Liturgical Studies Student Michael Sniffen Leads Sandy Relief Efforts

Liturgical Studies student Michael Sniffen has been making the news in recent months for his involvement in the Occupy Sandy relief efforts, while at the same time writing his dissertation and serving as pastor of St. Luke and St. Matthew on Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn.  Heavily influenced by process and liberation theology, Michael understands the gospel of Jesus Christ to be a prophetic word of freedom, reconciliation, and radical welcome in a world fraught with division and oppression.  He perceives his vocation as witnessing to the presence of Christ in the midst of life’s challenges and difficulties. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, St. Luke and St. Matthew opened its buildings, including the church itself, to relief efforts, most notably Occupy Sandy, which harnessed the organization and volunteer power of Occupy Wall Street. Having served as a hub for volunteer training, meal preparation, and supply distribution throughout the winter, the church has developed an ongoing partnership with Occupy Sandy. Moving into the future, St. Luke and St. Matthew will continue to support and provide resources for the movement. Recently I had the opportunity to interview Michael Sniffen about his exciting work.  Because his words resound with authenticity and a powerful […]

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Drew Theological School Hosts Another Exciting TTC: “Common Good(s): Econ …

The 12th Annual Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium, which took place February 7-10, 2013, proposed an exploration of a variety of threats to our common life. How might theology advance the “common good” of the human community and the planet in the face of widespread economic failures, climate change, and ecological degradation, amidst increasingly divided and shrill conversations in the public sphere? TTC thus sought to investigate what role political theology—before and after its secularization—plays in both the formulation of a vision of the common good and a plan for fair distribution of “goods” among us. How does the much discussed “return of religion” or “postsecularity” reconfigure political theory and practice? What ideas are emerging out of recently evolving transgressive and transformational local practices? And how might a transdisciplinary theological discourse support the fragile potential of a new ecopolitical planetarity—of “a world of becoming”? “Living the Common Good(s)” encompassed the public events offered Thursday and Friday, providing opportunities for members from the wider community to join those at Drew and hear from a range of religious leaders, scholars, activists, and students. We began at midday on Thursday with a gathering of students and faculty to meet with Joerg Rieger, Professor of Constructive […]

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GDR Students Receive Fellowships

Beatrice Marovich is among seven scholars to receive a Human-Animal Studies Fellowship  to pursue interdisciplinary research in residence at Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment.  Beatrice will be working on a dissertation entitled “Dream of the Creature: Religion, Ethics, and Interspecies Kinship.”     Matthew T. Riley, a student of Dr. Laurel Kearns in the sociology of religion, received the 2013 James and Sylvia Thayer Short-Term Research Fellowship to do archival research in the UCLA Library Special Collections. Matt will use this fellowship to conduct archival research at UCLA and at Mills College in Los Angeles. This research focuses on the the life and scholarship of Lynn White, Jr., as it relates to the thought of Max Weber, ecotheology, and to scholarship in the field of religion and ecology.

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Rev. Prof. Neal D. Presa

Neal D. Presa is the Moderator of the 220th General Assembly, the highest elected office of the 1.9-million member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), having been elected by the national governing council of the Church on June 30, 2012 in Pittsburgh, PA, to serve from 2012-2014. Neal is a Filipino American, serving as pastor of Middlesex Presbyterian Church (middlesexpresbychurch.org) and Affiliate Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at New Brunswick Theological Seminary (nbts.edu). Neal is a committed ecumenist, having lent leadership through the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and its predecessor, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), having served on both executive committees, and serving as convenor of the Caribbean and North American Area Council. Neal has served as a trustee of Princeton Theological Seminary, chair of the General Assembly Special Committee on the Heidelberg Catechism, and as vice chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (formerly the General Assembly Council); regionally as vice moderator and moderator of the Presbytery of Elizabeth. He is the author of Here I Am, Lord, Send Me: Ritual and Narrative for a Theology of Presbyteral Ordination in the Reformed Tradition (Resource Publications/Wipf and Stock, 2012). He has edited two books: That They May All Be […]

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Liturgical Studies Grad Neal Presa Leads Presbyterians

Completing a doctorate in liturgical studies in 2010, Drew graduate Neal Presa has wasted no time finding ample outlets for the passions fueled by such rigorous study.  In July of 2012 he was elected Moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), making him the highest elected office in the 1.9-million member church. The profoundly interdisciplinary character of study at Drew no doubt played a role in his formation as a unifying leader of strength and wisdom.  According to Neal, “My approach to addressing ecclesial and ecclesiological realities at the congregational and national levels is to bring to bear interdisciplinary perspectives to view challenges and potential solutions through various angles and lenses.”   He goes on to say that the PhD program at Drew trained him “to work with multiple sources simultaneously…Analyzing those multiple sources, finding connections between some, or holding those which weren’t readily connected in a tension…have proven to be very helpful skills in ministry and in my current role as General Assembly Moderator.” Neal credits his studies at Drew for shaping him not only into an interdisciplinary thinker at the national level of his faith community, but also into an interdisciplinary academician.  Since graduating, Neal […]

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Liturgical Studies at Drew: Heather Elkins Looks Back—And Forward

Although Drew’s Graduate Division of Religion no longer houses an official Liturgical Studies Area, both the students who are completing their doctoral work for this degree and graduates of the program have been creating quite a stir.   Recently Professor Heather Elkins graciously gave of her time in order to contextualize the creation and closing of this notable doctoral program. Elkins situates the program’s beginnings in the early 1980’s, when Dean Bard Thompson, along with some colleagues from nearby seminaries, called attention to the fact that, despite the centrality of liturgy to church life and theological studies, worship was not a required course in any of their institutions. According to Elkins, “The proposal was to initiate a program and raise awareness of the central role of liturgical studies as a primary language out of which further scholarship comes. The problem might be corrected by preparing PhDs, since a bottom up approach wasn’t working.” The program was founded in a time of dynamic ecumenical conversation. Drew desired to accommodate a breadth of disciplines since the field itself was undergoing transformation due to developments such as Vatican II and increased interest in Ritual Studies. As Elkins stated, “diversity could not be sustained when […]

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Greetings from the Chair

Dear GDR Graduates, Students, Faculty, and Friends, Drew has just weathered a devastating storm—one that felled two dozen trees and shut down the campus entirely for a week—and I know that many of us continue to feel the effects of hurricane Sandy. I hope that this greeting finds you and your loved ones safe; our thoughts go out to those who have suffered loss and may still lack electricity or access to clean water, for example.  In the meantime, life begins to resume its normal rhythms, which for us includes the annual meeting of the AAR/SBL, this year in Chicago.  I hope to see many of you at the Drew reception Sunday evening, November 18, 2012, when we will be celebrating Otto Maduro’s presidency of the AAR.For more on the meeting—as well as a handy schedule of Drew faculty and student presentations—click here! This issue features articles on three alums—Morrey Davis, Mary Nangweso Wangila, and Charles McCollough.  If you are an alumna or alumnus and would be interested in contributing an article or being interviewed for a feature, or if you know of another alum whom you think we should feature, please do let me know.  I am always moved and inspired […]

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