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Gordon-Conwell’s Long-Standing Position on Women and Ministry Preparation

February 05, 2018

Dennis Hollinger, Ph.D.

President & Coleman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics

In the light of recent public statements and social media exchanges regarding women seminary faculty, I want to clarify the longstanding position of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

In light of our multidenominational identity, Gordon-Conwell fully affirms and respects the rights of denominations and churches to set their own standards for ordination. At the same time, it has long been our position to strongly affirm both our women students who come to us to pursue theological education and our women faculty who help provide it. We believe that the privilege of teaching and studying the Word of God at seminary knows no gender distinction, and that, indeed, the perspectives of both genders are essential for the fullest understanding of biblical texts, incisive theological reflection, and healthy community.

We fully affirm and rejoice in the contribution of our women faculty. As women created in the image of God, we as a seminary community are deeply blessed by their intellectual prowess, ardent pursuit of holiness and deep witness to the love of Jesus Christ in the communal life we share together. We would be deeply impoverished without their leadership, guidance and presence among us.

While we at Gordon-Conwell recognize that there has been, is, and will continue to be, robust debate around the issue of women’s ordination to the ministry, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the women who come to us for training to the ministries for which God is calling them. Most especially, we as a seminary administration, faculty, staff and students stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our women faculty who have dedicated their lives to the training of both men and women for Christian ministry.

Dennis Hollinger, Ph.D.

President & Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics

 

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Racial Reconciliation Series: Can We All Get Along?

December 01, 2017
Racial Reconciliation Series: Can We All Get Along?

As part of the release of fall 2017 edition of Contact Magazine, the Office Hours Faculty Blog is proud to present the concluding article of a 6-week series on racial reconciliation featuring articles written by experts, scholars and ministry leaders from Gordon-Conwell. The weekly release each Friday has included articles A Conversation with Dr. Emmett G. Price III, Beyond Colorblind, Ministering to Families in the Urban ContextHow Do We Learn to Love Our NeighborRacial Reconciliation: My Personal Experience and Can We All Get Along.

"Can We All Get Along?"

Dr. Jacqueline T. Dyer

I remember that question, “Can we all get along?” asked by Rodney King, the African American man who was savagely beaten by four police officers after a car chase. The officers were eventually charged for their use of force. Despite video evidence, three of the four white policemen were acquitted. The subsequent anger and violence that erupted lasted for days. At some point during the course of the Los Angeles riots, Rodney King pleaded for peace.

His question is a complicated one to ask, especially in connection to racial reconciliation in the United States. The hurt borne of a history of brutal slavery and ongoing inequities remains a festering wound under an uneven surface. When the hurt place is touched—or squeezed, as happened after that fateful verdict in 1992—a lot of mess comes oozing out. The mess does not reveal any new issues. It only reveals what is often veiled by efforts to minimize or hide some grim realities.

Race issues are not easily addressed on a good day in the United States. They are frequently convoluted by the fact that we are marred by sin and all that sin relentlessly demands. For instance, sin demands that we maintain prideful immobility if faced with fixing a wrong we do not feel we created. We experience fatigue at the thought of having to extend ourselves “one more time.” However, we who are people of the Triune God do not have the luxury of maintaining such resistance for long. Jesus shreds that resistance by giving us the mandate to be reconciled in all our relationships, both vertically, with God, and horizontally, with others. Matthew 5:23-24 reminds us that we cannot come to God with our offerings without being reconciled, even if the issue originates with our neighbor. We cannot claim to be too tired to improve our relationships. The responsibility to act rests with us.

So what gets in our way? It could be said that we “get in our own way.” We tend to want what we want, the way we want it. This often includes the choice of which relationships we reconcile, and who we call neighbor. Conversely that means deciding who does not receive our affections. Such preferences originate from our limitations. Yet all indicators of our faith tell us picking neighbors is not an option. 

Christians have the ultimate manual, replete with information for how to behave and interact, that guides our lives. When it comes to how we learn to love our neighbors, the issue is not the absence of knowledge. The issue is our starting point and how we proceed from there. I believe we first need to recognize the true Source of love in our lives. We learn to love others as we experience God’s love for us.

Can we all get along? Our Love connection teaches us that we cannot remain passive or disaffected by our neighbors, nor about our interactions with them. God’s love moves us beyond ourselves toward a strength and courage gained through humility in Christ. We first learn to love from God; and God enables us to extend love to others. This is how we learn to truly love all our neighbors.

 

Dr. Jacqueline T. Dyer is Assistant Professor of Counseling, Director of Counseling and Academic Support Initiatives and teaches at the seminary’s Boston Campus. She holds a Ph.D. from the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, and an M.A in Urban Ministry Leadership from Gordon-Conwell. She formerly was Assistant Professor and Field Coordinator at Eastern Nazarene College, and an Adjunct Professor at Simmons, Salem State and Wheelock Colleges of Social Work. She has served in clinical and supervisory positions at Family Intervention Team, Abundant Life Counseling Center, Roxbury Preparatory and Edward Brooke Charter Schools, Cambridge Public Schools and Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership. In addition, she is on the leadership team for Clergy Women United of the Black Ministerial Alliance.

 

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Racial Reconciliation Series: My Personal Experience

November 17, 2017
Racial Reconciliation Series: My Personal Experience

As part of the release of fall 2017 edition of Contact Magazine, the Office Hours Faculty Blog is proud to present a 6-week series on racial reconciliation featuring articles written by experts, scholars and ministry leaders from Gordon-Conwell. The weekly release each Friday and will include articles A Conversation with Dr. Emmett G. Price III, Beyond Colorblind, Ministering to Families in the Urban ContextHow Do We Learn to Love Our Neighbor, Racial Reconciliation: My Personal Experience and Can We All Get Along.

Racial Reconciliation: My Personal Experience

Prof. Dean Borgman

During the 1930s most New England Congregational Churches were admittedly Modernistic, essentially Unitarian and Universalist. But Black Rock Congregational Church in Bridgeport, CT, was an exception. This church moved from Modernist to Fundamentalist (or from “liberal” to “evangelical,” to use today’s terms) in the 1920s under the leadership of Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon MacDowell. His daughter, Winifred, became a leading evangelist, and (not without a dash of romance) she converted a local agnostic, Arnold Borgman.

Charles MacDowell was my grandfather; Arnold and Winifred, my parents. Black Rock was almost entirely “white,” but it bordered projects that were predominantly Black. As dispensationalist Christians, we were interested in the salvation of black souls, for eternity’s sake, but seemingly unconcerned about their present worldly dilemmas. World concerns God had entrusted to Israel; the Church was made up of God’s heavenly people, who were simply waiting for the Rapture.

Through a childhood friend, God opened doors for ministry to Black youth, as busloads of youth joined our Black Rock Teenage Group. It was great, but I never took the time to hear their full stories. While teaching high school and leading a Young Life Club in New Canaan, CT, I spent time with Black students. But despite my enthusiasm for their presence, I never got to hear their stories or understand their deeper issues. Around 1960, I began doing graduate studies at Columbia University and had a roommate, a Brazilian American who identified as Black and gay. He engaged me in deep conversations and introduced me to the notion of systemic racism. My dispensational theology began to weaken, and its individualism was giving way to a more holistic theology with the strong corporate emphases of Scripture.

