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

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