The Stalcup School of Theology for the Laity is open to all who want to continue learning and growing through biblical study, exploration of contemporary issues from a faith perspective, interfaith dialogue, and critical thinking about the basis of Christian understanding of God, humanity, and the world. Top scholars with a heart for the church bring their expertise and passion for sharing that knowledge with people engaged in ministry and those who simply want to learn.
Seminars are typically held on Saturdays and participants may attend an individual event or sign up for the whole series.
The School is made possible by the generosity of SSTL’s former Dean, Joe Stalcup, and his wife, Nancy Vaughn Stalcup, and the gifts of others who share their commitment to theological education.
Listening to James, Acting Faithfully
Seventh Joan and Aubrey Gearner Seminar
Saturday, October 20, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Margaret Aymer, First Presbyterian Church, Shreveport, D. Thomason Professor of New Testament, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, TX
For many people of faith, the book of James can be summarized as “faith without works is dead.” This seminar explores the Letter of James with an eye to deepening and complicating that summation. Participants will review the argument that the author of James puts forward. Questions such as the authorship and dating of the letter will be explored. In addition, participants will consider how the author engages in constructive theology for his day; how he describes the nature and work of God in creation, the role and purpose of community, and the praxis of faith. Participants will engage James’ prophetic declamations against “the world” of his day and the challenges these pose to us in our day. Finally, participants will consider what difference it might make that James writes “to the twelve tribes in Dispersion,” and how James might be read as a migrant writing and a diaspora space.
Margaret Aymer loves James, and returns to him frequently in her writing and teaching. Two of her books address James: First Pure, Then Peaceable: Frederick Douglass Reads James, and James: Diaspora Rhetoric of a Friend of God. Additionally, two of her 2018-2019 sabbatical projects return her to James’ company. Her mission is to reintroduce this pithy gem of Christian prophetic and ethical teaching to the church. Rev. Dr. Aymer is the First Presbyterian Church, Shreveport, D. Thomason Professor of New Testament at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church, USA. She is happily married to Dr. Laurent Oget and they are the lucky parents of five year old son Gabriel. When not off teaching or preaching somewhere, Dr. Aymer is most likely to be found in a choir, happily singing; or off in a corner reading fiction.
Graceful Improvisation: Faith Resources and Perspectives for Experiences of Aging
Saturday, October 27, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
First Christian Church, Tyler
Nancy Ramsay, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX
We Christians affirm that ours is a good and finite life. We’ll engage that paradox together. We will explore how our faith and scriptures offer us important insights about aging well that can help us improvise more gracefully responses to experiences of aging in a good and finite life. These presentations and conversations will help us consider ways experiences of aging unfold all along our lifespan rather than in several decades. We’ll consider how experiences of aging across our lifespan shape our own sense of self, our experience in families and friendship circles, and the experience and ministry of congregations. We’ll also look at the ways our faith may help us resist the ways ageism insinuates our lives in church and culture.
Nancy Ramsay, PhD is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care at Brite Divinity School. Dr. Ramsay is also a Presbyterian clergywoman. She came to Brite in June of 2005 to serve as Executive Vice President and Dean following 22 years of service on the faculty at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary as the Harrison Ray Anderson Professor of Pastoral Theology. In May of 2012 she stepped away from serving as Dean to resume full-time teaching in both the MDiv and PhD programs in Pastoral Theology. She holds a PhD from Vanderbilt University, a DMin from Union Theological Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia, and a BA from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.
Encountering Mystery: How Science Can Lead Us Deeper into the Mystery of God
Twelfth Schubert M. Ogden Seminar on Systematic Theology
Saturday, November 10, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Heidi Russell, Associate Professor at the Institute of Pastoral Studies of Loyola University Chicago, IL
In this seminar, we will enter into mystery, experiencing the mystery of God in and through the mystery of creation. We will start with the very small – quantum mystery. What might quantum mysteries such as particle/wave complementarity teach us about what it means to be embodied spirits? What might quantum entanglement teach us about being community? Moving from the very small to the very large, we will engage the cosmological mystery. We might ask what is the Big Bang, and what might it mean theologically, if we live in a multiverse? Finally we will look at the mystery of who we are, the neurological mystery. Neuroscience has enabled us to delve into the mysteries of the human brain – how we think, how we feel, and how we relate. Understanding the mystery of who we are can help us relate to ourselves, one another, and our God.
