The Foundation for Evangelism regrets to announce that Mary Ann Hunt died on Saturday, November 10, at the age of 98. Mrs. Hunt was the wife of the late Bishop Earl Hunt who was the former president of The Foundation for Evangelism.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, December 1, at Central United Methodist Church of Asheville, N.C., with the Rev. Dr. Robert M. Blackburn, Jr. and Bishop Lawrence McCleskey officiating.

The staff and board of trustees of The Foundation for Evangelism have extended their sympathies to the family of Mrs. Hunt.

Read Mrs. Hunt’s obituary

(from Recent Faculty Publications, Boston University School of Theology)

Finding Faith Today presents the findings of a multi-year study on how people come to faith in the US context. The book sheds new light on how people come to faith and what sort of spiritual, practical, and social changes accompany that.

Mark R. Teasdale, Associate Professor of Evangelism, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, says: “This book offers a paradigm shift! In a culture awash with statistical trends about religious adherence and programming meant to attract people to faith, Stone’s wide-ranging, thoughtful, and careful research provides a human face to the statistics. He shows us that most people find God in authentic relationships and communities. As people of faith we are freed from the business and celebrity often connected with faith-recruitment to welcome, befriend, and share our lives with others.”

Bryan Stone is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Boston University School of Theology. Among his published titles are: Evangelism After Pluralism (2018), A Reader in Ecclesiology (2012), Evangelism After Christendom (2006), and Faith and Film (2000).

The recently released E. Stanley Jones: Sharing the Gospel in a Pluralistic Society is published in partnership with FFE and GBHEM. The book is an insightful look at Jones’ contextual ministry, marrying mission & evangelism.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

LAKE JUNALUSKA, NC, October 1, 2018 — The Foundation for Evangelism (FFE) and The Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) Heritage Center are pleased to announce that beginning in 2019, the two organizations will be sharing office and archival space at the FFE’s headquarters on the campus of Lake Junaluska Assembly in North Carolina. The SEJ Heritage Center will be the second organization to lease space at the location, joining the Smoky Mountain District (SMD) of the United Methodist Church which has housed its offices there since 2012. Although the SEJ Heritage Center will no longer be housed by Lake Junaluska Assembly, it will remain located on the Assembly grounds, and its long-time relationship with the Assembly will continue.

Renovations will begin in December 2018 which will allow the SEJ Heritage Center to relocate and occupy a portion of the office space currently utilized by FFE and SMD staff and will also include storage space to be converted to an area for archives.

Jane Boatwright Wood, President of The Foundation for Evangelism notes that “The cultivating of this relationship has been an ongoing process. We believe that this partnership enhances the ministry of both organizations.  Our team is excited to welcome the Heritage Center as they continue to keep alive the unique history of Methodism by preserving and sharing our stories.”

Jim Pyatt, Chair of the SEJ Commission on Archives and History, states that this partnership in ministry should be mutually beneficial.  He goes on to note that “The Heritage Center is the repository for the papers of Harry Denman, the founder of the Foundation for Evangelism,” adding that, “Part of the function of The Heritage Center is to preserve and record the story of how the people called Methodist have shared the Good News of the love of Jesus with others.  This partnership helps to remind us all of the mission of the church.”

This partnership between the FFE and SEJ Heritage Center will also provide access to onsite meeting facilities including the Reynolds Conference Center which is utilized throughout the year by Methodist-related organizations and churches for retreats, trainings, meetings, and special events. A small chapel is also part of the facility and provides space for worship, reflection, and prayer.

The SEJ Heritage Center serves as the Museum and Archives for the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) of the United Methodist Church and, as such, for Lake Junaluska Assembly, the oldest and largest of the SEJ agencies.  In this capacity the center houses the essential historical records for both agencies, and is a significant resource for anyone doing research on either the Lake Junaluska Assembly, on the SEJ, or on historical matters related to the United Methodist Church in this part of the United States. Those interested in finding out more or scheduling a visit to the Heritage Center should contact the director at heritage@lakejunaluska.com.

The Foundation for Evangelism is a catalyst to equip disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, continuing a legacy of impacting how Methodist-tradition clergy, lay and youth are prepared to invite all people into life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. The Foundation makes its impact through promoting, encouraging, and providing resources for evangelism in keeping with the doctrinal spirit of John and Charles Wesley. To learn more, visit foundationforevangelism.org or email bbowser@foundationforevangelism.org.

General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Board Meeting

In early August, Jane participated in the GBHEM board meeting and was present for the signing of a new strategy agreement to establish the agency as the resource center for leadership, education, and formation to support future and current church leaders of the United Methodist Connection. “It was so good to be among friends and colleagues who share a vision for being the catalyst to equip emerging leaders in the church to share the Good News. I was excited to be a part of this meeting in which a new direction has been visioned for the future of this organization!”

Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies

Jane traveled to the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies at Pembroke College, Oxford, just a few weeks later to meet with E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism from seven of the 12 Methodist/Wesleyan-oriented seminaries. This gathering served as the annual meeting of the professors and was a great opportunity for them to engage with peers and academia. Jane noted that “I watched as the ESJPs were greeted with respect and interest, drawn into deep conversation across a spectrum of topics, and, perhaps most importantly, how they, in turn, challenged the academy to think about how this research might best translate to their training of students and beyond to equip the local church.” You can read the full story in the Oct/Nov fastFORWARD publication.

John and Charles Wesley began “The Holy Club” on the campus of Oxford University, so it is fitting that every four years, theologians in the Methodist/Wesleyan connection from around the globe gather at the Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies. In August, the institute convened at Pembroke College, near Christ Church where John and Charles Wesley began their ministries which ultimately grew into a global Christian movement.

This year, in place of The Foundation for Evangelism’s bi-annual meeting of the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism (ESJP), each professor was invited to submit an academic paper and to present their work at the institute.

Professors from seven of the 12 currently occupied E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism Chairs attended the event where they participated in Worship and Spirituality, Practical Theology, Theological Education, and Mission and Evangelism working groups.  Those attending included Dr. Bryan Stone (Boston University School of Theology), Dr. Mark Teasdale (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary), Dr. Daniel Shin (Drew Theological School), Dr. Joon Sik Park (Methodist Theological School in Ohio) , Dr. Jeffrey Conklin-Miller (Duke Divinity School), Dr. Sergei Nikolaev (Russia United Methodist Seminary), Dr. Stephen Gunter (FFE Professorships Director), and Jane Boatwright Wood (FFE President). Beyond these current professors, three former ESJPs participated in the event including Professor Priscilla Pope-Levison, who was a plenary lecturer.

The time provided academic and theological exploration; however it also provided a time for building connection and contemplating practical application in mission and evangelism. Dr. Daniel Shin (Drew Theological Seminary) said of the gathering:

This experience has given me a better understanding of the global reach and character of the Wesleyan/Methodist movement, and as such it was a very meaningful experience. I have made connections with people from Africa, southeast Asia, Korea, England, and of course, the U.S, with whom I hope to continue conversations for further studies and shared ministries.

Jane Boatwright Wood, President of The Foundation for Evangelism reflected that the event was a testament to the impact of the ESJPs on the global academic community, and confirmed that the professors were fulfilling the Foundation’s vision to be a catalyst to equip disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. She stated:

I watched as the ESJPs were greeted with respect and interest, drawn into deep conversation across a spectrum of topics, and, perhaps most importantly, how they, in turn, challenged the academy to think about how this research might best translate to their training of students and beyond to equip the local church.

The E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism are a partnership between The Foundation for Evangelism and the respective seminaries to prepare the next generation of leaders for ministry in the local church through classes in evangelism, missions, and a variety of other disciplines all taught with a focus on evangelism in the spirit of John Wesley. Through ongoing research and publication, these professors reach far beyond the seminary walls to educate and equip clergy, laity, and youth for evangelism ministries that bear fruit in the 21st century local church.

The Foundation for Evangelism is a catalyst to equip disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is a 501(c)(3) organization with roots in The United Methodist Church, serving in ministry to Methodist/Wesleyan partners who share in its mission and vision.

The Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies is an affiliate of the World Methodist Council. Its mission is to foster and support disciplined theological study among professional scholars and scholarly ministers and laypersons within the Methodist and Wesleyan traditions around the globe, with a goal of undergirding and enriching the ministry of these traditions in their global settings.

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe, Jr., says evangelistic strategies often fail because they don’t meaningfully and respectfully engage those we are trying to reach. Powe highlights key values and practices for reaching others while honoring differences, gleaned from a recent study of the renowned 20th century evangelist, E. Stanley Jones.

It’s tempting to imagine that revitalizing a church is a matter of reverting to an earlier, “purer” tradition, as in the case of Methodists intent on emulating what John Wesley did in the 18th century. Others think it’s a matter of adopting practices that work in other churches. They go to a training event and hear someone say, “Our congregation started growing when we gave out refrigerator magnets,” and think a similar, seemingly easy evangelistic strategy will work for them.

The ideal of engaging all as children of God means altering the way we approach people, creating a space where all perspectives are honored.

What both approaches lack is an understanding of the importance of contextualizing practices. They fail to distinguish between the idea and the activity resulting from the idea. Sharing the gospel in a pluralistic culture requires that we contextualize the gospel in ways that honor the personhood and the perspectives of those we are trying to reach. I believe these six values and practices are key.

