Nov. 2013 Speakers
Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana
President, Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE)
Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana is a Baptist pastor from Sri Lanka and was most recently the director for the Program Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the World Council of Churches (WCC), a worldwide fellowship of 349 Protestant and Orthodox churches based in Geneva, Switzerland. His work there included helping global church bodies articulate a comprehensive theological basis for interreligious dialogue and cooperation relevant for contemporary contexts. He spearheaded a joint initiative between the Vatican, World Evangelical Alliance and the WCC, seeking agreement on a code of conduct for Christian witness. In addition, he worked on the project Accompanying Churches in Situations of Conflict, which encourages churches to stand in solidarity with other churches facing religious persecution. His primary task was to bring religious leaders from such contexts to dialogue tables to seek together ways of resolving conflicts and finding means of reconciliation.
Prior to moving to Geneva, Premawardhana served as the Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations at the National Council of Churches of Christ, based in New York. Acknowledging the need for Christian theology to take interreligious dialogue seriously, he organized Special Topics Forums at the American Academy of Religion to address this question with professors of theology and academic deans of US seminaries.
Following seminary education in Sri Lanka and India, Premawardhana arrived in the United States in 1981 for graduate study at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion. Continuing to live in the Chicago area, he founded the Chicago Ashram of Jesus Christ, a Christian community with an outreach to South Asian immigrants from many cultural backgrounds and religious traditions. He served for fourteen years as senior pastor of Ellis Avenue Church located in the south side of Chicago where he helped found a local congregation-based community organization, served as Vice President of the Chicago-wide Metropolitan Alliance of Congregations, and later, as a leader in the National Leadership Assembly of the Gamaliel Foundation.
Premawardhana currently serves as a member of the governing board of the National Council of Churches USA, and a member of the board of trustees of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In recognition of his ministry, the Academy of Parish Clergy named him 1998 Parish Pastor of the Year, and the Islamic Society of North America awarded him the Interfaith Unity Award in 2007.
He has published numerous articles on religion, interreligious dialogue and Christian mission. His most recent, a publication he co-edited with Ariane Hentsch Cisneros is entitled Sharing Values: A Hermeneutics for Global Ethics (Geneva: Globethics.net, 2011).
Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE)
National Council of Churches USA
Parliament of the World’s Religions
Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty
Associate Professor of Theology and Chair of the Theology Department, Bellarmine University
The church’s role in addressing issues of social and economic justice has long been Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty’s concern. She is frequently called upon to preach and speak on faith and public life in a variety of settings. Recently, she served as a research consultant for the World Council of Churches’ North American Regional Forum and Hearings on Poverty, Wealth, and Ecology. In addition to numerous articles and other publications, she is author of Beyond the Social Maze: Exploring the Theological Ethics of Vida Dutton Scudder (2006) and co-editor of Prayers for the New Social Awakening (2008) with Christian Iosso and To Do Justice: A Guide for Progressive Christians (2008) with Rebecca Todd Peters. One of Hinson-Hasty’s forthcoming publications is a book on Dorothy Day (fall 2014). Among other honors, she has distinguished herself as a Fulbright Scholar (Hungary 2010) and received the Wilson Wyatt Faculty Fellowship for excellence in teaching and scholarship (2010). She and her partner, Lee, are both alums of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Bellarmine University Department of Theology
World Council of Churches
Owner, Avery and Sun Solar Energy Solutions
Samuel Avery was raised near New York City and educated at Oberlin College and the University of Kentucky. He has written a series of books on the relationship of physics and consciousness, including The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness, Transcendence of the Western Mind, and Buddha and the Quantum. He is passionate about peace and environmental issues, having written The Globalist Papers and The Pipeline and the Paradigm.
Samuel lives with his wife on a small wooded farm on the banks of the Nolin River in central Kentucky. He spends his time gardening, building, writing, and operating a small solar installation company. He has practiced meditation daily throughout his adult life. “On the farm,” he says, “We have to find reliable sources of water, food, warmth, and energy. We see where our lives come from.”
Avery and Sun Solar Energy Solutions
Paul D. Simmons, Ph.D.
Clinical Professor of Medical Ethics, University of Louisville School of Medicine
Paul D. Simmons, Ph.D. was formerly Professor of Christian Ethics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His special interest is in the relationship of religion, science, and public policy.
Sarah Lynn Cunningham, PE
Licensed Environmental Engineer and a State Certified Environmental Educator
Most of Sarah Lynn Cunningham’s work has involved communicating technical topics in audience appropriate—and, in some cases, cross-cultural—terms: promoting energy efficiency and pollution prevention to CEOs, translating regulations for field personnel, demonstrating real-world applications of lessons to educators or teaching science, critical thinking and ethics to students (K-12 through graduate school).
She has audited facilities, large and small, for energy efficiency (E2) and compliance with federal, state and local environmental and safety regulations and Best Management Practices, and made cost-effective improvement recommendations.