Heidi Russell, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Pastoral Studies of Loyola University Chicago. She received her PhD in Religious Studies from Marquette University and her MDiv/MA from Washington Theological Union. Her areas of research include Christian anthropology, Christology, Trinitarian theology, and a special interest in the relationship between science and theology, specifically in the fields of neuroscience and quantum physics. She is the author of Source of All Love: Trinity and Catholicity (2017), as well as Quantum Shift: Theological and Pastoral Implications of Contemporary Developments in Science (2015) and The Heart of Rahner (2009). She has published articles in Theological Studies, Horizons, Science and Theology, Buddhist Christian Studies and Philosophy and Theology.
When One Religion Isn’t Enough: Making Sense of Multiplicity
Twelfth Jean and Patrick Henry Seminar
Saturday, January 12, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Duane Bidwell, Professor of Practical Theology, Spiritual Care, and Counseling; Senior Staff Clinician and Supervisor, The Clinebell Institute, Claremont, CA
Most people think religions are pure, static, and monolithic, separated by clear boundaries. But some people regularly cross religious borders. Hinjews, Jubus, Buddhist-Christians, Chrislamics, and others maintain bonds to more than one tradition at the same time. This type of spiritual fluidity blurs categories, evokes prejudice, and complicates religious communities–especially at church. But spiritually fluid people celebrate their connections to multiple religions, which some claim by choice but most inherit from family and culture. Their numbers are growing. The seminar considers questions raised by complex religious bonds: How and why do people become spiritually fluid? What does it mean to claim–or be claimed by—multiple religious traditions? How do spiritually fluid people navigate conflicting truth claims? What can they contribute to congregations and to the common good? The seminar unfolds in three parts: I. Making Sense of Multiplicity, 2. What About Salvation? And What Is Truth? and 3. Observations, Implications, Provocations.
Duane R. Bidwell, PhD, wrote the Beacon Press book When One Religion Isn’t Enough: The Lives of Spiritually Fluid People (2018). He teaches practical theology, spiritual care, and counseling at Claremont School of Theology in California, where he is a full professor and staff clinician at The Clinebell Institute for Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy. An award-winning teacher and mentor, Duane sits on the board of The Taos Institute, an interdisciplinary non-profit that promotes relational theory and practice. A minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a Buddhist practitioner, Duane has been a pastor, chaplain, counselor, and non-profit director. He and his wife Karee are TCU alums and live in California with their son and dog. Duane was Brite’s first PhD graduate, and from 2002-2007 directed the seminary’s Pastoral Care and Training Center. To relax, he makes pottery, practices Vietnamese, watches his son play soccer, and volunteers as a fire lookout.
Collaborative Hope: Institutional and Individual Visions
Saturday, February 23, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Joretta Marshall, Executive Vice President and Dean and Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX
The quality and depth of our relationships with God, with one another, with ourselves and with the institutions of which we are a part point to the qualities of hope that can sustain and nurture us in hard times. Yet, it is not only the relationships around us that are important, but the way in which we join the actual experiences of hope-less-ness can also become life-giving and life-changing. This workshop will wrestle with understandings of hope, particularly as hope is embodied in our individual and institutional lives.
Joretta Marshall serves as Executive Vice President and Dean and as Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care at Brite Divinity School. Prior to joining the faculty at Brite, she taught at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Iliff School of Theology, and Eden Seminary, where she was also Academic Dean. Dr. Marshall has served as one of the Co-Editors for the Journal of Pastoral Theology, a publication supported by the Society for Pastoral Theology, and is currently on the editorial board for Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling. She is the author of Counseling Lesbian Partners and Why Should I Forgive?, is the co-editor of Forgiveness and Abuse: Jewish and Christian Reflections (with Marie Fortune), and The Formation of Pastoral Counselors: Challenges and Opportunities (with Duane Bidwell), along with a number of articles in professional and church-related journals. She is a past President of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. She is ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church and holds membership in the Rocky Mountain Conference.
The Seven Ecumenical Councils: Trinity, Christ, and Creation
Twelfth W.A. Welsh Seminar
Saturday, March 23, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Bryce Rich, Assistant Professor of Theology, Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX
In the fourth through the eighth centuries, a series of hotly debated questions arose within the Christian community regarding the nature of God, the person of Christ, and the relationship between the Creator and the creation. With no less at stake than the salvation of the world, Christians championed various responses. Under the authority of the Roman Empire, bishops from the far reaches of the Christian world repeatedly gathered to hammer out Church teaching. With the power of the state, they defined both orthodoxy and heresy. In this series of presentations, we will explore the early questions that inspired Christian teachings on the Trinity, the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ, and the veneration of icons. For each of the councils, we will explore what was at stake for the participants and how their responses have shaped the Church.