I became involved in an urban youth ministry with Young Life in an Anglo-Catholic Church on the Lower East Side Manhattan. Systemic obstacles were apparent all around us: in housing, education, and criminal justice; the hopelessness of dreams, pressure to join gangs and powerful incentives to chase adventure and relief through drugs.

In his old age my grandfather came to live in my parents’ home while I worked with black leaders and youth in New York. He turned to me one day and exclaimed: “Remember, Dean, the Civil War was fought over the Union—not over slavery!” I also remember being in the kitchen one day when my mother and grandmother explained: “Remember, Dean, sparrows mate with sparrows and robins with robins.” I remember no malice behind these remarks; they just hung in the air and in my mind. God knew how far I needed to go, through my own failures and pain, to fathom the significance of the Great Commandment in racial reconciliation.

I began to see that my understanding of love and compassion had been generic and superficial. We were not trained to understand communal and trans-generational trauma back then, but the compelling wounds and anger of these youth led us to empathy and a deeper understanding of privilege, power and disadvantage. A year with the Street Academies of Harlem brought us into hard confrontations, emotional encounter groups, and late night discussions with the followers of Malcolm X and others.

My learning curve also included years in Africa. The stories of African supervisors, friends, and servants pointed to the racist aspects of colonialism and our country’s economic imperialism. American aid would bounce once in Africa and then back to the U.S. But the American inner-city was the same: outsiders—landlords, teachers, police, and shop owners—profited from money pumped into such neighborhoods.

In 1975, Dr. Wesley Roberts asked me to team-teach (eventually solo-teach) a new course requested by Black students at Gordon-Conwell. All I had was my privileged perspective; I had to become a humble and receptive learner, receptive to stories of pain. Surveys I conducted as we laid the foundation for an urban Boston campus contributed to my learning curve, as did countless deep encounters with students and colleagues for 40 years at the Boston Campus. As a practical theologian, I listen to the secular world and social scientists. A shelf-full of books on the African-American experience and systemic racism helps educate me to some degree.

The triumphalism of my early theology has faded. Even now I seem to be committed to a cause that will never fully win until our Lord brings God’s final triumph of justice. We seem to be called to faithfulness until final success, knowing that it may not come in our lifetimes.

I recently listened to dismissals of white privilege by young women who see charges of privilege as racism against whites. Their perspective must be part of any discussions leading toward reconciliation. But when our interchanges are characterized by arrogance rather than humility, rhetoric rather than earnest experience, and anger rather than vulnerability, we are pushing polarization rather than seeking beloved community and God’s Kingdom among us. Ears must take precedence over mouths, real listening before even considering a response.

In our academic communities, churches and cities there are deep wounds that result in a lack of trust and hinder genuine community. Too often, we just “don’t get it.” We don’t realize how we, as those with subtle but real social power, come off to those who have always experienced less.

I am called by Jesus Christ to be childlike, to understand the total mystery of ethnic identities and social strata involved in secular society and in God’s Kingdom. Only as a vulnerable, learning sinner can I truly open my arms to relationships with all others.

 

Dean Borgman, long-time Charles E. Culpeper Professor of Youth Ministries, joined Gordon-Conwell in 1976, bringing valuable expertise in urban and cross-cultural youth ministry and the changing youth culture. Recognized as a leader in youth ministries, he established Young Life in New England, founded its Urban Training Center and worked to integrate youth into Young Life and St. Christopher’s Episcopal Mission in Lower Manhattan, NY. He also taught at New Canaan (CT) High School, New York City Community College, Cuttington College in Liberia, and served as Educational Director of Street Academies for the New York Urban League. An Episcopal priest, he was on the Youth Board of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and the Youth, Urban and Spiritual Renewal Commissions of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. In addition, he was the Youth Ministry Consultant at the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

 

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Racial Reconciliation Series: How do we Learn to Love our Neighbor?

November 09, 2017
Racial Reconciliation Series: How do we Learn to Love our Neighbor?

As part of the release of fall 2017 edition of Contact Magazine, the Office Hours Faculty Blog is proud to present a 6-week series on racial reconciliation featuring articles written by experts, scholars and ministry leaders from Gordon-Conwell. The weekly release each Friday and will include articles A Conversation with Dr. Emmett G. Price III, Beyond Colorblind, Ministering to Families in the Urban Context, How Do We Learn to Love Our Neighbor, Racial Reconciliation: My Personal Experience and Can We All Get Along.


How do we Learn to Love our Neighbor?

Quonekuia Day, M.Phil./Ph.D. (cand.)

How Do We Learn to Love our Neighbor?” For some, this question may conjure up memories of the parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable is told in response to a lawyer’s question to Jesus on how he might receive eternal life.

Jesus initially tells the lawyer to follow the first two commandments of the Law: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. However, this answer is not sufficient for the lawyer, who further presses Jesus to identify the neighbor. This inquiry leads Jesus to present the parable of the Good Samaritan.

In the parable, a man is injured, robbed and left helpless. Three men identified as a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan have an opportunity to aid the injured man. But it is only the Samaritan who intervenes to change the injured man’s condition. The priest and the Levi recognize the injured man but do not intervene to change his fate. At the conclusion of the parable Jesus asks the lawyer to identify the neighbor of the injured man, to which he responds by indicating that he was the Samaritan.

Perhaps one of the more notable moments of the Good Samaritan story is when each person sees the injured man. The priest sees the injured man and continues with his journey. The Levi sees the injured man and continues with his journey. But when the Samaritan sees the injured man, he is moved with compassion—splagcnizomai. He stops his journey and acts to change the fate of the injured man. The compassion he feels prompts him to intervene on the behalf of the man.

The Greek word splagcnizomai, translated as “compassion,” is the same word used to describe Jesus’ feelings in Matthew 14:14 as he looked upon the large crowd of followers. He lamented that they had no shepherd and he healed the sick and miraculously fed them after multiplying two fishes and five loaves of bread. In Luke 7:13, the scripture details that Jesus felt compassion—splagcnizomai— for the mother whose son had died, and then he raised the son from the dead. The compassion—splagcnizomai—experienced by the Samaritan and by Jesus leads them each to act to change the circumstances of the injured and the helpless.

Our question is “How to Learn to Love our Neighbor?” Learning to love our neighbor begins with following the example of Jesus Christ and the Good Samaritan—that when we see our neighbor in a helpless, injured condition, we feel compassion to act. It is not enough for us to simply recognize his or her condition as pitiful or a sorrowful state.

The homeless, abused, oppressed and neglected require more than recognition that their state in life is sorrowful. In order for their condition to improve, they will need more Christians to feel and experience something so strong that it interrupts their life, stops their journey and causes action on behalf of the injured. The Christian will have to be moved by compassion—splagcnizomai.
 

Prof. Quonekuia Day, Instructor in Old Testament, joined the Gordon-Conwell faculty full-time in 2009 after serving as Coordinator of Student Advisement and Mentored Ministry for the Boston campus, and as an adjunct professor. She also taught for Vision New England at her church, Greater Love Tabernacle in Roxbury, MA, and the Southern New England Church of God Ministerial Internship Program. A licensed clinical social worker, she has served at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and Dimock Community Health Center, all in Boston. She has also co-facilitated a substance abuse support group. She is an Ordained Minister with the Church of God, Cleveland in Tennessee.

