March 27, 2017

Light from the East


As a teaching president (sometimes too much), I have the privilege of learning the beauty of distinctive expressions of Christian faith represented among the varied cultures at Central.  We are a global seminary, after all.  Shortly after teaching in Myanmar, I taught a course on Incarnational Theology with Korean Doctor of Ministry students.
            They were spending the week at Conception Abbey (a great place to build community with available housing, meals, and life of prayer) completing two courses, and I managed to get there for the second one.  With the assistance of Dr. Greg Hunt, a skilled scholar-practitioner who serves as Research Professor Theology at Central, I had the privilege of engaging mature Christian leaders from all over the country.  I was amazed by the deep biblical literacy, breath of ministry experience, and theological learning of this cohort.

            Korean Christians are a missionary people, which is a clear response to the call of the Gospel.  They witness of their own experience of missionaries coming to Korea in the 19th century, and they continue this work throughout the world.  Korean Christians have established vibrant congregations throughout the US, and they care deeply about the spiritual well-being of the nation as a whole.
They are also a singing people.  I enjoyed greatly our opening and closing music, especially concluding with a commissioning song.  At one point, we sang in the basilica of the Abbey where the reverberations were astonishing.  Many in the class are gifted musicians with significant vocal talent.  Some of the monks suggested to me that I invite them to sing more!

They are also a people of deep prayer.  I mentioned a prayer request for a beloved friend of Central who has broken his hip, and they prayed with fervor and compassion.  The practice at certain intervals is to pray aloud simultaneously; the intercession certainly informed heaven of this urgent need.  And they prayed regularly for Central and its mission, faculty, leadership, staff, and students.  In many respects their profound faith is a source of renewal in American Christianity.
We had very lively conversations as we sought to understand how the Triune God grounds an incarnational presence for the missional church.  Exploring varied forms of leadership that are modeled by the self-giving of God’s trinitarian relations opened new horizons for considering forms of ministry.
The Gospel takes root in the soil of unique cultures, bearing part of the larger story of that distinct people as they embrace the message of salvation through the redemptive work of the Triune God.  The Confucian influence contributes to the thirst for continuous learning and excellence, which prompts these learners to sharpen their preparation for ministry at every opportunity.

I am grateful that Central is a genuinely multicultural school that values what each ethnicity brings to its mission.  The Body of Christ requires this kind of diversity, and we continue to learn from one another.

Molly T. Marshall

Central prepares creative leaders for diverse ministry contexts.

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