Theological Dialogue At EMO we believe that bringing theological reflection and ethics to issues of the day helps us fulfill the call to "raise up the foundations of many generations."
Rooted in our Christian experience, as we encounter people of other faiths we come to more profoundly understand the meaning of our "shared humanity" before God.
This understanding is based upon the biblical affirmation that "the earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it." - Psalm 24:1
Our interfaith education and theological dialogue programs help congregations and individuals deepen their own commitments and better understand their neighbors. Each year we offer workshops, discussions, lectures, presentations, celebrations and vigils to celebrate Christian unity, foster interfaith relations, and explore ethical and moral issues.
The annual Collins Lectures are designed to provide an opportunity for clergy and laity to explore issues related to religion and social ethics. The lecture has been part of EMO’s ministry for over 40 years and is funded by the Collins Foundation.
2016 Collins Lecture, "Redeeming the Soul of America: Race, Justice and Reconciliation," with the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III. In the midst of growing polarization and divisiveness in our state and the nation, people of faith are called to address issues of racism, injustice, inequality and discrimination. The 2016 Collins Lecture presents emerging and inclusive theological and social perspectives on race, justice and reconciliation. It engages the community in reflection, dialogue and ongoing action toward a just and inclusive future for all Oregonians.
The 2016 Collins Lecturer, The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, is senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and an accomplished author, speaker and activist.
Dr. Moss is part of a new generation of ministers committed to community advancement and social justice activism. He practices and preaches a Black theology that calls attention to the problems of mass incarceration, environmental justice and economic inequality. Dr. Moss's creative Bible-based messages entwining love and justice have inspired audiences worldwide. Dr. Moss has a unique gift to communicate across generations: his creative Bible-based messages inspire young and old alike. He published his first book Redemption in a Red Light District in 1999 and coauthored The Gospel Re-Mix: How to Reach the Hip-Hop Generation in 2006. His latest book, Blue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul World: Finding Hope in an Age of Despair, was published in 2015.
2015 Collins Lecture, "The Gospel of Conquest: Native Americans, Christianity and the Doctrine of Discovery" featuring Professor Robert J. Miller, the Rev. Dr. George "Tink" Tinker, and Kim Recalma-Clutesi
Three visionary Native American scholars and spiritual leaders guided the 2015 Collins Lecture in an experiential exploration of the meaning of the Doctrine of Discovery—the 15th century basis for European Christian claims to the Americas—as it plays out today in relations among church, tribe and state. Legal expert Robert Miller laid the groundwork for the day, introducing us to the historical and legal background of the Doctrine of Discovery. Theologian George "Tink" Tinker was our guide through the emotionally and intellectually charged topic of Christianity's role in displacing indigenous peoples, calling us into connectedness and supporting our journey forward. And cultural historian Kim Recalma-Clutesi weaved together the ritual and the academic dimensions of our inquiry, creating sacred space to open our hearts and minds to reflection and new ways of understanding our radical interdependence among one another and our shared Earth. View photo album on Facebook.
Audio recording of the 2015 Collins Lecture, "The Gospel of Conquest"
2014 Collins Lecture, "The Transformative Power of Compassion," by Karen Armstrong
Armstrong is a British author and commentator known for her books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic religious sister, she first rose to prominence in 1993 with her book A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Her work focuses on commonalities of the major religions, such as the importance of compassion and the Golden Rule. Armstrong received the $100,000 TED Prize in February 2008. She used that occasion to call for the creation of a Charter for Compassion.
2012 Collins Lecture, “God’s Economy: Faithful response to the economic crisis,” by Professor Gary Dorrien
With high levels of unemployment and underemployment in this country, a growing divide between those on the upper and lower economic margins, and economic uncertainty throughout the world, one question becomes increasingly important: “How do people and communities of faith respond to the economic crisis in our midst, which is impacting so many people and communities?” It is vital that faith communities come together to discuss how to respond to today’s profound political and economic changes and challenges, while meeting the spiritual and material needs of their members and the broader community. The 2012 Collins Lecture by Prof. Dorrien provides a timely opportunity to pursue these issues.
Gary Dorrien is the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and professor of Religion at Columbia University. He is also an Episcopal priest and the author of 14 books and approximately 250 articles that range across the fields of ethics, social theory, theology, philosophy, politics and history.
