Faith and Loving My Neighbor
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Wednesday, Sept. 25
10 a.m. Chapel — Hughes Auditorium – Dr. Sherry Brown ‘82 Dean
11 a.m. Talk back with Dr. Dean — Gray Room
7 p.m. “That awkward moment when…” — Student Center
Engaging with our neighbor where we live.
Facilitators: Dr. Chuck Gobin & Dr. Carey Ruiz
Thursday, Sept. 26
7 p.m. “How then should we live?” — Student Center
Friday, Sept. 27
10 a.m. Chapel — Hughes Auditorium – Father Norman Fischer
11 a.m. Talk back with Father Fischer — Gray Room
Dr. Sherry Brown ’82 Dean
Dr. Sherry Dean is lead speech faculty at Richland College in the Dallas County Community College District. She recently completed a five-year appointment as the Executive Dean of the School of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts at Richland where she was responsible for 160 faculty in 10 disciplines.
Dean graduated from Asbury with a B.A. in French in 1982. She earned two Master’s degrees from the University of Texas system and a Ph.D. Higher Education Administration Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation focused on globalization and global education innovation. Dean has done extensive professional development in France, Mexico, the Middle East and China.
Dean’s Asbury experiences deeply informed her life’s work in higher education. She has developed important relationships with Muslim students and professors, sponsored home Bible studies and created study abroad programs to promote intercultural understanding. She has received numerous awards for teaching excellence and innovation.
Father Norman Fischer
Father Norman Fischer currently serves as the Pastor of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church and the Chaplain of Lexington Catholic High School. He is the first priest to be of both African-American & Filipino decent for the entire Diocese of Lexington, Ky. Despite his formal appearance, Fr. Fischer grew up on a small tobacco and cattle farm in Perryville, Ky. with his parents, older brother and sister.
Fr. Norman attended Boyle County High School and was very active with band, track and field and a host of other clubs. He then pursued his dreams to be a healer at Centre College by attaining his Bachelor’s of Science with a double-major in Psychology & Art. Led by faith and the desire to genuinely help others he then responded to God’s Call and become a priest in the Diocese of Lexington after receiving his Master of Divinity from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill. He recently celebrated his 13th anniversary of his priesthood on May 27.
Faith & Culture Series Asks, “Who Is My Neighbor?”
September 17, 2013
The concept of the Good Samaritan is fondly regarded in both the church and culture — after all, who wouldn’t want to be helped, if they were in need, and who wouldn’t like to think they would be willing to stop and lend a hand to a neighbor in crisis?
Less known, perhaps, is the question that sparked the parable: “Who is my neighbor?”
This fall, Asbury University is asking the question anew as part of its annual “Faith and Culture” discussion series on Sept. 25-27. Following the model of Jesus, who ministered gracefully to people of different faiths and ethnicities without compromising his mission, Asbury University students, faculty and staff will reflect together on the Christian call to engage the world for the Kingdom of God.
“This week is an opportunity to intentionally engage with the reality of a multi-faith and multi-ethnic world,” said Esther Jadhav, director of intercultural programs at Asbury. “The Chapel services and discussions will help us dig deeper into learning how our faith informs our beliefs about ourselves and other people.”
Wednesday’s speaker, Dr. Sherry Brown ’82 Dean teaches at Richland College in Texas and completed her dissertation at the University of Texas on globalization and global education innovation. In addition to teaching, she has served as a consultant in cross-cultural communication, organizational vitality and leadership.
Father Norman Fischer, Pastor of St. Peter Claver Church in Lexington, Ky., will speak on Friday. Fischer is the first priest of both African-American and Filipino descent in the Diocese of Lexington. He holds a bachelor of science in psychology and art from Centre College and a master of divinity from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois. He assumed duties as Parish Priest in Lexington in 2006.
