BRENT WALKER TO GIVE COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS
Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, will give the Commencement address at Leland's graduation on Saturday, June 1, 2013. Walker is both a member of the Supreme Court Bar and an ordained Baptist minister. He earned both bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Florida, a J.D. from Stetson University College of Law, and an M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Walker has been published widely and routinely provides commentary onchurch-state issues in the national media. He has been quoted by numerous national publications and has appeared on CNN's Talk Back Live, the Today Show, MSNBC, Fox Morning News, the O'Reilly Factor, NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Walker is also a panelist for the Washington Post and Newsweek's online project "On Faith," a conversation on religion and its implications. Walker's latest book, "Church-State Matters," is available from Mercer University Press or from popular online book retailers. He and his wife, Nancy, who is the pastor for congregational care at Columbia Baptist Church, have two children and two grandchildren.
Leland's graduation ceremony will take place at the Church at Clarendon in Arlington, Virginia beginning at 11:00 a.m. with a reception following the service. The adult choir from Columbia Baptist Church, led by Minister of Music Jim Watson and accompanied by Elaine Payne, will provide the music, as will Dino Carro, who will lead the congregational singing.
JOURNEY TO JUSTICE
April 27, 2013 marked the inaugural launch of Leland's spiritual formation "classroom to congregation" seminar, Journey to Justice. With close to 70 in attendance, the event was held at the Church at Clarendon and Leland campus. Dr. Jim Melson, director of spiritual formation, led sessions highlighting Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. and others from the civil rights movement in an informative program that used multimedia, dramatic readings and scripture. Valeria Foster, Leland student, led the worship experience that included a history of freedom songs, a liturgical dance by Mount Olive Baptist Church, and the Shades of Black gospel singers. Prayer, small group sessions, and fellowship with a catered lunch highlighted the day that began at 9:30 a.m. and ended at 4:30 p.m. Many Baptist churches in the Leland family were represented as well as trustees, pastors, deacons, students, and staff including President Mark Olson. Representatives from Leland's partner agency, City Gate, were also present to share their mission and message to those attending the seminar.
MISSIO ALLIANCE CONFERENCE
Students, faculty, and staff from the John Leland Center for Theological Studies recently participated in the first annual Missio Alliance Conference. The conference, which was held at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Old Town Alexandria, explored new contexts for missional encounters in the 21st century. The event featured world-renowned speakers who ministered through six plenary sessions and forty-seven workshops. Among the featured speakers was Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, a member of Leland's ministerial advisory board and senior pastor of Alfred Street Baptist, who led one of the plenary sessions.
The event was attended by more than 700 individuals who walked away with new approaches to their Christian witness. Captivating topics were explored in a manner that challenged attendees to discover creative approaches to evangelism. Leland joined other seminaries from around the world, as a sponsor of the event. Leland students were also offered course credit for attending.
WASHINGTON THEOLOGICAL CONSORTIUM SERMON SLAM
On April 6, Leland M.Div. student, Keith Perkins, participated in the first annual sermon slam event sponsored by the Washington Theological Consortium student board which was held at the Virginia Theological
Seminary (VTS). Modeled after poetry slams and held at Café 1823 on the historic VTS campus, the Sermon Slam allowed each seminary in the consortium to send a top student preacher. Nine participating seminary students prepared five minute sermons based on John 20:19-3 and presented a two minute impromptu sermon on a mystery scripture given at random. Three faculty judges from VTS, Catholic University of America, and our own Dr. Andrey Shirin form Leland were asked to evaluate the preachers based on theological, hermeneutical and exegetical delivery to an ecumenical crowd. Students attending the event were asked to bring food for the Manna food center, a local Washington, DC food bank.
The event was well attended with students, monks, faculty, families, and aspiring homilists filling the pub. It was a night of sharing with our brothers and sisters in faith and the Holy Spirit was ever present. The Manna food bank was overwhelmed with food donations. Over one hundred gathered for a special evening of ecumenical fellowship and community. Please plan to attend next year as the student board is excited to make this an annual WTC event to share and learn from one another.
