The Center for Transformational Churches (CTC) at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has had a busy year. In May of 2016, Donald Guthrie, professor of educational ministries and Jeanette L. Hsieh Chair of Educational Leadership, was named executive director of the CTC. Guthrie, a member of the ON Steering Committee, has imparted a new level of strategic focus to the CTC as we continue to help develop Christian leaders, congregations, and communities that empower gospel change and whole-life discipleship.
This past fall, the CTC hosted the Avodah Summit, a gathering of Chicago-area pastors and Christian leaders on the connections among work, worship and service. The summit provided theological vision and practical tools to help believers connect their faith to their daily work and the flourishing of their communities. Held on Trinity’s campus, speakers like Skye Jethani, Steven Garber, Katelyn Beaty, Vincent Bacote, Aaron Niequist, Thurman Williams and many others underscored God’s intentions for all parts of our lives to be meaningful and sacred, involved in God’s mission for the reconciliation of all things.
This spring, the CTC also hosted the first gathering of the Resilience Project. The Project gathered 35 Evangelical Free Church of America pastors and their spouses for a time of guidance, mentorship and equipping regarding how to thrive, and not simply survive – that is, flourish vocationally – in ecclesial work.
Finally the CTC is gearing up for the daunting but exciting challenge of hosting the 2018 meeting of the Faith & Work Summit. The 2016 meeting of this unique gathering, hosted by LeTourneau University in Dallas, attracted a diverse group of over 400 people from every sector of service – business, home, church, universities, seminaries and more. We have set a date of Oct. 11-13, 2018 for the next summit, and further public announcements will be on their way very soon.
The national office of the Oikonomia Network is part of the CTC, and it too has had an eventful year. On March 2-3, 140 theological educators and Christian academics braved the Chicago winter to collaborate, network, share and contribute at the ON’s inaugural Karam Forum, held here at Trinity. Attendees from over 40 colleges and seminaries heard TED-style talks from Con Campbell, Celeste Cranston, Tom Nelson, Vincent Bacote and others. Amy Sherman provided insights into how a concern for whole-life discipleship can shape the pedagogy and structure of classes. Panel discussions unpacked Kevin Vanhoozer’s keynote lecture on scripture and discipleship, and another panel discussed how theological insight can help direct and shape the work of liberal-arts disciplines. And breakout groups – from theology to biblical studies and business and marketplace issues – discussed and shared how vocation, economic wisdom, flourishing and discipleship shape their respective fields.
Registration is open for the next Karam Forum on Jan. 4-5 in Los Angeles. Andy Crouch, Brian Fikkert, Mako Fujimura, Greg Jones, Stephen Grabill and Brent Waters will be featured, and more speakers will be announced soon. In addition, Sherman, Bock, Bacote and others will be returning to help host continuing conversations from the first Forum.
As big as Karam Forum is, the ON national office has much else on its plate. Providing resources for classrooms and local churches is one of our main services. We will be releasing new video tools in our series of Economic Wisdom Project Talks throughout the summer for your use in classrooms and local churches. We have published an Economic Wisdom Project minibook, Economic Wisdom for Churches, featuring essays on the four major themes of the Economic Wisdom Project – stewardship and flourishing, value creation, productivity and opportunity, and responsible action – from both familiar and new ON voices.
The ON will be present at events throughout the year, including both the Evangelical Theological Society and the American Academy of Religion meetings. And we are expanding the publication schedule of this newsletter to run monthly throughout the year, so we can keep you current. The work helping 20 partner schools and hundreds of educators equip future leaders continues!