2008 WTS Missions Conference
Don't miss out on the Spring 2008 WTS Missions Conference, scheduled February 11- 15. Alumni are cordially invited to attend the conference, and will receive more information in coming e-news correspondence.
2007 WTS Missions Conference
How do we become full-fledged servants of the Biblical riches God gives us? This was the question Westminster Theological Seminary asked in its 2007 Missions Conference, “Becoming servants of Theology and Training to the Global Church.”
During the week of February 12 to 16, Westminster heard from leaders of training institutions, missionaries, professors and students toward the purpose of spreading sound Biblical theological education and leadership training where such resources are scarce.
Carl Ellis (’79), of Project Joseph and Dean of Intercultural Studies and Lecturer of Practical Theology at WTS, began the week with “The Challenge for Seminarians/Future Pastors and Leaders.” In contrast to a theology that is just preservational, wherein good things keep getting “lost in the sauce,” Ellis presented the ever-present need for a theology that is also transformational, as the Reformers’ theology was in their own context.
Later that day, Patty Comber (’90), WTS Associate Dean of Students and Director of International Students, moderated a panel discussion on the topic “The Other Half of the Church: Equipping Women.” The panel—Shareen Kelly (Cert), Ying Xu (PhD), Elizabeth Matthias (’99), John Leonard, and Steve Taylor—pointed attenders toward engaging the ongoing process of thinking and working through the unique challenges of ministering to women in their cultural context, from China to the US. The goal: to lay hold of the fullness of God’s rich calling for all women in every church.
Wilson Chow (’67), President and Professor of Biblical Studies at the China Graduate School of Theology, gave a lecture on “The Global Need (and Strategic Opportunity) for Theology and Training.” Noting the scope of “all people” repeated in 1 Timothy 2:1-10, and using the example of the three stages of missions to China over the last 200 years, Chow spoke of the especial need today for missionary trainers who assist the local church in fostering Bible knowledge and leadership.
Chow continued the conference that day with the seminar “What Kind of Theology Does the Global Church Need? Mission, the Reformed Faith and Training.” He called for theology that is biblically Reformed and Contextual. To be contextual, it must be: 1. Faithful to the Christian tradition, 2. Pastoral and missiological, 3. Reflective of the local church’s cultural distinctives, and 4. Engaging sociopolitical realities and felt needs. Chow said that while there are no easy answers, Reformed theology has the structures for doing these very things, for building up God’s church.
Following a day cancelled by snow, Frank Anderson, President of the Center for Urban Theological Studies (CUTS), gave a lecture on “Urban Theological Training at the Grass Roots.” The Memphis pastor spoke from his experience of coming to appreciate the importance of urban theology, which has lead him further into the realm of theological training—firstly in Memphis and now in Philadelphia. He compellingly set forth the simple and clear need for Biblical education to every part of the body of Christ in our urban centers.
Later Thursday, Mark Sarracino, Director of CityNet Leadership Training, gave a seminar on “Missional Leadership for the 21st Century.” Sarracino indicated how content is too often emphasized to the neglect of godly character in how the church raises up its leaders. He presented a challenging call to Biblical character formation and mentoring in the formation of leaders in Christ.
On the last day of the conference, Bill Krispin (’69), Executive Director of CityNet Ministries, spoke to WTS on the topic of “Spreading Theology and Training: Models and Contexts.” He recalled Westminster in the 1960s and 70s, as well as the influence Jonathan Chao (’69) and South Philadelphia African-American elder-pastors had on him toward training future leaders in God’s church. These outcroppings led to CUTS and the equipping of thousands of people for ministry. While indicating limitations inherent to Westminster itself as a training institution, Krispin also pointed out that it is extremely rare for church leaders across the world to have the same education students are receiving here—and he gave a picture of what students can do to serve the church with what they have been given.
The week closed with a great panel discussion moderated by WTS Old Testament Professor, Mike Kelly (’94). The panel was made up of nine current WTS students from around the world who have in some way already been practitioners of theological training. It presented an impressive picture of how God can use students in our very midst to make a kingdom impact, from Philadelphia to Asia. These students also brought their passion to bear, sharing the ongoing challenges and needs in their respective locales.
WTS anticipates a make-up lecture from Michael Oh, President of Christ Bible Seminary, Nagoya, Japan and Missionary with Mission to the World, later this semester. CDs of the conference are available at the WTS bookstore for purchase and the WTS library for check-out.
God was at work during this week, giving insight and encouraging exhortation toward serving the global church and actively seeing “the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD” (Habakkuk 2:14).