Archive for February, 2009
‘Bridging the gap’ between ecumenical and evangelistic groups discussed during Theologian-in-Residence lecture sessionThursday, February 12th, 2009
Efforts to bridge the gap between the ecumenical and evangelistic divisions in the western Christian church were the focus of the second session of the Theologian-in-Residence series at Tusculum College on Tuesday.
Key factors in building bridges between ecumenical groups and evangelical groups include study of the Scriptures, decentralization of the mission movement and receptivity of a new generation of church leaders, said Dr. Marian McClure, the featured speaker if this year’s series. The Theologian-in-Residence series, co-sponsored by Tusculum College and the Holston Presbytery, is held annually at the College during each Tuesday in February.
McClure has served as the director of the worldwide ministries of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and is serving as the associate director and North America representative of “Edinburgh 2010: Witnessing to Christ Today,” the centenary celebration of a pivotal world mission conference that challenged Christians to greater ecumenical and evangelistic collaboration.
“The best bridge building has been that which has emerged out of deep Biblical study and mediation,” McClure told an audience of about 85. “If we go back to Scripture, we can heal this divide.”
In the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism, there were Bible studies of the Great Commission from each of the gospels, she said, and one of those studies has had a strong influence on efforts to reach others with the gospel. For example, its influence is reflected in a major paper issued by the World Council of Churches about missions and evangelism, which in turn influenced those who crafted a statement of a call to evangelism by the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
During the meeting, Anglican clergyman John R. W. Stott presented the study of the Great Commission from John 20:19-23, in which Jesus told the disciples “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
McClure played a recording of a portion of his presentation in which Stott said Christians have a tendency to want to proclaim the message of the gospel from a distance and Christians sometimes appear like a man who shouts advice to a drowning man from the safety of the shore rather than diving in to save him because of fear of the possible dangers in the water.
“But, Jesus did not broadcast salvation from the sky,” Stott said. “He did not throw a lifebelt from heaven. … He visited us in great humility. By birth, life and death, He became one with us.”
Stott noted the weakness and strengths of the ecumenical focus on sharing the gospel through life witness and of the evangelistic focus of sharing the gospel through word (preaching).
“Proclamation is the essence of evangelism,” he said, “and yet true evangelism, evangelism modeled on the ministry of Jesus, is not proclamation without identification anymore than it is identification without proclamation. True evangelism involves both together. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He is proclamation of God, but that proclamation is not shouted from heaven. In order to be proclaimed, the Word was made flesh. And that is what we need to do.”
Another factor in building bridges is the decentralization of mission movements, which has resulted in a many more people involved in missions, she said. As Americans go to other nations, they learn from the Christians there where churches are involved in both proclaiming the gospel and addressing social issues.
She gave examples of two men, one from the evangelistic-minded Assemblies of God denomination who learned the importance of addressing social ills as part of mission work in a trip to El Salvador and another, a Presbyterian, who discovered his gift for proclaiming the gospel in Brazil.
Another major factor in bridging the gap in today’s church is the receptivity of a new generation of church leaders who are more open to a holistic vision of the church, McClure continued.
On the evangelistic side, leaders such as Rev. Joel Hunter and Rev. Rick Warren have spoken of ecology, poverty, illiteracy and other social ills as important moral issues to be addressed by the church, but have received opposition to those ideas, McClure said.
She also told of the National Association of Evangelical’s statement about missions that embraced a more holistic vision of missions that “for a few statements, could be a Catholic or Presbyterian U.S.A. document” in that it speaks not only of the importance of personal conversion but also addressing social injustices.
In one of the ways God sometimes unexpectedly works, conservative Catholics and Evangelicals “found each other” and have began to work together, McClure said. For example, Chuck Colson and Father Richard John Neuhaus formed a project focusing on bringing those from the two denominations together to focus on issues. McClure said it was her hunch that the influence of this project can be seen in the wording of the National Association of Evangelism’s statement.
On the ecumenical side, leaders and progressive projects bridging the gap are not as well known because they don’t receive as much media coverage as the evangelicals, she explained. She noted Rev. Harold Kurtz who tirelessly proclaimed to the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. the vision of the Frontier Mission Movement, an effort to reach every ethnic group with the gospel. The denomination has since committed to reaching people groups who have never heard the gospel. In a continuation of that work, McClure said, while she was director of Worldwide Ministries for the church, the denomination held a conference about worldwide mission and also crafted a vision statement about evangelism.