 

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Racial Reconciliation Series: Ministering to Families in the Urban Context

November 03, 2017
Racial Reconciliation Series: Ministering to Families in the Urban Context

As part of the release of fall 2017 edition of Contact Magazine, the Office Hours Faculty Blog is proud to present a 6-week series on racial reconciliation featuring articles written by experts, scholars and ministry leaders from Gordon-Conwell. The weekly release each Friday and will include articles A Conversation with Dr. Emmett G. Price III, Beyond Colorblind, Ministering to Families in the Urban Context, How Do We Learn to Love Our Neighbor, Racial Reconciliation: My Personal Experience and Can We All Get Along.


Ministering to Families in the Urban Context

Dr. Virginia Ward (MA ’10, D.Min.’16)

Churches in the urban landscape are poised to reach families of all ethnicities.

More families are living in urban areas than in the past. The United States Census Bureau reported that in 1950 only 56 percent of the population lived in the city. That number increased to 76 percent in 1989 and to 80.7 percent in 2010.

The urbanization of communities during the mid-century created new challenges for families. The major support systems of the family, school and work encountered a different set of demands. Urban youth were faced with social and economic problems at a greater rate than their suburban counterparts.1

The biblical “first family” gives us a snapshot of the complexity of the urban family:

A father, although present, is not walking in his full authority

A mother, deceived by Satan, disobeys God’s commandment

An angry, envious son kills his brother

An obedient son innocently loses his life

As a result of these complex issues, the family is a) displaced from their original home environment (the Garden of Eden), b) in trauma over the loss of a son and, c) faces economic hardship due to Adam’s new job situation. Many of the issues facing urban families are displayed in this account: opposing agendas, lack of male leadership, unsupported females, sibling rivalry and economic hardship, to name a few.

Although the first biblical family had a father present in the home, 70 percent of urban families [currently] do not have a male parent living in the home. For the 30 percent that do, most of the parents are struggling to find their spiritual identity and do not feel adequate to help their children.

Today, the urban family is not as well defined as in bible times. The biblical mandates requiring parents to train their children in the ways of God and equip them for life assumed that each home unit was comprised of a father and mother. These mandates were taught from the previous generation and passed on to the current generation in order for them to instruct future generations. Fathers and mothers were given specific roles to accomplish this goal.

The current urban family description does not fit this pattern. With the exodus of men and women from the home to the world of work and the increase of fatherlessness, the traditional, biblical model of parenting is in question. Given the abandonment of children to the influence of technology and the streets, coupled with the epidemic of violence that touches the lives of youth, today families require additional support.2

The extended family of grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and all blood relatives used to be a constant network to rely on in times of need. Over the years this extended network has fragmented and families are left with minimal internal support. Immigrant families often have an additional language barrier to face.

Governmental agencies and community supports have risen in attempt to meet the challenge of supporting families. Urban churches can also assist with this challenge to support families, even in complicated circumstances, if youth leaders are properly trained to do so.

In cases where the mother is the head of household, the Church must support single mothers to become the spiritual leaders and champions in the home.3 We have witnessed many single mothers who have raised Christian children who are successful academically, socially and financially. Using the Church as a community, single mothers, Christian and non-Christian, can connect with strong Christian families. Men serving as uncles, big brothers and fathers support the children.

Urban fathers are not totally out of the picture. There are some hard-working fathers who have stayed in the home despite the special challenges and barriers facing urban fathers. Dr. Willie Richardson, author of Reclaiming the Urban Family, declares that the Church cannot build strong families without reaching out to fathers and sons. The Church can help men address the issues plaguing their parenting successfully in an urban environment by being intentional about including men in the spiritual development of youth.

The urban church is a great resource for families seeking additional support for their children’s holistic development. Eugene Roehlkepartain of Youth Ministry in City Churches believes that each urban church must develop its own plan to reach youth and families in their community. He states that since no city is exactly alike; the youth ministry models will also vary. Although the ministry components may be similar, there is no one size fits all approach in urban youth and family ministry.

In Hardwired to Connect it is noted that religious institutions are recognized as one of the strongest civic institutions in low-income neighborhoods.4 Urban churches can provide better leadership by empowering youth leaders to build authoritative communities to support youth and families. This is a practical approach, enabling youth leaders to connect with the multiple systems that surround our youth. Urban youth ministry models must address all aspects of youth development in connection with the family. The urban family needs a connection to the Church and other supportive systems. The youth leader can be the facilitator of these connections.

The living parts or systems in urban environments include the family, health, education, justice, poverty, trauma, faith, court and penal institutions, civic duty and the multi-faceted cultural component. These systems in the urban environment surrounding youth connect with each other, some by choice and others by force. Youth workers should be able to identify these systems and connect with them for strategic ministry to youth and their families. Understanding urban and family systems are essential keys to ministry in an urban context. Youth and family ministry in the urban environment demands an understanding of the complex systems surrounding the urban family and urban church.

In their book The Cat and the Toaster, Dr. Doug and Judy Hall, who for 50 years led the Emmanuel Gospel Center in urban Boston, present a biblical narrative of urban systems and a challenge to urban ministries to think systemically about how to navigate and connect in their communities. Urban church based youth leaders can benefit from these principles and develop relevant ministries to youth and their families.


Endnotes:

 

1 Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, Youth Ministry in City Churches: Proven Tips From Over 40 Youth Ministry Veterans (Loveland, CO: Thom Schultz Publication, Inc., 1989), 24.

2 R. Miller, “A Brief Introduction to Holistic Education,” The Encyclopedia of Informal Education (2000), accessed

3 George Barna, High Impact African American Churches, 136.

4 The Commission on Children at Risk, Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities. (New York: Institute for American Values, 2003), 45.


Dr. Virginia Ward is Assistant Dean of Gordon-Conwell’s Boston Campus and Assistant Professor of Ministry and Leadership Development. Previously Director of Leadership and Mentored Ministry Initiatives at that campus, Dr. Ward has extensive experience as an urban pastor, ministry organizer and youth ministry expert. A third-generation minister, Rev. Ward and her husband, Bishop Larry Ward, have co-pastored the Abundant Life Church (Cambridge, MA) which they founded in 1988. She has also been a trainer for the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative and the Black Ministerial Alliance, and Director of InterVarsity’s Black Campus Ministries.

 

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Racial Reconciliation Series: Beyond Colorblind

October 27, 2017
Racial Reconciliation Series: Beyond Colorblind

As part of the release of fall 2017 edition of Contact Magazine, the Office Hours Faculty Blog is proud to present a 6-week series on racial reconciliation featuring articles written by experts, scholars and ministry leaders from Gordon-Conwell. The weekly release each Friday and will include articles A Conversation with Dr. Emmett G. Price III, Beyond Colorblind, Ministering to Families in the Urban Context, How Do We Learn to Love Our Neighbor, Racial Reconciliation: My Personal Experience and Can We All Get Along.
 

Beyond Colorblind

Sarah Shin (MAT '17)

An adapted exerpt from the book Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey (IV Press, October 2017).

