Friday, June 26, 2009

Evangelicals and the Great Tradition: Part 3

More on “Ancient Wisdom, Anglican Futures,” the 3-day conference I attended June 4-6. Jason Clark (UK Vineyard pastor, and emergent church blogger), addressed the strengths of the emergent movement and also discussed areas of concern that suggest a need to reconnect with the broader range of Christian history and practice.
A (very) partial list, reconstructed from my notes:
Institutional naivete—the notion that institutions are the enemy of good practice—paradoxically, without institutions there is no good practice. So the issue is not whether you are an institution, but what kind of institution you are. Saying you are a “religionless" church means nothing.
Romanticizing the early Church—the notion that fellowship in the early Church was like a couple of friends hanging out in Starbucks. There’s a lack of understanding of the place of fallenness in the EC ecclesiology.
Illusions of revolution—consumerism loves revolution. We think buying a music ticket is ending poverty. Real revolution has to do with the mundane ordinariness of life. The most revolutionary thing we can do as the Church is staying with each other over time and being reconciled.
Naivete about certain metaphors—e.g., “organic” as opposed to “mechanistic”; “We need to do church like starfish.” We need to filter these metaphors.
DIY (“do it yourself”) ecclesiology—a tendency towards novelty and pastiche. We may not know where a practice came from, but we like it and we’re just trying it out. Are we producing ecclesiologies that have more logic than the logic of the marketplace?
Worship aesthetics—tend towards “therapeutic God spaces” when they should have a “cruciform identity.”
Jason has now begun blogging the conference: check it out.
UP NEXT: David Neff, “Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future Faith.”
(Patricia Hanlon, Gordon College Communications)


Raising Children Who Transform Nations: A Lifelong Journey

After graduating from Gordon, Jeff Lander ’95 thought he would be a youth pastor for the rest of his career because that’s what he studied—youth ministry and Bible. In fact, from 1995 to 2000 he was the youth and children’s pastor at First Baptist Church in Manchester, Massachusetts. He served eight more years as the youth, music and young families pastor in Port Townsend, Washington. But God was working on his heart, preparing him and changing him to do a different kind of ministry.

Today Jeff is a full-time missionary with Children of the Nations (COTN), a nonprofit organization that rescues, raises and supports orphaned and destitute children in Africa and the Dominican Republic. COTN is partnering with nationals to provide wholistic, Christ-centered care, enabling them to create positive and lasting change in their nations. How did he get there? According to Lander, God was doing a work on his heart long ago, during his time at Gordon.
“It wasn’t just the classroom studies that made the biggest impact on who I am and what I’m doing now. It was Gordon’s professors, the extracurricular opportunities, the critical thinking, the friends, the disappointments, the opportunity to fail (and I did some of that) and the opportunity to get up and try again until I succeeded. I needed to think for myself and to make my own decisions. I needed chapel services to appreciate the diversity of God’s love and His extension of grace to all mankind.”
“I remember sitting in chapel and distinctly hearing God break through Reverend Dean Lee’s message, whispering to me, ‘I want you to go to Guatemala with World Focus.’ It was crazy, because I had already missed the sign-up date and had never talked about going on a mission trip with anyone. But He kept on saying it over and over. I truly believe God was calling me then to introduce me to missions, which is what I do for COTN today—I manage all teams going to Africa and the Dominican Republic. Amazing!”
Lander enjoys his work and finds a lot of things rewarding about his job. “I love exposing people to the mission and vision of Children of the Nations through Venture Team trips. I help create positive and lasting change for the children of the nations in Sierra Leone, Malawi, Uganda and the Dominican Republic. I can also attest to the daily provision from God by living out my faith as a full-time, self-supported missionary in one of the worst economies in recent history.” But Lander says the most rewarding part of his job is raising children who were once destitute and helping to transform nations. “I’m a part of a movement of people who aren’t interested in fortune, fame or glory. I’m a part of something much, much bigger than myself—a story God’s been writing for a long, long time.”
To learn more about COTN, to read about children’s lives they’ve impacted or to find out how you can make an impact, go to or call Jeff at 360.271.9393. You can also view his blog at
Photo, entitled "Feet," is of children waiting for lunch in Malawi—a COTN ministry to orphans that provides care and lunch for thousands of children. Photo courtesy of Children of the Nations.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Evangelicals and the Great Tradition: Part 2

What is the emergent movement, anyway?

