Students, faculty and staff will represent CTS at the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina in July. The festival’s theme is “Story.”
When potential students apply to Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, they tell us about themselves. High GPAs. Terrific references. Years of devotion to their home churches.
But it’s not until they’ve settled in a bit — when they get through orientation, move into their apartments, go to class — it’s not until then that the true stories come out. Stories of joy, hope, support, epiphanies. Stories of abuse, loss, shame, doubt.
Novelist E. M. Forster used this example to show the difference between facts and a story:
The king died, and the queen died.
The king died, and the queen died of grief.
A list of facts doesn’t do much. Stories, though, turn strangers into friends. Skeptics into believers.
Jesus’s story is full of joy, hope, support, epiphanies, abuse, loss, shame, and doubt. No wonder we connect to it, are transformed by it, seek to follow his “way.”
We can’t wait to swap stories with old friends and new at Wild Goose Festival this year.
As you know, from a Christian point of view, one of the most precious opportunities we have to get in touch and keep in touch with the heart of life is when we gather for worship. That prayer and praise, that Word and sacrament, that song and celebration helps remind us of who we really are, and whose mission we are really on. Like lifeblood in the great circulatory system of creation, we are drawn into that great heart, and then sent out again to serve. At its best, worship restores and renews us. It stretches and encourages us. It orients us as a Christian community.
And so I’m writing with a warm invitation for you to join us for worship this semester, each and every Wednesday at 11:30am in Sweeney Chapel. I know (all too well!) that there are many demands on all of our schedules – and for that very reason, we need to come together in worship, reminding one another about why we do the work we do in the first place, and inspiring one another to live and serve with both excellence and grace.
If you already attend chapel regularly – thank you (and do invite a friend!). And if you come only occasionally, consider committing to come every week. We need you there. Perhaps more than anything else, CTS needs to become a vibrant, connected, inspired community, and worship is one crucial way Christian communities grow and thrive.
Last week was Convocation, and tomorrow is the first regular chapel service of the year. Come, taste, and see. If you are a singer (and I know you are!), come sing with the fabulous CTS Pick-Up Choir: we rehearse at 11am, learn the song right then and there, and then sing it in worship that day. What could be better? If you love Scripture, the passage tomorrow that our preacher (yours truly) will be tackling (or is it the other way around?) is from the Gospel of Mark: Jesus’ famous question, “Who do you say that I am?” And during lunch, we’ll continue the conversation: I’ll host a table in the cafeteria at which we’ll discuss the critical question: “How do we understand Jesus today?” All are welcome!
And finally, if you want to share your gifts and get involved in CTS worship this year, please know you are more than welcome to do so. This fall, Professor Tércio Junker is convening a Community Worship Group of students, staff, and worship practitioners, and they will be keenly interested in your “dreams and visions” for the future CTS worship.
Come one, come all! Pick-up Choir at 11am (try it!); worship at 11:30am; and Christological conversation at 12:30pm in the cafeteria!
Looking forward to seeing you there.
(Indianapolis, IN) – Christian Theological Seminary announced today that Rev. Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton has been named the seminary’s sixth president. The CTS Board of Trustees voted to elect Boulton following a nearly year-long, national search. An ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, Boulton earned a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Chicago (2003) and a M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School (1998).
Boulton is relocating to Indianapolis from Cambridge, Massachusetts where he has served as Associate Professor of Ministry Studies at Harvard Divinity School (HDS) since 2007. He has taught a broad range of courses on Christian theology, preaching, and history, including courses that put social justice work in theological perspective. His teaching and research have explored the ways in which Christian life is shaped through worship and music.
CTS Chairman Mark Mutz commented that Boulton understands that the most important work in theology does not occur in the insulated towers of academia, but where faith meets the joys and sorrows of living. “If you look back at those who have made the most significant contributions to theology – people like St. Augustine, John Calvin and Karl Barth – you will see that they were all pastors who spent a great deal of time with men and women confronting the most difficult and rewarding issues of their lives, issues like children, marriage and death. Their thinking arose where their faith met these realities. Matt gets that. He has not only written respected academic works, he has also made films, founded a church and started a band. He has the intellect, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to lead CTS and theological education in exciting directions,” Mutz said.
An accomplished musician and songwriter, Boulton co-founded the bluegrass gospel band, Butterflyfish. He notes that the arts can provide effective means for conveying theological concepts. “Just as scholarly writing can explain and explore the big ideas of Christian faith, a song or work of art can bring clarity and insight to those very ideas, making them easier to engage and understand,” Boulton stated.
Boulton is no stranger to the Midwest. The son of a religion professor, he grew up in southwest Michigan and earned a degree in film and history from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, before an interest in anthropology, ritual studies and theology prompted him to enroll in Harvard Divinity School.
Prior to his teaching at HDS, Boulton served as Assistant Professor of Worship and Preaching at Andover Newton Theological School. He is the author of God Against Religion: Rethinking Christian Theology through Worship and the forthcoming Life in God: John Calvin, Practical Formation, and the Future of Protestant Theology, due out this fall. His essays have been published in a broad range of scholarly journals, and he is a sought-after speaker, preacher, and workshop leader.
Boulton said he was intrigued by CTS’s legacy of exploring faith in ways that engage both intellectual rigor and passionate inspiration. “We strengthen and deepen our faith by asking critical, adventurous questions while at the same time leaning into what most inspires us. I look forward to working with CTS’s accomplished faculty and staff to continue asking these questions in fresh, exciting, faithful ways,” he said.