Winter/Spring 2002 Newsletter

In This Issue
Globally Shifting Needs
Does the Field Really Need Refocusing?
Call for Papers
Children's Spirituality Conference
"Christian Educators of the 20th Century" Under Way
In Memoriam: Warren Benson
Book Reviews  
In Brief


NAPCE Conference October 24-26, 2002 in San Diego / Tijuana

Cheryl Fawcett, NAPCE Vice President

The world is changing at an incredible rate of speed. Christian education, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, needs to continue to change in ways that keep us connected to our world while never changing our message of the eternal truth of God. Join us this October when we gather at Hotel Circle to refocus on our identity as Christian Educators. Our intentional cultural plunge to experience Tijuana, Mexico will assist us in seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and experiencing a microcosm of the global crisis that currently is facing families and young people worldwide.

This conference will get you out of the hotel. You will experience first-hand some of the changing cultural landscape of Christian Education. Special speakers will bring global expertise while helping us to focus on our next-door neighbor's changing needs. Globally shifting needs are impacting many aspects of our stateside ministries.

Did you know that 130 million children worldwide have never been to any kind of school? How will that affect the way we teach them the Bible?

Were you aware that 150 million children worldwide work either full-time or part-time to provide necessary food for their families? How will that reality influence our presentation of Jesus the bread of life?

Entire villages in Africa have no residents over the age of 15 due to the scourge of HIV/AIDS. How will they learn and experience the love of the heavenly Father when they have no living parent to provide for them the essentials of survival?

The cities and streets of the Western hemisphere are reported to be home to over 25 million homeless children. The numbers worldwide of street children range from 100 to 200 million. Latin America claims the highest majority with its 40 million nonresidents.

How will they ever understand the heavenly home that is being prepared for them by a God who loves them intensely? How will we even contact them and initiate ministry to their nomadic lives?

In cities across the United States over 400,000 children are victims of the sex trade being exploited for the sexual favors they can provide adults. How will we demonstrate to them their inherent worth to the creator of the universe?

Old Testament scripture speaks often of the fatherless, widow and alien. This trio of needy individuals is mentioned nearly forty times. Repeatedly, in the giving of the law and its rehearsal before entering the promise land, followers of God were entreated to be defenders of such persons. Justice for the orphan is heavy on the heart of God. God sets the lonely in families and hears their cries for help. Psalms refers to God as the defender of the alien, orphan, and widow. The prophets challenged the people of God that to ignore these needs was to bring severe judgment on their heads. On the other hand, those who cared for and ministered to these needy ones were promised intense blessing and the favor of God.

Join us for an invigorating, convicting, and classroom altering experience as we travel to Tijuana, Mexico. You will want to bring comfortable clothing and walking shoes, your passport if you are not an America citizen, and a light jacket for our evening south of the border. We will be journaling our observations in writing or in guided conversation with fellow Christian educators from around North America. Back in San Diego, we will be strategizing ways to alter our educational designs to interface with the changing world realities of Christian education. Newcomers and veteran NAPCE members will find this a refreshing change of pace. Don't be "left behind!" Plan now to participate in this unique opportunity.

Phyllis Kilborn,
author, and founder of Rainbows of Hope, will be one of our conference speakers

More information on the conference.

Does the Field Really Need Refocusing?
Mark Cannister, NAPCE President

Just a few weeks ago we held our mid-winter NAPCE Board Meeting. It was with great thankfulness that we looked back on the Chicago Conference of last October. What a rich opportunity to hear from a group of people with such diverse backgrounds and experiences.

While the diversity of the presentations provided depth for our discussions about faith communities, our unity of faith in Christ provided a context without which our discussion would have been meaningless. In our contemporary culture the notion of being a diverse people within a united nation often leads to simplistic political correctness because the secular world does not have an absolute point of reference. For to know what it means to be united in Christ is foundational to our understanding and appreciation of the diversity that exists both within and among our faith communities. Our unity in Christ is a precious gift that serves as the starting place for all of our understanding. I can not express enough gratitude to Mark Senter for the fine program that he delivered to us in Chicago. How we all wish there had been time for more discussion, more reflection, and more interaction.

While we talked about diversity in Chicagowe will be experiencing it in San Diego/Tijuana. Cheryl Fawcett is creating a conference for next October that will not only help us continue our conversations from Chicago, but allow us to observe and experience cross-cultural ministry in Tijuana, Mexico. This conference will challenge us to consider the shifting global needs with which Christian education needs to be concerned.

As we forge ahead into the 21st century, raising critical questions about the field of Christian Education is highly appropriate. Not only does there continue to be a great deal of confusion over the purpose of Christian education, but the function of Christian education is disappearing from the church. There are only select pockets of certain denominations within which we still find Directors of Christian Education. Many of our colleges and seminaries have changed the names of their Christian Education Departments to Educational Ministries, Christian Formation, or Christian Ministries. What do these changes mean? What are the needs of the church that Christian education must focus on? What is our identity? We are a field with an identity crisis and if we do not define our field, others will define it for us. How we respond to the changing culture around us, the global needs that weigh on us, and the post-modern church that many of us now face, is critical to the future of Christian education.

As we consider the pivotal issues that NAPCE will wrestle with in the future, this matter of identity and purpose must be paramount. Our conference in San Diego/Tijuana will not only give us an opportunity to experience the diverse needs of a changing world, but also drive us to consider the very purposes for Christian education in the 21st century.

Call for Papers: Current Research Presentations

Opportunities at the 2002 Conference

We're looking for faculty and students interested in sharing their research at the upcoming NAPCE conference in San Diego. The research can be empirical in nature, or fit more of an historical or philosophical/theological model. A high quality of research workmanship is expected. Presentation sessions last one hour.

This year's theme is: "Refocusing Christian Education in Light of Globally Shifting Needs." Research presentations in this area are especially encouraged, but need not be restricted to this topic.

If you are interested in making a presentation, send a 1-page single-spaced abstract of your research effort to:

Dr. Kevin E. Lawson
Talbot School of Theology
13800 Biola Avenue
La Mirada, CA 90639
Phone: (562) 903-6000, ext. 5528    Fax: (562) 903-4759
Email: [email protected]

Deadline for applications is August 15th, 2002, however, if space is limited those wh