June 22, 2018
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BTS announces convocation speakers

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — “World in Crisis, Communities in Faith” will be the theme of this year’s convocation at Bangor Theological Seminary.

The seminary’s annual three-day seminar will be held Monday through Wednesday, Jan. 24-26, in the Gracie Theatre at the Beardsley Meeting House on the Husson University campus.

Speakers will include a woman leader of the Presbyterian Church in Cuba; the president of Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, Mich.; a third-generation preacher who founded an inner-city congregation in San Francisco that unites a gospel and social ministry; an ex-con who runs a faith-based transition program in New York City for people about to be released from prison; and a Massachusetts-based percussionist.

The event was designed to honor the Rev. Sue Davies, according to the Rev. Kent Ulery. the seminary’s president. Davies will retire in May after serving for many years as the Jonathan Fisher Professor of Christian Education.

“As [we] reflected on her contributions to the seminary, church and society, [what was] immediately recognized was that Sue consistently gives voice to those calling for justice,” Ulery said Thursday. “That is apparent in her teaching and preaching, research and writing; evident in the leadership she provides to the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the National Council of Churches; visible in the causes that she champions and the relationships she develops.

“Recalling that Jesus, in the context of his faith community, declared that his (and our) ministry is to ‘bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed,’ the theme for this year’s convocation naturally became ‘World in Crisis, Communities in Faith,’” Ulery said in a statement.

The Rev. Ofelia Ortega Suarez of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba was the first Presbyterian woman to be ordained in Cuba. Her speech, “Nevertheless, God: The Theology of the Absurd,” will be presented Monday. On Wednesday, her topic will be “Conversion to Hope in a World of Crisis.” Suarez has been a pioneer in introducing women’s leadership into church and community in Cuba and beyond, and she has been active in the World Council of Churches.

Marsha Foster Boyd has served as president of Ecumenical Theological Seminary since 2006. She will deliver a lecture Tuesday at the convocation, but her subject has not been announced. Boyd has worked at seminaries in Pennsylvania and Ohio. In each of these positions she was the first African-American woman to serve. Boyd was ordained as an itinerant elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1978.

Bishop Yvette Flunder will speak Monday about “Christianity: The Burden on the AIDS Epidemic” and Tuesday about “Homophobia and the U.S. Exportation of Hatred in Uganda.” Flunder founded the City of Refuge Community Church, United Church of Christ, in San Francisco in 1991 to unite a gospel and a social ministry.

Julio Medina, executive director and founder of Exodus Transitional Community Inc. in New York City, on Tuesday will discuss “A Faith Response to the Prison Crises.” Medina’s organization has served more than 3,000 men and women and has become one of the most successful re-entry programs in the country, according to the convocation’s website.

Percussionist Matt Meyer of Cambridge, Mass., will open this year’s convocation with a worship service titled “What Can Music Do?” Meyer is an educator and worship leader who is knowledgeable and experienced in Latin-jazz, Brazilian, folk, funk, hip-hop and pop. A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Meyer has studied in Cuba, Ghana and Central America.

In addition, a 1997 seminary graduate, the Rev. Kate Braestrup, who serves as a community minister in the Unitarian Universalist Church and a chaplain in the Maine Warden Service, will preach twice during the three-day meeting. Braestrup also is the author of the best-selling memoir “Here If You Need Me.”

Parking for convocation participants will not be available on the Husson campus this year. Attendees are to park at the nearby Abundant Life Church at 1404 Broadway. Buses will run from the parking lot to the front door of the Gracie Theatre.

For information about the convocation, call 942-6781 or 800-287-6781, or visit www.bts.edu/convocation.

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