Jason Clark, coordinator of Emergent-UK, and Holly Rankin Zaher, also a player in the emergent movement, took turns mapping out the territory in the first presentation at the “Ancient Wisdom, Anglican Futures” conference at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, June 4–6 (reporting: Patricia Hanlon).

Jason stated that less than 2 percent of the population in the UK regularly attends church—it’s a “wasteland of a secular postmodern context.” That’s why the emergent movement has entered the scene—precisely because the institutional church was not reaching people. He sees in the emergent movement “the response of the Holy Spirit through all denominations to the changes in the culture. There’s a stream that has come about consciously among charismatics and evangelicals that something is not right. Intellectual assent in propositional prayers so we go to heaven when we die—isn’t Christianity more than that? We’re finding a space to discover that.”
Holly described the emergent church (EC) as a response to four changes in culture: consumerism, information technologies, globalism and celebrity culture. “These four factors shape how we are responding,” she said. “The missional church is asking—instead of being attractional, how can we be missional? Our Christology shapes our missiology and our missiology shapes our ecclesiology. Dymanic tension between the three factors (Christology, missiology and ecclesiology) is at play. Different streams in the emergent movement gravitate toward one or the other.”

Holly identified these values of the EC:
• identify with the life of Jesus—a high view of Scripture
• transform the secular realm
• live highly communal lives
• welcome the stranger
• serve with generosity
• participate as producers
• create as created beings
• lead as a body
• take part in spiritual activities

She also referred to a number of subsets of the emergent movement:
• neomonastics
• neocalvinists (Tim Keller, et. al.)
• neo-Anabaptists
• neo-missiologists (Christine Schwartz, Wolfgang Simpson)
• digital Pentecostals
• neo-liberals

Next post: Problems with the emergent movement.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Evangelicals and the Great Tradition

In early June I attended a conference at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, thanks to Gordon’s Administrative Development Grants Program. The conference, “Ancient Wisdom, Anglican Futures” held an obvious interest for me: I am a member of a local Episcopal church that has a long history of Gordon connections. The chief question posed by the organizers of the conference was: “How do Anglican ‘insiders’ welcome young evangelicals, post-evangelicals and emergents who are attracted to the ‘Great Tradition’?”

Though Gordon is nondenominational, this is one of those critical questions we wrestle with as well: What does “tradition” mean to evangelicals? How can students, faculty and alumni representing a broad range of Christian traditions tap into the Great Tradition? Is there even such a thing as a "Great Tradition"? The conference was a rich feast with an amazing list of speakers, most of them non-Anglican and all of them, as Jason Clark (UK Vineyard pastor, Deep Church blogger, and one of the conference organizers) put it, “on the front line of responding to these questions.” I had the great joy of sharing dinner with Jason (pictured, above, with Holly Rankin Zaher, director of student discipleship at St. George’s Episcopal Church, Nashville, Tennessee) at the home of one of Trinity’s faculty members. In the next few weeks I will be blogging some of my “take-aways” from the conference.

If , like me, you are interested in understanding the relevance of tradition for postmodern times, consider this a cordial invitation to weigh in.
Coming up next: Jason Clark on “The Emergent Church: Contributions and Pitfalls.”

--Patricia Hanlon, director of Gordon College publications


Friday, June 19, 2009

Gordon Student Uncovers History Treasures

This past spring, history major Dan Hayner ’09 scoured through old documents, photographs, books and artifacts in the Gordon College archives, each reflecting a part of Gordon’s history as well as New England, religion and media histories. Hayner categorized the collections and wrote brief summaries of each for a new archives page on the Gordon College public website, which is now available at

The archives—housed on the second floor of Jenks Library—contain artifacts, rare books, correspondence, newspapers, magazines and other writings as well as photographs, films, audio recordings and school records from the past two centuries. They include valuable materials for researchers, writers, scholars, authors and filmmakers interested in subjects such as 19th-century evangelical revivals in Boston, New England newspapers, Billy Graham’s young ministry, 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century funeral sermons, Clarendon Street Baptist Church (Gordon’s first campus), British abolitionist William Wilberforce, and a large collection of William Shakespeare materials, among others.


VISTA Grant Allows Recent Grad to Work with Underprivileged Youth

Two weeks before graduation and on his birthday, communication arts major and Dover, New Hampshire, resident Jon Nystedt ’09 received a gift many graduates hope for: a job.

