‘Theology Matters,’ theme of 2013 convocation, designed to bookend last year’s event

Posted Dec. 28, 2012, at 4:51 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The themes of Bangor Theological Seminary’s 2012 and 2013 convocations should be thought of as bookends, according to the Rev. Robert Grove-Markwood, seminary president.

This year’s annual event titled, “Evolving World, Emerging Church,” focused on a multi-faith approach to spirituality and the use of the Internet to engage people in an online faith community.

“Theology Matters” is the theme of the next convocation to be held Jan. 14-16, at Husson College.

“Last January, we looked at nontraditional ways to do ministry and reach people,” Grove-Markwood said earlier this month. “Next January, we want to return to our roots and emphasize that no matter the technology, we must always be centered in the Gospel.”

The focus on music that helped make convocation a success in 2012 will continue in 2013, but the focus will switch from jazz to country music. Macky Alston will discuss “Country Music as Affirmation of the Imperfect Life.”

Alston is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and senior director of Auburn Media, a program at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City that helps faith leaders committed to justice speak out through the media. He most recently directed “Love Free or Die,” a documentary about Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal priest elected as a bishop. Robinson will retire in January as head of the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire.

Alston and his father, Wallace M. Alston Jr., former director of the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, N.J., will conduct what is billed as “Two Generations in Dialogue” at convocation.

The elder Alston’s most recent book, “The Power to Comprehend with All the Saints: The Formation and Practice of a Pastor-Theologian,” outlines ways in which the church can effectively bring theologically substantive ministries into being while maintaining the integrity and uniqueness of the pastoral vocation.

Belden C. Lane, professor of Theological Studies at St. Louis University, is Presbyterian minister and author, who taught at the Jesuit school in St. Louis for more than 30 years. He is known for his books that explore geography and spirituality. He will speak on the role of the environment in Calvinist New England and the Reformed tradition.

The Rev. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, director of African-American Studies Program at Colby College in Waterville and assistant pastor for special projects at Union Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass., will preach twice at convocation.

Gilkes preached at the 1999 convocation held at Hammond Street Congregational Church. Her presentations this year are titled, “The Music Still Matters: Movement and Voice for Justice” and “The Music Still Matters: The Gift of the Prophetic-Apocalyptic.”

Convocation 2013 will end with a worship service similar to the one that concluded the 2012 event that blended the visual arts and music and had participants dancing in the aisles of the Gracie Theatre at Husson.

Nearly three years ago, Gilkes summed up the goals of convocation.

“Convocation pulls different segments of the church together,” she said. “It is a place to share and negotiate across denominational lines. You learn from the lectures, your preaching is renewed and here the seminary’s efforts to minister to the clergy who attend is very overt and intentional. Someone must minister to the ministers.”

For more information, visit www.bts.edu/convocation/index.html.

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