Programs have also been created that model leading people into the full spectrum of Christian life, McClure said. One of these is the Presbyterian Hunger Program, she continued, which takes people from their point of interest in the program to a deeper, fuller walk of faith and has included projects working with other denominations.
Creation of new groups to bring has also brought ecumenicals and evangelicals together. She told of the efforts for the Edinburgh 2010 celebration in which denominations have not formed a temporary legal entity to organize the celebration because one denomination would not participate if it was in an organization with the World Council of Churches. It is an administrative nightmare, she said, but it is worth it to have that denomination participate.
During next week’s lecture on Feb. 17, McClure will explore area where bridges still need to be built. The lecture begins at 10 a.m. in the Chalmers Conference Center in the Niswonger Commons on the Tusculum campus. The session concludes at about 1:30 p.m. and lunch is included. Reservations are requested and can be made by calling (423) 636-7319 or e-mailing email@example.com.
Dr. Marian McClure introduces her topic during the second session in the Theologian-in-Residence series at Tusculum College.
The Tusculum College Board of Trustees gathered over the weekend of February 6-7 for two days of meetings and planning sessions that will continue to move the College and its people, programs and activities forward.
Beginning with a Strategic Planning Day on Friday and ending with the meeting of the full Board of Trustees on Saturday, the weekend produced tremendous results in moving forward with the College’s five-year plan, according to Chairman Ken Bowman.
For more details on the meeting and strategic planning session, see the full story in the Greeneville Sun at http://www.greenevillesun.com/story/301288.
Tusculum College’s President’s Society is closing out its second year on campus and celebrating successes in building student leaders in the civic arts culture of practical wisdom and service to others.
The President’s Society is an elite student organization dedicated to promoting and fortifying the mission of the College. The students serve as ambassadors to the College, serve as hosts for campus visits, participate in leadership and ethics training and assist with campus events.
The current 14 President’s Society students have hosted student tours and assisted with College recruitment efforts and recently had the unique opportunity to serve as hosts to a community Economic Forum, where they were invited to spend one-on-one time with the keynote speakers of the event, Commissioner Greg Gonzales of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions and Regional Manager Gary Beasley, FDIC Division of Insurance and Research.
“These kinds of opportunities will hopefully prepare the students for the future and help them with the career choices and job searches in the future,” said Melissa Ripley, director of operations and marketing for the College’s Admission Office.
“We have a very structured process for recruiting students to the President’s Society, said Ripley. “Students must be nominated to be considered and are then selected based on demonstrated leadership skills, participation in campus life and ability to communicate with others.”
Nominations for candidates for the third year of the program are currently being sought, and the current group of students is making plans to increase their activities next year.
One thing the group has discussed is adding to their goals for next year a President’s Society service project, said Jessica McKay, a President’s Society member. “It would not only be a way for us to show our dedication to the community and the College, but it would also a bonding experience for us – a way for us to spend time together while doing a service-learning project.”
Ripley said that in addition to their duties as ambassadors and hosts for the College, the students receive college credit for the training courses they are required to attend. These courses include leadership skills, ethics, communication skills and business etiquette programs.
Students also participate in a team-building and goal-setting retreat and take a learning trip to explore business, government or a cultural aspect of an area. Last year’s group traveled to Washington, D.C.
Cody Greene, a recent Tusculum College graduate and former President Society member who now works as coordinator of development and alumni relations for the Department of Institutional Advancement at the College, said the experience was invaluable.
“Through the President’s Society, students learn to be professional and practice skills that will help them in their future careers,” Greene said. “Having that experience made me more confident when I began looking at job opportunities after graduation.”
In a month associated with love, Tusculum College’s Center for Civic Advancement is providing the opportunity to show compassion and significantly touch lives in a village in Africa.
During the month of February, the Center will be collecting school supplies and sewing supplies to send to Atorkor, an impoverished fishing village in southern Ghana on the western coast of Africa.
Items needed include school supplies such as paper, books, backpacks and used computers in good condition. Also needed are sewing materials such as cloth/material, buttons, zippers, thread, pins (both safety and straight), scissors, yarn, crochet hooks, and sewing machines.