Our churches often avoid the topic of ethnicity and race because we don’t think it’s relevant to our faith, or we’re afraid of offending people and trying to avoid being “political.” More often than not, we don’t know how to talk about it and withdraw from conversations about race or ethnicity. We lack the skills, language and understanding to be able to share the gospel in our diverse and divided contexts.

Perhaps the reason Christians have little to say is that, for a time, we bought into the secular world’s gospel of colorblind diversity as the answer to our problems of ethnic division. Colorblindness often meant polite avoidance or silence, inside and outside the Church.

In buying into colorblindness, we lost our prophetic voice. We did not examine the Scripture’s rich depth of insight into God’s creation and intent for ethnicity, and we lacked biblical literacy on the issue, leading to lack of theological reflection, formation and repentance. Scripture formed no foundation for ourselves as ethnic beings. We either denied ethnicity as valuable or bought into the secular world’s understanding of ethnicity. This robbed us of the opportunity to hear the stories of people who are ethnically different than us.

We are shocked and unsure of how to engage when we hear of things such as a race-related incident or hate crime. Our lack of ethnic identity understanding for ourselves and those around us led to a proclamation of a gospel that is irrelevant or powerless in addressing real aches, pains and questions. Racially and culturally unaware witness and involvement in our communities caused distrust; we sometimes did more harm than good and pushed people away from us—away from opportunities to hear the gospel, and away from trusting Jesus. What resulted was and is a distant and often irrelevant, unaffected Church.

The Christian story is one that acknowledges that we are fundamentally broken. Why would the realm of ethnicity and race be exempt from the influence of sin? Colorblindness mutes Christian voice and thought from speaking into ethnic brokenness. In holding onto colorblindness as the solution, we as Christians are trying to doggy-paddle when we actually need to learn how to swim. We might sink in our attempts to stay afloat or cause others to drown as we thrash about in our good intentions.

Our world is in need of the gospel, a good news that goes beyond colorblindness, that is not afraid of addressing ethnic difference. When it comes to ethnicity, our world needs Christian voices to call for change and reform with Jesus as the transforming center of it all. How can we relevantly live out the gospel in such a hotbed of emotions, scars, division and chaos? If we avoid this topic now, we withdraw into ineffectual witness in word and deed. And we leave a broken and hurting world, friends and strangers, in chaos.

We need to recognize what we are meant to be in our ethnic stories and identities so that we can ask Jesus to restore us. It’s not just about being racially aware and sensitive so that you can be a cross-culturally savvy navigator of a multiethnic group. It’s also about Jesus redeeming and restoring our ethnic identities, which makes for a compelling narrative that causes non-Christians to ask us about our faith as they wonder, how could that kind of hope and healing be available to me?

When Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, she responds with astonished cynicism: “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:9).

Jesus’ attempts at conversation are parried by the woman’s multiple pointed questions about their people’s historic ethnic tensions. But by choosing to speak with her, Jesus the Messiah is embodying what Israel was meant to be: the priesthood nation and light to the Gentiles. He is redeeming what it means to be an Israelite Jew. And as the Samaritan woman experiences Jesus redeeming his people’s ethnicity, she starts to desire such living water. Jesus is transforming the disciples’ understanding of what it meant to be Jewish and the Samaritan woman’s understanding of what it meant to be Samaritan. Ethnicity no longer serves as the confines of mission. It becomes the vehicle, the sacred vessel in which God’s story comes to light.

Our ethnic stories rarely form in isolation; they often involve encounters and altercations with those around us. It’s knowing our ethnic stories and the ethnic identity narratives of those around us that help us realize the complexity of values, scars, trigger points and words to avoid. It helps us know more how to sensitively share the gospel, and boldly invite even those that were considered ethnic enemies or strangers to become believers.

Knowing and owning our ethnic narratives helps us understand the real issues of injustice, racial tension and disunity that exist in the world. Ethnicity awareness helps us ask the question of how to prophetically engage in pursuing justice, racial reconciliation and caring for the poor while we give the reason for our hope: Jesus, the great reconciler of a multiethnic people.


Sarah Shin is a resource specialist in the evangelism department of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). She is a speaker and trainer in ethnicity, evangelism and the arts, and she previously served IVCF as an area director in Boston and as a regional coordinator of multiethnicity. A fine artist and painter, Sarah has an M.A. in Theology degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Master’s in City Planning and Development from MIT. She and her husband live in Cambridge, MA

 

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Racial Reconciliation Series: A Conversation with Dr. Emmett G. Price III

October 20, 2017
Racial Reconciliation Series: A Conversation with Dr. Emmett G. Price III

As part of the release of fall 2017 edition of Contact Magazine, the Office Hours Faculty Blog is proud to present a 6-week series on racial reconciliation featuring articles written by experts, scholars and ministry leaders from Gordon-Conwell. The inaugural article entitled A Coversation with Dr. Emmett G. Price III by Anne Doll will kick off the weekly release each Friday and will include articles Beyond Colorblind, Ministering to Families in the Urban Context, How Do We Learn to Love Our Neighbor, Racial Reconciliation: My Personal Experience and Can We All Get Along.


A Conversation with Dr. Emmett G. Price III

Anne Doll, Interim Director of Communications & Marketing


COULD YOU PLEASE GIVE US A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON ON THE ROOTS OF RACISM?

Dr. Price: “Racism has been studied by philosophers, sociologists, theologians, even musicologists. It spans the intellectual pursuit and even theology. It evolved out of the sinful nature of humanity, and the failure to see one another as the imago dei, as image bearers of God. Those who have been colonialists, those who have been imperialists, have used their authority to subjectify and objectify others into subordinate and condescending roles and functions. 

“And so across time, we find humans mistreating and abusing one another. Whether you look at the colonialization, the slave trade, the early American history of the genocide of indigenous peoples, you find the same thing over and over and over: the racialization of one another, the desire of an oppressor to ‘other-ize’ another person based on their racial identity. 

“And it’s a sinful thing. God did not create racists; God created humanity. We were dispersed across the planet into peoples and tongues, as many Bible interpretations have stated. Racism and racialization and the concept of race is a human oriented thing that is used to separate and segment us, which again is sinful because it goes against the nature of the imago dei, the ability to see each other as God’s image bearers. 
 

IT SEEMS AS IF, IN THE U.S., THERE HAS BEEN MORE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST BLACK INDIVIDUALS THAN OTHER MINORITIES OF COLOR.

Dr. Price: “I think the indigenous have been discriminated against the most and the longest in this country. We don’t have a huge population of indigenous in the country anymore, and those remaining have been ostracized and disrespected—which is a huge atrocity. Next in terms of discrimination would be African descendants, because chronologically, the Africans were brought here as indentured servants and slaves. That legacy of servitude and subordination is horrific. The reason why the Black narrative has emerged as prominent is because discrimination of Blacks still remains. We, those of us who are here, need to tell these stories, even in the midst of it.

“As we have recently celebrated the Fourth of July, which was a declaration of independence against the British Empire that led to the emergence of this nation 241 years ago, that document was signed and celebrated even in the midst of slavery. Even in this great nation, there is a conundrum, because as much as we celebrate citizenship, freedom and liberty, not everybody is granted full citizenship, freedom and liberty. And, unfortunately, much of that is based upon race and gender. So in that Declaration of Independence, where it suggests that all men are created equal, the word ‘men’ was not a substitute for mankind or humankind. The framers meant that all white men were created equal. If you were not a white man, you did not fit the mold.”