Bryce E. Rich is Assistant Professor of Theology and Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at Brite Divinity School. He holds a PhD in Theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School. His research interests include theological anthropology, 20th-century theologians of the Russian diaspora, and sacramentology. As a theologian, his desire is to see work in each of these areas enrich the life of the Church. As a scholar, he writes for multiple publics in hopes of fostering understanding and building bridges across society’s many divides. As a teacher, he helps his students to explore a variety of theological viewpoints, challenging them to push the limits of their thinking and to find their own theological voices. Rich is currently writing a book on patristic and contemporary discussions of gender and biological sex in the Eastern Orthodox tradition.
Violence and the Religious Lives of Christians in the United States
Saturday, April 6, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church, Dallas
Jeffrey Williams, Associate Professor of American Religious History and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX
The Christian tradition has long hoped and worked for a world free of violence. Yet violence also insinuates itself into Christian thought and practice in pervasive and often surprising ways. From hymns to theologies, narratives of religious experience to ways of imagining ourselves and others, violence figures prominently and functions in complex ways. This seminar will explore historical expressions of violence in the religious lives of American Christians, considering ways that violence often becomes constitutive of the very fabric of Christian life even as Christians confront violence in order to motivate efforts to overcome it. The seminar will conclude by considering how Christians can negotiate the violent dimensions of the tradition in ways that promote human flourishing.
Jeffrey Williams is Associate Professor of American Religious History and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Brite Divinity School. He is the author of Religion and Violence in Early American Methodism: Taking the Kingdom by Force (2010) and co-editor of Institutional Change in Theological Education: A History of Brite Divinity School (2012). His primary research interests center on the constitutive nature of violence in religion and the many ways that religion influences how people imagine and carry out violence in society and culture. His current research focuses on accounts of violence in “discovery” and missionary narratives of the South Seas published in the United States in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Watchful: Spiritual Exploration in the Age of Television
Thirteenth Fay and Alfred Grosse Seminar on Religion and the Literary Arts
Saturday, April 27, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Kathryn Reklis, Assistant Professor of Modern Protestant Theology, Fordham University, New York, NY
Many people have argued that we are living in a golden age of television. Far from the brain-candy of early sitcoms or the repetition of procedural dramas, prestige television has been compared to the 19th century novel as the aesthetic genre of our age: probing human psychology and social realities with verve, depth, and intelligence. Increasingly, prestige television is turning to themes of religion, spirituality, and morality. Occasionally religious themes, traditions, and practices feature prominently and explicitly (as in shows like Big Love, Rectified, and The Leftovers). More often these themes function implicitly in the questions the shows ask about what makes us human, what we owe to one another, and how we can discern the moral and spiritual demands of life (as in shows like The Americans, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, or The Good Place). This seminar will explore a range of television shows from the early 2000s to the present, asking what we can learn about spiritual exploration in our own age, and what the genre of television allows us to see that other genres may not.
Kathryn Reklis is Professor of Modern Protestant Theology at Fordham University, where she teaches classes on the history and practice of Christianity in the modern age, Christianity and colonialism, theology and aesthetics, theology and popular culture, and digital religion. She is an affiliate faculty in the American Studies program and the Comparative Literature program at Fordham, where she works with students on projects that explore the intersection of religion, secularity, popular culture, and social justice. She is the author of the On Media column for The Christian Century, which won the Award of Excellence for a regular column from the Associated Church Press in 2017. In 2009, she co-founded the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice with artist AA Bronson at Union Theological Seminary which brought artists, seminarians, and theologians together to explore the work of social justice through the vocations of art and spiritual leadership in both New York and Berlin.
The 21st Century Steward: Servant, Partner, Superhero
Fourth James R. Reed Seminar on Christian Stewardship
Saturday, May 4, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Rush Creek Christian Church, Arlington
Bruce Barkhauer, Minister for Faith and Giving for Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis, IN
Is the steward simply an obedient slave or is s/he a super hero acting as an agent of the Realm? Is the holistic practice of stewardship a way to restore the church and transform the world? Can the proper understanding of stewardship be a pathway to reconciliation and the establishment of true community? That seems like a tall order for an act we usually associate with little more than the morning offering and the drudgery of balancing the church budget! However, the biblical understanding of stewardship impacts every aspect of our lives, defines our relationships, and addresses the urgency of the Gospel message. The television series Heroes said: “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” Perhaps it could have been stated “Be a steward, save the world!” Can you be the one?