To download Prof. Dorrien's Collins Lecture, right click on "God's Economy," and save to your computer (it may take several minutes).
2011 Collins Lecture, "Restoring Sacred Balance," by Fr. Richard Rohr In times of so much uncertainty and anxiety about the future, the question "How does one sustain one's soul while working faithfully and effectively for social justice and peace?" becomes increasingly important.
The 2011 Collins Lecture, held on Oct. 26, 2011, created the space to pursue this question in a spiritually enriched context. It will also provided an opportunity to celebrate and honor people and communities engaged in the Holy work of peaceful change in the world.
Fr. Richard Rohr is a well-known author and a Franciscan of the New Mexico Province. Since 1986, he has served as founding director at the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rohr's ministry and lifework center on helping people connect to the contemplative traditions in order to be instruments of peaceful change in the world.
2010 Collins Lecture, "Who Is Our Neighbor? Imagining Beyond Our Borders." Who is our neighbor? What "borders" do we create between people: geographic, cultural, religious, economic, political? How can we live together respectfully in diverse communities? The current debates about the migration of people and cultural and religious diversity provide a rich context for discussing these questions from a theological perspective. Join us to explore this provocative issue.
The 2010 Collins Lecture keynote speakers were the Rev. Dr. S. Wesley Ariarajah, faculty of the Drew University School of Theology and its Graduate School as professor of Ecumenical Theology, and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. With their personal histories and professional expertise, Ariarajah and Rodriguez offered their insights on the topic.
2009 Collins Lecture, "The Transformative Power of Reconciliation in Society" by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. There are a handful of people in the world who can rightfully be called modern-day prophets. Portland was witness to one such individual on May 4, 2009, when Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s presence filled the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus for Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon’s (EMO) 40th Collins Lecture, “The Transformative Power of Reconciliation in Society.”
With humor and honesty, Archbishop Tutu shared his belief in the power of forgiveness, as he recounted the years of apartheid in South Africa and the successful non-violent struggle to bring down the system. The sold-out crowd gave the Archbishop a standing ovation at the end of his lecture. Many in the crowd were students, including 350 young people given scholarships by our sponsors.
2007 Collins Lecture and Poverty Conference, “From Despair to Hope: An Interreligious Response to the Crisis of Poverty,” drew speakers and participants from across the state to engage in education and networking leading to action. The discussion focused on addressing the moral issues around poverty and the underlying systems and structures that perpetuate the growing disparity between the rich and poor.
Syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. was our evening keynote speaker. In his address, “The Politics of Hope,” Dionne provided a historic perspective on the Christian response to poverty in society. He emphasized the necessity to take a conceptual knowledge of poverty to a personal and relational understanding. “Social justice requires economic support from government,” Dionne stated, “a concern for family life, and serious efforts to strengthen community institutions and to restore public order.” He believes that while “compassion is good, justice is better” an argues, “while government cannot solve all problems, what it does and doesn’t do matters enormously.”
2006 Collins Lecture - "Earth on Edge: Choosing Our Future" "Global warming presents the deepest challenge not only to our physical survival but also to our sense of the divine. Suddenly human beings find themselves enormously large, enormously powerful; can we summon the humility to be stewards instead of troublemakers?" – Featured lecturer Bill McKibben, environmental essayist, activist and author of the best seller The End of Nature.
"Earth on Edge: Choosing Our Future" focuses on sustainability, commonly defined as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Three vital dimensions of sustainability are discussed: ecology, economy and equity, with emphasis on one of the greatest moral issues of our time – global warming.
2005 Collins Lecture – "When Faiths Unite: Religious Perspectives on Peacemaking in the Middle East" 2005 Collins Lecture audio files (download RealPlayer): Introduction by David Leslie, EMO executive director Ron Young, Event Moderator, founder and director of the United States Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East The Rev. Dr. Saïd R. Ailabouni, program director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Division for Global Mission for Europe, the Middle East and Horn of Africa Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, spokesperson and past president of the Muslim Women's League Chief Rabbi David Rosen, director of the American Jewish Committee's Interreligious Affairs Department and the Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding Local Religious Leaders Perspectives: Frank Afranji, board member of the Muslim Educational Trust; Daniel Isaak, senior rabbi at Congregation Neveh Shalom and president of the Oregon Board of Rabbis; and Mary Jo Tully, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon Q & A Session with International Religious Leaders