DO YOU SEE THE RECENT DEMONSTRATIONS AND EMERGENCE OF GROUPS LIKE BLACK LIVES MATTER AS A ‘BOILING OVER’ RESPONSE TO LONGSTANDING DISCRIMINATION?

Dr. Price: “I think it’s a progression. I don’t see it as much worse now than ever. I think the challenge is that because there have been violent atrocities against black bodies in our recent and past history, we’ve become immune to it. We have said, ‘As long as it doesn’t happen here…’ The challenge is that now it is happening here, and in a digitized era when we have video cameras in our hands at all times. These ‘live’ recordings, and the ability to replay, send and share videos make it seem as if it’s a new thing. 

“But if you go back to Emmet Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy whose brutal lynching death in Mississippi is credited with galvanizing the Civil Rights Movement, and if you go back beyond that, if you look at the maiming and torturing and murder of black bodies, both male and female, and the lynchings—back to many other horrific examples of this senselessness across the history of our country, I don’t see a new thing. I see it as a progression, although now with video proof. And the hope inherent in that for many Blacks, for people of color and also many whites, is that somebody with authority will do something about it, because there is an awakening consciousness.

“So the whole notion of ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not to suggest that black lives matter more than any other lives. But the reality is that until we all agree that black lives matter, too, or matter just as much as white lives, then we’re going to continue to have issues.” 

YOU TAUGHT A COURSE LAST YEAR, THE PROJECT OF RECONCILIATION: INTERSECTION OF CHURCH AND CULTURE. YOU HAVE DESCRIBED THAT COURSE AS ‘A VERY DETAILED PREPARATION OF SEMINARIANS ON HOW TO LEAD LOCAL CHURCHES AND THE NATIONAL AND GLOBAL CHURCH, KNOWING THAT WE HAVE A HUGE UPHILL BATTLE AGAINST US, BUT KNOWING THAT GOD IS SOVEREIGN.’ COULD YOU PLEASE EXPAND ON THIS?

Dr. Price: “You cannot deal with anything if you don’t acknowledge that it exists. And factions of the Church historically have either taken a blind eye or a slighted eye to racism. I believe that until we recognize the sin of racism and the sin of not seeing one another as image bearers of God, then we’re sweeping things under the rug. The moment we acknowledge that these issues exist, then we are able to open our eyes and learn how to relate with one another, ask the questions that seem silly about one another, spend time together, fellowship and break bread with one another in our churches and be able to take leadership from clergy together. 

“What I’m looking at here is Acts 2:42-47, an example of the first Church and what those folks did. They broke bread and fellowshipped together. The churches in the New Testament wrote the very first script, and we can follow that New Testament model of what it means to spend time and learn and be with one another, to share heritages, to hear stories and share testimonies and realize that God has been working in your life just as God has been working in my life. 

“And what that does is remove the fear of the unknown. It removes the anxiety of saying something that may be presumed prejudiced or discriminatory, because nobody wants to be called a racist. And, unfortunately, many of us see life and the world in a racialized perspective until we’re called to be aware of it.” 

BUT THERE IS GOD…

Dr. Price: “I do believe there is hope for those of us who follow Christ and believe that God is sovereign, that there is a time and a place we look forward to where we can eradicate this evil sin of racism, and see one another as image bearers of God—to the point of calling one another brothers and sisters in Christ.” 


TOWARD THAT END, HOW DO CHURCH LEADERS ENGAGE AND HELP THEIR CONGREGATIONS ENGAGE IN REACHING ACROSS THE DIVIDE TO HEAR ONE ANOTHER’S STORIES?

Dr. Price: “There are a number of ways to do this, and many organizations are doing great work. The challenge is that certain organizations concentrate on certain people, some on intellectuals and some on youth and some on women. Some focus on churches, others, on people in the streets—those who are beyond the churches. I don’t think there is any one way to do anything. They’re all important. 

“However, the critical piece is that there have to be some people of color who are able to take a leadership role in the conversation. And the problem with many of the organizations is that they are run and led by people who are not of color. It becomes a challenge if you want to get a critical mass of people of color, because the notion is that you are still asking us to submit to the authority of a person who is not of color. There have to be a number of organizations and entities that are led by people of color.”

DO YOU SEE SOME POCKETS OF THAT OCCURRING?

Dr. Price: “Many organizations nationwide are doing that. African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Indigenous—we always forget about our Asian brothers and sisters and our indigenous brothers and sisters, both of whom are making great strides. This is the space the Institute wants to sit in as well. As a leading seminary in the country and in the world, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary has made a commitment to explore these questions, these challenges, in a way that no other seminary has endeavored to do. While many seminaries focus on Black Church Studies, we’re looking at the Black Christian Experience, which is global, which is diasporic, which is inclusive. And so in that sense, we have a broader swath and much more flexibility to be inclusive, and encompass the narratives and stories of many folks who often get ostracized and left out.”

LET’S SUPPOSE THAT I AM A READER OUT IN THE HEARTLAND, AND MY HEART IS BREAKING FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR WHO HAVE SUFFERED SO UNDER RACISM. I WANT TO DO SOMETHING. I WANT TO TAKE THE FIRST STEPS. HOW DO I EVEN BEGIN?

Dr. Price: “That is a beautiful question, one that is challenging for all of us. I think the first step is to do a self-examination, and really wrestle and reflect on whether you have been part of the problem in the past. We have to change behavior in order to create a different future. A lot of people suggest that whites join black churches or make a black friend. I think those are great examples of forward progress, but those don’t do any good if you don’t reflect, to make sure you’re not part of the problem, whether implicitly or explicitly. 

“The second step is prayer. We forget that God reveals so much to us when we quiet ourselves and spend time deliberately with God. Can we enter a season of personal prayer that would allow God to illuminate and show forth various ways that may be specific to each of us, of what we can do and how to do it. I don’t believe in a one-equation-fits-all situation. 

“And the third step would be to reach out prayerfully to a person of color to initiate a safe conversation within boundaries and perimeters that is focused on race and racial relations. The reason I say ‘with boundaries and perimeters’ is that these kinds of conversations can go on for four or five hours. You may want to establish a weekly dialogue, a time where you could set aside 45 minutes or an hour and a half, so that that you can initiate a series of conversations. Keep in mind that many such conversations need time to breathe. So take a few days to think about what you heard, what you said. Then maybe start off again by debriefing your last experience. This process helps us to grow. 

“We forget that moving to a place where we eradicate racism and prejudice and discrimination means that we have to grow. We have to grow spiritually, emotionally and intellectually…and that takes time.” 

Prior to Dr. Emmett Price’s arrival to Gordon-Conwell, he served as an Associate Professor of Music at Northeastern University (Boston) for 15 years. From 2008 to 2012 he also served as chair of the Department of African American Studies. He is a former research fellow of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University and Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, where he was lead scholar on the Rhythm & Flow Initiative. Dr. Price is also Founding Pastor of Community of Love Christian Fellowship in Allston, MA. In addition to the M.A. in Urban Ministry Leadership from Gordon-Conwell, he earned a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and both MA and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.