The Center is working with the Atorkor Development Foundation to provide these needed supplies to the village. This foundation is a non-profit development organization based in Ghana and the United Kingdom. It was established in 2001 to help overcome poverty in Atorkor with a vision of transforming the village from an impoverished community into a self-sustaining one with basic amenities – jobs, a health center, clean drinking water for all, well-equipped schools and vocational center, electricity, and affordable community facilities for all.
Tusculum already has ties with the Atorkor. Dr. DiAnn Casteel, associate professor of education, and Rachel Burchnell, an education major, worked in schools there last summer as part of an educational mission project.
Items are being collected from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Center for Civic Advancement, located on the second floor of Rankin Hall (beside the Niswonger Commons) on the Tusculum campus.
For additional information, please contact the Center at 423-636-7327 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The newly established Track & Field Club of Tusculum College competed successfully in the Niswonger Invitational at ETSU’s Mini Dome on January 30 and 31.
The athletes of the Track & Field Club (Brian Marshall, John Hester, Derenik Culbreath, Radarius Franklin, Antione Cross, Elvis Machado, Simon Holzapfel, and Madeleine Ledbetter) were all well in the mix against approximately 100 college teams such as the University of Tennessee, University of Georgia, High Point, East Tennessee State, Appalachian State,
Elon, UNC-Asheville, Western Carolina, Furman, Virginia Tech, South Carolina State, Winthrop, Georgia State, East Carolina, Wake Forest, Marshall, and Davidson.
Brian Marshall just missed the finals (the top 12 times) in the 60m Dash against a field of 124 sprinters. Simon Holzapfel barely missed out on a spot in the 3,000m run Finals by a mere four seconds.
If you are interested in joining or supporting the Track & Field Club, come to practice
taking place every day from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Indoor Facility, or come to the next meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 16, in the Pioneer Perk. If you have any questions, please contact Simon Holzapfel, president of the Track & Field Club, at email@example.com or (423) 787-8359.
Tusculum College will host a Financial Aid Night and College Day on February 12 for students interested in attending college and their parents. The event will be held at Niswonger Commons on campus from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Representatives from area colleges and universities will be on hand to answer questions about college admission and the financial aid processes, and there will be a special guest representative from the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation. Information will be provided about the Tennessee Lottery, Pell Grant and various grants and scholarships from participating schools.
The event is sponsored by Tusculum College and this year more than 20 colleges and universities as well as vocational schools will set up displays that provide information about the institutions’ academic programs. Most also have representatives on hand to answer specific questions about programs or the school.
The event is represented on the official Tennessee Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers calendar.
For more information about the College Fair, please contact the Office of Admission at 1-800-729-0256 ext. 5374 or 423-636-7312, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plans underway for year-long celebration of 25th anniversary of Tusculum College Graduate and Professional Studies programFriday, February 6th, 2009
Plans for a year-long celebration for the 25th Anniversary of the Tusculum College Graduate and Professional Studies program are underway.
With activities and events planned for the Greeneville, Knoxville, Morristown and Tri-Cities locations, the Silver Anniversary celebrations are set to include students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the long-established adult education program.
“We are celebrating 25 years of making dreams of a college education come true for non-traditional students,” said Dr. Lisa Johnson, director of the Graduate and Professional Studies Program and assistant professor of education at the College.
To plan the celebrations, volunteer planning groups of alumni, staff and students are organizing events at each of the four individual GPS sites and are seeking input from anyone involved in the program since its inception as the TALL program 25 years ago.
“We want this to be about the alumni and students who have been part of this program,” said Cody Greene, coordinator of development and alumni relations for TC’s Department of Institutional Advancement.
“Anyone who has ideas or input is encouraged to get in touch with us to help plan the events. Our former and current students, along with faculty and staff are what have made the program such a success.”
While planning is still in the early stages, Greene said that events could range from receptions reuniting former students with current and former faculty, to golf outings to a GPS “reunion” at a fall football game.
“This is a year-long celebration of all the successes of GPS, and there are many exciting things being discussed. Greene added that the group is also trying to track down as many of the original class as possible in order to recognize them during the events.
For more information on the GPS 25th Anniversary Celebration or to volunteer for one of the planning committees, contact Greene at 423-636-7303 or email email@example.com.