Leland MCL Student
STUDENT PROFILE: VALERIA FOSTER
1) When did you become a Leland student?
I became a Leland student in 2004, then, took a break after five semesters, due to schedule conflicts with some unique opportunities. Learning continued during that time (e.g., New Testament Greek class taught by Dr. Robert Cochran at DCBC), while I also served as Music in Worship chair, MD/DC chapter, American Choral Directors Association for two terms. In 2008, I was commissioned to write an arrangement of "We Are One in the Spirit," sung by the 250-voice Papal Mass Choir and opera singer Denyce Graves at the Mass held in Nationals Park (April 17) and attended the Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. In 2009, I served as guest director for the Washington Performing Arts Society's Men and Women of the Gospel concert at the Kennedy Center. I returned to Leland in the fall term 2009.
2) What in your experience as a student has been most beneficial to your current ministry responsibilities?
I have received new insights on leadership through the lens oftheological study-Biblical Models of Leadership, Leading from the Second Chair, 1 Corinthians, Who Is Jesus?, Global Perspectives on Ministry and Mission, to name a few. I have been impressed by the faculty's breadth of knowledge and excitement about their subject matter in addition to their genuine concern for each student's growth and well-being. Seldom has there been a time after class that I did not ponder "food for thought" shared in class, whether through lecture, class discussion or the personal experiences in our varied ministry settings. As a result, I have learned different approaches and perspectives that can be useful where I serve.
3) What are those responsibilities?
For the past 11 years, I have served as minister of worship and administration at First Baptist Church of Silver Spring in Maryland, where I coordinate the music, direct the choir, maintain the church's database and help the three congregations (FBCSS, Spanish, Haitian) coordinate their activities for effective building use and collaborative concerts. During that same time period, I have been the gospel choir director at each Sunday's early service at the National City Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Washington, DC.
I am also an associate editor for the "African American Heritage Hymnal." I am a published arranger and composed music in the following hymnals: "African American Heritage Hymnal," a non-denominational hymnal, published in 2001; "Zion Still Sings," a United Methodist hymnal, published in 2007; "Total Praise," a Baptist hymnal, published in 2011; and "Lead Me, Guide Me," a Catholic hymnal, published last year in 2012. I also have recipes published in "Occasions to Savor cookbook," published in 2004.
4) How do you understand your ministry as transformational?
In order to be transformational, my ministry requires that I continue to have a thirst for knowledge while discerning what works best or no longer is effective for a particular congregation to give God their best-or me to give mine. Before change can take place, particularly in church settings, we must first meet people "where they are." While most of us work with the local church we must also be aware of Christianity, mission and evangelization globally. With a clearer understanding of different religions and cultures, we can acknowledge our differences yet embrace and appreciate what we have in common.
TRUSTEES ELECT DR. ANDREY SHIRIN TO LELAND'S FACULTY
By a unanimous vote on June 8, the Board of Trustees elected Dr. Andrey Shirin as the Director of Transformational Leadership and as a full-time member of Leland's faculty. Dr. Shirin will lead the Master of Christian Leadership program, teach several courses each year that are open to all masters students, and help recruit students and adjunct faculty members to the leadership program.
"We are thrilled to have Dr. Andrey Shirin join our team because he combines outstanding scholarship and passionate leadership," said President Mark Olson.
Dr. Shirin earned his Th.M. and Ph.D. in Theology degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and has taught at Moscow Theological Seminary as a Professor and at Leland as an adjunct professor. He has demonstrated leadership both inside and outside the academy. While a soldier in the Russian army in the mid-1980s, he refused to take a loyalty oath to the communist government and was jailed for his refusal. He also led other Christian soldiers to refuse the oath. He has helped plant Russian-speaking churches in Delaware and Virginia. He has also recruited and mentored other church planters. Dr. Shirin taught and directed the masters program at the Moscow Theological Seminary of Evangelical Christians-Baptists.
Dr. Shirin is married to his wife Olga and they live in Falls Church. They attend First Baptist Church of Alexandria.