This past Saturday concluded the 2019 Fall ACTS (The Ambassadors Community for Theological Study) course in Waynesboro, Wytheville, and Hampton/Yorktown. This year’s fall course, “New Testament”, focused on listening to the many different voices that make up the New Testament and tell the story of Jesus.
The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick, Assistant to the Bishop of the Virginia Synod, served as the speaker for this fall’s course. Pastor Kelly is passionate about the gospel and about God’s call and command to love God and love our neighbors. She is committed to and an innovative leader in ministries of social justice, equality, accompaniment – globally and locally, Christian formation, youth and more. She is also deeply committed to our Synod, the ELCA, and our ecumenical and interfaith partnerships. In addition to her role as Assistant to the Bishop, Pastor Bayer Derrick is a Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at Hollins University.
For this course, ACTS participants reviewed early Christian writings and their interpretation, listening to the different ways that each book tells the story of the encounter with Jesus. Led by Pastor Kelly and small group leaders, participants explored selected gospels, epistles, and writings in their historical context. In their sessions, they also employed sociological methods in current trends of biblical scholarship to help discern what community(s) shapes the text—historical, cultural, religious, and social. This course also evaluated the meaning in a text that lies between text and reader: how our own current context, situation, background, beliefs, and more may affect what we hear and how we interpret it.
Throughout her presentation, Pastor Kelly explored the texts both historically and with modern and global experiences. She took time to share beautiful personal photos from her recent time in Papua New Guinea and beyond, as well as dug deep into the text with close readings that provided insight context that might not be fully apparent in an initial reading.
With the guidance of Pastor Kelly ACTS participants explored the New Testament and deepened their knowledge of the gospel and how it sets us free to share our God-given gifts.
Visit www.vasynod.org/ministries/acts to learn more about the ACTS program.