 

Additional Resources

 

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Drs. Hollinger and Mason testify on House Bill 119A, relative to end of life options

October 04, 2017

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, Dennis Hollinger, Ph.D. , President & Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics and Dr. Karen Mason, Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology testified before the Joint Committee on Public Health at the Massachusetts Statehouse regarding Physician Assisted Suicide and House Bill 119A, An Act Relative to End of Life Options. The following are their transcribed testimonies.

Dennis Hollinger, Ph.D.,
Testimony on Physician Assisted Suicide

There have been at least three major ethical arguments given to support physician-assisted suicide.  While these arguments at first glance seem laudable, each carries with them logical and ethical flaws.

 Compassion

Compassion

The most frequently heard appeal for medical assistance in dying is that it’s only compassionate to end the agony of a person in severe pain by taking their life.  As human beings we of course have moral obligations to show compassion to all humans, and especially those enduring extreme hardship, suffering and injustices.
   
But compassion is not a moral principle isolated from other principles and virtues.  In other words, compassion is not the moral trump card.  And as the late Dr. Edmund Pellegrino (Georgetown U.) once put it, “Compassion should accompany moral acts, but it does not justify them.”  
   
The word compassion comes from the Latin term, meaning to suffer with.  We do not suffer with a dying patient in pain by ending their life, but by providing compassionate care that aims to mitigate the pain and suffering.  Palliative care (the art of pain control), hospice care and terminal sedation (an induced continuous sleep mode) are all means of providing compassionate care at the end of life.  These are clear alternatives to assisted suicide.

Autonomy/Freedom

A second major argument for physician-assisted suicide is that since we are autonomous beings we should have, in the face of pain and suffering, the freedom to end life as we see fit; and that entails medical assistance.  This is an old argument for euthanasia as Seneca, the Roman Stoic Philosopher once contended, “As I choose the ship in which I sail and the house in which I shall inhabit, so I will choose the death by which I will leave life.  In no matter more than in death should we act according to our desire.”
   
But there are fundamental flaws in this argument.  First, physician assisted suicide is never an autonomous act.  It involves doctors who must acquiesce to the request, nurses who accompany the act, families who are impacted by the act and the whole of society to which the person belongs.  An isolated autonomy denies the bonds of solidarity and community in which all humans reside and through which they find meaning, solace and identity.  Moreover, the principle of autonomy or freedom as a grounds for assisted suicide “accords rights only to those who are fully autonomous, putting the demented, the … [mentally impaired], or the permanently comatose at serious risk.”   Autonomy, applied to medically assisted dying, discriminates against suffering patients who are unable to make autonomous judgments.

Assisted Suicide is No Different than Treatment Termination

A third argument for assisted suicide is that it is no different than treatment termination, in which medical support is withdrawn and the patient dies.  Treatment termination is widely accepted and practiced everyday in hospitals around the world.  In both treatment termination and assisted suicide death is the outcome, thus goes the argument, there is no moral distinction between the two.

But there is a major flaw in this argument.  Namely, in treatment termination the disease takes the life, while in assisted suicide a human action involving death inducing drugs takes the life.  As Oxford ethicist Nigel Biggar points out, this argument for assisted suicide “suffers from a major flaw… by its implicit denial of any moral difference between involuntary homicide and murder, the outcome—death—being the same in both cases.”   In one action the intention is death.  In the other action the intention is to let nature or divine providence take its course.

Conclusion

Assisted suicide suffers from major flaws logically and morally.  But beyond that human life is a gift to be protected, nurtured and honored.  We do not protect, nurture and honor life when we grant a legal right to actively terminate it. 

 

Karen Mason, Ph.D.,
Testimony on Physician Assisted Suicide

Legalizing Aid in Dying may open the door to suicide because of the interrelationships between suicide and Aid in Dying procedurally, morally and psychologically.

1. Procedurally

Despite Section 18’s effort to distinguish Aid in Dying from assisted suicide, Aid in Dying is a type of assisted suicide in which the victim self-administers the means to death. In suicide, the victim procures the means and administers them. In Aid in Dying, the doctor prescribes the means and the victim administers them.
 

2. Morally

  • I came to realize this moral interrelationship while interviewing 15 Catholic, Jewish and Protestant clergy about their moral deliberations on suicide, ending futile medical treatment, Aid in Dying and euthanasia using vignettes (Mason, Kim, Martin & Gober, 2017). What struck us is that the respondents used the same moral principles to deliberate morally on vignettes depicting each of these types of death. The primary principles used were sanctity of life and the preservation of the natural course of life and others.

o  A Jewish rabbi said this about an Aid in Dying vignette: “If [a person] takes her life [through Aid in Dying] she also needs to take into account the negative impact this could have on society, on her family, on her sister. All of that does something to lessen the unshakable value of life.”

o   I work to prevent suicide and am against House Bill 1194 because I believe that a society ought to affirm the unshakable value of life.

3. Psychologically

Another interrelationship is psychological. What has struck me is the similarity of the underlying psychology in those who request Aid in Dying and those at risk of suicide.

Herbert Hendin (1997), former Medical Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, New York Medical College has written that seriously or terminally ill people who wish to end their lives are not significantly different from other suicidal people.
 

 Burdensomeness:

  • One psychological similarity is feeling one is a burden to others. A person who is depressed may be unable to go to work or contribute positively to the family. If this depressed person perceives him/herself to be a burden, she or he may make the mental calculation “my family would be better off without me,” “they would be better off if I were dead.” This thinking is a robust predictor of suicide risk (Chu et al., 2017; Kanzler, Bryan, McGeary, & Morrow, 2012).
  • Some who request Aid in Dying similarly dread dependence on others. Legalizing Aid in Dying will result in an erosion in the belief that people, even those who cannot contribute productively, are not burdensome because life in all its forms is valued.
  • Ganzini, Silveira, and Johnson (2002) found that patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who were interested in assisted suicide had greater distress at being a burden than ALS patients not interested in assisted suicide.
  • Ganzini and Back (2003) found that people who requested Aid in Dying had a life-long value of control, dreaded dependence on others, were ready to die and assessed their quality of life as poor.
  • Kaplan and Schwartz (2008) conducted psychological autopsies on Kevorkian’s 93 Aid in Dying cases. More than one-third (37%) of the decedents for whom depression data was available (the first 47 cases) were described as depressed. This percentage was higher for women (40%) than for men (30%). 90% of the first 47 cases were reported as having declared that they had a high fear of dependence on others in their disabled condition.

