Thursday, February 06, 2014

“Theologian in residence” is a provocative term that raises many questions—questions about the relation of pastoral work to theology, about the expectations and responsibilities of clergy, about class and privilege and about how theology grows out of a place. Designating a person in a particular place whose primary role is to think about theology may seem like a luxury. But for the church, making room for such work may be a necessity.

At Eastminster Presbyterian in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Brian Madison has served as theologian in residence for five years. He preaches once a month, presides at communion twice a month and leads several classes for adults drawing on his work as a professor at Western Theological Seminary. Ann Conklin, the church’s senior minister, deeply appreciates his role.

“It has been nice for me as a solo pastor to have a sounding board, a colleague, someone to talk to about theological questions,” she said.

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