When we introduce folks to TCF’s work, it doesn’t take any time at all to convince them that our work for unity in the body of Christ is sorely needed. It takes a bit longer to persuade them that this is more than an idealistic dream. But as they begin to grasp that it’s actually possible to carry on difficult conversations in a way that draws us together rather than forcing us apart… well, beautiful things begin to happen.
As this vision continues to spread, we want to equip Christians to work with us for reconciliation in the midst of divisive issues. We’d of course love to host forums for any group, anywhere, who’s ready to take on this work. But we realize that often, the most effective leader will be someone in the community—someone who already knows the particular issues, the people, and the history. So, we’ve worked to develop a booklet to help leaders run their own forums (and soon, we’ll offer a forum leadership to accompany the book).
Start a New Kind of Conversation lays out a step-by-step process for setting up a forum: how to bring together the right group; how to identify and articulate a pressing issue; and how to host a fruitful and charitable conversation on a difficult topic. The process itself is relatively simple, and we hope this little book encourages Christians to engage a challenging issue with courage and grace.
If you share our vision and hope and are considering hosting a forum in your own community, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us an email or call us at (616) 328-6016, and we can talk about how you, too, can Start a New Kind of Conversation.
The Colossian Forum is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a generous grant by the Equitas Group, whose focus involves “Seeking justice for the vulnerable and oppressed as well as encouraging holistic and responsive thinking toward that end.” This grant will support our work to foster communities of sustained and hospitable dialogue, rooted in the practices of the faith. In particular, it will underwrite a project to gather church leaders and academic experts to explore holistic expressions of Christian faithfulness regarding human sexuality. As TCF learns from scholars and practitioners, we will develop resources to help equip the church to receive cultural challenges like this one not as threats that divide but as gifts by which the Holy Spirit deepens knowledge, builds community, and strengthens faith.
TCF is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a grant to continue our work to develop “.” This generous gift will help underwrite two Forum series, designed to help participants sustain difficult conversations in the context of long-term engagements. Each series will address an issue that presents unique challenges to the church; we launched the first of these in September, addressing the need for discernment in our use of emerging (and established) technologies. Our goal with these series includes equipping participants to foster these sorts of conversations in their own contexts; this grant allows us to provide support as they bring to their congregations and institutions a vision for building community, expanding knowledge, and deepening faith.
In partnership with the Kuyers Institute for Teaching and Learning, TCF is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a $200,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation. This award will help fund programming costs for the development of training and cutting-edge online resources for science teachers. These resources will address the need for effective teaching strategies at the intersection of faith and science. Curriculum will be composed of the highest level of scientific scholarship while also addressing how science is connected to discovering and expressing Biblical virtues.
Over the course of three years, this project will develop and deploy an interactive website that will include a multi-layered bank of teaching strategies, training materials, and brief related essays. It will draw on the contributions of experienced teachers to create, evaluate, and communicate effective teaching methods. As a standalone site, it will extend the reach of the innovative websites whatiflearning.com and whatiflearning.co.uk and will be developed in a similar style.
In the upcoming months watch for updates from the team as this project moves forward. You can expect occasional previews of new material, stories from the writing team, and links to effective resources as we discover them.
The Colossian Forum is sponsoring a virtual conversation on the www.respectfulconversation.net website, hosted by TCF Senior Fellow, Harold Heie. The title of this conversation is “American Evangelicalism: Present Conditions, Future Possibilities.” This conversation will last for 7 months, with one month devoted to each of 7 pre-announced sub-topics, which will include Evangelicalism and the Broader Christian Tradition, Evangelicalism and the Modern Study of Scripture, Evangelicalism and Morality, Evangelicalism and Politics, and Evangelicalism and Higher Education. After postings by “primary contributors” on a given topic, readers will have the opportunity to submit “comments” in a moderated forum.
If you are interested, you can subscribe to receive all the postings for this conversation in your email in-box by going to “Email Subscription” on the web site.
To date, 28 Christian scholars have agreed to be primary contributors to this conversation, including Randall Balmer (Dartmouth College), Amy Black (Wheaton College), Jeannine Brown (Bethel Seminary), Peter Enns (Eastern University), John Franke (Yellowstone Theological Institute), Stanton Jones (Wheaton College), Ben Mitchell (Union University), Richard Mouw (Fuller Theological Seminary), Soong-Chan Rah (North Park Theological Seminary), Sandy Richter (Wesley Seminary), Sarah Ruden (Wesleyan University), Mark Sargent (Westmont College), Corwin Smidt (Calvin College), Theodore Williams (City Colleges of Chicago), John Wilson (Books & Culture), and Amos Yong (Regent University).
This conversation is also co-sponsored by the Center for Faith & Inquiry at Gordon College and Eastern University.
The Colossian Forum has received a $303,732, three-year grant from The BioLogos Foundation for their project, Beyond Galileo – to Chalcedon: Re-imagining the Intersection of Evolution and the Fall. This project is led by Dr. James K.A. Smith (Calvin College), Dr. William Cavanaugh (DePaul University) and Michael Gulker (President – The Colossian Forum). The Colossian Forum was one of 37 winners out of 225 applicants to the Biologos Evolution & Christian Faith grants competition.
This project gathers a multidisciplinary team of leading scholars to pursue a communal research project on evolution, the Fall, and original sin, asking a pressing question: If humanity emerged from non-human primates—as genetic, biological, and archaeological evidence seems to suggest—then what are the implications for Christian theology’s traditional account of origins, including both the origin of humanity and the origin of sin? The integrity of the church’s witness requires that it constructively address this difficult question. The team believes that cultivating an orthodox theological imagination can enable Christians to engage these tensions without giving up on confessional orthodoxy. So its confessional methodology is as central to the project as its topic.
The team embraces the church’s ancient wisdom in the Council of Chalcedon as a model and template for how to faithfully grapple with contemporary challenges. The team believes the resources for such theological imagination are carried in the liturgical heritage of the church—in the worship practices and spiritual disciplines that enact the biblical story in ways that seep into our imagination, helping Christians see creative ways forward through this challenge. Research will be shared in a culminating conference and resulting scholarly book. In addition, the fruit of the team’s research will also be “translated” and distributed for pastors, Christian educators and students through forums, web publishing, and curricula.
For more information about The Colossian Forum on Faith, Science and Culture, visit http://www.colossianforum.org.
The Biologos Foundation Announcement – http://biologos.org/blog/evolution-and-christian-faith-grantees-announced.
Contact: Brian Cole, Director of Operations