But Nystedt’s career began three years before—first as a volunteer with Gordon in Lynn, then as an intern with the program. During his senior year he completed his academic requirements as a public relations intern with Girls Inc., a Gordon in Lynn partner organization.
Now, thanks to a grant through the Massachusetts Campus Compact (MACC), as an AmeriCorps VISTA worker, Nystedt will serve full-time with Gordon in Lynn, working closely with the Lynn Housing Authority and further developing its youth programs including the College Bound program coordinated by Gordon in Lynn.

Read more.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Microwave That Changed Everything

Steve Landwehr reports from the Gloucester Daily Times:

The microwave oven may be the only technological advancement in cooking since the invention of the electric refrigerator.

Stoves and ranges? Modern variants of the caveman’s fire pit. Electric mixers? Motorized versions of the stick early man used to stir the pot. But what the microwave did for popcorn and dinner-in-a-tray is what the assembly line did for manufacturing—it changed everything.

Gordon College was recently given the archives of longtime trustee Tom Phillips, the former Raytheon CEO and president who spent 42 years with the company, where microwave technology was developed in the late 1940s.

Read the rest of the article.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Old Town Hall Receives Funding from the State

In today’s Salem News reporter Tom Dalton made an announcement that Old Town Hall received money to work on refurbishing projects in this Gordon-run space:

In the morning state officials held a press conference in the 1816 brick building in Derby Square to announce a $174,000 state grant for renovations. Hours later, at a luncheon in Boston, the former municipal building and marketplace got another $75,000 from American Express’ Partners in Preservation program.

"It's a big day," said Kristina Stevick, codirector of the Institute for Public History at Gordon College, which signed a five-year lease last summer to operate Old Town Hall.

The combined $249,000 will be used to address a long list of projects that includes buying a furnace, reglazing windows, installing structural supports and refurbishing basement bathrooms."


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chapel and Convo in Review

Dani Zorn ’09 (communications arts major and business minor) was the Communications Office student intern for the past (spring) semester. One of her responsibilities was to review Gordon’s chapel and convocation series. Of the experience she writes:

“I was excited to only have to go to 15 chapels the last semester of my senior year—this is one of the privileges seniors normally have. But the joke was on me when I learned one of the assignments for my internship was to write the reviews for just about EVERY chapel and convocation.
“As I sat in the pew every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, however, I realized how much I had missed while daydreaming in chapel the years past. Taking notes for the summaries taught me valuable lessons the Lord wanted me to specifically hear. I was convicted, moved and challenged this semester, and by writing these summaries I got to take advantage of the blessing that chapel is for students at Gordon College.”

Dani realized her passion for writing feature articles during her internship semester and hopes to one day write for a magazine or have her own newspaper column. In the meantime, Dani enjoys doing anything outside, hanging out with her family, and getting sweet tea from McDonald’s.
Read a selection of her reviews, and browse audio recordings of Gordon’s chapel and convocation speakers.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sandra Doneski Named Massachusetts Music Educator of the Year

For over a decade Sandra Doneski, associate professor of music at Gordon College (pictured, top left), has directed a number of outstanding choirs for children on the North Shore. This summer, though, Doneski will be overseeing the summer program as the newly honored Massachusetts Music Educator of the Year.

Read more about Doneski and about Gordon's Summer Music Academy...


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Scholarship for Women and Minority Students Accompanies Donated Archives

Thomas L. Phillips, longtime Gordon College trustee and former CEO of Raytheon Company, has donated his Raytheon archives to the College, recognizing its ongoing commitment to science and technology scholarship. The Phillips/Raytheon archives are the second technology related archives housed at Gordon College since Ken Olsen donated the archives from the Digital Equipment Corporation last fall.

To coincide with the donation, William H. Swanson, current Raytheon chairman and CEO, announced at a recent College tribute to Phillips, the creation of the Phillips/Raytheon Scholarship for women and students of color at Gordon College pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The $100,000 scholarship, in honor of Phillips’ service to Raytheon and his commitment to local communities, is the first of its kind for STEM students at the New England campus.

Read more.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sustainable Youth Ministry

“Churches often approach youth ministry in the manner castaways on Survivor take to setting up their shelter the first day on the island: trial and error. Once the shelter collapses or leaks during the first rainstorm, the tribe engages in a predictable argument of ‘I told you so!’“

Read more of Mark Cannister’s review in YouthWorker Journal...