“From Position Statements to Communities of Discernment” — Dr. Michael King

Seminary Dean, Dr. Michael King, opens the EMS fall semester with his convocation address, ” From Position Statements to Communities of Discernment: EMS as Discernment Training Center.”

Dr King’s comments and reflections to close this chapel offer a helpful summary of his address:

“I know only in part—only as if through a mirror dimly.  That means that anything I’ve shared with you is partly wrong, partly misguided.  I have tried in what I’ve shared…to be fair to various points of view.  But I’m sure you can read in my fallibilities that I am more connected with some ways of thinking Christ than others.  I think it’s important…as we think about clenched fists…not to equate the passionate holding to our beliefs, with the problem.  I don’t see that as a problem. I know that there are passionate views present here among our faculty, our staff, and our students.  And my dream is not that those passions would cease being articulated, and even advocated for.  My dream, rather, is that this could be a kind of demilitarized zone…a place where we don’t get shot, the moment we wade into points of disagreement and tension.  So I do pray that’s a piece of what we can experience [at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in 2012] in a world that so badly needs this Seminary, this University—to be in the thick of it all, but in the thick of it all in a peace-giving way. And I share that as a prelude to the blessing, because I’m so deeply moved by the music we’ve just heard and its tremendous balm of peace, and I’m struck by how quickly we shatter that experience of peace, the moment we go from sitting here singing it, to actually engaging it.  I pray there are ways to keep that peace, in the act of unclenching our fists and opening them up; but also being true to all our own beliefs.  If we can’t find a way to be passionate about what we believe, and also at peace with each other in the midst of that, then I don’t know a way forward. But if we can, then the way we were moved by our worship, and by the Spirit, precisely through our gathering here in the presence of the Spirit we have named on the command of Jesus, then I think we can become Eastern Mennonite Seminary as we’re called to be. So in that dream–Go in peace and all the work required and all the blessings that it can give us in the name of the Lord.  In that hope and in that prayer, I commend us to the new year.  Blessings.”

The entire campus community is invited to every chapel worship service on campus. Eastern Mennonite Seminary hosts chapel gatherings in Martin Chapel every Tuesday and Thursday; EMU Campus Ministries hosts chapel gatherings every Wednesday and Friday in Lehman Auditorium. Specifics and occasional changes are noted in individual chapel listings.