Friday, November 30, 2012

Not a Museum, but a Garden: Massimo Faggioli Lectures on the Meaning of Vatican II

By Hilary Sherratt ’12

It was Massimo Faggioli's provocative lecture title, “Vatican II: Then and Now,” that likely drew many local Catholic parishioners, as well as Gordon faculty and students, to the Ken Olsen Science Center MacDonald Auditorium for the final talk of the Fall 2012 Faith Seeking Understanding Lecture Series at Gordon College. Faggioli explored in his lecture the history, theology and broad cultural impact of the Second Vatican Council. Professor Faggioli, assistant professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, is an Italian scholar who has taught at the University of Bologna, the University of Modena-Reggio Emilia, and the Free University of Bolzen-Bolzano; he brought his passion and enthusiasm for church history to his listeners.

Beginning in 1962 and concluding in 1965, the Second Vatican Council represented a major effort on the part of the Catholic Church to address issues of modernity in a way understood by many (Faggioli included) to be more open and culturally engaged than the Church's approach through "the long 19th century."


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gordon Students Win Big at Regional Skateboarding Contest (and Why It's Not About Winning at All)

Brian Glenney, assistant professor of philosophy and skateboarding enthusiast, shares a story of how two Gordon students are making some impressive (concrete and wooden) waves in New England:

The Fall Brawl, New England’s largest amateur skateboarding contest, took place earlier this month. Among the highly selective crop of 50 invited competitors were Gordon College students Matt Lane ’13, a recreation and leisure studies major, and Steve Mull ’15, an English major.

After warm-ups—a kind of Battle Royale which seemed to defy not only Newton’s laws of nature but Hobbes’ nasty, brutish, and short state of nature—competitors plied their tricks in groups of five for several minutes while judges jotted notes and, at points, covered their eyes. Following a few elimination rounds (a term I use in both its technical and descriptive senses), only two groups remained. Both our heroes, Gordiators we might call them, remained in the fight.

Allow me a moment to clarify something: skateboarding is not a sport. These contests are not really a competition amongst skateboarders. Skateboarding is, rather, an inherently kinetic activity of the body—not unlike ballet or other forms of artistic dance—which simply adds further dimensions of speed and landscape. What do you have when you add landscape to ballet? Parkour. Now, add speed—pushing-a-wheeled-stick-as-hard-as-possible-with-your-mobile-leg speed—and you get skateboarding. Add several skateboarders together, you get a session. Add judges, you get a contest. The Fall Brawl, then, is really some breed of obstacled, high-speed, free-form ballet—and Lane and Mull are kinetic artists of rare quality.

However, let’s not let this information take away the social meaning and fiscal value from a further set of facts: A this year’s Fall Brawl, Matt Lane took 1st place and $1000. Steve Mull took 2nd place and $450. And there’s little reason to be surprised. Consider the following:

“Matt [Lane]’s the best up-and-coming skater in Boston, hands down,” I overheard from Josh, part-owner of Boardwalk Skate Shop and Indoor Skate Park in Woburn. Matt’s recent feature article in Steez, a top skateboarding magazine, sharpen Josh’s point, as does Matt’s mug on the cover of another premier magazine, Focus. What makes Matt so good is that he rarely misses a trick. What’s more, every trick he does is done faster and bigger than anyone else who does that trick. I feel sorry for the obstacles in Matt’s landscape. It’s like watching a silverback gorilla move across a jungle floor: the trees might try to get out of the way, but the silverback is just too quick. Power, courage and backbone like Matt’s—well, you just can’t buy that stuff.

Steve Mull, whose signature board just came out with his sponsor, Vermont Skateboards (yes, I mean that Steve Mull has a skateboard deck with his name printed on it in fancy script next to graphics that would make any street artist go legal), is a different kind of skater. His style is influenced by the round and sloped semi-rural landscape of his home, Vermont. This kid is pure style. (And to use this word, ‘style,’ multiple times, as I intend to, is not being repetitive when describing Steve Mull.) Mull’s contest performance was marked by his signature trick, a very long, stylish stalefish crooked, which looks something like this (skip ahead to 2:30). It’s a trick as difficult as it is original. Steve Mull: innovator, innovator, innovator… and style-king… and owner of a heart-warming smile that could melt a Vermont winter.

Matt Lane, Steve Mull, we love you. You make Gordon proud—for your backbone and your style; for throwing your whole selves onto those boards.

Brian Glenney, PhD, is assistant professor of philosophy at Gordon College, where he also teaches a skateboarding physical education class. In addition to his peer-reviewed scholarly work on philosophical psychology and perception, Glenney has been an active skateboarder and (reformed, legal) street artist for over twenty years. His scholarly interests in perception and personal passions for art and mobility have recently coalesced into the Accessible Icon Project, a collaboration with Harvard artist Sara Hendren to transform the International Symbol of Access (the Wheelchair Symbol) into an “active, engaged image.”

Photos: 1—Steve Mull ’15, Frontside 180 Kickflip; 2—Matt Lane ’13, Frontside Nosegrind


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fall Theatre Wrap-up: Working: A Musical

This past weekend in the Margaret Jensen Theatre, the Theatre Arts Department closed the curtain on its final performance of Working: A Musical. The show opened to a sold-out audience on Friday, November 2, and went on to welcome more than 600 attendees throughout its two-weekend run.

