Institute Plenary Presenters


Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 2:30 - 3:30 PM
Harre Union, Ballrooms B & C

Timely or Time-bound? A Challenge in Creating & Incorporating New Songs

Hymnal committees confront many dilemmas in working to compile worship resources intended to serve diverse constituencies for twenty or more years into the future.  If the materials selected for inclusion reflect immediately pressing issues, do  the resultant hymnals risk becoming rapidly outdated?  If they address controversial questions,  are they liable to dismissive charges of "political  correctness"?  If they fail to address such questions, are they guilty of cowardice and irrelevance?  While an individual text writer also faces such dilemmas in
creating new songs, s/he has significantly more flexibility in response - unless particularly concerned about publication.  In this address, we will explore the "timely vs. time-bound" challenge specifically as it concerns songs related to ecological crisis and creation care.

Mary Louise (Mel) Bringle is a Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Brevard College in Brevard, NC. Her Ph.D. in Theological Studies is from Emory University. An award-winning hymn writer whose original texts and translations appear in the hymnals of numerous denominations in North America and Scotland, she has recently served as President of The Hymn Society in the US and Canada and
and as Chair of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song, responsible for creating the new hymnal Glory to God.  She is a ruling elder at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Hendersonville, NC. 


Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 9:30 - 10:30 AM
Harre Union, Ballrooms B & C

Sin, Song and Sacrament in the Anthropocene

If geologists are correct, we are entering, for the first time, a new geological epoch brought about by cumulative human activity (thus the name Anthropocene).  What does an unprecedented age in which everything turns on human choice mean for ethics, liturgy and cosmology?

Larry Rasmussen, was Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, New York City from 1986-2004.  Prior to that he was Professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C, and Assistant Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN.  His books include Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key

(Oxford U. Press, 2013 and Gold and Grand Prize winner of the 2014 Nautilus Book Awards).  Professor Rasmussen has written many other books published by various publishers as SUNY Press, Orbis Books, Augsburg-Fortress and HarperCollins. In addition, he has published widely in journals and magazines.  He and his wife, Nyla, live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 9:30 - 10:30 AM
Harre Union, Ballrooms B & C

All Creatures Look to You for Food in Due Season: Prayers We Have in Common with Other Creatures

Many patterns of prayer are distinctly human. What can we learn from prayers that arise out of the desires and
joys that we share with other creatures?

Rev. Dr. Benjamin M. Stewart is the Gordon A. Braatz Associate Professor of Worship and Dean of Augustana Chapel at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Ben is author of A Watered Garden: Christian Worship and Earth's Ecology (2011).  He is an ordained Lutheran Pastor and a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy where he serves as convener of the Liturgy and Ecology Seminar.