In 1984, Tusculum College created the Graduate and Professional Studies program to combine the values and ideals of its founders with the needs of today’s busy adult learner. This uniquely focused and practical program has enabled thousands of men and women to obtain the degrees they need to succeed professionally and personally.
Kristin Wonderley, a junior business major and a native of Charlotte, N.C., has been recognized as “Student of the Block” at Tusculum College for her campus leadership.
The College’s Office of Student Affairs recently recognized Wonderley with its “Student of the Block” award for the fourth block of the fall semester during a brief ceremony on Feb. 3. She was presented a plaque detailing her achievements and campus involvement by Dean of Students David McMahan. The plaque will be displayed on the “Wall of Honor” outside of the Student Affairs Office in the Niswonger Commons.
Wonderley came to Tusculum College in January of 2008 because of the small, close-knit atmosphere of the school and the beautiful mountains visible from the campus. Growing up in the Shenandoah Valley, she has an appreciation of the beauty of a mountainous setting.
She selected a business major due to her interest in the industry and the rigor of the program. “I wanted a degree with a variety of options and would like to continue working in the banking industry after graduation because I enjoy working in the field,” she said.
In addition to her studies, Wonderley is a member of the College’s prestigious President’s Society, serves as an Admission Office aide, a tele-counselor and a diligent employee of American Patriot Bank. As an avid outdoorsman, she enjoys hiking, four-wheeling and exploring the mountains of East Tennessee. She also enjoys baking, sewing and reading when she isn’t on the sidelines of Pioneer sporting events cheering the teams to victory.
When asked about Wonderley’s qualities that make her an exceptional student leader, Melissa Ripley, director of admission operations and marketing, stated in her nomination, “Kristin is an independent thinker and wise beyond her years. She’s exceptional for someone of her age.”
Ripley works often with Wonderley through Office of Admission events and in the office as she assists with the processing of prospective students. “Kristin continually goes the extra mile in assisting with our various events. The level of maturity that Kristin shows in her daily life is exceptional for someone of her age, and I truly appreciate her honesty,” said Ripley.
Wonderly is currently on the path to receive her degree from Tusculum College in December 2010 and looks forward to what life has to offer. “I have enjoyed the experiences and opportunities available to me here at Tusculum College. People don’t realize how much you can get out of college.”
The “Student of the Block” award is a program of the Office of Student Affairs to honor Tusculum College students who excel not only in their academics but are also active on campus and in service to the community. Nominations for the award are sought from the campus community. A student is recognized each academic block. Tusculum operates on a focused calendar in which students take one class per a three-and-a-half week period, a block. The academic year is divided into eight blocks, four per semester.
Why the western Christian church has experienced a division into groups with ecumenical or evangelical focuses and what harm this has caused the church were issues addressed Tuesday during the 2009 Theologian-in-Residence lecture series at Tusculum College.
Dr. Marian McClure, the featured speaker of this year’s series, discussed the origins of the division and the damage it has caused within and without the church during the first meeting of the series. The Theologian-in-Residence series is an annual event, co-sponsored by Tusculum College and the Holston Presbytery, and held at the college during each Tuesday in February.
Dr. McClure has served as the director of the worldwide ministries of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and is serving as the associate director and North America representative of “Edinburgh 2010: Witnessing to Christ Today,” the centenary celebration of a pivotal world mission conference that challenged Christians to greater ecumenical and evangelistic collaboration.
McClure told the audience of about 70 clergy, retired ministers and lay people that her lectures for the series are based on the premise that today “is the best opportunity in the past 100 years to reintegrate two areas of Christian life (ecumenism and evangelism) that should have not be separated in the first place.”
People have a tendency to form different groups and camps with like-minded individuals and then start comparing their group to others and criticizing other groups, she said. This is what has happened to the Christian church in the western world, McClure continued, and by the mid-twentieth century, the spaces between the camps had become deep chasms.
While it is natural for people to come together in groups of like-minded individuals, she said, there is a difference in regards to the church because it involves matters that are holy and of utmost importance to each person.
“What do we aspire to – for the differences to go away or to glorify God by cooperating with each other? I would respond the latter. It is not wrong to have differences. It is not that we have differences, what is wrong is the harm that comes from the inability to cooperate with each other.”