Working: A Musical is based on real interviews with American workers, conducted by writer Studs Terkel in the 1970s. Through a series of individual stories and ensemble numbers, the audience is offered a glimpse into the frustration, joy, pride and aspirations of average American workers.

Directed by Gordon professor Jeff Miller, the cast and crew were challenged with reimagining this classic American musical, each playing multiple characters and assisting the tech crew.

“The cast and crew deserve an enormous amount of praise for a very successful run…One of my favorite things about watching an ensemble cast is seeing each cast member get to embody multiple, different roles,” said production manager and technical director Matt Schwabauer.

One of these performers was Cristin Gordon ’14, a theatre arts major. “Being a part of a show like Working was amazing because of how close the entire cast and crew became. It's awesome to get to perform in such a fun, nurturing environment. Also, I felt honored to perform these roles and tell the stories of these people.”

Miller echoed these sentiments in his reflection about his students’ performance: “For college students to embrace and give integrity to these characters who are very different from themselves (in more than age) is a major accomplishment. Time and again we heard that audience members were moved, challenged and deeply affected by hearing these stories.”

Josh Kaplan ’16, a communication arts major, was one of those who connected with the stories presented by the cast. “Working was very thought provoking. The text of the piece and the performances by the actors truly made me think what is the value of work in today’s society.”

Another first-year student, Damaris Gibaldi, was excited both to serve as assistant stage manager and take part in a production that tackled these timely themes. “Not only did I learn about the logistics of backstage work, but I got to be a part of a show that clearly demonstrated the worth of the working class.”

Miller had been eager to present a show that communicated the values and complexity of work and vocation, and he concluded that he was humbled by his students’ “commitment to excellent work and their full commitment to their Creator, who gives them the opportunity to use their gifts in service like this.”

If you missed Working: A Musical, you still have plenty of time to plan your next visit to the Margaret Jensen Theatre. The Theatre Arts Department will present its next production, Waiting for Godot, in mid-April. Tickets can be purchased online beginning in a few months at


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ten Years Towards Benign

By Hilary Sherratt ’12

“The real question is, how do we train chemists?” John Warner looked intently at each face in the front two rows of the MacDonald auditorium. “How do we expect chemists not to make harmful compounds if they’ve never been taught how to identify them?” Education was the key word at Monday afternoon's Green Chemistry Lecture at Gordon College. Warner, a world renowned industrial chemist and founder of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, shared his personal journey into green chemistry and his commitment to calling attention to this unmet need.

When he was a lead researcher at Polaroid, Warner met with his college friend and colleague, Paul Anastas, at the Environmental Protection Agency. Anastas was working in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, and the two men got to talking about the need for environmentally benign non-toxics. This, Dr. Warner told us, was the birth of green chemistry. “It started with the two of us, wondering why there is such a lack of conversation around this important issue,” he said. The initial conversation in an EPA office in Washington, DC, sparked a worldwide revolution, the publication of a book, Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, and a new field of research and development in chemistry. Now, Warner says, green chemistry is projected to be a $100 billion industry by the year 2020.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Aruhah: Awareness and Prayer for the Hungry and Thirsty

By Rebekah Connell ’15

While in high school, McKenzie Watson ’15 remembers being asked, “If you could remedy anything in the world, what would it be?” A daunting question, but McKenzie didn’t hesitate to answer, “I want everyone to have clean drinking water.” This issue has remained close to McKenzie’s heart for much of her life. “The world is filled with needs and injustices, a smorgasbord of causes to lobby for,” she says. “Access to clean drinking water is the most basic. People die every day from not having their most basic needs met. And to me, that is absolutely crazy.”

Since coming to Gordon, McKenzie, a biblical studies major, has sought the means to bring her passion for hunger and thirst to the campus community. Steph Clark ’15, a social work major, recently joined forces with McKenzie, and the two have brought to life a brand-new ministry called Aruhah—Hebrew for “meal.”


Monday, November 12, 2012

Seek the Lord While He Wills to Be Found

Beginning Monday night, November 5, and through the evening on Tuesday, November 6, the Gordon College community marked its annual Day of Prayer. This year's theme, SEEK, focused on Isaiah 55:6—"Seek the Lord while he wills to be found; call upon him when he draws near."

Each year the Day of Prayer celebrates two fundamental realities about Gordon. On the one hand, we are one body in Christ. By praying together in two large chapel services on Tuesday, we sought the Lord as one campus. The morning service began with the Morning Chapel Band, the Dance Ministry, and others, all calling us to worship. We moved through a time of individual and corporate confession. And we prayed in groups for the needs of this community, this nation, and all nations.

In the evening we worshipped again as one in the chapel with a congregational expression of the Psalms through song. From a lone voice in the darkness expressing the cries of the Psalmist in Psalm 130, to voices in unison reading the Psalms of Ascent; from hymns to contemporary music to bluegrass; from a Taizé chorus to Gospel music led by the Gospel Choir, we raised our voices in prayer and praise together, using the words of the Psalms.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

On View in the Gallery: Joseph A. Fiore

The Gallery at Barrington Center for the Arts continues its 2012–2013 season with a traveling exhibit of landscapes by the late artist Joseph A. Fiore (1925–2008). The exhibit, entitled Fiore/Drawing, will be on view in the Gallery until Saturday, December 14th.

