Donald Guthrie, professor of Educational Ministries
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) is in the midst of its second year of Oikonomia Network (ON) activities. From the beginning of this partnership, it was apparent that no single faculty member, or even one department, could successfully relate the Network’s goals to the school’s mission. Therefore, institutional leaders convened a steering committee that represented the diverse elements of both TEDS and Trinity International University, including seminary faculty, college faculty, deans, and administrators. With 12 people on the committee, Trinity has been able to foster representation, participation, and gradual buy-in from a broad swath of the institution.
In the first year of our ON Initiative, Trinity launched this webpage from which to communicate ongoing ON activities, as well as a new degree program, a Master of Arts in Leadership. This degree has ON’s eight student outcome goals embedded in the core of the program, as well as disbursed broadly throughout the coursework.
Trinity has engaged its host denomination, the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), from the beginning. Our next major step will be to host a summit of 25 key EFCA pastoral leaders, who, in turn, will invite marketplace leaders from their congregations to partner with them during the summit. The 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 the DEMDACO Corporation. The goal of the event is to develop strategies to equip local church leaders to engage their congregations around faith, work, and economic themes in light of Kingdom values. Nelson and Garber spent three days on Trinity’s campus in the fall of 2012, engaging students on Oikonomia topics in a variety of forums, including chapel services.
Trinity’s Henry Center for Theological Understanding is sponsoring multiple faculty groups that are reading and discussing ON objectives through the writings of Stephen Long, Robert Sirico, and Jordan Ballor. In the spring of 2014, Ballor is expected to come to Trinity’s campus to personally interact with faculty on the subject of his writings. In 2013, the Henry Center hosted an April debate between Jay Richards and Jim Wallis, addressing the question of Christian social engagement and the common good. In September, Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute spoke to faculty and students about “Being Responsible: The Church, Human Energies, and Global Poverty” during Trinity’s Global Christian week.
In February 2013, the entire university faculty met for a retreat at the Abbey Resort in Lake Geneva, Wis., for two and a half days exclusively devoted to engaging ON topics. Speakers included Darrell Cosden (Judson College), Scott Rae (Biola/Talbot), and Robert Lupton (author of “Toxic Charity”). Faculty also had small group time to process the material and discover ways to integrate ON themes into their teaching disciplines. In February 2014, Trinity faculty will meet for a second retreat to learn more about faith, work, and economics from David Miller (Princeton’s Faith and Work Initiative) and P.J. Hill (professor emeritus of economics, Wheaton College).
Trinity has also hosted student retreats for Kern Scholars and students in our five-year degree program, with the specific goal of addressing ON outcomes. Cosden spoke at our 2012-13 student retreats; our 2013-14 year speakers will be Vincent Bacote (Wheaton College) and Anielka Munkel (Acton’s Poverty Cure program).
We kicked off the 2013 school year with a student affairs professional retreat, which provided 38 staff with an opportunity to prepare prior to interacting with students. Laurie Matthias led the professional retreat based on the theme “Created to Work” (Psalm 90:17). This retreat laid the foundation for an Oikonomia student leadership retreat in Green Lake, Wis., with 176 student leaders and staff, which will be led by Nelson as plenary speaker.
Trinity’s ON Initiative includes funds for faculty to: develop new curriculum that specifically address ON goals; redesign existing coursework to include significant components of ON goals; and implement ON objectives through experiential activities for students, such as view the Grohmann Museum’s collection of art depicting work.
Additional ON projects at Trinity include surveys of Trinity alumni and EFCA pastors; the creation of an alumni office director position that serves the needs of Trinity’s pastoral leadership alumni in utilizing ON resources in their local parishes and communities; and Kern Pastoral Fellowships that allow graduate students to serve alongside faculty in ministry, teaching, and researching. Trinity’s long-term vision for combining Network goals with its institutional mission for service throughout the evangelical church includes the creation of a pastoral ministry center to facilitate all ON projects. Future projects include activities with local churches that empower them to fully integrate a holistic understanding of faith, work, and economics into the lives of their communities.