Depression:

  • Since Ganzini & Back (2003), a number of studies have found a relationship between depression and considering Aid in Dying (Marrie et al., 2017). Depression is also related to suicidal thinking (Franklin et al., 2017). Depression can distort judgment and affect the capacity to make an Aid in Dying decision (Quill, Back, & Block, 2016).
  • Hendin offers this example: “A 64-year-old woman with advanced lung cancer requested death. She was treated with a combination of analgesics (morphine and acetaminophen) on a regular basis…She was also started on antidepressants … and agreed to talk with a psychiatrist. Her mood improved rapidly, there was dramatic reduction in her pain, and she began to view her life more positively. She spoke openly about dying but wanted to be alive as long as her pain could be controlled. When asked whether the doctors should have “killed” her when she requested it, she responded with a definite no, recognizing that pain had so depressed her that she could only wish for death” (p.  211).
  • Smith et al. (2015) compared 55 Oregonians who requested Aid in Dying with 39 Oregonians with advanced disease who did not pursue Aid in Dying. The predictors of requesting Aid in Dying included: increased education, higher levels of depression, hopelessness, and higher levels of dread of dependence and lower levels of spirituality. No differences were found on pain or perceived level of social support

Conclusion:

I am concerned that legalizing Aid in Dying may be related to an increase in suicide.

  • Jones and Paton (2015) found that in Oregon and Washington, legalizing Aid in Dying was associated with a 6.3% increase in total suicides (including assisted suicides). The increase was 14.5% in individuals over 65 years old. More research like this is needed to clarify the relationship between Aid in Dying and suicide. Some have argued that Aid in Dying prevents suicide because Aid in Dying provides people with terminal illnesses the opportunity to wait longer before death, knowing that Aid in Dying is available. This study found no evidence that Aid in Dying was associated with significant reductions in suicide for either older or younger people, and, there was NO significant decrease in suicides, even among those older than age 65.

 

 Additional Resources

 

References

Edmund Pellegrino, “Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide,” in John Kilner, Arlene Miller and Edmund Pellegrino eds., Dignity and Dying:  A Christian Appraisal (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1996), 110.
Seneca, Laws IX: 843.
Pellegrino, 109.
Nigel Biggar, Aiming to Kill:  the Ethics of Suicide and Euthanasia (London:  Darton, Longman and Todd, 2004), 67.


Chu, C., Walker, K.L., Stanley, I.H., Hirsch, J.K., Greenberg, J.H., Rudd, M.D., & Joiner, T.E. (2017). Perceived problem-solving deficits and suicidal ideation: evidence for the explanatory roles of thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness in five samples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Doernberg, S.N., Peteet, J.R., & Kim, S.Y.H. (2016). Capacity evaluations of psychiatric patients requesting assisted death in the Netherlands. Psychosomatics: Journal of Consultation and Liaison Psychiatry, 57(6), 556-565.
Franklin, J. C., Ribeiro, J. D., Fox, K. R., Bentley, K. H., Kleiman, E. M., Huang, X., & ... Nock, M. K. (2017). Risk factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviors: A meta-analysis of 50 years of research. Psychological Bulletin, 143(2), 187-232.
Ganzini, L., & Back, A. (2003). From the USA: Understanding requests for physician-assisted death. Palliative Medicine, 17(2), 113-114.
Ganzini, L., Goy, E.R., & Dobscha, S.K. (2008). Why Oregon patients request assisted death: family members’ views. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23(2), 154-157.
Ganzini, L., Silveira, M. J., & Johnston, W. S. (2002). Predictors and correlates of interest in assisted suicide in the final month of life among ALS patients in Oregon and Washington. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 24(3), 312-317.
Goy, B.R., Carlson, B., Simopoulos, N., Jackson, A., Ganzini, L. (2006). Determinants of Oregon hospice chaplains’ views on physician-assisted suicide. Journal of Palliative Care, 22(2), 83-90.
Hendin, H. (1997). Seduced by Death: Doctors, Patients, and the Dutch Cure. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.
Jones, D.A., & Paton, D. (2015). How does legalization of physician-assisted suicide affect rates of suicide? Southern Medical Journal, 198(10), 600-604
Kaplan, K.J., & Schwartz, M.B. (2008). A psychology of hope: A biblical response to tragedy and suicide. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Kanzler, K.E., Bryan, C.J., McGeary, D.D., & MOrrow, C.E. (2012). Suicidal ideation and perceived burdensomeness in patients with chronic pain. Pain Practice, 12(8), 602-609.
Marrie, R.A., Salter, A., Tyry, T., Cutter, G.R., Cofield, S., & Fox, R.J. (2017). High hypothetical interest in physician-assisted death in multiple sclerosis. Neurology, 88(16), 1528-1534.
Mason, K., Kim, E., Martin, W.B., & Gober, R.J. (2017). The moral deliberations of 15 clergy on suicide and assisted death: a qualitative study. Pastoral Psychology, 66(3), 335-351.
Pereira, J. (2011). Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide: the illusion of safeguards and controls. Current Oncology, 18(2), e38-e45.
Quill, T.E., Back, A.L., & Block, S.D. (2016). Responding to patients requesting physician-assisted death: physician involvement at the very end of life. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 315(3), 245-246.
Smith, K.A., Harvath, T.A., Goy, E.R., & Ganzini, L. (2015). Predictors of pursuit of physician-assisted death. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 49(3), 555-561.

 

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A Pre-Release Excerpt from Dr. Kim's Book on the Need for Preaching with Cultural Intelligence

September 15, 2017

 

Preaching with Cultural Intelligence:
Understanding the People Who Hear Our Sermons 
Preaching with Cultural Intelligence: Understanding the People Who Hear Our Sermons 

Dr. Matthew D. Kim, Associate Professor of Preaching and Ministry 

 Release:  October 17, 2017

 

 

 An excerpt from Preaching with Cultural Intelligence:
Understanding the People Who Hear Our Sermons (Baker Academic, 2017)

 

As an ethnic Korean, born and raised in the United States, the impetus for this book derives from my personal experiences living as an “elephant” in America. Like the proverbial elephant in the room, I and Others often stand out, and not necessarily for positive reasons. In most contexts, the dominant culture places me in the Other category. In other words, I have never felt completely comfortable in white America, nor am I at ease among Korean nationals and first-generation Korean immigrants. Like sitting awkwardly and uncomfortably between two chairs made of timber, I have always sat in the in-between space, what Gerald Arbuckle calls the state of liminality. In most cases, being in a sanctuary where I am the Other has meant that my background and experiences have been grossly misunderstood or completely ignored.

Being in the position of the elephant is cumbersome and painful. We do not know what it is like until we have actually experienced it. In preaching to diverse listeners, then, we want to be mindful of the Other, especially because we take the second greatest commandment seriously. To love our neighbors means that we will put ourselves in the position of the Other. Like Jesus’s example of the good Samaritan, we care for our church members just as we care for our own bodies and souls. We can demonstrate this care even in our preaching.

As preachers, we want to pause and reflect on life and Scripture from the Others’ viewpoint. For example, have you ever asked yourself these questions about your listeners during sermon preparation? (1) How would listeners from Life Situation X or from Cultural Background Y read and interpret this Scripture passage? (2) What excites them, and what do they fear? (3) Which illustrations are most relevant and helpful for these listeners? (4) What does life application look like in their specific context? (5) How can we embrace and even celebrate those who are different from us in our preaching ministry and in “doing life” together? We want Others to feel noticed, valued, embraced and celebrated in church life and in our preaching. We want to love elephants in our congregations deeply, just as Christ loved his church.

We preach the Bible to real people—both to ourselves and to our hearers. Preaching effectively to the Other involves what David A. Livermore and others call “cultural intelligence,” and that is what we seek to obtain. Moreover, preaching with cultural intelligence requires biblical exegesis and cultural exegesis. Sermons deficient in either form of exegesis will be found duly wanting in the ears and hearts of our listeners. Both are indispensable to our calling as preachers.