Joseph A. Fiore was less well-known publicly than he was among his contemporaries in the academic art world, having spent much of his career as a professor at Black Mountain College in Asheville, NC, and Philadelphia College of Fine Arts. This exhibit attempts to give the public its first glimpse into nearly half a century of Fiore’s drawings, watercolors and pastels, revealing an artist who was dedicated to experimentation and abstraction within his representation of the American landscape.

Last Saturday's opening reception, in addition to unveiling this body of work for the first time to a New England audience, gave Gordon students and gallery visitors the chance to hear from two of Joseph Fiore’s closest contacts. The first was the curator of the exhibit, David Dewey, himself an artist and former student of Fiore. Before his passing in 2008, Joseph Fiore asked Dewey to take on the significant honor and challenge of preserving and curating his artwork. Dewey spent over a year preparing Fiore/Drawing, and he was delighted to see the work on the gallery walls in Barrington.

Joseph Fiore’s own daughter, Susanna Fiore, was also in attendance. Susanna and her husband, Jay—both accomplished jazz musicians from Boston—paid tribute to her father’s love of music with a wonderful set of classic jazz standards and original pieces. It was a fitting atmosphere for an artist whose work inherently reflects the energy and rhythms of live music.

Bruce Herman, Gallery Director, observed that Fiore “often started with a rendering of landscape and then improvised and experimented with abstraction in order to find just the right color, texture, or form to give voice to his vision.” The exhibit presents this vision in series of related themes and styles, each given its own wall within the Gallery. The result is a fresh interpretation of a cohesive yet diverse body of work.

“We are proud to host this exhibition, which surveys fifty years of Fiore's drawings and shows his acute visual thinking,” said Herman.

Fiore/Drawing is open to the public MondaySaturday, 9 AM7 PM. Visit to learn more about the exhibit.

Fiore/Drawing is sponsored by the Falcon Foundation, a Maine-based non-profit that has been exclusively entrusted with the archival and promotion of Joseph Fiore’s artwork.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Water Sundays 2013

Earlier this year, Kevin Herr ’09, a business administration graduate, shared about his experiences in Haiti as a part of the team at Water Missions International, a Christian engineering ministry that provides access to safe water and the Living Water message to people around the world. He also announced the launch of their Water Sunday initiative. Below he shares an update about all that's been accomplished through WMI since then, and what's in store for the future:

In January, we asked churches across the country to take one Sunday in March to educate their congregations about the global water crisis and to raise funds to provide safe water for people around the world. God moved—32 churches participated, and together we raised over $100,000 to bring safe water to four communities. The people of God responded and lives were changed.

Kimmi Island, in Uganda, is one of those communities impacted. 3,000 people live on Kimmi; the majority of the population is made up of fishermen. The community uses water from the lake for nearly all of its daily needs. Yet drinking this water causes devastating illnesses—typhoid, cholera, bilharzias, stomach pain and diarrhea. These ever-present illnesses affect all aspects of society.

It was wonderful to receive the pictures from the Kimmi’s celebration after the community’s new safe water system was fully installed. Thousands of people were present to participate in boat races, soccer, singing, tug-of-war, ribbon cutting and accompanying speeches. Seeing the faces of the children and knowing that, statistically speaking, by providing safe water you could save some of their lives really touches the heart.

Our vision for the 2013 Water Sunday campaign is for more than 100 churches to participate, providing access to safe water for more than 33,000 people. Churches can join in this effort by giving one Sunday between January and April 2013 to transform lives through safe water. Our desire is for church members to become something more than “transactional givers”—to become passionate participants, transformed by engaging with the call to care for the thirsty (Isaiah 58).

Water Sundays represent the active body of Christ responding to urgent physical needs. In addition, Water Sundays support our mission overseas to offer the living water of Christ to all who thirst spiritually.

To learn more about Water Sunday and to sign up, visit You can follow Water Missions International on Twitter @watermissions, and keep up-to-date on Water Sunday 2013 #WaterSunday.

Photo: Thanks to this past year's Water Sunday initiative, community members in Kimmi, Uganda, can share in safe, abundant drinking water.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Scriptura Sola After 500 Years

By Rebekah Connell ’15

The Conference on Faith and History, held biennially and hosted this October at Gordon College, provides a forum for scholars of Christianity and history to learn from one another. Professors, scholars and students from all over the country bring their questions and insights. The intermingling of so many levels of scholarship is a big part of what makes the CFH such a valuable experience. It was a unique privilege for Gordon students and professors to be able to attend presentations by notable historians who have widely influenced the study of history

Dr. Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, presented the conference's final lecture, entitled “Scriptura Sola after Nearly 500 Years: A Protestant Blessing or a Protestant Curse?” Scriptura sola, Latin for “by scripture alone,” refers to the belief that the Bible includes all the information necessary for a life of salvation. Noll’s talk laid out the progression of Protestants' use of scriptura sola throughout American history. As he began, Noll quipped, “After 500 years, has scriptura sola been a blessing or a curse? The answer, of course, is…yes. That’s it, thank you—end of lecture.” The audience of  iPad-clutching professors and notebook-crinkling students laughed, and settled into their seats for what they knew would be a much more thorough addressing of this challenging question.

