New Kessler Conversations to Explore Women of the Reformation

January 24, 2022

With a new semester underway, Candler’s Pitts Theology Library continues its Kessler Conversations program, which offers online interviews with leading church historians and theologians addressing the relevance of the Protestant Reformation for contemporary communities.

Named after the library’s world-renowned Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection, the conversations focus each semester on a single contemporary theme and trace it back to the Reformers. For spring 2022, three distinguished speakers will tackle the theme “Women of the Reformation: Reclaiming the Forgotten Contributions of Women to Church Renewal.”

Each conversation will take place via webinar at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time and run for 30 to 45 minutes. The conversations are free and open to the public with advance registration required. An archive will be available here.

haemig-story.pngFebruary 2: “Elisabeth Cruciger: Wife, Hymnwriter, Theologian”
Speaker: Mary Jane Haemig, professor emerita of church history at Luther Seminary

Learn more and register.

Elisabeth Cruciger, former nun and wife of a Wittenberg professor, was the first female hymnwriter of the Wittenberg Reformation and thereby one of its first female theologians. Examining her hymn and its subsequent history lead us not only to contemplate its theology and the importance of hymnody generally in the Reformation, but also to consider how and why Elisabeth was, in some circles, denied credit for her work.

mckee-story.pngMarch 2: “Surprise and Diversity: A Woman’s Place in Reform Yesterday and Today”
Speaker: Elsie Anne McKee, Archibald Alexander Professor Emerita of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship at Princeton Theological Seminary

Learn more and register.

One of the delightful surprises of more recent historical studies is how many forgotten voices we can now hear—if we listen carefully. People of color, people with different abilities, people on the socio-economic margins, people on the far side of the world—including women. Add to this the wonderful diversity that is, and has always been there, if we want to see it. This conversation will explore some facets of surprise and diversity in women’s place (active presence, contributions, voices) in reform in 16th century Europe and 21st century Africa-and-U.S.

sterjna-story.pngApril 6: “Women Leaders of the Reformation: Profiles, Contexts, and Texts”
Speaker: Kirsi Stjerna, First Lutheran, Los Angeles, Southwest Synod Professor of Lutheran History and Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (Berkeley) of California Lutheran University

Learn more and register.

In this conversation, Dr. Stjerna will offer conclusions on women’s manifold participation as “confessors” in the 16th century European reforms. She will pay special attention to women’s engagement with Protestant theologies and interpretation of the Scriptures, making observations on women in different walks of life using their agency and theological voice, while negotiating their specific context and issues vis-a-vis gender and authority.