In our search for a Theologian-in-Residence who would not only honor the legacy of David and Ruth Watermulder that is woven into the fabric of our congregation, but also help us celebrate the vital and yet often quiet work of the Middleton Counseling Center, I am not sure we could have found a more thoughtful scholar than the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones.
Dr. Jones holds a master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School as well as a Ph.D. in theology from Yale University. She is an ordained minister in both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. She taught at Yale University for 17 years before her appointment as the 16th president of the historic Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. The first woman to head the 179-year-old interdenominational seminary, she occupies the Johnston Family Chair for Religion and Democracy and has formed Union’s Institute for Women, Religion and Globalization as well as the Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice.
This past summer, in preparation for her time with us, I read her most recent book, a kind of theological memoir, Call it Grace: Finding Meaning in a Fractured World. I was moved by her willingness to tell the story of her life, and the story of her complicated family in such thoughtful and critical ways. But I was even more moved by the clear and compelling ways that she is able to weave complex and often perplexing theological concepts in and out of her own experiences.
Serene is honest about her mistakes and the “sins” of her family. She also is honest about the ways those different stumbling blocks along the way have impacted her understanding and experiences of God, the church and herself. Serene shares doubts that I know we can all relate to, and then is able to show us how we navigate them and the struggles of this life to dwell within the gracious mercy of God.
I hope you make time to learn from Serene at the end of this month - on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 25 or in worship and for her closing lecture on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Saturday, January 25
9:30 a.m. Light refreshments
10:00 a.m. Lecture “Theology is a Place” and Conversation in Congregational Hall
Sunday, January 26
10:00 a.m. Worship in the Sanctuary with Dr. Jones preaching
11:15 a.m. Lecture “Theology is a Story” and Conversation in Congregational Hall