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Prominent theologian to present four lectures on environmental ethics

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- A distinguished writer and teacher in environmental theology, ethics and stewardship will be in Newton and North Newton to speak on issues specifically related to this part of the country. Larry Rasmussen was Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City from 1986-2004. He will be in the Newton area Nov. 10-13 to deliver four lectures on "A Great Plains land ethic (water, earth, wind, fire)."

Rasmussen will also speak in a more intimate setting at Pages bookshop inside Prairie Harvest, 601 Main St. in downtown Newton, at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 11. He will sign his book "Earth Community, Earth Ethics," which is available for sale at Pages as well as at the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston.

Duane Friesen, Edmund G. Kaufman Professor Emeritus of Bible and Religion at Bethel College, worked with the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR), the Bethel College convocation committee, Dyck Arboretum and Bethel College Mennonite Church to arrange Rasmussen’s visit.

"Larry Rasmussen is a world renowned Christian social ethicist," said Friesen. "He provides a spiritual and theological reorientation to address earth’s distress caused by unsustainable uses of human power. The four presentations on earth, wind, water and fire will provide a comprehensive, holistic and hopeful vision for sustainable and just communities."

Rasmussen’s first lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center on the Bethel College campus, as the first of the 33rd annual Peace Lecture Series sponsored by KIPCOR at Bethel College.

Rasmussen will deliver his second lecture in convocation the next day, Friday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m., also in Krehbiel Auditorium. The first two lectures are free and open to the public.

The third lecture will be part of a presentation from 8:30-2 at Dyck Arboretum in Hesston on Saturday, Nov. 12. Following Rasmussen’s keynote address, guest panelists will discuss the pros and cons of wind energy in the Flint Hills. A registration fee of $30 ($25 for Arboretum members) includes all the presentations and lunch. Please pre-register by phoning (620) 327-8127.

Rasmussen will deliver his fourth lecture at Bethel College Mennonite Church during the Sunday morning worship service on Nov. 13 at 9:30 a.m. The service will be followed by a noon potluck and an afternoon workshop on creation care. Sunday’s events are free and open to the public. For more information on Sunday events, contact the church at (316) 283-3667.

Rasmussen’s book "Earth Community, Earth Ethics" is the winner of the 1997 Grawemeyer Award. He also co-edited the book "Earth Habitat: Eco-Justice and the Church’s Response" with Dieter Hessel.

Rasmussen has a B.A. from St. Olaf College, a B.D. from Luther Theological Seminary and a Th.D. from Union Theological Seminary. He is a lay theologian of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. His current work in Christian ethics includes analysis of power, methodological issues in Bible and ethics, technology and ecology.

Rasmussen’s lectures are sponsored in part by the Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA.

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