Noll explored the diverse meanings that people have drawn from this concept during different time periods. He also raised difficult questions about the Protestant use of scripture, including the historical justification of slavery and outright disagreements between congregations of the same faith.

There is ambiguity in the definition of scriptura sola, Noll stressed; what does it mean, exactly, to follow the Bible alone? Some Christians uphold the sole use of the Bible in living the Christian life; others advocate the exploration of texts from other religions in order to better understand our own. According to Noll, the best solution is for Christians to be socially and politically engaged, infiltrating the layers of society with scriptural wisdom—a method, Noll pointed out, exemplified by our school’s founder, A. J. Gordon. Regardless of scriptura sola’s exact meaning in our world now, we know that scripture commands us to extend the love of Christ. This, Noll emphasized, is what we should pay attention to.

Noll’s lecture provided a triumphant conclusion to four days of vigorous discussion of the overlaps between faith and history. A true scholar of faith, he left us with questions and with a call to action.

Photo: Scholars from all over the country came together with Gordon students this month for the biennial Conference for Faith and History—pictured here in the Ken Olsen Science Center lobby.

Rebekah Connell ’15 is an English major from New York and student writer for the Office of College Communications. 


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cultivating Deep Faith

We all experience a "moment of transition" in our faith—the page in our spiritual journey where we decide which of our ingrained beliefs we will carry into new chapters, and what we will leave behind. Monday’s Chapel speaker, Jim Belcher ’87, talked through some of the challenges this moment of transition poses to young Christians, their families and the Church as a whole.

Often, Belcher explained, the moment comes during a person’s college years—away from home, from parents and youth group, from most of the inherited aspects of her religious faith. Drawing from the research of another well-known Gordon alumnus, Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith ’83, Belcher shared some sobering facts about how our most recent generation of college students and graduates (termed "emerging adults") fare through this critical moment. Upwards of 90 percent of emerging adults take on the social and spiritual identity of their immediate surroundings, even if it goes against the identity of their youth.

This means that many emerging adults who were raised in the Christian faith “put that [Christian] identity in a lockbox," said Belcher, once they enter into the largely faith-skeptical realm of secular higher education. They then emerge on the other side of their college years brandishing a sort of vague spirituality Smith calls Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD)—God without grounding in theology or creed, accompanying a general moral, spiritual and social aimlessness.

“Can MTD be escaped?” Belcher asked. How can we instill enduring faith in ourselves and in future generations? It’s a question Belcher has been grappling with for years.

After earning degrees from Gordon College, Fuller Theological Seminary and Georgetown University, Belcher became the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California. He made his debut as a Christian voice on the national stage with the thoughtful and fair-minded Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional, celebrated as one of Christianity Today's "best books from 2009." Now an associate professor of practical theology at Knox Theological Seminary, Belcher continues to seek a vibrant and firmly rooted faith in his work as a pastor, teacher and scholar.

And as Belcher explained in his Chapel message Monday morning, the firm, sustaining root of the Church is in the enduring story of Christ. Drawing a comparison to Lucy’s discovery of the magic of the “Spell for the Refreshment of the Spirit” in C. S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Belcher reiterated that “once you have been gripped by that story [of Christ], you will want to hear it over and over again.”

It is the timeless power of the Christian narrative that ultimately resists the casual draw of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, and which creates a culture of bold Christian leaders ready to live out that narrative in the world. “I’m thankful that I was able to get exposure to that kind of story here at Gordon, 25 years ago,” said Belcher.

Belcher is currently working on a follow-up to Deep Church, titled In Search of Deep Faith.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Welcome home. Look around."

By Ashlie Busone '13

After a lifetime of looking directly in front of me, three months in Tanzania taught me to look around.

Twenty-five hours in the air, one night in a dirty Dar es Salaam hostel, three hours on a crowded bus with chickens and children alike being passed along my lap, a short dala dala ride, and a long walk to the end of a dark red dirt road . . .

There’s a wall there.

There’s a what, where? With over 50 pounds of donated school supplies and tie-dyed t-shirts, and a pack on my back full of three months'-worth of life . . . I wasn’t exactly prepared to scale a large cement wall. So my traveling partner’s stark observation came as an unwelcome challenge.

Sijui, she told me. I don’t know.

Well, that’s great, I thought, staring up at the wall that separated us, clay stained feet and all, from the house we were supposed to move into for the summer. Neither do I.

I contemplated pulling out my trusty Lonely Planet Tanzania guide and scanning the index for “what to do if there’s a literal wall between you and your home,” hoping to find some helpful piece of wisdom like “use the other half of your boarding pass and the dental floss your mother made you pack to construct a pulley system and hoist yourself over the thing,” or “call the Lost Backpacker’s Hotline and ask for Juma, the wall remover—remember to say ‘asante!’”

Instead we called Mustafa, a local friend who found us and laughed for just a few minutes in the traditional Tanzanian way before effortlessly hoisting our bag full of donations onto his head, and gently leading us around the wall and through a neighboring field, over a hill and into our compound. He acted as our gardener, our guard and our source of entertainment for the duration of our stay in Morogoro. Mustafa helped us navigate many more roads, and guided us down paths we never could have found in the first place.

