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An Invitation to Stretch: Reconstructing Our Theological Assumptions

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The Vancouver School of Theology proudly presents the 2024 Somerville Lecture | An Invitation to Stretch: Reconstructing Our Theological Assumptions 

Thursday, October 17 at 7pm | Epiphany Chapel and online

Join Rev. Dr. LaKeesha Walrond, President of New York Theological Seminary, for the 2024 Somerville Lecture at the Vancouver School of Theology. This free public lecture provides an opportunity for students, theologians, steadfast church-goers, rigorous questioners, unabashed analysts, and anyone with a bit of curiosity and openness to explore common theological assumptions. In true Christian spirit and with the verve of a passionate educator, Dr. LaKeesha Walrond will carefully examine our spiritual beliefs and practices to draw up an expansive, love-infused alternative to dogmatism. 

Please note:
  • This public lecture will be available to watch online via livestream. Please select "General Admission (online)" and you will be emailed a Zoom link in the days leading to the event.



Our cannon is filled with individuals who asked God the hard questions. Yet—when we were young and even in Sunday School—we were often admonished from "questioning God."  Even today, many of our churches expect us to honor traditions without question. 

The Somerville Lecture 2024 will carve out a sacred space where we can grant ourselves permission to ask the hard questions. Our time together will be spent investigating some of our most prominent theological assumptions and digging deep into the wells of our spiritual beliefs and practices. Specifically, we will focus on our beliefs about God, the Sabbath, and the Faith Community in an effort to reconstruct a more accessible and inclusive faith narrative that stretches our theological assumptions and expands our invisible yet fortified borders. 


Rev. LaKeesha Walrond (PhD) is an educator, visionary leader, sought after speaker, and consummate change agent. Dr. Walrond earned her undergraduate degree from Spelman College; a Master of Education, Master in School Administration, and Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York, NY, where she later served as a trustee for three years. 

Dr. Walrond answered her call to the ministry in 1995 and began her journey in ministry serving as an Associate Minister at Zion Temple UCC in North Carolina for six years. She later served as the Executive Pastor and Chief of Staff of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, NY for thirteen years. In June of 2019, she became the first woman President of New York Theological Seminary, committed to preparing faith and thought leaders to engage relevant, restorative, and revolutionary ministry.

Dr. Walrond is passionate about creating and stewarding communities of learners. Her career also includes eleven years as a teacher in the public education system in North Carolina. She brings her expertise and commitment to learning to both her ordained ministry and leadership in the academy.

In an effort to authentically reach the hearts of women, Dr. Walrond launched the Getting to Greatness (G2G) Women’s Conference in 2013. G2G provides opportunities for women’s empowerment through leadership development and spiritual, mental and psychological wellness. She is the author of two books. My Body is Special (2017) is the first of her six-part “Let’s Talk About It” (LTAI) children’s book series, written to help end sexual violence against children. Her first e-book, Stronger Than Your Worst Pain: A Spiritual Guide to Activating Your Inner Power (2018), empowers women to recognize their passion, power and potential to overcome life’s most difficult challenges.

Dr. Walrond is happily married to The Reverend Michael A. Walrond Jr. and they are blessed to be the proud parents of two beautiful children: Michael III, and Jasmyn Dominique.

The Somerville Fund was established in the 1990s by a group of students and supported through the generosity of Bishop David Somerville. This fund is intended to help VST become one of the places where students could come to learn about the spiritual side of life and pass on to others the insights and methods of seeking God’s presence. Since its launch, the Somerville Lecture has become one of VST’s most prominent offerings to the faith community.

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