in the ministry throughout their vocational pilgrimages. They are what I like to call long-distance athletes.”
And he said that “especially across the past 50 years, many servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries here in this schoolhouse have stood up and spoken bravely against the scourges of American society such as poverty, racism, war and sexism.”
Thompson praised those from the seminary who “have been moved by a prophetic biblical vision of the church as an intergenerational, interracial and international koinonia of reconciliation and truth-telling . . . “
And while he praised that kind of courage, Thompson also spoke of the importance of building connections ecumenically and of the interdependence of all Christ’s followers. “Our unity, which is grounded in every Christian’s baptismal ordination, will not be negated by our current and heated denominational, ecclesiastical, political and cultural disagreements,” Thompson told the crowd gathered in the seminary’s Caldwell Chapel. “The Spirit’s work in our baptism promises to make us one whether we like it or not.”
Thompson was challenged by John W. Kuykendall, who is president emeritus of Davidson College in North Carolina and had served as Louisville seminary’s interim president after former president John Mulder resigned, to lead the seminary as Noah led the ark, as a navigator and a righteous leader.
Before moving to Kentucky, Thompson served as a pastor for more than 30 years, working with churches in West Virginia, Texas and California. His last pastorate was with First Church in Charleston, W.V., a congregation of 1,600 members.
The full text of Thomson’s inaugural address, along with biographical information and other speeches he’s given, is available online at http://www.lpts.edu/About_Us/message-president.asp.