It was the first moment he arrived, though, that struck me. Mustafa’s smile told me he understood our frustration. He could see past our smirks and into our fear. It was as if he could hear the little voices screaming inside my head. The ones that doubted my ability to teach, and laughed at my reasons for “giving up” a summer to volunteer, as well as questioned the validity of our purpose at SEGA, the school we’d be working with. He could probably even hear the jumbled Swahili–English phrases floating around in my mind that resulted in mass confusion (not just for me, but for all of my partners in conversation).

Yes, Mustafa could hear all those voices, but somehow they didn’t prevent him from understanding our attempts (in broken Swahili) to relate to him. He simply took our hands and led us to the place we could figure things out. He situated us among our fears, our anxieties and our challenges, and helped us cultivate a life of beauty for ourselves that made sense among the confusion and the chaos. This was mostly ironic, because we thought we had gone to Tanzania to help people like him do that. We had spent our lives looking up, but he had an innate ability to look around and help those wearing virtual peripheral blinders.

Mustafa’s gesture offered more than a guidebook. At first glance, the photograph above might look like any other: two friends in a field full of flowers in the East African bush . . . frolicking and “changing lives,” and all that it may entail. But in reality, this walk was the beginning of a beautiful adventure into a Tanzanian summer full of lessons. His was the voice that told us “you’ve come home,” and welcomed us as whole people—anxiety and all.

Along with how to eat ugali, how to fashion a headscarf out of a khanga, what to say in response to “habari gani?” and where to go to get a new passport, I’ve learned that when you reach a wall in your path, what you need is someone who will help you look around. The people you thought you’d come to reach will find you first. They will (quite literally) carry you home.

Instead of saying “kwaheri” or “goodbye” to Tanzania, I ended up saying “karibu,” which means “welcome.” Welcome to a new stage in your life, to a new place on the map, to a new way of thinking, loving, and feeling. Welcome home. Look around.

Ashlie Busone '13 is a a Pike scholar majoring in Spanish from Ballston Lake, NY, and is the founder and president of Hippies for Hope.


Monday, September 24, 2012

27th Annual International Coastal Clean-up

The 27th annual International Coastal Clean-up is a coast-wide effort to clean up debris and trash on beaches and document the collected items for marine statistics and pollution research. 

Last weekend Gordon College students and faculty from the Biology Department partnered with the Trustees of Reservations and Crane Beach in Ipswich to help in this international marine effort. Students assisted with bags in hand, gloves for protection and marine stat worksheets for their documentation. The six students and two faculty members (Dr. Dorothy Boorse and Dr. Craig Story) collected items throughout the day.

"We found mostly food wrappers, cigarette filters, and bottle caps, but also found some unusual items like a glow stick and spray nozzle for a hose," said Megan Means, a senior biology major from Colorado, who helped organize the event this year. "When I volunteer for a Coast Sweep, I feel a connection with something greater than myself. Cleaning the beach is a way I can say thank you to nature for sharing its beauty with me." Means volunteered for her first Coastal Clean-up as a first-year student at Gordon. Now this college senior has participated for three years. 
Crane Beach began partnering with Ocean Conservancy in the late 80's and Gordon College over the last decade. Garry Dow heads the Crane Education program for the Crane Estate. "Gordon's faculty are a great addition to an event like this," said Dow who reported over 50 people came out this year from across the community. "They care not just about the event, but find ways to make the experience more tangible and valuable to the classroom experience." The collected data will be submitted to Ocean Conservancy where the data is analyzed and used to develop programs aimed at reducing marine debris worldwide.

"Coast sweep is a perfect marriage for Biology programs like Gordon's," said Dow. " Every volunteer is given a data card and on that card they record every bit of marine debris collected. We tabulate the local results and hand them over to the regional post at UMass Boston. It's extremely quantifiable--It gives us, and students studying marine science a really good sense of what's floating around in our local waters."

Over the past 25 years, more than 8.5 million people have crossed nearly 300,000 miles collecting 144 million pounds of trash. "Gordon's students went out for a long time," remarked Dow. "They are everything you hope for in a volunteer – the students are trustworthy, polite and know why they are here. I wish there were more local organizations this committed to the environment. It's nice to know we can count on Gordon every year to show up with a van full of students and professors."

Following their service, the crew at Crane Beach and the Trustees of the Reservation hosted a BBQ to thank this year's volunteers.

Photo 1: Gordon Professor Dr. Dorothy Boorse inspecting some of the materials collected at Crane Beach. Photo 2:Gordon volunteers and Trustees of Reservations staff member Garry Dow enjoy a cookout together following their service at Coastal Clean-up.  


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Part of a Larger Vision: Student Ministries Retreat 2012

By Rebekah Connell ’15

Everyone loves the GCSM Retreat—that’s what Gordon’s ministry directors say about their annual jaunt to Camp Brookwoods in New Hampshire. “It affords us the opportunity to really pour into our students in a way that is impossible in the hustle and bustle of campus life,” says Laurie Truschel, director of student ministries.

Earlier this month, over 60 students who will be leading campus ministries this year rode buses up to Lake Winnipisaukee for three days of fellowship, training, and Glow-in-the-Dark Steal the Bacon. (That last part was optional.) Amid large group sessions, messages from directors, worship services, prayer, and adventures in the great outdoors, students gained a clearer vision for their roles as leaders and for the purpose of ministry at Gordon. The first night at camp, Dr. Greg Carmer offered a message on the theme of “Head, Heart, and Hands.” Through this framework, Dr. Carmer guided students toward “keeping everything together in our pursuit of God.” He emphasized connectivity with God, with each other, and within oneself.

