Date: March 23, 2022
The emeritus Regius Professor of Divinity from the University of Oxford, the Canon Professor Keith Ward, is visiting Virginia Theological Seminary. Author of numerous books, Gifford Lecturer, and apologist for the faith, Keith Ward is present for a conference on his work. Various other distinguished guests, mainly philosophers of religion, will be on the campus over the next two days. It is exciting to have all the participants at this conference with us.
Some of the most exciting moments at Seminary are not the formal lectures or sermons. Instead, they are the chance encounters, the opportunities to sit with a guest at a meal or chat with them in the Flamingo. One skill I encourage everyone to learn is the capacity to “read the room.” When you walk into a space, look around. Find the person who is sitting by themselves, spot the stranger, go and say “hello,” and open up a new horizon. The paradox of so many Episcopal congregations is that all the members think they model friendship, community, and welcome — and all the strangers find the place difficult. Learning to “read the room” is a skill that can change a congregation.
So, as these guests gather on the campus, seize the moment. Read the room and find yourself sitting with a distinguished mind that is at the cutting edge of their discipline. Sit with Keith Ward and his wife Marian. In so doing, you will learn a skill: and it is skill that will help you in congregational leadership.
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President