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After interviewing 75 people for the ‘Leading Theologically’ broadcast, the host turns the tables on himself

The Presbyterian Outlook’s editor and publisher, the Rev. Teri Ott, hosts the Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty

LOUISVILLE — In a nifty bit of role reversal, the Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty of the Presbyterian Foundation, who has hosted 75 editions of the “Leading Theologically” broadcast, sat for an interview Thursday with the Rev. Dr. Teri Ott, editor and publisher of The Presbyterian Outlook. Listen to their half-hour conversation here or here.

“I get the privilege of interviewing my good friend and colleague in ministry,” Ott said. “This is the way it should be.”

“Those who know Lee well know Lee is a true servant of Christ’s church,” said Ott, who got to know Hinson-Hasty when both were studying for their Master of Divinity degrees at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. “I also know Lee to be a lifelong learner and he is an incredibly generous friend.”

Ott asked Hinson-Hasty the famous question first asked by the Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon that Hinson-Hasty often asks his guests: What is the work your soul must have?

The question sparked a fond memory for Hinson-Hasty. His wife, the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty, was set to defend her dissertation at Union Presbyterian Seminary when Cannon walked into the room, having recently joined the faculty. Cannon sat next to Lee Hinson-Hasty and rubbed her friend’s back, as if to say, “It’s going to be OK,” Hinson-Hasty recalled. “For me, the work my soul must have is helping others live out their call … It’s a real privilege to watch people live out their call in new ways, like the work you do at The Presbyterian Outlook,” he told Ott.

“That’s how we knit together the body of Christ — one relationship at a time,” he said. “I get to do that, supporting future ministers with the Theological Education Fund.”

He described his work at the Presbyterian Foundation as “investing in the future by investing in future leaders.”

“I often say I am an advocate for others and what they do, and I want to find ways to support them and find others to support what matters to them,” he said.

“The theological perspective is often missing in our discourse,” Ott said. “Kudos to you. It is work that matters.”

Hearing “real stories” of people’s lives, “painful or joyful — those are the things that make me get up in the morning,” Hinson-Hasty said. “Those stories make me a better person and a better disciple and person of faith. They guide my own work and make me become a better listener.”

Among the skills he’s learned while hosting the podcast is “trying to ask better questions,” Hinson-Hasty said. “The better questions are the ones that really grab me. The show and these relationships are just a joy in my life.”

Several episodes have proven especially memorable, he said. Hinson-Hasty recalled a joint appearance early in the pandemic by Eric Wall and the then-president of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Dr. Ted Wardlaw. At the end of the conversation, Wall said he’d play something. “Just sing it in your head,” Wall suggested, then launched into “Be Thou My Vision.” “I still get chills just thinking about it,” Hinson-Hasty said. “It touched me so much, providing that holy space.”

Dr. Brian Blount, president of Union Presbyterian Seminary until the end of the month, talked about hope in the Book of Revelation, a position he staked out “because I know how the book ends,” Blount told Hinson-Hasty.

“Apocalyptic books and movies are about despair. That’s not the narrative in Revelation. It’s a sea of hope,” Hinson-Hasty said. “As people of faith, we are people of hope.”

Dr. William Yoo of Columbia Theological Seminary, who wrote “What Kind of Christianity: A History of Slavery and Anti-Black Racism in the Presbyterian Church,” “quotes from the minutes of the General Assembly” making the case in his book that many Presbyterians valued unity over justice for those who were enslaved prior to the Civil War. “Those are not stories I learned in school,” Hinson-Hasty said. “It’s those sparks, and I have heard from listeners that it sparks something in them. People write to me, and it starts conversations that are definitely a gift to me.”

The Rev. Dr. Teri Ott (Photo courtesy of Monmouth College)

“I want to talk about the fact that we are not a poor church,” Ott told Hinson-Hasty. “How are we investing in pastoral leadership and what can we do to invest our wealth wisely and creatively?”

“Wherever you sit, there are things you can do,” Hinson-Hasty said. “Everyone has some sort of resource, financial or other. They can invest in something that matters to them.” The one statistic that has haunted Hinson-Hasty of late is that there are now more pastoral positions open than people seeking them.

“I think leadership matters — good pastors, educators, mission co-workers, the right kind of college and seminary professors,” he said. “The numbers aren’t going the right way. We’ve got some work to do,” including mentoring people and helping them discover their call, he said.

“People don’t want someone to be a savior, but to guide and walk with them and help them to ask better questions,” he said. “It breaks my heart to see churches looking for years for pastoral leadership, or even just looking for someone to preach next week.”

When Ott asked Hinson-Hasty to give a charge and benediction — as Hinson-Hasty has done so many times before of his guests — here’s what he offered to viewers:

“Remember you’re not alone. Although the world keeps telling you to be scared and things are scary and they’re real and there’s suffering, know we’re in a sea of hope. On that sea of hope we’re in a boat and we’re all together. We’re connected, and if you need someone, reach out and get to know them, ask them about their story of faith, and be renewed. Share your own [story of faith].

“Know the one who created us, the one who continues to create among us and empower creativity and innovation is with us; the one who redeemed us, forgives us and loves us is with us; and the one who is Spirit among us and gives us our very next breath and God’s promise of love and truth for the days and weeks and months to come, may that be for you and all your kin. Amen.”

“Leading Theologically” will be on hiatus this summer.

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