Asbury Theological Seminary
Jay Moon, Associate Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism
Asbury Theological Seminary began its affiliation with the Oikonomia Network during the summer of 2013, establishing the Office of Faith, Work, and Economics in the Wesleyan Tradition (OFWE). Since then, Asbury Seminary has taken several initial steps to incorporate this new office into the seminary’s everyday life.
A six-member faculty team with representatives from each of the seminary’s five schools guided our work to engage students across the whole campus. In addition, we met various faculty members for lunch, coffee, etc., in order to introduce this new initiative and document their responses. Most faculty members offered encouraging feedback, and a significant number plan to attend Acton University this summer.
Recognizing the value of a diverse leadership body, the OFWE faculty team recruited 20 business, ministry, and academic leaders nationwide to form a National Advisory Council. This group met Nov. 12-13, 2013, to discuss the issues, obstacles, and opportunities for seminaries to integrate faith, work, and economics in the marketplace. Lively and informative discussions ensued, and we are happy to report that we presently have 20 leaders actively committed to this initiative. We continue to analyze the results of our conversations, but trust that we have identified critical areas to address as we move forward.
A campus-wide campaign was launched to engage students in the work of the OFWE. This led to the selection of four student interns to work alongside mentors in real estate, investment, agriculture, and entrepreneurship. During the 2014 spring semester, these interns will shadow business professionals, observing practical ways the Christian faith can be integrated in the marketplace. The OFWE also retains a student assistant to coordinate the office’s administrative functions. In addition, 35 students attended two courses offered last fall. These courses, Faith and Wealth in the Bible and Early Church, and Embodiment: The Morality of Sex, Food, and Work, provided an in-depth study of ethical issues relating to faith, work, and economics.
The OFWE continues to solicit and encourage student and faculty research and publication in areas depicting the intersection of faith and the marketplace. Currently, two students and one faculty member are conducting research in the areas of biblical perspectives on tithing, the effects of religion on economic development, and the role of clergy in dealing with corruption in secular environments. The OFWE and the Seminary Stewardship Alliance are partnering to develop a publication project; the plan (which is still a work in progress) calls for a multi-volume publication of academic writing that will engage faith, work, and economics to address questions of environmental sustainability.
Asbury Theological Seminary and Asbury University are discussing a partnership to provide dual-degree programs. Potential combinations include: doctor of ministry with a strategically placed cohort focused on faith, work, and economics; master’s programs in church planting; and master’s programs in Christian leadership. This strategic partnership widens our sphere of influence and provides students access to faculty from another institution.
While these first steps represent less than a year of work, Asbury Theological Seminary is pleased with the favorable response from students, faculty, and staff. We anticipate developing future initiatives to further engage the community and provide applicable resources.