Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Evan Lenow, Bobby L. and Janis Eklund chair of stewardship, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
The Land Center for Cultural Engagement coordinates Oikonomia Network programs at SWBTS, and we had a busy summer. In addition to having several faculty and students attend Acton University in June, we hosted two events that brought people to our campus from all over the world.
Land Center Summer Institute
Our annual Summer Institute gives us the opportunity to introduce pastors and professors from across the Southern Baptist Convention to the integration of faith, work and economics. This year we had more than 20 attendees, many of whom began thinking about these issues for the first time. Our speakers included Jay Richards, Jennifer Roback Morse, Michael Matheson Miller, and Patrick Garry. We covered topics such as how to think about economics from a Christian perspective, addressing wealth and poverty, the role of the family in economics, and the influence of the law on economic systems.
This year also marked the first time we had international attendees at this event. Through partnerships between SWBTS and ministries around the world, two of our attendees were able to come from Germany and Croatia. They applied what they learned at the Summer Institute to their respective roles in their home countries. One of them may also have the opportunity to return in the future to pursue doctoral studies at SWBTS.
Other attendees included professors from other Southern Baptist seminaries and colleges, as well as pastors from around the country. Participants also received resources they can use for further study and application in their ministries.
Young Scholars Competition
In July we hosted our first ever young scholars competition, in an effort to cultivate future leaders in research and communication about faith, work and economics. We put out a call for paper proposals to PhD students at seven seminaries during the spring semester. We selected the top eight proposals and invited those students to submit a paper and make a presentation on our campus in July. Seven participated in the competition.
Each young scholar was tasked with writing a paper and making a presentation that demonstrated the unique connection between his major field of study and faith, work and economics. The students represented five different institutions and three different disciplines. Our guest judge was Jay Richards, who provided invaluable feedback on both content and style of the presentations. The young scholars responded well to the feedback and give us hope for future research and scholarship in this area.
The Land Center has several programs planned for the fall semester, including three new events. Our first new event is a pastors’ institute with Tom Nelson, to give local church pastors resources and information to preach on faith and work. The pastors who will be participating have already been given a reading list so that they can prepare in advance for what Dr. Nelson will be teaching them during their time with us. In order to maximize his time on our campus, Dr. Nelson will also be preaching on faith and work in chapel.
The second new program will be our Old Testament colloquium. We have modeled this project after last year’s New Testament colloquium. More than fifteen Old Testament scholars will present papers on work and economics in Old Testament literature. Our goal is to have some of these papers published in journals or a book.
The third new program reaches far beyond our campus. SWBTS will be sponsoring a “Made to Work” Sunday among churches in the Southern Baptist Convention and beyond. The date is November 15, and we are encouraging churches to focus on how faith impacts our work. In addition, we are producing Sunday school material that churches can use in youth and adult classes. We have already received commitments from several churches to participate, and we are very excited about the impact this may have.
All this is on top of continuing ON activities at SWBTS, such as monthly lunch lectures and our winter Ethics Institute. We are blessed with work!