Lament and hope have long been part of the Christian tradition—and in times like these, hope in the midst of mournful lamentations is essential.
That’s why leaders in Trevecca’s Millard R. Reed School of Theology and Christian Ministry are offering a series of online seminars exploring the power of lament and hope as a way of gospel engagement in times of crisis. The online series begins on Oct. 26.
Tim Gaines, associate professor of religion at Trevecca, said the practice of lament goes all the way back to Israel.
“The form of expression of crying out to God in the midst of disorientation and suffering is a practice that has been in the tradition for a long time. Rather than ignore those realities, [the Israelites] cried out to God, asking, ‘Where are you in this?’ As we look at the world we’re living in—a global pandemic where people are dying at the hands of disease, coming face to face again with the racial injustice in our world—those are the realities we’re facing,” said Dr. Tim Gaines, director for the master’s program in theology and biblical studies. “In our lamentation, we connect to a rich history of what the church has done in the midst of crises.”
Participants can choose to participate in individual seminars or register for all six sessions, offered one night a week from Oct. 26 to Dec. 7. While anyone can register for the seminars, the series also comprises some of the coursework of two new master’s degrees from Trevecca’s Millard R. Reed School of Theology and Christian Ministry: the Master of Arts in theology and biblical studies and the Master of Arts in church and community, announced April 24.
The seminar series offers a biblical response to current events, organizers say.
“We wanted to offer a course in these brand new master’s programs that we’re launching that spoke directly to what we’re living through as a people right now,” Gaines said. “We’re also opening it up to other people who want to sit in on it and take it like a conference. Trevecca’s programs emphasize real-world relevance, and that’s a big part of these programs, too. These seminars are about tapping into our tradition to help us navigate this time faithfully.”
Dr. Kathy Mowry, program director for the master’s program in church and community, agrees.
“Tornadoes and other natural disasters, racial unrest, division in our country, a global pandemic, economic upheaval for many of our people and communities—all of these have thrust our pastors into a new age of pastoring in deep and multi-leveled pain,” Mowry said. “Fortunately, the people of God have always had a resource for this kind of time. The biblical practice of lament gives us a way to process pain with our people and our communities, to give the people a chance to grieve and to lay open their raw wounds before God. The beautiful thing about biblical lament is that it always includes hope. So in opening this event to pastors, we are eager to either introduce them to this practice or to refresh what they already know.”
Each seminar session will focus on a different topic, ranging from a biblical/historical perspective of lament and hope to congregational practices, preaching lament and more. Scheduled presenters include:
- Dr. Tim Green, professor of Old Testament literature theology, Trevecca;
- Dr. Diane Leclerc, professor of historical theology, Northwest Nazarene University;
- Dr. Deirdre Brower Latz, principal, Nazarene Theological College;
- Dr. John Neilson, chair of the Division of Religion, Eastern Nazarene College;
- Dr. Catherine Meeks, executive director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing; and
- Dr. Brad Brisco, director of bivocational church planting with the North American Mission Board.
“We will be discussing where lament comes from, how it works biblically and how we can go about developing practices of lament,” Gaines explained. “A motivating question is what we do as God’s people when God’s children of color are experiencing the kind of hurt and anguish we see today, how we cry out as COVID-19 continues to afflict every aspect of our lives, or other seasons of pain that churches experience. We’re hoping that this is a catalyst for church leaders and pastors and other interested people to connect with each other, generate ideas and actually engage in some of these practices.”
These online sessions will be offered at 7 p.m. on Monday evenings beginning Oct. 26 and concluding Dec. 7, with no class offered on Nov. 23. Participants may register for individual seminars at the cost of $15 per session or receive a reduced rate of $79 for all six seminars. The seminars can also be applied toward continuing education credit for Nazarene pastors.
For more information or to register, visit trevecca.edu/lament.