The Dean's Forum Podcasts

The Dean’s Forum: Queer Theology


The Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng

Queer Theology, Dr. Cheng contends, is “the place where Christian theology and queer theory meet” and the expression of this convergence is radical love. During the forum, Dr. Cheng will introduce the word “queer” and why this term is more appropriate than “gay and lesbian” when exploring theology since it is radical love — the dissolving of all boundaries — that is at the heart of Christianity. One of the central questions that will be explored is “What does queerness have to do with theology?” And the corollary question, “How does queer theory challenge our understanding of sexuality and gender identity?” In other words, perceiving these established boundaries as social constructions rather than as existential concepts. Dr. Cheng will also discuss the current issues (including marriage) — paying particular attention to the complexity of these issues within the social context of Ohio. He will also reflect upon his pastoral care work with LGBTIQ Christians in Asia and the challenges that they face. [Read more...]

Dean’s Forum: Gay Games 9


Thomas Nobbe
Sunday, June 15

Thomas Nobbe is executive director of Gay Games 9. The Gay Games are the largest diverse amateur sporting event in the world. The Games are expected to draw 11,000 participants and more than 30,000 visitors to the greater Cleveland area. The Gay Games, created in 1982 by former Olympian and gay man Tom Waddell, are held every four years and are a celebration of our diversity and seeks to make inclusiveness real for everyone. The Cleveland and Akron area was chosen because of its welcoming atmosphere and the ability of the Games to have an even bigger impact than ever before.

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Dean’s Forum: Review of the Supreme Court Docket


Brant Lee
Sunday, June 1

Dean’s Forum: 10:10 a.m.

The Docket of cases before the current Supreme Court is a series of cases that are constitutional issues that will have great consequence. The cases being considered by the Court concern campaign contributions, abortion rights, affirmative action, public prayer and presidential power. [Read more...]

Dean’s Forum: Economic Justice


The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones
Sunday, May 11
Dean’s Forum: 10:10 a.m.

Last year was the 50th anniversary of what is typically remembered as “the March on Washington” and the context for The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Yet one of the key demands of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was for the establishment of a national minimum age that would give all Americans a decent standard of living. It was during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that Dr. King declared, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This year marks the 50thanniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” which was a set of policy initiatives designed to reduce poverty in America and the 28th anniversary of pastoral letter Economic Justice for All that was issued by the US (Roman Catholic) bishops in 1986 which proclaimed that economic life is one of the “chief areas where we live out our faith, love our neighbor” and “fulfill God’s creative design.” In other words, economic justice is not a concept that is unique to our time and peculiar context. And, it is not something that is restricted to the political arena. It is, in fact, an area where we live out our faith.

Today our society continues to struggle with economic justice and income inequality is at an all-time high. During this forum, The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones will look at our current economic policies and how they are impacting our society, culture and world and how the Church should respond.

Serene Jones is the sixteenth President of Union Theological Seminary in New York. She also occupies the Johnston Family Chair for Religion and Democracy and formed Union’s Institute for Women, Religion, and Globalization as well as the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice. Jones came to Union after seventeen years at Yale University, where she was Professor of Theology at the Divinity School and Acting Chair of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the Graduate School. She holds degrees from the University of Oklahoma, Yale Divinity School, and Yale University.

Dr. Jones has received numerous awards and honors, as well as grants from the Pew Scholars and the Louisville Institute, and was co-principal investigator on the “Women, Religion, and Globalization Grant” for the Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs. She has served on the advisory board of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Religion and Theology at Wabash College and for six years co-convened the Constructive Theology Workgroup.

Through her leadership and service to the global religious community, Jonesencourages religious communities to assume a key role in addressing societal challenges. She writes prolifically in the fields of theology, religion, globalization, economics, cultural and gender studies.

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The Dean’s forum: Religion of the “Nones”


The Very Rev. Bill Lupfer
Sunday, April 27
Dean’s Forum: 10:10 a.m.
Guest preaching: 9 a.m., 11:15 a.m.

Today more and more people no longer choose to be identified with a particular religion and have embraced the designation “None” as a label for those straining to resist labels. Nones are by and large not unbelievers. Not atheists. Not secular humanists. Not anti-religious. Nones are simply those who do not want to be pigeonholed into identifying with any particular group or belief system. In fact, there have been articles published declaring None to be the third largest religion in the world. This forum will explore this phenomenon within our society.

Bill Lupfer was born and raised in Chicago. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religions from the University of Colorado, his Master of Divinity degree from Yale University, and his Doctor of Ministry degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. The Rev. Lupfer joined Trinity (Portland) in 2003. Before coming to Trinity, he served parishes in Kenilworth, Ill. and Plymouth, Mich. He has also spent time serving campus ministries in Evanston, Ill. and Baltimore, Md. He is married and has two children.

