Presler 2019 


Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 11:30 AM EDT
Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 5:00 PM EDT

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Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary 
1044 Alta Vista Road
Louisville, KY 40205

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Chris Wooton 
Louisville Seminary 

The Henry H. and Marion A Presler Lectureship

The Henry H. and Marion A. Presler Lectureship was established to honor the couple’s missionary service and to inspire the Louisville Seminary community and its wider Continuing Education community about issues of global mission and the role of American denominations in their historical and present witness to mission. The topics of the lectures vary, but the overall theme is Jesus Christ’s commission to the church in Matthew 28:19-20, to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you."

Dr. Henry Presler studied for two years at Louisville Seminary and then transferred to Boston University School of Theology. In his later years, he remembered his formative time at Louisville Seminary and left a bequest for this lectureship.

Lecturers have included Dr. Dana L. Robert, leading historian of Christian mission at Boston University School of Theology; Carlos Cardoi-Orlandi, associate professor of world Christianity, Columbia Theological Seminary; Alice Winter, missionary and professor at the Reformed University of Colombia, South America; Frances S. Adeney, William A. Benfield Jr. Professor of Evangelism & Global Mission at Louisville Seminary; and Canon Titus Presler, an Episcopal missiologist, writer, and consultant.

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary presents the Rev. Najla Kassab, president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, as the 2019 Presler lecturer. On September 18 and 19, Kassab will offer presentations and discussions about the ordination of women and Christian witness in the Middle East.

The event is free and open to the public.

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, September 18
11:30 a.m.
Caldwell Chapel

Wednesday, September 18
12:30 p.m.
Lunch and Learn with Najla Kassab
Women Invited to the Table:
Ordination of Women, an act of justice, love, and hospitality
Winn Center

Thursday, September 19
4 p.m.
Presler Lecture with Najla Kassab
Christian Witness in the Middle East Today
Winn Center

Rev. Najla Kassab

President, World Communion of Reformed Churches

Kassab Najla Kassab has a bachelor of Arts degree in Christian education from the Near East School of Theology and a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. Her career has revolved around Christian education at the synod level and, through conferences and workshops, she has encouraged women in ministry for 24 years.

The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon offered Kassab a preaching license in 1993 and, in March 2017, awarded her full pastoral ordination. Kassab has served as a member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) Executive Committee since 2007. Having spent much of her career encouraging women to enter the ministry of the church, Kassab felt compelled to accept the nomination for WCRC president when it was suggested to her at the General Council in Leipzig. It’s a fight that she believes has taken far too long.

“We cannot think that a bird can fly with only one wing,” said Kassab.

Just as Martin Luther admonished the 16th century church for failing to live up to biblical teaching, Kassab believes she has been placed in this position at this time to insist the modern church take seriously its responsibilities when it comes to equality and justice.

“Martin Luther is a symbol of speaking up,” said Kassab. “To speak your mind in freedom, that is essential. This is why I said, ‘This could have been Martin Luther’s 96th question to the church. Not why is there a woman in this pulpit, but why did it take so long?’ This is not just a struggle of equality. This is a struggle of justice.”

But Kassab, who is a native of Lebanon, believes the most important qualification for her presidency of the WCRC may be her nationality.

“The WCRC talks a lot about justice,” Kassab said. “I come from the Middle East, and let me tell you, I know what injustice looks like.”

Kassab plans to look for ways to strengthen the work done within the WCRC’s regions. Ultimately, Kassab believes that change will come over time. And, if the WCRC is willing to engage in the work—and engage all of its leaders, both male and female—justice is possible.

“Change is not about documents,” she said. “It requires physical presence. And if we don’t want to be present, well, we should just stop talking about justice.”