Posts by ABSW

  • A Nation at War with Itself

    July 21, 2016 ~ ABSW

    Dean LeAnn Snow Flesher
    Dean LeAnn Snow Flesher

    Nearly every morning, in recent weeks, we awake to news of more deaths in our nation. We are a nation at war with itself!  For hundreds of years the African American community has lived in fear of unwarranted and/or over excessive police violence.   Now the police live in fear of out of control public demonstrations and snipers. Where will it end?  How will it end?  From July 1 to 10 I was in South Korea attending the annual International Society of Biblical Literature conference. Several papers I heard focused on the recent agreements made between the leaders of South Korea and Japan related to past atrocities committed while Korea was under Japanese rule.  The South Korean population is unhappy because Japan has never apologized for these atrocities. They use Germany as their model; noting the frequent apologies made by Germany for the atrocities committed under Nazi rule.  The South Koreans want an apology from Japan.

    Similarly, the US government and Caucasian population has committed numerous atrocities against her African American citizens over a period of several hundred years.  We are not yet at the point where the African Americans are demanding an apology. Currently, the African American population is demanding an end to the abuse! How can we break through the walls of hatred, violence, oppression, and abuse?  If we do not find a way to tear down the structures that sustain the violence we are currently experiencing, almost daily, we will surely end up with another civil war.

    Hear the words of lamentation taken from Psalm 39:

    I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue;

    I will keep a muzzle on my mouth as long as the enemy is in my presence”

    I was silent and still;

    I held my peace to no avail;

    My distress grew worse,

    My heart became hot within me.

    While I mused the fire burned;

    Then I spoke with my tongue:

    “Lord let me know my end,

    And what is the measure of my days;

    Let me know how fleeting my life is….

    And now, O Lord, what do I wait for?

    My hope is in you….

    Hear my prayer, O LORD,

    And give ear to my cry;

    Do not hold your peace at my tears….

    Left to our own devices we will destroy one other. May the Spirit of goodness and mercy overcome the evil and hatred that has taken up residence in the soul of our nation.

    Do not delay O God!

     

    LeAnn Snow Flesher, PhD
    Academic Dean and Professor of Old Testament
    American Baptist Seminary of the West

     

     

  • 2016 ABSW Graduate Chosen As a Lovelace Scholar

    July 12, 2016 ~ ABSW

    prospective-students

    Inhye Park (pictured to the right above), who received her Masters in Community Leadership degree in May, has been awarded a scholarship to attend the July annual conference of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. Known as the “Lovelace Scholars” (in memory of the prominent US hymn writer, composer, teacher, and organist, Austin Lovelace), a small group of students in bachelors or masters degree program across the continent are chosen each year for this honor. This year’s conference is held at the University of Redlands (Redlands, CA) from July 17 through 21.

    Dr. Nancy Hall (also pictured above), ABSW Associate Professor of Ministry and Congregational Music notes: “One of the most visible and celebrated groups at any Hymn Society annual conference is the Lovelace Scholars. They assist in leading Morning Prayers, form ensembles for the evening hymn festivals, work with the conference leaders on running the event, and enjoy all the plenary sessions, workshops, and other activities of the week. I am delighted that Inhye will have this exceptional experience.” Dr. Hall has also successfully recommended two previous Lovelace Scholars, in 2012 and 2014. She is a longtime member of The Hymn Society and served as Editor of The Hymn – A Journal of Congregational Song, from 2009 to 2011.

    Dr. Hall will give a sectional presentation in Redlands on Monday, July 18: “The Hymns of Rod Romney, American Baptist Pastor.” The conference 2016 theme is “Formed in Faith, Shaped by Song.” Registration is open. Pastors, music directors, and hymn lovers should consider attending this exciting and informative event, which comes to the west coast only every eight to ten years. Dr. Hall would be happy to share further information; e-mail her at nhall@absw.edu.

  • Reflection on violence

    July 11, 2016 ~ ABSW

    It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed.

    In the face of violence that has been assaulting us in recent days and weeks (and years), a sense of hopelessness creeps into our lives like a foreboding fog. We struggle to find our way. Lost and unsure, we want to cry out. In fact, given where we are, that may be a good thing. Our country could benefit from some unbridled wailing.

    Alas, if we are going to overcome this hopelessness we will need a lot more than wailing.

    The twin vipers of fear and frustration, birthed from the womb of ignorance, mature into slithering hatred. When they attack their deadly venom spreads not to one doomed body, but to all of us. The family and friends of the dead must endure the unbearable loss, but our families, our communities and our nation share in that loss. We are all victims of violence. We all lose.

    It’s painful to have to endure yet another shooting. We want to block it out, yet we know we have to guard against the psychic numbing that comes when today’s loss is added to the one before that and the one before that… lest we become inured to it. If we are ever to move against this evil, we have to feel the pain each time anew. We must try to know each of these victims as if they were our own family. We can’t isolate violence from our hearts and minds, because if we do violence wins.

    We who are called to minister to others and help them find meaning in life’s difficult moments find ourselves challenged. One violent death from hate or racism is hard enough, but when the deaths continue at a sickening pace such that the words for one seem inadequate for a whole nation, we are driven back to our biblical and theological resources in search of some new perspective.

    For myself I have looked and, in the end, come full circle, finding a voice for the many in the singular. How many funerals have I led struggling to find good and tender words for one grieving family? And yet, often I discovered the most meaningful moment came when I simply invited the family to recite the 23rd Psalm together. Those six verses provide a gentle reassurance of God’s abiding presence and a rejection of fear in the face of evil that few well-labored sermons or eulogies ever could.

    Today I think the right place for us to be is back there beside the still waters and along the paths of righteousness. It is as relevant a spot for a nation as it is for a family. “What is the path of righteousness – right living – in a violent and hate-filled world?” Politically there are many answers, but ultimately the only real issue is what each of us will do personally to live more rightly. If politics only confirms what the people have already decided, then we can no longer equivocate. Each of us has to decide. For in deciding we reorient and define ourselves; we set a courageous course out of the dark fog (and the collective PTSD) in which we find ourselves. We have to decide that we have had enough of hate, enough of racism, enough of gun violence and that we are willing to do more than wail about it.
    Nick Carter
    ABSW, President for the Interim

  • The Dean’s Summer Travels

    June 16, 2016 ~ ABSW

    The ABSW classroom is a laboratory (both physical & cyber) where a diverse group of learners comes together to critically address the increasingly more complex socio-cultural concerns of our day through biblical, ethical, and theological reflection toward the goal of creating a theo-praxis relevant to our time and location. Dr. LeAnn Snow Flesher Academic Dean and Professor of Old Testament GTU Core Doctoral Faculty
    Dr. LeAnn Snow Flesher

    On June 26, 2016 Dean Flesher will attend the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) CAOS (pronounced ‘chaos’) meeting in St. Louis, MO.  The acronym CAOS stands for Chief Academic Officer(s) and is a perfect description of the daily life of a Dean at an ATS accredited school.  Dean Flesher will stay on in St. Louis, MO to participate in the ATS Biennial meeting June 27-29.

    On June 30, 2016 Dean Flesher will travel with Dr. Andrea Sheaffer, Director of Admissions at the GTU, to Seoul Korea to attend the International Society of Biblical Literature (ISBL) meetings for which ABSW and GTU are sponsoring organizations.  While in Korea Flesher and Sheaffer will promote the academic programs of ABSW & GTU, meet with prospective students, host an alumni dinner, and visit collaborating theological schools and faculty.