More than 70 attend two-day conference on “The Next Faithful Step”
“There are many of us at Fuller who want to be able to say, ‘What we do for our students does not end when they graduate,’” stated Scott Cormode, Hugh De Pree Professor of Leadership Development, in the closing session of a conference for recent MDiv graduates held at Fuller’s Pasadena campus on May 12 and 13. Entitled “The Next Faithful Step,” the conference was specifically designed for MDiv graduates who are in their first ten years out of seminary and particularly addressed the topic of ministry in difficult times.
Dr. Cormode gathered a number of pastors and Fuller professors—each with pastoral experience—to talk about ministering when things are tough. Mark Labberton, Lloyd John Ogilvie Associate Professor of Preaching and Director of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching, opened the conference with his talk, “Leadership Amidst Fire and Floods,” in which he emphasized how catastrophic times can provide some of the defining moments of our leadership and can form us and others in significant ways.
Later, Tod Bolsinger, pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian Church in San Clemente, California, discussed the demands of leading a community of people in the process of transformation and change in his talk, “Canoeing the Mountains: Pastors as Leaders into Uncharted Territory.” The last session of the day featured Steve Yamaguchi, Presbytery Pastor and Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Los Ranchos. Yamaguchi’s address, “Of Honeymoons and Marriage: Thinking About Christian Calling,” focused on the ways our mental models shape what we expect and how we behave as pastors in relationship to the congregations we are called to serve.
The conferees regathered on Thursday morning to hear Fuller Professor of Psychology Siang-Yang Tan’s presentation, "Rest: Experiencing God's Peace in a Restless World," in which he explained several means of entering more deeply into God's rest and peace: Spirit-filled surrender, solitude and silence, simplicity, and spiritual community.
The conference concluded with a President’s Luncheon featuring Associate Professor of Communication Carolyn Gordon, whose powerful message, “Noah Got Drunk, Jonah Sat Down, and Peter Went Fishing: When Ministry is Hard” left the alumni/ae encouraged and uplifted. “My job here today is simply to be your cheerleader,” said Gordon, reminding the conferees of the Hebrews 12:22 passage that speaks of thousands of angels cheering on the saints. Using the examples of Noah, Jonah, and Peter, Gordon exhorted her listeners to learn to survive success, their own “stuff” or issues with God, and their broken selves. “God’s not finished with you, so don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on God,” she said. “The one who knows you best loves you the most, and we are cheering you on.”
Watch Carolyn Gordon's message on Vimeo