Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
At the end of last week, I had the chance to go to the Interfaith Consultation at the Stony Point conference center about an hour outside of NYC. The General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations convened approximately sixty church leaders and scholars to provide input to an upcoming document which will describe the PCUSA’s interfaith stance (to be approved at next summer’s General Assembly). It was fascinating to meet so many interesting people doing such faithful ministry in so many different contexts.
I was very glad to co-author with Rev. Sarah Sarchet Butter an article that appeared recently in the Presbyterian Outlook. The article is about leadership development and the ways that seminaries are working to expand the ways in which they go about this task. In particular we discuss the merits of a partnership between Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
First Presbyterian Church, Houston, is a large, vibrant community of faith which is on the conservative side of the denomination. Like other similar churches, it is wrestling with its future, and how it can best join Christ’s mission to the world: by remaining within the PC(USA), or by joining another denomination. However, the discernment process it has designed is, by far, the most helpful that I have ever seen.
Last week I traveled to Charlotte to visit Union Presbyterian Seminary. I was very impressed to learn about a preparation for seminary program called “Communities of Learning” offered to incoming students. It is “designed to increase readiness fort theological education among admitted students by shaping them into learning communities.” Through on-line communities and a mid-point retreat, the ministry covers basic biblical literacy, theological vocabulary, the nature of theological education, spiritual formation, foundational concepts, critical thinking, and communication skills.
On Monday and Tuesday I was in Nashville spending time with members of the Company of New Pastors, which is a program coordinated by Theology and Worship (one of the ministries of the PC(USA) with whom I work closely). This program helps seminaries transition into ministry by encouraging spiritual disciplines (like reading the Bible and praying) and small groups. These disciplines and groups begin in students’ last year of seminary, and then after graduation continue on for about four more years, with the same disciplines and newly configured groups.