Dr. Cambria Kaltwasser’s teatime is for Karl Barth, baby Jesus and social justice. And tea.
Dr. Kaltwasser gives space to students who wish to partake in such conversations. The theology suite roundtable’s topics are limitless.
“Sometimes we discuss our hopes for becoming more hospitable and just. Most often, we simply share life together,” Kaltwasser said.
Teatime is a nudge towards community; but this Northwestern College buzzword only holds weight because of people like the elegant Dr. Kaltwasser.
“Her teatime with students in the pod flows from her emphasis on the relational aspects of theology, the way our theological ideas open us to care for each other,” professor of biblical and theological studies Dr. Jason Lief said.
Tea, of course, was not the beginning of Dr. Kaltwasser’s fervor for studying the language of God, but rather it is a profound blip in time after many years of finding her place. The wondering and wrestling manifested itself in 12-year-old Cambria— questions of “human freedom and grace” took a hold of her mind, but there was nobody who advocated for her gifts in ministry.
As an undergraduate at John Brown University, Dr. Kaltwasser studied English and “gravitated towards authors who wrote about who we are and who God is… like Flannery O’Connor.” After studying theology at Oxford University for a semester, she became absorbed with the idea of a life in ministry.
Persevering through a series of “growing pains”—adversity that is inevitable for women in ministry— Dr. Kaltwasser earned her doctorate at Princeton Seminary in systematic theology and something perhaps more valuable: her voice.
“A lot of times, you are socialized to see that the best thing a woman can be is caring, humble and sweet,” Dr. Kaltwasser said. “And you aren’t valued for being bold and courageous. I had to learn how to be that in seminary.”
She found her way to NW, was hired as an assistant professor of theology and became ordained as a minister of word and sacrament in the Presbyterian church.
Now a vivid campus presence, Dr. Kaltwasser “[models] how to navigate the world with a soft soul and the utmost grace,” her teaching assistant Camber Herrig said. The inspired senior will be shadowing her mentor’s footsteps and pursuing a Master of Divinity in the fall.
The influence of Dr. Kaltwasser has been met by many, including one of her theology suite neighbors, Dr. Jim Mead.
“She has blessed our department by creating opportunities for our students to discuss challenging biblical and theological issues in spaces that are welcoming and supportive of Christian growth,” Dr. Mead said.
Sometimes, students struggle to push aside old assumptions and biases to lean into the spiritual growth Dr. Kaltwasser is leading them through. Sometimes, a woman in ministry is a bizarre concept.
“One problem is that we aren’t immersed in Scripture but rather in Scripture ‘sound bites,’” Dr. Kaltwasser said. “When someone thinks about the ‘issue’ of women in ministry they are more likely to think of one or two isolated verses than of the many examples of women prophesying, teaching and proclaiming God’s Word in the Old and New Testaments— Huldah, Phoebe, Priscilla and Junia, to name just a few,” Dr. Kaltwasser explained.
The recent complicated text series helped to interpret such passages and encourage contextual and interpersonal processing, as most of Scripture deals not in universals but in particulars.
Besides being immersed in biblical studies, Dr. Kaltwasser also serves as the NW core director, which helps craft a meaningful liberal arts college experience through curriculum and beyond. Most of living and learning is embracing that “we’ve been mistaken again and again, as we live and grow in Christ. This is how… community forms us in justice, courage and love,” Dr. Kaltwasser said.
Until the next teatime.