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Theological Conversations launches yearlong celebration of Reformation 500

The Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz’s paper, ‘Theology and Bravery,’ begins series of timely reflections.


April 7, 2017

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.) is entering 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.

Laura Mariko Cheifetz. (Photo provided)

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 from 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.”

Emily Enders Odom, mission communications strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Theological Conversations

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Mission Co-workers

Jenny Bent, Dominican Republic
Mark Hare, Dominican Republic

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Cynthia Beach, BOP                                                                                                    
Stephanie Becker, OGA

Let us pray:

Gracious God, give us eyes to see others the way that you do. Prompt us to join with what you are doing in people’s lives and in our communities. Empower us, by your Holy Spirit, to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 22; 148
First Reading Jeremiah 29:1 (2-3) 4-14
Second Reading Romans 11:13-24
Gospel Reading John 11:1-27
Alternate Gospel John 12:1–10
Evening Psalms 105; 130

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