The Struggle for Community – Whatever That Means

By Jonathan Davis, Small Town Churches Network

The struggle for community is real. Across America people long for community, whatever that means, and whatever that means, community seems increasingly elusive.

I’ve lived in suburbia before, and the sense of isolation can be overwhelming. In one neighborhood we used to live in, all the houses lined up in rows. People came home from their commute and immediately pulled into the garage. Whether people were home or away, it was impossible to tell because there were no cars in driveways. The living rooms were in the back of most houses, so even when the neighbors were home, you couldn’t see any lights on in the houses.

A neighborhood full of people who didn’t know each other, and didn’t even know if the neighbors were home. A park that was mostly empty because everyone set up a swing set in their own back yard. A perfectly good community with no community. Continue reading The Struggle for Community – Whatever That Means

New Associate Dean for Worship Life Appointed at Columbia Seminary

Columbia Theological Seminary President Leanne Van Dyk announced earlier this year the creation of a new position, Associate Dean for Worship Life. “We are committed to forming our students as leaders in worshipping communities,” said Dr. Van Dyk. “After all, worship is a primary location of the work of the Spirit. Our faculty is eager to welcome a colleague who will mentor our students in thoughtful and authentic worship.”

This summer, Columbia Seminary welcomed Dr. Rebecca Spurrier as the new Associate Dean for Worship Life and Assistant Professor of Worship. The Board of Trustees approved the recommendation of the search committee and President Van Dyk. Continue reading New Associate Dean for Worship Life Appointed at Columbia Seminary

Congregations as Communities of Faith

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Congregations are, in their essence, authentic communities of faith—despite the fact that they are also organizations. That’s an insight worth keeping in mind for every congregational leader. Too often, the tendency for is to address congregational issues from an administrative approach in an attempt to control outcomes. Symptomatic of this tendency is the popularity of management books among clergy. Administration and management can work at one level, at the organizational level, but they will not work at the “communal” level. (Read an excerpt on what makes a congregation a real faith community from the book The Hidden Lives of Congregations ).

One reason why management and administration cannot effect control or bring about essential change in congregations has to do with the nature of congregations as communities. Congregations are localized, encultured, emotional relationship systems and they are more organic than organizational. They embody well what constitutes a community, despite their organizational structures. If you want to understand a congregation, you’d do better to assess its culture than analyze its organizational chart. Continue reading Congregations as Communities of Faith

South African Art Exhibit Co-hosted by Local Seminary and Church

The Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur and Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta are co-hosting a new exhibit, Between the Shadow and the Light: An Exhibition out of South Africa. The exhibit is on display at both locations now through mid-August. The exhibition features art created by North American and African artists following a joint trip to South Africa co-sponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. The stop in Atlanta is part of a multi-year tour across the United States. Continue reading South African Art Exhibit Co-hosted by Local Seminary and Church

Down in the Dirt

By Bethany Benz-Whittington, MDiv ‘15

Luke 10:25-37 25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

This week was another bad week. Another week of violence in our country, and around the world. Black, white, and brown bodies strewn, lifeless, on the streets of Baton Rouge, of the Twin Cities, of Dallas, of Bangladesh and Baghdad and Istanbul.

A range of motives, one outcome.
Continue reading Down in the Dirt


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