ON at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Bruce Ashford, Provost and Associate Professor of Theology and Culture
Southeastern Baptist (SEBTS) began its partnership with the Oikonomia Network through a small grant to our L. Russ Bush Center for Faith & Culture in the spring of 2013. Jay Richards spent two days in our campus community presenting a series of seven lectures and other events, covering topics related to his bestseller “Money, Greed, and God: How Should Christians Think about Economics and Free Enterprise.” During his lectures, Richards addressed how Christians should go about pursuing a more just society. He presented to our faculty members and doctorate students, addressed guests at a dinner, spoke to masters of divinity students in several classes, addressed faculty members and students at a luncheon, gave a radio interview, and finally, delivered an evening address to the general public at the Bush Center. Richards left Southeastern “talked out,” but happy, as he was very warmly received by faculty, students, and staff.
SEBTS is now embarking upon a much larger Oikonomia Network partnership. Over the coming three semesters, we will launch an Economic Wisdom initiative to build a coherent, systemic, and sustainable curriculum for teaching pastors how to lead their congregations toward a healthy view of the workplace and the economy. In order to build this curriculum, SEBTS will introduce a recurrent three-course rotation: Theology and Culture; Theology of Vocation; and Economics, Poverty, and Wealth. These three courses will be offered first on campus, and then in a Massive Open-Enrollment Online Course (MOOC) format. Anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection will be able to take these courses via MOOC. In conjunction with the three courses, our faculty members will compose three booklets for use in local church contexts. Coinciding with the courses and booklets, SEBTS will offer multiple campus events designed to equip students and local pastors in building a healthy biblical framework for understanding the workplace and the economy.
ON at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Robin Higle, Director of Stewardship
Since the first ON newsletter spotlight on Gordon-Conwell in May, our awareness of the interdependent nature of faith, work, and economics shaped by biblical beliefs and practices has continued to deepen. The Mockler Center for Faith & Ethics in the Workplace has expanded its work under David Gill; the Center’s course on church support for launching entrepreneurs is reaching even more students, local churches, and communities. We are moved by the work of God and the church that we have seen in the life of Victor Cubi, who received little education and spent most of his life on the streets. Cubi went from earning minimum wage and sleeping on a couch, to owning his own business and living in his own apartment as a result of what God is doing through entrepreneurship in our churches and communities.
In an effort to broaden our conversation internally, we made “Economic Flourishing and the Gospel” the theme of the fall faculty retreat at Gordon-Conwell. Our guest speakers were Greg Forster of The Kern Family Foundation; Scott Schuh, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; and Judith Dean, professor of international economics at Brandeis University. Forster’s topic was “Faith, Hope and Love for the Modern Economy,” while Scott and Judith each addressed the theme of “Economic Flourishing and the Gospel” from their respective vantage points.
As part of the conversation, five faculty members gave brief talks answering the question: What does the gospel say about Economic Flourishing? Among them were Roy Ciampa, who shared “Thoughts on the Significance of Work in Light of Paul’s Advice to Slaves in 1 Corinthians,” and Scott Gibson, who discussed “The Six Problems Preachers and Listeners Have About Work.” Seong Park’s presentation on the significance of Old Testament passages that connect “working” and “keeping” has been adapted as an article in this issue.
We also are building a new module for the stewardship education curriculum in our Partnership Scholarship Program. Students in this co-curricular program are taught principles of biblical stewardship, personal finance, fundamentals of fundraising, and more. We are expanding the content of the program to include a broader definition of stewardship that includes a biblical understanding of work and economic flourishing, how this can impact communities, and how the church can help. Ultimately, we would like to share the content with the Oikonomia Network so that others may use it if desired. We are grateful that faculty from several other ON schools have agreed to help us shape the content, as we want this to be a collaborative effort for the benefit of the network.
David Gill is hard at work planning our first national conference. The Faith@Work Summit will be held in Boston on Oct. 24-25, 2014. Stay tuned for more details – we hope to see you there!