As numerous Gordon students could testify, there is never a retreat in the woods without a good measure of fun and relaxation. Early morning hikes, late night campfires, and kayaking on Lake Winnipisaukee peppered the weekend of spiritual immersion. Group meals in the camp’s elegant dining hall gave faculty, directors and student leaders a chance to get to know one another on a more personal level. “My favorite part of the retreat is just relaxing with our leaders: laughing at meals, worshipping beside them, singing around the campfire, and listening to their hopes for the ministries they will be leading,” says Truschel.

The students, too, found these times of fellowship alongside faculty and staff to be valuable. “On Saturday night everyone was praying for each other’s concerns about the upcoming year,” recalled Ben Boossarangsi, a leader of the Catacombs worship team. “It was a powerful reminder that though we all have separate ministries that we tend to get wrapped up in, we are part of a larger vision.”

The last morning of the retreat provided everyone with more than an hour of silent solitude, in addition to the memorable Commissioning Service overlooking the lake. “The setting is so beautiful—a great reminder of the majestic God we serve,” says Laura Carmer, director of missions and service learning. “This is a rich time for laying our work before that same God and asking him for the wisdom and grace to fulfill our roles faithfully.”

Abram Kielsmeier-Jones, director of Christian life and worship, also testified to the success of the retreat. “We received multiple comments about how refreshed our ministry leaders felt as a result of this retreat.”

Some of the most common favorite moments on the retreat? The times of prayer and quiet reflection—something busy college students have precious little time for. “The retreat was a great way to get me mentally and spiritually prepared to lead,” said Trey Walsh, who will be leading a spiritual life group. “To have time to clear my mind in order to better grasp the presence of God was very powerful.”

Photo: GCSM Retreat group at Camp Brookwoods in New Hampshire.

Rebekah Connell ’15 is an English major from New York and student writer for the Office of College Communications.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Alumni Filmmakers Create a Buzz

Gordon alumni filmmakers Dan Stevens '07 and David Ells '07 of In The Car have produced videos for ESPN, the BBC and USA Today. Their recent music video, created just before the pop band I Call Fives flew off for the 2012 Van's Warped Tour, was filmed across the North Shore at sites including the Gordon woods, where the plot's main visual narrative takes place.

The video for the band's new single, "Late Nights," was released on MTV's Buzzworthy this morning. Though this is the fourth music video for In The Car, this is the first time their creative work has been featured on the world's largest visual music platform. With many of the local filming taking place in the Boston region, North Shore Magazine also picked up a feature highlighting In The Car's work and the excitement this duo brings to New England's east coast.

Stevens, director for the video, credits advice he's learned over time from Gordon staff even for this particular project. "Whenever we work on a video for Gordon, we work alongside Creative Director Tim Ferguson Sauder," said Stevens. "We love working with Tim. He has great advice and insight. I always make it a point to run my ideas by Tim even when it's not a Gordon project—he definitely had some good advice for this video."

But Ferguson Sauder, who also runs the Return Design program at Gordon and teaches in the Art Department, wasn't the only Gordon connection who helped with creative production. Shaylah Fawn Deviney '10 took the photos that appeared throughout the video, James Lemire '11 and Abi Solberg '11 were production assistants, Meg Stevens '06 was the makeup artist, and Jill Rogati '06 served as the stunt coordinator. Other Gordon alumni who lent a hand included Bekah Jordan '12, Jason Rozen '05, Eve Amendola '05, Jon Chubb '04, and Audrey Claire Johnson '05.

Read the full story on North Shore Magazine, including a timeline of production photography online.

Photo 1: Gordon College alumni Dan Stevens '07 and David Ells '07 of In The Car with I Call Fives band members during production of their latest project. Photo 2: Dan Stevens. Photo 3: Jill Rogati '06 testing stunts while filmmaker David Ells captures the footage. Copyright: Shaylah Fawn Deviney '10.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Top Journalist Michael Gerson Visits Gordon College

By Amber Joy Fiedler ’13

As a Gordon student, I know it takes a lot for a speaker to engage a chapel full of busy college students in such a way that he or she is actually able to evoke laughter from the crowd. Michael Gerson—opinion columnist for the Washington Post, former aide and speechwriter to President George W. Bush and author of some of the President's key speeches following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—did just this. He made the room laugh, yet also drew the audience into more serious reflection through his rhetorical eloquence.

Gerson also met with Gordon's six Presidential Fellows, engaging us in more personal conversation before delivering his keynote address for the Richard F. Gross Distinguished Lecture Series Thursday evening. While our meeting was off-the-record, I can say that it was an honor to meet with him, and that it was during this informal time that I began to notice Gerson's composure, confidence and personal humility.

Gerson’s Thursday night address, “Whose Responsibility is Opportunity?” began with some brief personal background and some humor at the speaker's own expense, then went on to address the “durable, deepening divide rooted in class.” In today’s society, he said, people are “betrayed by their birth,”—they are not given opportunities that others are given, because of where and to whom they were born.

