One Advance—two amazing historic cities: London and Oxford, that I had the privilege of experiencing with fellow cohorts in the Doctor of Ministry Leadership Global Perspectives program, and faculty at Portland George Fox Seminary. The assigned readings in my cohort (six) were preparatory for this Advance in many ways. This Advance required participants to use public transportation to get to lecture sites in London and between London and Oxford. This proved to be to our advantage in developing ease in navigating our way around these beautiful cities independently. (Valentine, Social Geographies: Space and Society)
The George Fox leadership team did not disappoint in providing a stellar program for the students and their guests at this Advance. There was a vast amount of information disseminated by well-informed and experienced leaders in diverse fields. We benefited from the collective wisdom of our Seminary student Advisors, our lead mentor Dr. Jason Paul Clark, and our dean Dr. Chuck Conniry through their stories and insights. The graduating class, Cohort 5, shared a glimpse of their respective dissertation theses. “Punting” was a very peaceful and relaxing experience in an idyllic setting. It entailed sailing in a low punt boat in shallow water propelled by a punter with a long pole.
The high point of the Advance for me was its uniqueness. For the first time ever, the 2016 Advance participants were provided with accommodations at Christ Church, Oxford by invitation of the Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. Many of us were captivated by Oxford’s historical/religious significance and impressive architectural structures and other art forms. My cohort was elated to see the city where C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and their friends convened for literary discussions as portrayed by Harry Poe’s ethnographic work, The Inklings of Oxford.
We were astonished that we were to take our meals in the great dining halls arrayed with portraiture of some of England’s most influential personalities and historical giants in government, the clergy,
We attended Evensong at the beautiful Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford with the Very Revd Martyn Percy ministering in a traditional high church Anglican service.
Dyrness, Visual Faith). Our group had the rare opportunity to gain permission to browse in a private library at Christ Church that had previously been closed for many years. It housed the original Bible that King James authorized scholars in London, Cambridge, and Oxford to translate into the English language in a collaborative effort.
Additionally, as a special treat for myself I brought my beloved daughter, Krystal along as my guest. During our free time in London, we visited the Foundling Museum, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and attended a Verdi Requiem concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
The Foundling Museum
The British Museum
The Royal Albert Hall
New Knowledge and Synthesis
The Very Revd Prof. Martyn Percy states, “Leaders need energy, enthusiasm, stamina, vision, realism; low ego needs; emotional intelligence, (and ecclesial intelligence), compassion, and wisdom; Not anxious. Know who you are before God. (Kets de Vries, The Leadership Mystique) However, ecclesial intelligence is a new concept for me.
Oasis Churches, founded by Steve Chalke is inspired by the teachings and examples of Jesus. Oasis stresses the effectiveness of a model of church-community engagement that brings about a transformation of the community through a wide range of holistic partnerships, projects, and services.
Home for Good, founded by Dr. Krish Kandiah, serves as a bridge between social services and the Church. Dr. Kandiah believes the Church is in a position to ensure that every child has the home they need and that it has a biblical mandate to care for vulnerable children. ( Miller and Yamamori, Global Pentecostalism )
I will never perceive my environment the same after listening to The Very Revd Prof. Martyn Percy exhort us to develop a heightened awareness of the world around us through all our sensory mechanisms. That is, “see things nobody else sees; hear the unheard; feel the unfelt.” Be cognizant of smells. “Be like Jesus: Take notice; Interpret; Sense needs and respond. ” In the same vein, Dr. Cathy Ross has increased my enthusiasm for continual ministry on Skid Row. I understand that it is alright for evangelism to take on the smell of the sheep who are willing to hear when we are truly willing to see and listen. (Pink, Doing Visual Ethnology).
I am grateful for the way Dr. Jason Paul Clark’s presentation was a reality check on many levels. He states, “we are doing the DMIN program because God called us to serve, equip, and bring remedy to others.” But, what gave me clarity and some consolation is his statement that “The battles we face in our learning are the learning.” He advises us to, “Embrace adversities as discipline to pray and come to Him.”
In my upcoming trip to Rwanda, Dr. Chuck Conniry’s words resound in my head. “Theology is always contextual and incarnate. Theology cannot exist in the abstract. Be authentic, contextual, discerning, and patient.”
The Very Revd Prof. Martyn Percy offered an eclectic and succinct guide to well-balanced and successful leadership. He says to “aim high, work hard, be patient, learn from mistakes and failures, don’t be vindictive, have joy, and be humble.” He also offered encouragement to “do whatever we love with the grace God has given us to thrive and be the greatest. Be faithful in long-term projects knowing God will do something with us.”
I immediately saw this as applicable to the rigors and challenges I am encountering in my pursuit of a doctoral degree and beyond in working with vulnerable youth in a cross-cultural context. These are also lifelong skill sets to develop for my overall spiritual maturation and missional development.
Shawn Holtzclaw sums up well my personal quest in living a victorious Christian life. He states, “Whatever mission God has given you—maximize the Return on Investment/effectiveness of that mission to the glory of God.
Gill Valentine, Social Geographies: Space and Society (London: Routledge, 2013).
Harry Poe, The Inklings of Oxford (Grand Rapids: Zonderv an, 2009).
William Dyrness, Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001).
Manfred Kets de Vries, The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise (Harwlow, England: Prentice Hall, 2006).
Sarah Pink, Doing Visual Ethnography (Los Angeles: SAGE, 2013).
Donald Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori, Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Social Engagement (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007).