Westminster Seminars

Event details

  • Sunday | May 26, 2024
  • 09:45 AM -
  • Galbreath Chapel and via Zoom
  • 412-835-6630

The Westminster Seminars offer a dynamic schedule of topics to help us live more fully as thoughtful Christians in today’s world. Everyone is always welcome. Come when you can – no preparation or homework.

The Zoom option makes it easy to catch a seminar if you aren’t at church. For most seminars, you can watch or listen later on the Westminster website under News & Media: https://www.westminster-church.org/news-&-media/westminster-seminars.

Join Zoom Meeting
The Zoom meeting opens at 9:30.
Meeting ID: 867 5311 4914
Passcode: 209681

Democratic Faith: The Witness of the Civil Rights Movement

Sundays, May 5, 12, 19, 26
Derek Woodard-Lehman, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Julian Bond, an early SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) activist and later president of the NAACP, once joked that the average American understands the story of the Civil Rights Movement like this: “Rosa sat down. Martin stood up. The white kids came down and saved the day.”

This textbook narrative reduces decades of legal, political, and ecclesial activity to a pair of heroes and a handful of events. It erases the larger and longer story of the movement. A story that reaches back to the anti-lynching campaigns of Ida B. Wells (1890s) and the Double-V Campaign of Pittsburgh’s own James G. Thompson (1940s). It ranges beyond Martin Luther King to lesser known, yet arguably more important, leaders like Ella Baker and Septima Clark, James Lawson and Diane Nash, Bayard Rustin and Bob Moses.

It embraces thousands of ordinary citizens and Christians who did the hard work of grassroots organizing that made possible King’s mass mobilizing. This four-week series revisits the history of the longer Civil Rights Movement, reflects on its larger witness, and reveals a mode of Christian faith that is inherently political and intrinsically democratic.

May 5 – History Beyond Hagiography: Remembering the Movement
May 12 – Background & Beginnings: Montgomery, Little Rock, Nashville
May 19 – Confrontation & Culmination: Birmingham, Washington, Mississippi
May 26 – Living Legacy: Keeping Faith in Politics

Derek Woodard-Lehman is Lecturer in Theology and Ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. His research and teaching ask how the theological question “How shall we live as Christians?” informs and transforms the political question “How shall we live with other citizens?” in increasingly pluralistic and polarized communities. He is especially interested in how Christian commitments mobilize political resistance to injustice in cases like the American Civil Rights Movement (1950s-1970s), the German Church Struggle (1930s), and the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement (1970s-1990s).

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness by Simon Wiesenthal

Sunday, June 2 (8:45 a.m. this week only; coffee available in the Welcome Center at 8:30)
Sundays, June 9, 16

A book study with Dr. Suzanne Free
Download handouts.

You are a prisoner in a concentration camp. A dying Nazi SS officer asks for your forgiveness so he can “die in peace.” What would you do? This was the experience of Simon Wiesenthal, who, after surviving the war, wrote about that two-hour conversation. He threw out an anguished question to the world: What would you have done in my place? Given the rise in antisemitism in the U.S., please join Dr. Suzanne Free for a study of Wiesenthal’s book that contains 53 responses to his question from philosophers, psychiatrists, theologians, rabbis, historians, politicians, and priests – from the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu to Albert Speer and Martin Marty.

When Suzanne toured concentration camps and ghettoes in Poland in 2011 with Classrooms Without Borders, her guide told her group of fellow travelers, “Be careful where you sit. This history is red hot.” So is this book! Buy a copy on Amazon or just come and listen. You do not have to read the book to attend, but you will probably want to later. All are welcome!

Dr. Suzanne Free has taught high school and college English for 47 years. In 1989, she published a novel about life as a pastor’s wife in the late 20th century (St. Martin’s Press), and has published poetry in The Christian Century, Christianity and Literature, and Poetica: Contemporary Jewish Writing.

After retirement from The Ellis School in Shadyside in 2012, she worked as a writer for Classrooms Without Borders, a Pittsburgh-based organization dedicated to Holocaust education for high school and college students, faculty, and clergy of all denominations. She is married to the Reverend John Free, has three children and eight grandchildren.