Everyone should have an equal chance, Gerson stressed; everyone should have an opportunity. He encouraged us to become more aware of inequality and willing to help develop an atmosphere where creativity flourishes. We must be willing to embrace the ideology that God is on the side of justice.

When Gerson spoke the next day at Gordon's weekly Convocation gathering, he focused on "Three Responses to Suffering." He explained that as Christians, we must have compassion, demand justice, and embrace affliction. We should be willing to get involved with social activism but be careful not to make this activism itself our primary focus. He explained that by making God second, we put ourselves in mortal danger. While it is important to focus on our values, we must first focus on God. The world does not lack for important causes, he noted; it does, however, lack people pursuing these causes with their focus first on God. Here is where we as Christians must come in. We are all called to enable the flourishing of creativity and opportunity, as well as develop a compassion that is deeply rooted in a focus on God.

Amber Joy Fiedler ’13 is a Gordon Presidential Fellow working in the office of the Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communications. She will be contributing her thoughts on life as a Fellow, College events, and student life over the upcoming school year.

Top photo—Gordon Presidential Fellows meet with Michael Gerson (left to right): Henry Hagen, Amber Fieldler, Skylar Bareford, Michael Gerson, D. Michael Lindsay, K. Trey Walsh, Eric Hilker.


Friday, September 7, 2012

New Exhibit in the Art Gallery: Tim Harney's Paintings and Collages

The Gallery at Barrington Center for the Arts has opened its 2012–2013 exhibit season with a remarkable new show by local artist Tim Harney, entitled My Mother’s Hands, My Father’s Heart: Paintings and Collages, 2000-2012, on display through October 13th.

My Mother’s Hands, My Father’s Heart is one of the largest and most diverse exhibits that Gordon has ever hosted, and the response from the local art community has been overwhelming. There was a record turnout at the opening reception on September 1st, as students, faculty and community supporters from around the North Shore filled the Gallery spaces to hear Harney speak about the work.

Harney suggests that the show is a series of reflections—real, imagined and dreamed—on the life and influence of his family and, in particular, his parents. “I chose the title… [as] an expression of my love, recollection and testimony to their inspiration—but another ‘reading’, and, admittedly, the one I've been preoccupied with for the past few years, is the realization that I indeed have my mother's arthritic hands and my father's heart condition,” said Harney.

Harney expresses these personal reflections in the nearly 75 paintings and collages that make up the show, created over a decade-long period of time. “These are collections of things: materials with their own history, materials with a history I've invested in them,” Harney writes in his artist statement. This material history is profoundly evident in Harney’s paintings and especially his abstract collages, created from papers and antique fibers collected throughout his career.

“When walking through the spaces it is easy to find the simplicity and composition of the collages just as intriguing as Tim’s realistic approach to the figure,” Gordon art student Sarah Cram said. “The conversation is found through his use of color, technique and composition.”

Gallery Director Bruce Herman is thrilled with the exhibit and the contribution Tim Harney has made to the contemporary art world. “As Gallery Director, it is a particular pleasure to host this talented, thoughtful local artist,” Herman said. “Full of color, compositional complexity and textural variety, Harney's work is expressive and powerful and reveals great depth of insight into the human condition."


My Mother’s Hands, My Father’s Heart will be on display in the Gallery at Barrington Center for the Arts through October 13th. The Gallery is open Monday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. You can learn more about the exhibit at


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Astounding Gains in Standardized Science Test Scores

Francis Vigeant '04 has made a tremendous impact on education since graduating from Gordon College with a degree in economics. From his public office run with the Salem Public School systems, to the successful development of KnowAtom—a curriculum for for elementary and middle school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educationVigeant continues to make the news. This morning, he appeared for an interview on NPR's Morning Edition

The morning show, which airs on on over 170 news stations across the United States as well as internationally through the BBC, shone a spotlight on Vigeant's unique program in the context of its role in the 25% increase in standardized science-test scores for the City of Lynn—an unusually large increase for a public elementary school.   

Massachusetts is considered a leader in K-12 STEM education nationwide, but average proficiency statewide on standardized tests has been, at best, only 50%. NPR first took an interest in
Vigeant when they heard about the Lynn school district's success in test scores in schools using KnowAtom. 

"We've figured out how to help teachers deliver content required by the state (and recommended by the National Academies and National Research Council) that engages students through labs," said Vigeant, who worked as a high school math teacher following his graduation from Gordon, and before founding KnowAtom. "Our approach places the emphasis on quality instruction and appeals to children's curiosity to help them achieve with the gifts they have been given. While we're happy that the standardized tests validate that we're producing rapid gains across all socioeconomics they are merely a data point to inform practices. We're most impressed with the level of engagement and understanding students exhibit though the curriculum beginning in first grade."

The KnowAtom program will be in place in all Lynn elementary schools and one city middle school starting tomorrow. They’re among the 31 Massachusetts schools to use Vigeant's program this fall, continuing the city's outstanding gains in MCAS results. "KnowAtom empowers students to make informed decisions in an increasingly complex world," said
Vigeant. "In a classroom using KnowAtom, students learn that truth is not always what you’d expect it to be, nor is it always easy to find. As a graduate of Gordon, I’m pleased to carry forward what I’ve learned and pioneer what could transform American STEM education."