Loving God, Loving Self: Faith & Culture 2013
WILMORE, Ky. — This year’s “Faith and Culture” lecture series at Asbury University explored the calling of Christians to engage the world for the sake of God’s kingdom by reaching out to people of other faiths and ethnicities. Events included Chapel on Wednesday and Friday with talk-back sessions in the Gray Room, a discussion with Dr. Chuck Gobin and Dr. Carey Ruiz on the “awkward moments” of intercultural engagement, and a panel discussion in the Student Center.
Dr. Sherry Brown ’82 Dean led Monday’s Chapel, sharing her own testimony, her experiences of the faithfulness of God and lessons she has learned about engaging people of other faiths in culturally appropriate ways.
“It’s very important for us to know the difference between our religious traditions and the heritage we have in Christ,” she said. “It’s God’s word that forms a new culture in the life of the believer.”
Dean shared some of the lessons she has learned in reaching out to the Muslim community in Dallas, stressing the importance of authenticity, listening and respect. She told students that in order to build relationships with others, they must have a relationship with God.
“God says you are to love him with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with your whole mind, with everything in you, and you are commanded to love your neighbor as yourself,” she said. “But you can’t do that unless you have experienced Christ’s deep, abiding, redeeming love.”
Wednesday night’s discussion with Gobin and Ruiz explored some of the “awkward moments” that arise in cross-cultural interactions. Both Gobin and Ruiz shared some of their experiences which had led to increased cultural understanding, and they presented students with ways to begin thinking through similar issues for themselves.
Junior Taylor West says that the discussion, and especially the interaction, helped her better understand cross-cultural engagement.
“It helped being in groups, just getting to hear different perspectives and piece it all together,” she said. “You actually got to think through it, instead of just hearing someone give you information.”
On Thursday night, a panel discussion was held in the Student Center, featuring the following speakers:
- Morgan Irish, a student filmmaker who produced and directed a documentary called “Racism in the Church”
- Rebecca Mathews, Resident Director of Kresge Dormitory
- Father Norman Fischer, parish priest at St. Peter Claver Church in Lexington, Ky.
- Dr. Chuck Gutenson, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary
- Medine Keener, staff member at Asbury Theological Seminary
- Justin Barringer, outreach pastor at Embrace Church
Topics ranged from identifying the not-so-obvious signs of racism to ministering to other faiths in a pluralistic society.
“We need to focus less on our similarities and focus on our differences and work through them,” Barringer said. “Even Catholic/Protestant — you’re working in your framework, and I’m working in my framework, but how do we work together and give witness to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead? I would hate to be ‘color blind’ and not see the beauty of our differences, but I would also hate to live in a world where we can’t approach those differences in a productive way, especially for those of us who claim the name of Christ.”
In Friday’s Chapel, Fischer spoke about the importance of listening in bridging the gaps between cultural and religious points of view.
“Once we start to hear each other, then we can have a relationship,” he said. “And once we begin to hear each other and have a relationship, then we can start to have these shared experiences, and then when we realize that these experiences are shared, similarly or sort of differently, then we can start to move things together — even shared obstacles.”
Fischer reminded students that the Christian’s calling to be “salt and light” requires a deliberate inclusiveness.
“Jesus calls us to come out of ourselves and repent of ways in which we may have shut the door on someone deliberately or unknowingly, or closed ourselves off from being the agent of God, the ambassador of God’s reconciliation,” Fischer said.
Part of following Jesus, Fischer says, is moving out of our comfortable removal from difficult situations and loving those who are hard to love.
“When we ask ‘who is our neighbor,’ we should also ask, ‘who isn’t our neighbor,’” Fischer said. “Who is the first person who comes to your mind that you can’t embrace because you’re afraid, or because you haven’t forgiven them, or because you’ve judged them?”
Junior Elijah Friedeman appreciated the emphasis on religious diversity in this year’s “Faith and Culture” series.
“I enjoyed having a Catholic priest come and speak, because it emphasized the point that not only is ethnic diversity important, but also religious diversity” he said. “Although Catholics are Christians too, it was neat to have that experience hearing from a theological tradition that’s far different from what most of have experienced.”
–By Joel Sams ’15