Bruce A. Barkhauer was called as the first “Minister for Faith and Giving for Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)” in 2010, after 25 years of parish ministry. Since that time he has engaged the whole church in conversations about generosity and offered transformative ways for congregations to think about stewardship. His energy, vision, and entrepreneurial spirit enhance gifts in both business and ministry. He brings a biblically based understanding about stewardship combined with theological integrity and weds them to the current trends and best practices related to spirituality and money. He is the author of numerous articles, and most recently a book of devotions entitled Community of Prayer (2016). He is a graduate of Ohio University (Athens), Christian Theological Seminary (Indianapolis), and did Doctor of Ministry studies at Ashland Theological Seminary (Ashland, OH). He is married to Laura and they share three grown children and three grandchildren.
Fifteenth Joe A. and Nancy Vaughn Stalcup Lecture on Christian Unity
“Transforming Discipleship: Faith, Love and Hope after Empire”
Sunday, June 9, 2019 3:00 p.m.
East Dallas Christian Church
Free and open to the public
Jooseop Keum is Distinguished Professor of World Christianity at the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS) in Seoul, South Korea. Rev. Dr. Keum served the World Council of Churches (WCC) based in Geneva, Switzerland for ten years as Director of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) and as editor of International Review of Mission, which is the missiological journal incepted by the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh 1910. He taught history and issues of ecumenical missiology as research professor at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Dr. Keum received a PhD at New College, University of Edinburgh, and served the Council for World Mission in London as the executive secretary of Mission Programme. Prof. Keum’s main focus of research is ecumenical understanding and practice of mission in the context of world Christianity. His current project is a forthcoming book on A Missiology of Life. He is the main editor of the new WCC mission statement, Together towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes. He organised the 14th World Mission Conference in 2018 with a great success in Arusha, Tanzania. Debracen Reformed Theological University awarded him an honorary doctorate in reformed theology. He is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK).
Twelfth Jean and Parker Wilson Seminar
Saturday, September 8, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church, Dallas
Cynthia Rigby, W. C. Brown Professor of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, TX
Holding faith, these days, is a challenge. Maybe because there are good reasons to be fearful, distrustful, and dismayed. We keep watch for the next school shooting, terrorist attack, incidence of racial violence, or accusation of misconduct. We worry about the economy, declining church attendance, the seeming faithlessness of our growing children. This seminar explores what it looks like to risk faith in the midst of these circumstances. How do our beliefs about the incarnation and Trinity assure us that God is with us, despite appearances to the contrary? How do the doctrines of creation and salvation remind us that the God who has met us continues to make us, giving us hope that the new creation is, indeed, becoming a reality? How does the presence of the Spirit, in our churches and our lives, extend blessings to us even in the midst of the turmoil? And what does it mean to say we are sent into the world, as people who dare to have faith?
Cynthia Rigby joined the faculty of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1995. In 2006 the Dallas Morning News cited Dr. Rigby as one of the great theologians of our time who can “span the gap between church and society.” An energetic scholar, Dr. Rigby’s books include Holding Faith: A Practical Introduction to Christian Faith (2018) and The Promotion of Social Righteousness (2010). She is a general co-editor of the forthcoming lectionary commentary series, Connections. Dr. Rigby is a sought-after speaker who enjoys lecturing and teaching for academic, church, and denominational events both domestically and internationally. She received her AB, magna cum laude, from Brown University in 1986, her MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1989, and the PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1998. She is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
It Means? All Sorts of Things!
Thirteenth Fred B. Craddock Seminar on the Gospels
Saturday, September 29, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Rush Creek Christian Church, Arlington
Warren Carter, Professor of New Testament, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX
This seminar will look at some different ways in which New Testament passages have been interpreted across the last two millennia in different contexts. We will look at a number of NT scenes that have “travelled” across the millennia to new and different situations to see how people have made meaning of them to address different circumstances across the centuries. This approach, commonly called “Reception history” or a “history of effects” approach, suggests that the meaning we make of biblical texts is not fixed in the texts themselves but is created at particular cultural-personal moments in the interaction between interpreters and texts.
Warren Carter is Professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School at TCU in Fort Worth. He came to Brite in 2007 after teaching for 17 years at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. His scholarly work has focused on the gospels of Matthew and John, and he is especially interested in the ways in which early Christians negotiated the Roman empire. In addition to numerous scholarly articles, he is the author of fourteen books including Matthew and the Margins (2000), Matthew and Empire (2001), The Roman Empire and the New Testament (2006), John and Empire (2008), What Does Revelation Reveal? (2011), Seven Events That Shaped the New Testament World (2013), The New Testament: Methods and Meaning (2013, with Amy-Jill Levine), God in the New Testament (2016) and Telling Tales About Jesus: An Introduction to the New Testament Gospels (2016). He has also contributed to numerous church resources and publications such as 15 studies on Matthew in The Pastors Bible Study Vol 1 (Abingdon). He is a frequent speaker at scholarly and ecclesial conferences.