LOUISVILLE (PNS) – As Reformed churches across the globe start a yearlong observance of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation—precipitated by Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the doors of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517—the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has entered both the celebration and the conversation.
“’Theological Conversations’ will celebrate Reformation 500 by continuing the conversations that Martin Luther himself started 500 years ago,” said the Rev. Michelle J. Bartel, coordinator of Theological Education and Seminary Relations for the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA).
Theological Conversations, launched in 2015 by the Theology, Formation, and Evangelism ministry area, is a series of papers designed to invite congregational leaders in the PC(USA) into theological conversation wherever they gather as sessions, presbyteries or for adult education in congregations. Each paper—available as a free download through the PMA website—is a study resource with accompanying questions for conversation or reflection, suitable for use by both individuals and groups.
“As Christians rooted in Reformed Theology and as inheritors of the Reformation, we will gather to study the legacy we are now leaving for generations to come,” Bartel continued. “This will be a celebration of what we, the PC(USA), have been given and what we have to give.”
In 2017, twelve committed people of the church—with varying backgrounds and contexts—will consider the following question in the light of their own Presbyterian commitments and callings: “What Reformation gifts does the PC(USA) have to offer the church and the world for the next 500 years?” The 2017 series will include one paper written in Spanish and one in Korean.
The 2017 series launches with “Theology and Bravery,” a paper by the Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz, vice president of Church & Public Relations and editor of These Days at the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.
An ordained PC(USA) teaching elder, Cheifetz has served with the Forum for Theological Exploration and at McCormick Theological Seminary. Most recently she contributed to “Race in Post-Obama America: The Church Responds” [Westminster John Knox Press]. She is a co-contributor on “Asian American Religious Leadership” in the SAGE Reference “Religious Leadership” volume, a contributor to “Streams Run Uphill” and “Here I Am,” and co-editor of “Church on Purpose,” all of Judson Press. She has written and blogged for Horizons Magazine, Ecclesio, Unbound, the Salt Collective, the Covenant Network, McCormick’s CURE, NEXT Church, and “Gifted for Leadership” for Christianity Today.
“Starting off the series with Laura’s paper steps us right into the everyday fray that threatens so many people in the world and certainly in the country,” said Bartel. “Her piece is a treatise on bravery—her title words—that calls us to dig into our brave faith. I appreciate how she shares so much of her story and history around particular real life issues, like racism. She lets her readers know that they share in this brave faith, and that each reader has their own stories and the stories of their family. She also makes clear what we need to be brave for and why bravery is even required.”
by Emily Enders Odom, Presbyterian News Service