1. Engaging differences

The idea of engaging others who are different is something we often talk about, but we aren’t often successful in living it out. We either seek commonality at all expense, glossing over differences, or we shut down all conversation by demeaning those who disagree with us. We label them as liberal or conservative, progressive or traditionalist, etc. The implication is that they are not even worthy of engaging because we already know their perspective. The ideal of engaging all as children of God means altering the way we approach people, creating a space where all perspectives are honored.

2. Encouraging dialogue

Can we believe that Christ is the only way to salvation and still be open to the beliefs of others? We don’t have to accept the beliefs of others to appreciate their beliefs, to enter into dialogue without shutting them down, and to show genuine interest in what they have to say. Even those who claim to be open-minded can treat others in a cursory manner by failing to really listen to those with different beliefs. We need to genuinely listen and learn from others.

3. Valuing relationships

When individuals who think and believe differently than we do are not swayed to accept our perspective, some of us will stop being in relationship with them. Being in relationship with another is not about conformity, but about authentically seeing the person as a child of God, and treating that person as such, no matter the circumstances. We are called to be in relationship with people who don’t necessarily hold our beliefs.

4. Being accessible to others

It’s easy to paint a picture of society as “going to hell in a handbasket” and close ourselves off from those who aren’t like us. We live in a culture where we often give access only to those who run in similar circles with us. In many cases this is not intentional, but we never move outside of our comfort zones. We need to broaden our circles so that others will see that we are accessible. If I talk about wanting to connect with soccer families, it’s not helpful if I do this from inside my church. I need to hang out in places where those who play soccer attend. This may mean coaching a team or getting involved as a referee. We need to be intentional about building up relationships outside of our normal networks.

5. Becoming more vulnerable

It’s one thing to be accessible but another to be truly open to others. Too often we take the safe route and do things that do not require us to expose ourselves. An example is a feeding ministry where we get to set the terms and control all the resources. How can we be more intentional about entering spaces that we do not control so that those who believe differently will feel comfortable engaging, dialoguing, and relating to us?

6. Recognizing the importance of reciprocity

Our work in Christian outreach can never be one-sided. Too many Christians either abuse their right to speak in the public square by trying to shut down all the other voices, or they fail to speak up in the name of Christ because they do not want to offend. Neither is a reciprocal approach. We need to make space for others so that their voices can be heard. We cannot be afraid of letting others speak and voice opinions that differ from ours.

Our goal should be to be known not simply as Christians but as Christians who cherish the personhood of others. We need to learn to contextualize the gospel with people and not for people as we work to transform lives and communities.


This article originally appeared at churchleadership.com/leading-ideas and is adapted from the conclusion of E. Stanley Jones and Sharing the Good News in a Pluralistic Society (General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, 2018) F. Douglas Powe, Jr., and Jack Jackson, general editors. Used by permission. The book is available through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and Amazon.

God tells us to “Go!” So let’s do it!

Nothing holds us back. God’s mission for us and our churches is more exciting and rewarding than we can possibly imagine. This book gives tactics to get your church moving forward in mission by looking at biblical passages where God commands us to “Go!” God calls us to break stereotypes and witness in surprising and unexpected ways.

Click here to see a promotional video! Click here to order from Amazon!

Mark R. Teasdale is the E. Stanley Jones Associate Professor in Evangelism at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL an elder in The United Methodist Church. He is also the author of Methodist Evangelism, American Salvation.

Reviews from colleagues:

Too many of our churches have circled the wagons, and Mark Teasdale and I are both convinced that step one in the renewal of most churches will involve liberation from their comfort zone and into their communities. Within this agenda, Mark’s very readable contribution, rooted in scripture and relevant to church life today, will join the (unfortunately) short stack of books that can actually help thousands of churches find their way forward.

George Hunter, Dean and Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, School of World Mission and Evangelism, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY

What’s more important than the Great Commission? Unfortunately, too many churches—including the one I grew up in—a lot! This is the book that I wish the leaders in my church had read while growing up.

—Daniel Im, Director of Church Multiplication at NewChurches.com and teaching pastor

Teasdale pushes us to see the Great Commission in a new light, a light that encourages us to respond to God’s sending us into our community no matter our size, pedigree, or circumstance. By sharing practices any congregation can do, he carefully provides concrete ways of engaging that do not require huge resources. This book Teasdale removes all excuses congregations make for not seeking to participate in God’s work of transformation.

F. Douglas Powe Jr., James C. Logan Professor of Evangelism (an E. Stanley Jones Professorship), Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington DC