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Spring 2001 Newsletter

In This Issue
Spiritual Journey & Our Communities of Faith
SHEMA!
Jim Plueddemann Honored with Distinguished Christian Educator Award
Reflections on the 2000 NAPCE Annual Conference
Research & Writing Opportunities
NAPCE's Newest Board Members
Book Reviews  



Spiritual Journey & Our Communities of Faith
Mark H. Senter III, Vice President

One issue came painfully to the surface at the NAPCE conference in Toronto. Our professional network has slipped out of touch with the community we are becoming. But why is this any surprise? The college and seminary programs in which NAPCE members teach, as well as the church we serve, find themselves in a time of transition. Whether by design or default, we are on a spiritual journey defined to a great extent by the variety of faith communities from which we come. NAPCE 2001 will respond to and draw from that pilgrimage.

Spiritual Journey and our Communities of Faith is the theme for NAPCE 2001. Held at Sheraton Arlington Park near Chicago, October 25-27, 2001, the conference focuses on the richness of the spiritual journey found in diverse expressions of the Body of Christ and explores implications for personal and corporate growth.

Robert Mullholland, Author of Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation and Academic Dean of Asbury Theological Seminary, will help give direction to our discussion. He will draw from his current studies on the role of the faith community in spiritual formation to help NAPCE gain a perspective on the spiritual journey that the Church, our schools and NAPCE are traveling.

Joining Dr. Mullholland will be people from four distinctly different church traditions of spiritual formation. Ruth Barton champions the rapidly emerging spiritual formation emphasis at Willow Creek Community Church. As a Korean-American, Peter Cha, ministered both in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and as an ethnic church planter before joining the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Derek McNeil serves in an African-American church on the west side of Chicago and teaches at Wheaton College. And bringing to our discussion perspectives from the Hispanic American Christian communities will be Marta Alvarado, who teaches at Moody Bible Institute.

The conference provides a venue for NAPCE to dialog with people who have served in, and reflected upon, their rich traditions of corporate spiritual formation. Following a keynote address by Mullholland, the four church leaders will reflect on the spiritual journey from their perspectives. NAPCE members will then explore implications of the journey in praxis groups.

On the basis of insights gathered in the praxis groups, the panel of speakers will explore issues raised and attempt to discover fresh perspectives on the shared passage of the Church into the twenty-first century. Robert Mullholland will conclude the conference by providing reflections on what conferees have said.

Research and professional development sessions will be woven into the program. There is a need for senior faculty, especially those who have recently completed study leaves or research projects, to present academic papers. Proposals for any form of research in progress should be sent to Kevin Lawson at [email protected]

Following the conference, an opportunity will be offered for a spiritual formation experience at a retreat center in the Chicago area led by Ruth Barton. There will be additional cost and the number is limited.

If this conference sounds different that the description given at NAPCE 2000, it is because the conference design has changed. NAPCE is changing and the conference this coming October is an attempt to respond to the journey on which we find ourselves.


S H E M A!
a forum for listening
Gary A. Parrett, Communications Director

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul
and all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Without question, listening is one of the fundamental obligations of God's people. The text above is the famous 'shema' of Israel's faith, so-called because of the first word in the Hebrewthe imperative form of the verb 'to hear' or 'to listen.' The importance of listening is continually reaffirmed throughout the Biblefrom the refrain of the Hebrew prophets, 'hear the word of the LORD,' to the words of Jesus in the gospels, 'He who has ears, let Him hear,' to James' exhortation that all should be 'quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger,' to the ending of each of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, 'Let the one who has an ear hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' God's will is clear: we who claim to be His must be a people of open ears, minds and hearts.

As I begin to serve NAPCE as the new Director of Communications, it is my deepest desire to do whatever I can to encourage our organization to become, more faithfully, a community of listeners. I am therefore proposing this new column, "Shema!" as one forum for our listening to one another and, together, to our Lord. Whether or not the idea has merit or staying power is, of course, to be determined by all of us who are NAPCE.

Here is what I propose. As editor of the NAPCE Newsletter, I will regularly set aside space for discussion of ideas and the sharing of our hearts. Any topic is fair game. All NAPCE members are invited to participate by sending in their questions for discussion, comments for response, etc. In consultation with other Board members, I will make any hard choices necessary about which offerings to choose for publication and what portions of the entry to print (these editorial responsibilities may be even more needful if space becomes an issueI certainly hope it does!). Once a discussion-starter is published, then responses will be welcome and will be subject to the same ground rules.

Hopefully, we will be able to move swiftly to an on-line version of "Shema!" which will have much more potential for promoting real conversation in our midst (stay tuned for news on this).

Three further ground-rules before we formally begin:
1 - All comments must be submitted to the Lordship of Christ before being submitted to the Newsletter (see Matthew 12:36 and Ephesians 4:28-30 for clarity on this point).
2 - All comments must be 'signed.' That is, no anonymous comments or responses will be printed.
3 - All comments should be accompanied by an address of some sort, hopefully an e-mail address. Beyond what is published in the newsletter, it is my hope that numerous mini-conversations can begin.

Finally, let me set before us all the example of the great listeners whose stories are recorded in the Book of Acts: There are the leaders of the church at Antioch, listening to God together in mutual submission (Acts 13); there are the many participants at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15); the Bereans, in Acts 17, nobly listened to the word Paul brought them; and there are my personal favoritesthe three who listened carefully to one another in Acts 18the couple, Priscilla and Aquila, and the dynamic young preacher, Apollos.

It is because of this biblical emphasis on listening that I put this new column before you as a forum for listening rather than as a forum for talking.
For now, I'll be awaiting your discussion-starters. Please forward them to me at [email protected]


James Plueddemann Receives Distinguished Christian Educator Award

Michael J. Wilkins