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The Dean’s forum: Death Cafes


Nicholas Fenell and Lauren Herzak-Bauman
Sunday, March 30

At a Death Café people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. The objective of the Death Café movement is “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.” The Death Café is now a social franchise where discussions about death are offered on a not-for-profit basis; in an accessible, respectful and confidential space; with no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product, or course of action; and alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing food. Nicholas Fenell and Lauren Herzak-Bauman hosted the previous Death Café in Cleveland. Lauren Herzak-Bauman graduated with her BFA in 3-D Studies from Bowling Green State University (2004) and her MFA in Studio Art from University of Minnesota — Twin Cities (2009). Lauren is the recipient of two Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Arts Grants (2011/2013) and the MCAD Jerome Emerging Artist Fellowship (2012).

Nicholas Fenell graduated with his BFA in Painting from The Cleveland Institute of Art in 2011. Nicholas is the recipient of the Cleveland Institute of Art Portfolio Scholarship (2007-2011); the Joseph McCullough ’48 Scholarship for Excellence in Painting (2010); and the Ted Frost ’88 Scholarship for Travel (2009). Nicholas is currently the Curatorial Intern at The Sculpture Center in Cleveland.

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The Dean’s forum: When Death Occurs


Ed Romito
Sunday, March 23

Ed Romito is owner of Johnson-Romito Funeral Home, that is family owned and operated and serves the greater Cleveland area. Romito will discuss the services that funeral homes provide and how families can be better prepared to face the tremendous responsibilities and negotiate the decisions required when a death has occurred. Ed Romito has been a part of Johnson-Romito Funeral Homes for 50 years. He is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. Ed purchased the funeral homes from the Johnson family forming Johnson-Romito Funeral Homes in 1977. Family ownership of the funeral home is very important to Ed, who is committed to providing quality compassionate service to those in need. In addition, Ed has served the community for many years. His numerous activities include active involvement with the Bedford Historical Society, Light of Hearts Villa, UHHS Bedford Medical Center, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Chamber of Commerce in Bedford, Hudson, Northfield, Twinsburg and Aurora and many others. Ed and his wife Bea consider their careers and ownership of the funeral homes a vocation in which they are dedicated to helping others. Beyond their commitment to the funeral homes Ed and Bea enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren.

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The Dean’s forum: Downton Abbey and the Car Wreck of Fiction


The Rev. Kurt Wiesner

Sunday, March 16
The topic for the 10:10 a.m. forum is Downton Abbey and the car wreck of fiction. Rev. Wiesner will discuss the stories told through TV series have been sparking discussion and debate for years: and the rise of the instant internet review and fan forums have only fanned the flames.

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Why do the conversations of our favorite TV shows invoke such passionate responses? What is it about this medium for storytelling that compels us to not only turn in week after week, but to swear off shows when they go a certain way?
Kurt Wiesner was born in Downers Grove, Ill., and graduated from the University of Indiana, majoring in vocal music. Having felt the call to the ministry during this time, he went on to the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest where he received a Master of Divinity in 1998. He served as Youth Minister at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin, Texas and as Chaplain Resident at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. He was ordained to the priesthood in June 2003, and served first as Curate and then as Canon for Congregational Life at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, under The Very Rev. Tracey Lind.
Rev. Wiesner accepted with enthusiasm the call to All Saints’ where he enjoys the challenges of preaching, pastoral care, adult formation in both small group Bible Study sessions and large group explorations. He has particular interest in the intersections of religion, ethics and pop culture. He is deeply committed to strengthening our sense of community: sharing our stories, imagining Jesus with families and children, and welcoming all in our infinite diversity. He believes in the church as a place of questioning, where our minds and hearts are opened by listening carefully to others’ insights. Out of sharing our differences, we experience the unexpected joy that reflects real life.
He and his wife Darlene, a speech therapist, enjoy participating in the Littleton community, where they live with “Episcodog” JJ and their two cats.


The Dean’s Forum: The Spirituality of Dying


Dr. Sheryl Buckley

Sunday, March 9
Dean’s Forum: 10:10 a.m.

Is human life sacred? In Western Culture — both within the religious and secular contexts — human life is regarded as being intrinsically important. In fact, this sense of human life is so indelible that we refer to the deliberate extinction of human life by another human as murder while referring to the killing of animals by humans only as killing. So, how do we honor the sanctity of human life in the face of death? Are we obliged to apply medical life-supporting technology in all cases and circumstances so as to avoid dishonoring the sacredness of human life? In other words, do we have a moral obligation to resist physical death at all costs? [Read more...]