However, I trust that as we embark on this cultural intelligence journey together, even one more listener will exclaim on Sunday morning, “Thanks be to God for this preacher who understands God’s Word and understands me.” So, thank you for picking up this book and for taking the next step in becoming a culturally intelligent Christian and a culturally sensitive preacher. Our efforts are not in vain, because God is worth it and so are our listeners.

To place an order, click here.

  ------------------------------------

     "Matthew Kim writes with the sensitivity of a pastor, the experience of a multicultural minority person, and the knowledge of an experienced homiletics professor--a wonderful combination for helping us think through what is needed to bring knowledge of hermeneutics, humans, and homiletics to bear on the task of preaching in a world of rapidly integrating cultures."

  - Bryan Chapell, senior pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church; author of Christ-Centered Preaching

 

 

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Gordon-Conwell Prays for Jacksonville Campus as Well as Hurricane and Flood Victims Around the World

September 12, 2017

 

A Message from President Hollinger

Whenever there are natural disasters around the world we are reminded again that our Gordon-Conwell community is a global one. In many of the recent floods, landslides, earthquakes and hurricanes our Gordon-Conwell alumni were present and involved with their local churches and Christian organizations in comforting and assisting those in need.
A Message from President Hollinger
With many churches still involved in recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, we have all watched with anxiety and deep concern the advance of Hurricane Irma on parts of the Caribbean and the State of Florida this past week. We have many alumni pastors throughout this region.  A number offered their church facilities as shelters for, as one alumni pastor put it, the groups of “weather pilgrims.” 

Though numbers of alumni churches in Florida were forced to cancel services this past Sunday, several offered sermons and words of comfort to their flock on-line. One example was the message of hope offered by Gordon-Conwell alumnus and trustee David Swanson, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, FL.  His FaceBook Live message was viewed by over 9,000 during the storm.  

In his message, David reminded his listeners that, “The wind and the waves still know His voice.  God is seated on His throne.  He is sovereign over all, and if He allows the storm in our lives let us respond in faithfulness. Then let us move out from these days as a demonstration and a witness to the power of the Body of Christ. We are not those who run away in times of need, but we run towards it. We serve others. We meet those needs. And as we do that, we give witness to the hope and the promise of the Gospel.”

Please continue to pray with us for our alumni spread throughout this region who are seeking to be that “witness of hope” in word and deed in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. What follows are some updates from alumni in the region. We praise God, as well, that despite some serious flooding in Jacksonville, our staff at the Jacksonville Campus are all safe and have only sustained minor damage to their homes. The Jacksonville Campus will reopen again on Wednesday.

Below you will find a growing list of prayer requests from students, alumni and members of the Gordon-Conwell community impacted by flooding and hurricanes around the globe. Please stand with us by covering them with prayer.
 
 Dennis P. Hollinger, Ph.D.
Dennis P. Hollinger, Ph.D.
President &
Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics 

 

Ways to Pray: From the Gordon-Conwell Student and Alumni Community
    

     Check back here for a growing list of prayer requests from Gordon-Conwell students, alumni and friends.

     The first week after Irma was hard for many with no power, as well as limited fuel and water challenges. The city is now quickly coming back to life, but it will be some time before things are normal. We had a sweet worship service yesterday and then went out into the community to serve.
–Jim N., Naples, FL (D. Min. ’97)

     Despite the inconvenience and discomfort my wife and I were very fortunate. We had a safe refuge and our home had very minimal damage. Thanks be to God. Many are homeless and destitute, however. Our hearts go out to them as will our hands as our church, First Presbyterian of Naples, positions itself to be the hands and feet of Christ through all of this.
–Dan W., Naples, FL (M.Div. '62)

     Thanks so much for your prayers. Much needed and much appreciated. It is always nice to know people are praying for you.
–Bill H., Auburndale, FL (MRE, M.Div. ’79)

     We just got power, internet and phones back on at our church. Thanks for your prayers and expressions of support. We are okay. My own home had no damage; our church building had some roof damage that is repairable. We are planning on worship services this Sunday. God is good and spared us what could have been much worse!
   

     Thanks for your prayers. My home has no damages. Tree branches down all over my lot. Pray for my neighbors with property damages.
–Benjamin S., Dunedin, FL (M.Div. ’85)

     We are fine. We had a little leakage around a few windows but nothing substantial. We are thanking God and praying for those who have lost so much.
Daniel M., Lakeland, FL (MATS ’86)

     We faired pretty well through the storm, unlike so many others here in NE Florida, in SW Florida, and especially the Keys. We do appreciate your reaching out and all prayers of the GCTS community, especially now as Florida begins the long recovery process.
- Carlos O., Middleburg, FL (M.Div. ’85)

     I have two requests: That my electricity would be restored soon and that God would send helpers to assist with cleaning up the broken branches and tree limbs. I am a disabled person and recovering from my 2 spinal fusion and am limited on what I can do. We relocated for a while but must return home and are still without power. So comes this request for prayer. Thank you. 

    Update: We returned home yesterday! No damage to my home and the JEA Linemen came about an hour later! We have electricity! So happy right now! Thank you for your email and prayers!
- Melody J (student)
     Even though the eye of Irma went right over us, we were spared any damage, and our electricity remained on, unlike many of our neighbors. A huge tree fell in our neighbors' yard and almost our yard…but he was not harmed and his town house is in good shape. Over the years, I have reached out to get to know my neighbors and to share the Gospel with them, and the past few weeks just furthered our connection with many of them.
–Kristin T., Orlando, FL (M.Div. ’06)
     We were to be in South Hamilton right now!  We were to leave this past Thursday but the airlines canceled our flight due to the fact that there are no planes in Florida right now…Sarah is/was to go on a mission trip to Cuba in October. That's also very questionable right now. The area they were to go has been devastated by the storm.
–Dan (M.Div. ’90) and
Sarah B. (MA ’93), Lutz, FL

     I was in Texas and almost made it to Houston to support Harvey rescue efforts when I returned home to the Jacksonville, FL area to await Irma.  The destruction caused by the storms will pass, but [what] won't is another graduating class from GCTS without the passion of Luther and Loyola in advancing Christ's kingdom.  Focus on building leaders up to that task.  That's my prayer request!
–Brent E., Yulee, FL (MTS ’77)
     By the time Hurricane Irma made it our way, the winds were significantly less than they were in the Caribbean. We had plenty of debris in our yard but no structural damage to our house. All in all we were without electricity for about 88 hours, but spent the majority of that time with dear friends in the area who took in all six of us for the past three days. God is good and still uses his church in wonderful ways!
–Mitchell C., Winter Park, FL
(M.Div. ’12, ThM ’13)
     We survived the hurricane with no loss of power and only minimal water damage, but many in the surrounding areas close to us lost power and had serious trees falling and flooding. Please continue to pray for these hard hit neighbors.
–Peter R., Jacksonville, FL (MRE ’84)
     Thank you for reaching out. We have damage, but nothing too major in Ponte Vedra Beach. Thankful for a caring seminary community.
–Patti A., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (M.Div. ’16)

 

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