Church Executive CONTINUING EDUCATION - Page 6

Justice, relevance and authenticity By Trevor Eppehimer, Ph.D. “Social relevance” serves as a holy grail for those whose careers depend on the ability to identify current patterns of thinking and spot contemporary cultural trends. Success follows, conventional wisdom holds, the politician, recording artist, filmmaker, or company that can locate, commodify and project “social relevance.” In North America, where persons continue to move increasingly toward secularism — including the millennial generation with its well-documented disinterest in institutionalized religion — the ongoing, anxiety-ridden search for new expressions of the Christian faith and ways of “being church” is well into its third decade. Over this time, we’ve seen the rise of the Christian hipster movement, pastors who lead worship dressed like twenty-something startup founders or indie-rock devotees, Christian anthems that sound like leftovers from U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb recording sessions, and churches “for people who don’t like church” — all generated by the desire to capture and project social relevance. At Hood Theological Seminary (HTS), located in Salisbury, NC, students learn that the best and most faithful path to the socially relevant Christian ministries and missions of tomorrow is through present participation in God’s coming reign of justice for the creation — a reign that began with the life, death and resurrection of Christ and still awaits its final, definitive establishment “on earth as it is in heaven.” HTS believes that churches find their identities through justice-based mission — mission that reflects and participates in God’s mission to 6 CHURCH EXECUTIVE • C o n t i n u i n g E d u c a t i o n – H o o d T h e o l o g i c a l S e m i n a r y liberate the creation from its bondage to decay. Founded and sponsored by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) Church, a denomination forged by its assertion of the dignity of persons of African descent in the face of white racist oppression and its belief that God calls all persons forward into the new humanity made possible through Christ, Hood Theological Seminary’s degree programs and curricula bear the marks of this church’s historic determination to proclaim the good news of Christ in the face of human resistance to it. In fall 2017, for instance, HTS launched a new specialization in its growing Doctor of Ministry degree program in q չٽ)M)ѥtѥѡЁɽ٥̃qمѡ)Ʌȁͽ́ѕѼͽѥ䁅ѥ)ٽtqե́ͽ́ݥѠɅѥѽ́ȁ饹) ɥѥɕѥ́ȁͽѥݽɬt)ѥѥٔɔѡɽɅ́́͠ȁՑ̃qѼٕ)ѡɅѥ́ȁͽѥѥѥٕ̻t)Q́́Ѽ锁ѡѡЁѡ͔ѥѥٕ́ݥ)Ёѥ饹ѥѥɕѥ́Ʌѕ̸!QL݅)́Ց́ѕѼٕѡѡѥ́ɕեɕѼ)锁ɍ́ȁѥ݅́ѡЁɕЁѡݡ͔ѡ՝)ɔЁȁѡ՝́ݡ͔݅́ɔЁȁ̸݅Qѡ)ݽɑ̰́Ѽ͕ѥ݅́ѡЁݥɅ͙ɔѡѥѥ)͍ɅѡȁѡɴѼи)%ЁѼхѼѡյȁݕȁѡ)ɅѥɕЁɭЁɕ͕ɍ́Ѽqѡѥt́ѡѼ)ɕѡ́ѥձȁɅAɅѥ ɥѥ)ٔͼѥѡѥ䁅́ݡЁ́ͥɽɕЁɍ)ѕ́ѼѡѠqɕمӊtѼѡȁɅѥ) ЁݡЁѽéɍ́ѽ́չ݅́Ѽѡѥѡ)ЁɕЁѡȁ幥Ѽɕ͔ѕѥѡ)]Ёѽéɍ́ձѽݽ她Ѓqɭѥt)ѡ͕ٕ́Ѽѡոɍѡȁɽչչѥ́)ѕ܁ѡȁɍϊdѥ͕ͥݽɬѼѡЁݽɬ)ȁѡ)Ёхѱ䰁ݽձeЁЁ͔ȁɅѥѡЁͅ)ݽɬݥ́ȁѡ́Ѽѡ=ݡ́ЁٔѼ)ɽٔɭаȁɅєɕم́ѡ=ݡ́ٔ)ٔٔȁ)ɍͼ镐ͼѥѕݽձѡɕɽѡ)ɑ٥ѼݥѠ܁݅́Ѽɕمи%Ёݽձ)ɕمͥ䁉͕)QɕٽȁȰÁͽєAɽͽȁ)MѕѥQ䁅Ё!QM䀡!QL!ѡ!QL)ձ䁥܁ѕȁɕ٥́A؁ɽUQM)9܁eɬݡɔ͕ٕ́ѕͥхЁȁ͕Ʌѥ)ѡ)́ х՝Ё͕́ͽѡ丁)́4ظɽe٥MɽMи= )ɍᕍѥٔ