The two camps can be described through the patience they have in working with others with different ideas or beliefs. McClure said she has found those in the ecumenical camps show much more patience in their determination to make efforts with those in other denominations successful whereas the evangelicals have less patience for taking the time to make these efforts a success.
However, she said, she has found that the two camps are difficult to easily characterize as both have aspects of both ecumenism and evangelism. “One group is a big “E” ecumenical with a small “e” evangelical and the other is a big “E” evangelism with a small “e” ecumenical.”
On either side, few embrace a balance in faith for their members that can be found in Biblical characters such as Zacchaues, who entered a strong, personal relationship with Jesus and expressed his faith in his relationships with others by making things right with those he had wronged in the past, she said. “Churches would be more holistic if fear, animosity and competition between the two sides had not come into being.”
There was a point in the 1800s when the Christian church reached its most holistic and unified moment thus far. In studying the time period, McClure said she was surprised to learn that revivals of the time were not only efforts to reach people with the gospel so they would enter a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but also to seek their commitment in addressing social ills. People were asked to make a personal commitment to faith in Christ, she further explained, but were also asked, for example, to commit to the abolitionist cause.
Eight different factors have contributed to the chasm the church experienced in the twentieth century, McClure noted. Those eight factors include:
• Revivalism vs. ‘light on a hill’ approach (seeking to reach people primarily with the gospel using the Word of God vs. seeking to primarily reach people through a lifestyle witness);
• Slavery (some Christians became adverse to applying the gospel to the social ills of the day);
• Reaction to the rapid changes in society (such as the Industrial Revolution, the theory of evolution and new interpretations of the Scriptures and how they were written);
• Dispensationalism (an interpretation of the Bible that gives sacred meaning to dramatic changes in society)
• Reformers vs. Capitalism;
• Fundamentalism (effort to determine Christian orthodoxy through statements of belief of text rather than lifestyle reflecting belief);
• Great power interest and the Cold War; and
• Neo-evangelical institutions (a movement in the 1940s and 1950s to restore reputation of the term that had been lost through chasm).
The costs of the division have been manifold for the church, she said. “It creates impaired Christians who raise more impaired Christians,” she said. For example she said, many Protestants are committed to living out their faith boldly and courageously in what they do as a witness for Christ, but the use of words is not part of that witness. Conversely, she said, there are other Christians whose total focus is on telling people about Christ in an effort to meet their spiritual needs but ignore their physical needs.
In addition, the division has alienated people from the Christian faith, and has disillusioned or weakened the faith of young Christians or those new in their walk of faith, she said.
The division has also led to the wasting of resources as there has been duplication of programs between the groups, and the lack of communication between the two camps has led to missteps by one or the other in the mission field, McClure continued. “It has an effect on real people who have real needs and a need to know God.”
McClure said she saw those costs personally when she was in Haiti in the early 1980s. She told of one Catholic priest who was a leader in addressing social issues affecting people. When she asked him what made him different in wanting to address these issues, McClure said he told her of his family’s sacrifices to make sure he recovered from an accident as a young boy.
Listening, McClure said, she immediately saw parallels to the gospel story – an outpouring of unconditional love by the Father through the sacrifice of His Son. McClure said she has referred to this story as an expression of the gospel in someone’s life and how it inspired him to give to others as he had been shown compassion. “But, in the past year, I have come to feel kind of sad because this man was not equipped to tell how his experience led him to apply Jesus’ teaching to his life. What effect would that have had in spreading the gospel in a place where there is so much need?”
It is tempting to say that the existence of the camps is acceptable – that people are using their gifts for God in the various camps. However, McClure said, that is a statement with which she would not agree. The church is often described using the analogy to a physical body, she noted, and each cell of the physical body contains DNA of the whole being. “If we impart faith, we need to impart the whole faith. . . . It has been said that the real question is not whether to do evangelism, it is how and with what attitude.”
Dr. McClure will discuss how the chasm between the two camps has been bridged in the next session of the series on Tuesday, Feb. 10. The lecture begins at 10 a.m. in the Chalmers Conference Center in the Niswonger Commons on the Tusculum campus. The session concludes at about 1:30 p.m. and lunch is included. Reservations are requested and can be made by calling (423) 636-7319 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.