United Lutheran Seminary faculty are at the forefront of scholarship and are active in pastoral and social justice work throughout theworld. Here are some recent highlights. News as of February 17, 2020.
Rev. Dr. Reed Carlson
Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies
In January 2020, The Rev. Dr. Carlson was appointed Priest Associate at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. His first sermon in this parish was offered on March 1, the First Sunday in Lent. A spotlight on Dr. Carlson’s dissertation, “Possession and Other Spirit Phenomena in Biblica lLiterature,” appeared on Ancient Jew Review on February 11. As an invited fellow, Dr. Carlson attended theWinter Gathering of the Louisville Institute, “Vocation of the Theological Educator,” February 17–18. On May 17, Dr. Carlson will be visiting the Churchof St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia to offer a class for their adult forum, “Spirits in Scripture and in the Church Today.”A spotlight on Dr. Carlson's Harvard dissertation will appear in Ancient Jew Review in March. On March 1, he will be preaching at the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul in Boston and on May 17, Dr. Carlson will be visiting the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, to teach their adult forum.
Rev. Dr. Gilson Waldkoenig
Paulssen-Hale-Maurer Professor of Church in Society and Director of the Town and Country Church Institute
Dr. Waldkoenig was appointed to work on a research project on small congregation vitality by the ELCA Domestic Mission Unit. Seventy-five percent of ELCA congregations have average weekly attendance of 75 or fewer. The ELCA Domestic Mission Unit has assembled a team of researchers to investigate vitality practices as well as sustainability challenges over a two-year period and will produce resources appropriate for small congregations. Dr. Waldkoenig also serves on Candidacy Committees in two synods and is a guest teacher at Lancaster Theological Seminary in spring 2020.
Rev. Dr. Mark G. Vitalis Hoffman
Glatfelter Professor of Biblical Studies
Dr. Hoffman co-authored the Atlas of the Biblical World (Fortress) that was published in August. He brought this expertise to bear in a course, Reading the Bible through a Geographical Lens, for the Lay School of Theology of the Northwest and Southwest Pennsylvania Synods in June. He also has an article coming out in the spring issue of Word & World on “Jesus and Jerusalem.” In January 2019, he and Dr. Crystal Hall lead a group to Israel, Palestine and Jordan. In January 2021, he will co-lead a trip to Turkey and Greece focusing on biblical sites. The trip is open to anyone. More information here. His article, “Online Teaching for Learning Together,” was published in the November issue of Didaktikos. His interest in teaching Greek was explored in his article published in the September/October issue of Living Lutheran,“ It’s Greek to Me.” The grammar he wrote that is used in ULS Greek classes was released this January as a module in Accordance Bible software.
Dr. Kyle Schiefelbein-Guerrero
Steck-Miller Assistant Professor of Worship and Liturgy
Dr. Schiefelbein-Guerrero chaired a panel on “Defining Digital Theology” at the American Academy of Religion in November 2019 in San Diego. He was appointed convener of the Lutheran caucus of the North American Academy of Liturgy and served as chairman of his first meeting in January in Atlanta. He was appointed co-editor of Teaching Theology & Religion last year, and he will write the introduction to the first issue of the journal under his leadership, scheduled to be published in March. He presented one adult forum, “Living the Liturgical Year,” on Feb. 2 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco and will present “A Liturgical Look at Holy Week” on March 29 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.
Dr. Crystal Hall
Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies
Dr. Hall presented “Prophecy and Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation,” at Pub Theology with Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester, PA on Jan. 20. She is an invited participant at the Inter-American Conference, “AYNI* From the Margins” of the ELCA’s Domestic Mission Global Mission units in partnership with companion churches in Latin America and the Caribbean. The conference was held in Bogotá, Colombia on Feb. 5-9. She was invited presenter at the Religion and the New Politics Symposium of the Kripke Center at Creighton University in Omaha, NB on Feb.13-14. She is an invited presenter for a course, Liberation Theology and Liturgy at her alma mater, the Union Theological Seminary in New York on Feb. 20. She is an invited presenter on “Paul and Women’s Leadership” at the Adult Education Forum at Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester on March 8. Dr. Hall is an invited participant at the Association of Theological Schools Round table Seminar for Newly Appointed Faculty in Jacksonville, FL on March 27-29. She is an invited presenter and Scholar in Residence speaking on "Walking with the Risen Christ: Opening Scripture and Breaking Bread,” at Reformation Lutheran Church, Media, PA on April 25-26. She is an invited panelist on “The Call for Biblical Justice in Theological Schools,” at the Washington Theological Consortium Inaugural Event for the Institute for Justice Formation at the John Leland Center in Washington, D.C. on June 18. Dr. Hall is invited presenter on “Biblical Foundations of the ELCA Social Statement Faith, Sexism and Justice” at the ELCA Rostered Leaders Gathering in Phoenix, AZ on July 20-23.
Dr. Jon Pahl
Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Professor in the History of Christianity
Dr. Pahl is Minister of Faith Formation and Community Engagement at Union Congregational United Church of Christ in Green Bay, WI. He also travels extensively to promote and discuss “Fethullah Gulen: A Life of Hizmet,” his biography of the controversial Turkish Muslim preacher. He has spoken about and signed the book in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Nairobi, Kenya; Jacksonville, FL; Hartford, CT;Manchester, NH; Providence, RI; Boston, MA; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Norway; and Upsala, Sweden, among other venues. At Union, Dr. Pahl helped secure over $250,000 in donations and grants to start-up the Brain Center of Green Bay as a nonprofit dedicated to promoting brain health, including among those facing neuro-degenerative diseases, from birth through the life course. The center is in a refurbished space in the basement of the church. With the help of a grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Dr. Pahl has instituted a Jazz Ministry at the congregation, with services on themes including "Protest Jazz" (for Black History Month), "Call and Response Worship —Honoring Green Bay's First Responders" and "LGBTQ Jazz." Dr. Pahl is also leading a year-long series in the congregation on "The Green Gospel," which includes energy audits of the church's physical plant, plans for solar panel installation and other initiatives.
Rev. Dr. Kristin Johnston Largen
Professor of Systematic Theology
Dr. Largen presented on “Martin Luther and Shinran on Death and What Comes After,” at the European Networkfor Buddhist-Christian Studies in St. Ottilien, Germany, and on “Concepts of Validity in the Lotus Sutra and the Gospel of John: a Comparative Approach,” at a Rissho Kosei Kai Conference in Tokyo, Japan, both in June 2019. She has a chapter on “A Comparative Inquiry into the Real,” in The Theology of Westworld, to be published in the summer of 2020, and a book, Shin Buddhism, Rebirth and Women's Bodies, coming out in the fall of 2020 from Lexington Books.
Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian
Dean and H. George Anderson Professor of Mission and Cultures
Dr. Sebastian was a participant and panelist in the program unit Martin Luther and the Global Lutheran Traditionsat the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, in November 2019, where he made a presentation on the theme: “The Annotated and Global Luther: Producing and Using the Volumes (In Classroom and Beyond).” He was a participant at the Intercontinental Mission Conference Towards an Ecumenical Missiology – Witnessing Christ, organized by Missio Aachen and Evangelishes Missionswerk in Deutschland, in Mainz, Germany in 2019, where he presented a paper entitled “Estranging the Stranger? Revisions and Re-visioning Ecumenical Missiology.” Among other forthcoming publications is one entitled "Revitalizing the Fading Ecumenical Memory and Reenergizing the Promise of our Ecumenical Future: Can Ecumenism be Taught?" to be published in a Herder and Herder book called The Whole is Greater than Its Parts.