Thursday, May 21, 2009

Future of the Church

On May 27 - 29, leaders of a number of mainline denominations are converging on campus for the Claremont Denominational Summit, as part of the Transforming Theology program at the School. Several denominational heads, along with other administrators and leaders, will spend three days discussing how theology impacts social action, and vice versa.

The event is attracting some significant attention, due primarily to the participants. Marjorie Suchocki, Professor Emerita at Claremont, will moderate the discussions with Phyllis Tickle, Senior Fellow of Cathedral College of the Washington National Cathedral. Peg Chemberlin and Michael Kinnamon of the National Council of Churches will also be on hand. Two of the participants -- Chemberlin and Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) -- are members of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

If you are able, I encourage you to attend the Public Forum on Thursday, May 28, at 7 p.m. in Mudd Theater [map]. During this time, several of the leaders will give short reflections on their private conversations, but also hold a Q and A with the audience about future visions for the churches.

These are important times in the history of the church, and I encourage you to come be a part of the discussion!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Claremont's "Comeback"

Part of my job as Claremont's president is "chief story-teller" for the school. Those of you who know me know that I enjoy telling Claremont's story in person. But I also enjoy the chance to spread the good news publicly.

In this week's edition of The Christian Century, Claremont receives a rather favorable profile from a seasoned religion writer. John Dart was the long-time religion editor of the L.A. Times (and a self-taught biblical scholar), so not much gets past him. I sat down with him several weeks ago for an in-depth conversation about Claremont's situation, which turned into the interview for this profile.

John asked good, probing questions, and I gave honest answers. The result is a piece that tells the story of Claremont's recent past and, more importantly, the directions we are now headed. He also reveals that the School received a $5 million pledge from an unnamed supporter that has helped kick-start the new vision into action.

The spirit captured by John in this story is an accurate portrayal of the excitement and strong morale that we are feeling here at Claremont. And I was glad to share the story!