To listen to the broadcast, visit Boston's NPR station on WBUR here


Friday, August 31, 2012

Matriculation Chapel: Renewal and Remembrance

After a long summer of jobs and internships, research and missions trips, the whole Gordon College community assembled Wednesday morning for this academic year's Matriculation Chapel service. Held each year on the first day of classes, Matriculation Chapel represents a long Gordon tradition. It serves as a time for students, faculty and staff to rededicate themselves to Christ, and to be reminded of the crucial importance of Christian education to the global church and to the common good.

The call to spiritual renewal and to faithful scholarship was given special meaning this year, the 50th year of Biblical and Theological Studies Professor Marvin Wilson's teaching career. As President Lindsay asked Dr. Wilson to step forward for a word of acknowledgement (and the bestowal of Marv's very own designated parking spot for the year), students, faculty and staff burst into heartfelt applause. Marv continues to model the very essence of Gordon's commitment to deep and informed Christian faith for thousands among the College's students, alumni and friends.

The capstone of each Matriculation service is the "charge," a speech delivered by a recipient of the previous year's Distinguished Faculty Awards. This year's speaker, Professor of Sociology Dr. Ivy George, provided a few key meditations for the start of this new year. Weaving together insights from modern authors and sociological perspectives (Dr. George—no surprise—teaches a "Sociology of Literature" class), the sociology department chair encouraged the campus community to have respect for the mystery of God's grace, to recognize that God alone is the source of wisdom, and to turn to God in all we do this year.

Within these broad exhortations, a theme of interpersonal connection emerged—an intuitive outgrowth of Dr. George's chosen discipline. As we consider the mystery of God's grace, we recognize that God is preparing not only our own hearts, but the hearts of all those around us. As we seek God's wisdom, we realize that "God is in the world," as Dr. George put it, and that we are to "go into the world to be changed and to make change" through that same divine insight. And as we turn to God, we remember the importance of "active participation in a local church" in keeping our focus on him.

When the service concluded, the whole community emerged from the chapel, out into Wednesday's first whispers of clear fall breeze—this new year both a fresh beginning and the continuation of a long history together.

Photos: 1.) Faculty procession 2.) Dr. Marv Wilson, Harold John Ockenga Chair of Biblical and Theological Studies 3.) Dr. Ivy George, professor sociology and social work. Listen to Dr. Ivy's Matriculation Chapel speech here.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Many Faces of Gordon [at SoulFest]

Well, here we are, with three days under our collective belt and another one well underway. As our blue "This Is Different" Gordon College t-shirts have yielded cyan-saturated throngs of SoulFestians, and as our street teamers repeatedly become the life of whatever party they enact upon an unsuspecting crowd, perhaps I should take some time to reflect on the deeper significance of it all. What does Gordon bring to SoulFest, aside from colorful shirts and unexpected prizes?

Submitted for your consideration:

On Stage
Chances are if you've been at SoulFest for more than a couple hours, you'll recognize Dan Stevens ’07 (pictured above). This Gordon alum is the face of the festival's Inside Out stage, and also helms the College's daily giveaway. Dan takes his Revival stage time opportunities to outline some of his favorite things about Gordon, most recently waxing poetic about the food in Lane Student Center: "Gordon College: Good food, good prizes, happy SoulFest."

Dan is also one half of In The Car Media, a Beverly-based video production company Dan runs with David Ells ’07 that made the past two year's SoulFest video pieces.

In The Tents
I learned about the amazing work of Boston nonprofit Amirah last SoulFest, when I spoke with Sarah Durfey ’08 at length about her role in the Hub's abolitionist network. Sarah is a board member for the organization, which operates a safe house for women escaping human trafficking. This year, Amirah has it's own booth up here, and they're a Revival stage sponsor right alongside Gordon, and Sarah is up supporting their efforts as a volunteer at their table. Her work here, of course, is in addition to her full-time role as director of the Abolitionist Network at Emmanuel Gospel Center in Boston.

As Speakers
I've had the privilege to sit in on three great talks given by Gordon faculty and staff. Thursday we heard Professor of Chemistry Irv Levy speak on the changing landscape of the "green" movement. He cautioned the audience to be conscious consumers, not being indiscriminately taken in by "greenwashing"—putting green or "natural" labels on products with no verifiable advantage for the environment or human health—but instead to do some research and find out how we can each reduce, reuse and recycle most effectively. 

Susanne McCarron, program coordinator for the College's Core curriculum and The Great Conversation, discussed the growing trend of fatherlessness and the challenges it poses to children and their mothers. McCarron stressed that this is an issue churches need to be aware of, and one that we need to react to with an increased focus on pursuing mentoring opportunities. 

And today, I listened as Associate Professor of Christian Ministries Bob Whittet reframed what many would see as the misfortune of New England Christianity—namely, that there are demographically fewer of us than in much of the rest of the country—as a tremendous opportunity to be examples and light-bearers of Christ. He encouraged us to be bold, remembering that through the Cross and the Resurrection we have been made worthy, even when we face challenges to our faith.

In short, Gordon at SoulFest as many faces. They're silly, they're serious, they're compelling. They're all different.

Photo: Dan Stevens ’07 running Gordon's daily giveaway on the Gordon-sponsored Revival stage.

John Mirisola ’11 is a Gordon alum and staff writer for the College. Follow along this week as he blogs about all things Gordon College at SoulFest.