In Remembrance of Me: Memory and the Life of Faith

2015 SymposiumWe stand at a point in time when we are learning incredible new insights into how memory works, both individually and collectively. The 2015 Theological Symposium will engage and explore what we are learning about memory and its central role in the life of faith, how it cultivates community, and its implications for preaching, pastoral care, and congregational ministry. And so this year’s symposium deals with one of the most important and exciting areas where science and faith intersect, namely, the question of our brain and memory. Among other things the symposium will deal with such questions as:

  1. How are memories formed? How does that affect our preaching, and teaching when we want people to remember the Word of God?
  2. What happens to a person when memories are lost? How does that affect our pastoral care to them?
  3. What role do memories play in our lives as individuals and shared memories as communities? How do they affect our identity as individuals and communities?
  4. What role do memories play in the Christian story that we tell? How do these memories become the shared memories of people new to the faith?

In order to get at this, we will first deal with the science of the brain and memory formation along with its implications for being human—along with its theological implications. Then we will deal with a theology of memory for pastoral and congregational ministry.

Day 1: The Science of Memory and Its Implications for Human Life

We will hear from plenary speakers/scientists who are working in the area of brain research and what we are learning about memory formation and memory loss along with how memory affects our identity as human creatures and our identity as human communities.

Each of the plenary speakers will be followed by a faculty member’s reflection on what that might mean for us as Christians and for us as the church…who live by passing on the church’s memories.

Finally in the evening following dinner: you will have a chance to chat with our speakers and faculty members at discussion tables about this topic or any other topic of your choosing.

Day 2: The Theology of Memory and its Implications for Congregations and Ministry

Faculty will continue to explore the importance of memory for identity, formation, and the role of story in three parts:

First, we’ll explore theological dimensions of memory in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and church history.

Second, we’ll explore the importance of memory in pastoral ministry with regard to memory and grief, forgiveness and memory, and diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Finally, we’ll explore the importance of memory in congregational life and ministry when it comes to preaching, worship, and teaching the faith.

More information, including the speakers we’ve lined up and registration information, will be rolled out in a series of posts coming soon. Stay tuned for more details.

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  1. Rev. Dr. Gary Galen July 7, 2015

    Looking forward to hearing more about this.. Am retired.

  2. Rev. Dr. Gary Galen July 7, 2015

    Be interested in the effect and handling of Satan’s temptations and the Old Adam in memory/attacks on memory to interfere with sharing the Gospel and grace.

  3. Allen Nauss July 9, 2015

    Dr. Arand:

    I applaud your desire and efforts to explore the implications of brain research for theology and ministry. Much has been done already but there is undoubtedly more to come, as in the case of so many other research areas.

    Your upcoming symposium will be able, I’m sure, to unveil some of the primary implications. You may find a number of references to your focus on memory that I’ve been able to cite in my book on Implications of Brain Research for the Church. In addition, Bruce Hartung and Glenn Nielsen will be able to provide you with more from their contributions to another volume whose publication is due near the end of July.

    Probably one of the more fascinating areas in the research on memory, besides your current questions about the role of memories in our life, is the process and result of developing memories. That could be a subject for a future symposium. I’m presently working on the strategies for learning, remembering and living Biblical truths. I’m asking Bruce to help in this venture that should be of inestimable worth to clergy and seminary faculty members in their preaching and teaching responsibilities.

    Also, the need for extending Christians’ value memory through the development of Christian virtues has high priority. Joel Biermann’s recent volume has opened the door for much additional work in this area.

    May God bless you and your ministry!

    In His service,

    Allen Nauss

  4. Stuart Oberheu August 3, 2015

    Minds influenced by: Satan; society’s values; or personal sins can’t be separately distinguished with conviction or accuracy. It’s why Holy Scripture was given to Holy Men of God to write for us to follow.

    In a lay octogenarian’s years of blessings, it’s baffling why commitment to the truth it teaches gets whitewashed by current issues and worldly influence.

    Does instruction to “Hold Fast” lose definition with increased knowledge?

    Forgetting is common for all, and the need for recall is still necessary. Would your parents or grandparents still see the values held in anchoring their church in the 19th Century be evident in the 21st Century?

    Fleeting values are natures method for change and the energy for human motivation. Holding Fast requires the verve of a peculiar people. Loosing it shrinks the body that fears the consequence for keeping it.

    Thanks be to God our Savior came and secured salvation for the confessing sinner who Holds Fast.

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