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.
Yesterday I was in Atlanta for a meeting of the Special Committee on Funding Theological Institutions, a team which has worked since the last General Assembly (at its request) on the question of the best way for the denomination to raise money for the Presbyterian Church (USA) seminaries. There are seminary presidents, development professionals, members of the Committee on Theological Education, lawyers, a recent college graduate, pastors, and staff of the Presbyterian Mission Agency on the committee. We met at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA (just outside Atlanta).
This past week I have been in Princeton, NJ, for alumni reunion events and the inauguration of the seminary’s new president, M. Craig Barnes. It was a week full of interesting lectures by Robert Wuthnow, Elsie McKee, and Bob Dykstra, of connecting with folks from the seminary and the denomination, and of worshiping Christ in powerful ways at both the seminary and university chapels. I was struck by two of the charges given during my time in Princeton.
As I write I am flying home from an extremely thought-provoking conference at Montreat called “The Church in Purple.” It brought together speakers from the so-called progressive and conservative wings of the church, and asked them to think together about how we can be one church which lives in unity despite our blue/red differences.
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.
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.
Pleasant Ridge is a strong supporter of the Theological Education Fund, which distributes money among ten Presbyterian seminaries to support their preparation of men and women for various types of ministry. In my sermon, I thanked the congregation and then asked them what they are actually building when they donate money for this cause.
In a recent blog post I wish that I had made more explicit my friend and colleague Rev. Sarah Sarchet Butter’s contributions to a conversation with faculty and staff from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and to the topic of expanding leadership training beyond seminaries through the non-profit management departments of business schools.
Earlier this month I was in Chicago and met with a representative from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, an institution of the United Methodist Church, two coordinators for executive non-profit education from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, at the invitation of my long-time friend and colleague, Rev. Sarah Sarchet Butter.
A couple of weeks ago when I was in Atlanta, I preached and presented at North Avenue Presbyterian Church, where I had formerly served as an associate pastor. I was pleased to meet someone who has become a part of the church since I left in 2003. He told me, “Now when you get back to Louisville, you tell everyone how important it is that we keep educating our pastors.”
I was in Dumaguete City, the Philippines a couple of weeks ago for a consultation on theological education in Asia. There were about twenty representatives from South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the United States. Most who were there were professors, but some denominational staff members, a bishop, and some mission co-workers were also present. The event was very well-coordinated by the World Mission Office for Asia.
During my first year in this call, I have sought to visit as many seminaries as I can, and last week I had the opportunity to visit the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico. Its president, Dr. Sergio Ojeda Cárcamo, spent the morning helping me to understand its ministry.