by Len Lear
The Rev. Dr. Karyn Wiseman, 52, is clearly a woman of many talents. In fact, when I suggested that perhaps she should change her last name from Wiseman to Wisewoman, she replied, “Actually my students sometimes kid me by called me ‘WiseOne,’ so it is inclusive.”
For the last five years Wiseman has been Associate Professor of Homiletics (preaching) and Director of United Methodist Studies at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) in Mt. Airy. She came to LTSP from Hood Theological Seminary, Salisbury, NC, where she held the position of Associate Professor of Ministerial Studies, directed Hood’s Supervised Ministry program and was coordinator of United Methodist Studies. “Yes, I teach students to preach,” she said. “It is a really fun job. I would almost do it for free.”
But Rev. Wiseman has another undeniable skill that may also have a spiritual component, at least for those who love good food (in other words, almost everyone). Wiseman was the “People’s Choice Champion” in 2013 at the third annual “Cookin’ with Who?” community fundraiser, hosted by and in support of LTSP, East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN) and Awbury Arboretum.
Wiseman’s winning dish last year was a Texas-style Coca-Cola brisket. According to the culinary minister, “It is a slow-cooked, Coke-marinated tender brisket that makes me feel like I am home in Texas again (her native state). I grew up with this kind of cooking, and it makes me happy. The meat is tender and falls apart due to the acidity of the Coke that helps break down the meat. People were coming up and eating seconds and thirds of the dish.”
In view of her passion and talent for cooking, did Rev. Wiseman ever consider cooking as a profession? “Not really,” she told us last week. “I love food and Southern food in particular, but I’m not a chef kind of person. My dish for this year is also a Southern/Texas favorite. It is chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes. I grew up on this dish. Love it.”
The fourth annual Cookin’ with Who? community fundraiser, which is open to the public, will take place Thursday, Nov. 6, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at The Brossman Center at LTSP, 7301 Germantown Ave. Nine “Community Chefs” will offer favorite recipes in a competition for the awards, “The Platinum Spatula” and “People’s Choice” and, of course, bragging rights! Attendees sample the dishes, cast votes for their favorite dishes and chefs, and enjoy a raffle and silent auction.
Rev. Wiseman, who lives in East Mt. Airy in one of the seminary-owned faculty houses, insisted that “we love being here in Mt. Airy. It is such a diverse and eclectic community with lots to offer. I have lived in Texas, Kansas, New Jersey, North Carolina and now Pennsylvania. I think this is one of my favorite places to live. Great people, lots of culture, fun city to live in and a great sense of community.”
Rev. Wiseman was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Liturgical Studies with concentration in Preaching and Worship, with additional specializations/extensive work in Postmodern/Emergent Worship, Liturgy and Worship Space and Design from Drew University in 2006, receiving the Dean’s Honor Award as the outstanding student of the class. Her dissertation topic was “Grace Space: The Creation of Worship Space for the Postmodern/Emerging Church.”
Asked to briefly explain her doctoral dissertation, Wiseman said, “My dissertation is about how worship space either makes possible or limits things we want to do in worship. If we want to do something that moves congregants in our worship space and our space won’t let us move, that impacts our worship plans. James White, a noted liturgical space scholar, says that ‘the space always wins.’ So in my dissertation I looked at how worship space has changed during significant shifts in culture throughout the history of the church.
“I looked at several postmodern and emerging churches as models for how church can be done for new generations and the impact space has on their worshipping life. I am actually revising this work so that it might be published in the near future. My first book, ‘I Refuse to Preach a Boring Sermon: Engaging the 21st Century Listener,’ was published in 2013 by Pilgrim Press.”
One of the most controversial and divisive issues facing many churches and religious leaders these days is gay marriage. How does Rev. Wiseman feel about it? “I believe in the full inclusion of all persons on every level of church life. I do not believe that Jesus would exclude anyone, and neither should the church.”
Other (mostly) non-professional chefs who will compete with Rev. Wiseman in the fourth annual Cookin’ with Who? community fundraiser on Nov. 6 will be: (for East Mount Airy Neighbors) Larry Daniels: President, EMAN; Dr. David Young: Executive Director, Cliveden; Laura Morris Siena, long-time Mt. Airy resident, volunteer and community activist; (for Lutheran Theological Seminary) Denise Chapline of the DiFranco Team, Elfant Wissahickon Realtors; Dan Muroff, attorney; past president and current board member of EMAN, CeaseFirePA and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania; The Rev. Dr. David J. Lose, President, LTSP; (for Awbury Arboretum) Bob Kaufman: partner, PhillyOfficeRetail; Meg Hagele: Owner, High Point Café; Desmin Daniels, chef and co-owner, Rose Petals Cafe & Lounge. See more at: ltsp.edu/CookinWithWho#sthash.oDOU5mIP.dpuf