The Dean’s Forum: Sneak Preview of the Cleveland International Film Festival


Bill Guentzler

Sunday, March 2
Dean’s Forum: 10:10 a.m.

The Cleveland International Film Festival will be held from March 19–30, 2014. During the Festival, some 300 plus films will be presented to some 75,000 people. The films presented typically covers the gamut — foreign films, documentaries, light comedies, whimsical musicals and, as noted in the Plain Dealer, “just plain weird stuff.” Bill Guentzler, who is responsible for the line up of films at the festival, will give us a sneak preview of the films that will be shown this year and his insight into the richness and depth of these films.Bill Guentzler is the Artistic Director for the Cleveland International Film Festival. Bill has served in this capacity for 11 years. Bill is a graduate of Cleveland State University. He began working at CIFF in 1998 as an unpaid intern. David Wittkowsky, the former executive director of CIFF, mentored Bill and taught him how to mix artistic choices with the realities of the business considerations. Shortly after Wittkowsky left in 2001, Bill took over programing for the festival when he was 26. One of the most remarkable aspects of Bill is his immense satisfaction in knowing that through CIFF, he is promoting Cleveland.

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The Dean’s Forum: African-Americans in The Episcopal Church


Ms. Byrdie Lee  and the Rev. Canon Will Mebane
Sunday, Feb. 16

Byrdie Lee, Chief Historian for the Wilma Ruth Combs Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians will discuss the contributions and influence of African Americans within the Episcopal Church.

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The Dean’s Forum: Leonard Cohen: Songs From the Wisdom Tradition


The Very Rev. Dr. Sam Candler
Sunday, Feb. 9

Leonard Cohen is a poet and song-writer from Montreal, Quebec. For more than 50 years, and now over seventy-nine years old, he has sung about both the beauty and the darkness of life. His songs have titles like “Suzanne,” “Hallelujah,” and “Darkness.” In this presentation, the Very Rev. Dr. Sam Candler presents Cohen’s songs and poetry as examples of modern “wisdom literature. [Read more...]

Dean’s Forum: Civil Rights and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.


The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.
Sunday, Jan. 19
Dean’s Forum: 10:10 a.m.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”~ The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The legacy of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is not simply that of non-violent activism against the inherent injustice of discriminatory social systems and institutions but also the attendant need for individuals actively to engage in service to the other. His true legacy is that justice — if it is to be sustained — necessitates the active involvement of all the members of the community on behalf of the well-being of all [Read more...]

Dean’s Forum: Spirituality and Musical Theater with Bill Rudman


The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, and Bill Rudman 

Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014

Spirituality runs through more musicals than you might suspect, and we’ll prove it with selections that explore the theme in many ways — from Bock and Harnick’s “Fiddler on the Roof” to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” from Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” to John-Michael Tebelak’s “Godspell.”
Bill Rudman is artistic director of The Musical Theater Project – the nonprofit organization he founded in 2000. He is the host of “Footlight Parade,” a weekly radio program on musicals that has been broadcast in Cleveland on WCLV for 30 years and has been nationally syndicated on public stations for the past 14 years. It’s also heard nationally on SiriusXM Satellite Radio under the title “On the Aisle.” TMTP also serves our community with a school program titled “Kids Love Musicals!,” designed for children in grades K-3. And TMTP produces the concert and cabaret series “The Song Is You!,” held all over town. Bill is a native of Willoughby and a graduate of Hiram College. In 2000 he was the first recipient of the Robert Bergman Award, given by the Cleveland Arts Prize, for his work in arts education and community outreach.

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Dean’s Forum: What’s so Great about Being Human?


The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, and Rev. Martin L. Smith 

Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013

The Rev. Martin L. Smith joins the Dean as her forum guest to discuss,, What’s so Great about Being Human? If the gospel is about being saved, then does it offer salvation from the dead end of cynicism, from the temptation to despair about the human condition? Can the secret of falling back in love with the human vocation lie in the central Christian proclamation that “God all bounteous, all creative, who from good no ills dissuade, is incarnate, and a native of the very world he made.” These are words of the Anglican poet, Christopher Smart, and in our forum we will draw on the poetry that draws us best into the mystery of the Incarnation as the key to a hope-filled life.

Martin L. Smith is well known throughout the Episcopal Church and beyond as an interpreter of contemporary spirituality through books such as A Season for the Spirit, The Word is Very Near You, Reconciliation, Love Set Free, Compass and Stars, and as a preacher and leader of retreats and workshops. He has recently co-written with Dr. Julia Gatta Go in Peace: the Art of Hearing Confessions. His recent retirement from the staff of St Columba’s, Washington, enables him to continue his wide-ranging ministry of teaching and writing.

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