Aug. 26, 2010
Rev. Dr. Margot Kässmann, the former head of the Protestant church in Germany, will be in residence at Emory University during the fall semester, serving as Distinguished Theologian-in-Residence at the university's Candler School of Theology, and as a Distinguished Fellow of the Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning.
A theologian, pastor and prolific author, Kässmann is an influential leader in the international ecumenical arena and an enormously popular speaker in Europe, often drawing crowds in the thousands, says Jan Love, dean of Candler, who invited Kässmann to campus.
The two worked closely together in global ecumenical organizations including the World Council of Churches (WCC) for nearly 25 years, during which time Kässmann became one of the most renowned and respected leaders in her church and across the world, according to Love.
"When I became dean at Candler, I issued her a standing invitation to join us for a semester whenever she could, and I'm delighted that she has accepted," says Love. "Candler faculty and students will be able to interact personally with an extraordinarily creative and charismatic Christian leader. Plus, with our new strategic emphasis on internationalizing the curriculum, the fit of having her on campus for a semester could not be better."
Since her election in 1983 as one of the youngest members of the board of directors of the WCC, Kässmann has broken age and gender barriers within the leadership of the Protestant church, first in 1999 with her election as the first female bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover—the largest Lutheran church in the world—and again in 2009, when she was elected chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the governing body of that country's 24 million Protestants.
Kässmann's February 2010 voluntary resignation from her roles as bishop and chair of the EKD after a drunk-driving conviction has not diminished her popularity, but seemingly enhanced it: She received several standing ovations at her first major appearance after her resignation, a Bible study for 5,000 people at the Ecumenical "Kirchentag" in Munich this May.
"I think the public see her as a leader who models honesty and integrity in the face of difficulty—a model of authentic leadership at a time when too few leaders own up to the consequences of their inappropriate actions," says Love.
Known for her administrative acumen, prophetic witness and pastoral ability to address complex dilemmas of everyday life, Kässmann is the author of more than 40 books on spirituality, the quest for Christian unity, Christian social engagement and Bible study.
During her semester at Candler, Kässmann will deliver lectures, participate in panel discussions and preach, addressing such topics as women's leadership in the church, post-modern and secular challenges to the church's mission, and Protestant spirituality.
Kässmann is the featured speaker at the following events, which are free and open to the public:
Lecture in the Luminaries Series, "The Challenges and Opportunities of Women's Leadership in the Church Worldwide," Sept. 21, 4:30-6:00 p.m., Cannon Chapel, Emory Campus. A reception will follow. Lecture co-sponsored by Emory's Office of the Provost, Luminaries Series, Candler School of Theology and The Halle Institute.
Preaching and presiding, Reformation Day Chapel Service, Oct. 19, 11:15 a.m., Cannon Chapel, 510 Kilgo Circle, Emory Campus.
Preaching at Emory University Worship Service on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 31, 11:00 a.m., Cannon Chapel, 510 Kilgo Circle, Emory Campus.
Lecture, "Bible, Prayer and Confession: Anticipating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation," Nov. 16, 4:30-6:00 p.m., Cannon Chapel, 510 Kilgo Circle, Emory Campus. A reception will follow. Lecture co-sponsored by Candler School of Theology and The Halle Institute.