Archive for March, 2010

This Thursday, April 1st: GST Preview Day Event

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by   |  03.30.10  |  GST Events

GST PREVIEW EVENT 2010 n106574856040403_8598
April 1, 2010 7:30am – 8:00pm

Come for an in-depth experience of ACU Graduate School of Theology. The GST Preview Event gives you the opportunity to engage ACU’s world of theological graduate education in ways you’ve never imagined. We have an exciting day planned – you do not want to miss it!

You’ll have the opportunity to converse with our world-class scholars, explore cutting-edge contextual education, investigate our academic and transformational degrees, meet current students and much more!

This once-a-year event is designed both for those familiar with ACU and those who are brand new. Times of worship, feasting, and community will book-end your full-day immersion into all things GST.

Who: undergrad juniors and seniors; current ministers, youth ministers, etc. with a completed bachelor’s degree.

Where: BSB, Various Locations, Begins with Breakfast in the Bean.

SCHEDULE FOR THE DAY
7:30-8:45 Breakfast in Bean
9:00-10:15  Contexts of Ministry with Stephen Johnson
10:30-11:30 Coffee and Library with Craig Churchill
11:45-1:30  GST Big Picture, Your Picture: Lunch with faculty in the Faculty Commons
1:30-2:45  Connecting Caring Communities Tour
3:00-4:30  Tour of Jacob’s Dream, the Labyrinth, the Quiet Place, and Chapel On The Hill with Childers
4:30-6:00  Break & snack with current students
6:00-8:00  Maundy Thursday service at Chapel on the Hill

For more information contact Russ Kirby at gst@acu.edu or at 325-513-0248.

The Stories We Live By

by   |  03.26.10  |  Uncategorized

Stephen Johnson, DMin, ThD - Associate Professor of Ministry, Director of Contextual Education

Stephen Johnson, DMin, ThD - Associate Professor of Ministry, Director of Contextual Education

I spend a good amount of time these days thinking with students about contextual theology – this notion that theology is enacted in practice in particular times, places, and people.  Not only do I spend time thinking with students about these things, but also exploring notions of contextual theology with a community of faith.  For nearly six years, I have journeyed with the Buffalo Gap Church of Christ as preacher.  The gracious invitation to walk with with them in this way has afforded me the opportunity to explore contextual theology in “real time.”  For this, I am grateful.

One of the things that strikes me as I reflect upon the relationship between teaching contextual theology and engaging in it in Buffalo Gap is the role of congregational narratives.  As homiletician, I have long been aware of narrative.  The key idea advanced by Steven Crites in his influential essay, “The Narrative Quality of Experience,” is that human beings structure and understand their experience of life by telling stories.  Herbert Anderson and Edward Foley write, “Stories are privileged and imaginative acts of self-interpretation” (Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals: Weaving Together the Human and the Divine).

I’m convinced that attention to narratives is a key to reading and understanding congregations.  I’m also convinced that helping congregations attend to and reflect upon their story is a means of communal discernment.  Let’s call it “narrative ethnography as communal discernment in the life and mission of God.”  So, I’ve engaged in a little narrative project in Buffalo Gap.  I have attempted to listen carefully and attend faithfully to the story of our common life over the last several years and narrate that story as an act of ministry, allowing the congregation to both tell and interpret the story.

There are many forms for narration.  I have chosen to produce our story in audio format episodically.  Capturing audio conversations allows the voice of others to be present in the narration and also allows for some artistry.  I have titled the project Dispatches from the Trails End: One Church’s Story in the Mission of God for reasons that may only be apparent in the hearing of the story.  So, let me share the Prologue to my little project with you, “Story and Place.”

Who Do They Think We Are? (The KKK in Abilene)

by   |  03.22.10  |  Christian, Church, Justice, Society, Worship

Mark Hamilton, PhD - Associate Dean, Associate Professor of Old Testament, ACU Graduate School of Theology

Mark Hamilton, PhD - Associate Dean, Associate Professor of Old Testament, ACU Graduate School of Theology

“What kind of a people do they think we are?” Winston Churchill asked in his speech to Congress just after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fascist dictators, steeped in notions of blood and land, full of racial pride and therefore racial hatred, believed the democracies to be too weak to survive. They were wrong.

I thought about this line recently when I heard the news that the KKK had moved into Abilene. What kind of a people do they think we are? Why would a group that the FBI calls terrorists believe our city open to their recruiting?

