The Oikonomia Network at Trinity
By Donald Guthrie
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is now embarking on its second academic year as an Oikonomia Network school. From the beginning of Trinity’s ON partnership, it became apparent that no single faculty member, or even one department, could successfully relate ON goals to the university’s mission. Therefore, institutional leaders convened a steering committee that represented the diverse elements of the university, including seminary faculty, college faculty, deans, and administrators. With 12 people on the committee, Trinity has been able to bring together representation, participation, and gradual buy-in from a broad swath of the institution.
In the coming year, we plan to continue many of the projects launched this past academic year, as well as start several new initiatives. In July 2013, at the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) denominational meeting, senior Trinity and EFCA leaders furthered plans to bring together 25 key pastoral leaders within the movement. The pastors will invite marketplace leaders from their congregations to partner with them during the summit. This gathering, to be held in May 2014 in Minneapolis, will be facilitated by Tom Nelson (pastor and author of “Work Matters”), Steve Garber (Principal of The Washington Institute), and Dave Kiersznowski (CEO of DEMDACO Corporation). The goal of the event is to develop strategies for equipping local church leaders to engage their congregations around faith, work, and economic themes in light of Kingdom values.
Additional projects for the 2013-2014 academic year include:
1. Surveys of Trinity alumni and EFCA pastors about faith, work, and economics.
2. The creation of an alumni office director position that serves the needs of Trinity’s pastoral leadership alums in utilizing ON resources in their local parish and community.
3. Kern Pastoral Fellowships that allow graduate students to serve alongside faculty in ministry, teaching, and researching.
4. A divinity school faculty group that will read and discuss books by Stephen Long, Robert Sirico, and Jordan Ballor.
5. Robert Sirico, Acton University founder, speaking at Trinity this fall.
Trinity’s long-term vision for combining ON goals with its institutional mission for service throughout the evangelical church includes the creation of a pastoral ministry center at Trinity that would facilitate all ON projects. Visit www.tiu.edu/stewardship to learn more about Trinity’s involvement with the Oikonomia Network.
The Oikonomia Network at Seattle Pacific University
Celeste Cranston, Director of the Center for Biblical and Theological Education at SPU
What brings together a female seminarian from mainland China; a small business owner who consults with such clients as Toyota, Premera Blue Cross, and Polycom; a senior pastor from a thriving, urban Presbyterian church; and a retired, suburban school board member? And what prompts thoughtful dialogue among these individuals on the topics of work/vocation, a calling to business and economics, and the exploration of creative partnerships for theology and economics? At Seattle Pacific Seminary, a Community of Practice, a meeting facilitated by Seattle Pacific University’s Center for Integrity in Business and Center for Biblical and Theological Education, regularly draws this diverse group together for stimulating interaction and practical connections.
Each month, the 12 members of our Community of Practice (six seminarians, three local business leaders, and three church leaders) gather over lunch to discuss readings on these topics, explore the integration of faith and the marketplace from a practical perspective, and pray for one another. This cross-section of members from various arenas, life stages, and vocations creates a rich environment for conversation and an opportunity to learn from one another at the ground level.
“I feel blessed by this opportunity to engage in dialogue and prayer with this diverse cohort,” says seminarian Adam Baker, “as we explore the interface of theology and economics, and apply ourselves to our various vocations so that we understand and practice them as gifts from God, under the authority of God, and for the sake of God’s kingdom.”
Due to the generosity of our first Kern grant, SPU and Seattle Pacific Seminary are also pursuing other related initiatives. In June, we offered two summer courses for seminarians and local church and marketplace leaders: A Theology of Business, taught by Dr. Jeff Van Duzer (SPU’s new provost) and Dr. Daniel Castelo, and Spiritual Capital, taught by Dr. Bruce Baker. In April, we hosted Theology and Economics in Creative Partnership: Toward a Fully Thriving Society, in partnership with the Acton Institute. Two days afforded 10 different events exploring the intersection of faith and economics, drawing seminarians, church and marketplace leaders, academicians, and undergraduate students into vibrant discussion. In addition, our business professors trained a group of theology professors to encourage theology students to participate in SPU’s annual campus-wide Social Venture Program. We are also gearing up for a new course called Entrepreneurship in Mission for the 2014 winter quarter, aimed at seminarians as well as local leaders.