With a heritage that dates back 175 years, Gordon-Conwell is constantly evaluating its present with one eye on the future and one on the past. The last two months have been a perfect example of that reality. On September 7, the Hamilton campus hosted a memorial service for its former president and longtime Harold John Ockenga Distinguished Professor of Homiletics, Haddon Robinson. His years of service in the faith and work movement are remembered with gratitude alongside his many other accomplishments.
But no institution can live on its past alone. It is our responsibility to help figure out what it means to (in the words of our vision statement) think theologically, engage globally and live biblically in the 21st century. As with every other sector of society, theological education is going through a season of change the likes of which it has never seen.
At the Mockler Center for Faith and Ethics in the Workplace specifically, we are looking to the future in three particular areas:
- An expansion of the Center’s footprint to provide adult theological education to matriculated and non-matriculated students – through local churches
- An expansion of our area of concentration from “faith and work” to “faith work and economics”
- The introduction of a one-of-a-kind doctor of ministry track in the future of workplace theology and ethical leadership
The new D.Min. track will look at the pastoral, ethical and theological implications of changes affecting the global economy, particularly:
- The rapid development and deployment of artificial intelligence and robotics
- Global finance and issues of access to capital for economic development and human flourishing
- The economic and environmental impact of global sourcing, manufacturing and resource depletion.
The program, which will be limited to 12 scholars, will begin in July 2018 and meet over the course of three years in the U.S. (Boston/Hamilton), the U.K. (Oxford/Cambridge/London) and Asia-Pacific (Melbourne, Australia). Taking advantage of our personal contacts in those areas, we will meet with thought leaders and practitioners from industry, the academy and the church in order to help students prepare for the economic tsunami that is approaching. That includes the development of plans for ministry to those most affected by the impact of technological, economic and environmental change, as well as strategies for the church to inform the ethical discussions these changes have initiated.
The course will be co-taught by Lindsay McMillan of Reventure, in Melbourne. Reventure is a think-tank whose world-class research into the areas of workplace wellness, business leadership and the quest for “meaning and purpose” at work are at the cutting edge of the sector. Throughout the course of the program, the questions raised by our cohort will be regularly reviewed through the prism of impact on workers, businesses, communities and churches.
In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, as technology changed the economic and social landscape of the west, the church’s limited role rendered it largely irrelevant to much of society. What filled the void, to the extent that anything did, were various ill-fated attempts to create economic and social utopias. If the church is not at the forefront of oncoming discussions in the new era of economic transformation, a similar fate seems inevitable. For those who wish instead for the church to have a place at the table and seek to minister effectively to those left behind by the changes ahead, this doctor of ministry track may be just what’s required.
With these and many more changes in the works, Gordon-Conwell is striving to shape the future in a way that reflects the legacy handed down to us by those whom God blessed and worked through in the past.