Read my full Abilene Reporter News article on the KKK’s increased activity in Abilene.

ACU Graduate Chapel Sermon (Ben Fike): January 20

by   |  03.17.10  |  Chapel, Church, God with us, Hope, Hospitality, Jesus, Justice, Mission of God, Students

Every Wednesday, we meet for worship together in the Chapel on the Hill. Sometimes students speak. Here is a sermon by one of them, Ben Fike, who is the preacher for the Maryneal, Texas Church of Christ. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Matthew 2:1-12 – Laying our Gifts Before the King

by Ben Fike

“The church has just entered the liturgical season of Epiphany one week ago today. The Feast of Epiphany in the Western tradition is associated with this story of the wise men coming to Jesus, the first gentiles who come to worship the child king. Today we join our sisters and brothers the world over in our hearing and proclaiming of this text in this season.

I can’t read this story without thinking of my mom’s collection of nativity sets. She probably just took them down a week or two ago, but during Christmas they’re all over the house. Just little miniature versions of the birth of Christ spread out all over every bookshelf and table. The raggedy looking shepherds, the docile ox and lamb, the surprisingly calm and serene looking Mary and Joseph, little baby Jesus, no crying he makes, asleep in the manger. Blonde, and looking quite Scandanavian. And of course the wise men, all exotic and strange with enormous headgear and camels and robes and big bushy beards, bearing gifts.

But although this popularized version of the nativity may fly some places, we know better don’t we? We know better than that naive conflation of Matthew and Luke’s gospels bringing together Shepherds and Wise Men and Livestock in an ad hoc, irresponsible kind of way. We know better, that this story of the wise men bowing down to Jesus is not serene and precious and cute. It is, in fact, subversive to the point that it will directly contribute to a vengeful and maniacal king massacring thousands of innocents to squelch the perceived threat of the child born King of the Jews these wise men have come to worship. And we know better homiletically than to cast ourselves as the distant floating observers looking down on the tiny scene as if Jesus were a insect and we were a bear.

No, WE know better than that. This is a story we must enter. This story is in someway our story. More »

The Relevance of the Bible for Life Today: Justice

by   |  03.09.10  |  Behavior, Bible, Church, Justice, Power, Theology, Wealth

What is justice? How can we be more just people, and a more just church? These questions seem acute in our time, as American Christians have access to unprecedented wealth and power while so many of our brothers and sisters sometimes lack even daily bread. As this new series of podcasts tries to show, the Bible offers a profound and eminently workable approach to changing our own lives — our attitudes, behaviors, values, and desires — so as to become more just people. I hope you enjoy this series and welcome your comments or questions.

Dr. Mark W. Hamilton
Associate Professor of Old Testament and
Associate Dean
ACU Graduate School of Theology
Abilene, TX 79699
Editor, The Transforming Word

Welcome to the ACU Graduate School of Theology Blog!

by   |  03.08.10  |  Announcements

We know it’s been a long time in coming, but we’re excited to finally launch the ACU Graduate School of Theology Blog where professors and students alike can contribute and interact around a multiplicity of fascinating and significant subjects. Of course those of you who aren’t ACUGST professors or students are most welcome to feast upon, delve into, and comment on the material you find here.

You may be asking yourself: “Who are these GST people?” Our Associate Dean, Dr. Mark Hamilton describes us thusly:

Our community of women and men comes from around the United States and many other nations across the globe. We seek to learn how to serve God and thus God’s creation with our hearts, hands, minds, and feet. Rigorous study of the Bible and the theology and history of the church, sustained and reflective engagement with the arts of ministry and the skills of leadership, committed practices of prayer and service – these are the elements we cultivate in our lives together.

Our community is firmly grounded in the life of the church. Many of us come from the churches of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, a group of Christians in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who sought to reclaim the vision of unity, holiness, and service present when Christianity began. Our school embraces that vision even as it welcomes all who seek to serve in imitation of Jesus Christ. We believe that the church needs spiritual leaders in order to be part of God’s work of bringing peace, wholeness, and purpose to the world.

We think we’ve got some pretty good ideas for ways to make this blog exciting, informative, and even transformative. So make sure you keep watching the blog for updates.

Two things soon to come — 1) Dr. Mark Hamilton shares a three part series on Justice in Isaiah, and 2) an exciting announcement about our upcoming GST Preview Day Event. See you around!