Gordon at Church: Grace Chapel, 02421
Google Maps tells me Gordon College and Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts, are separated by 27.9 miles, which can be driven in 30 minutes. That may be wishful thinking for commuters during midweek rush hour, but it is good news on Sunday mornings. As pastor of discipleship at Grace Chapel, I have many reasons to declare the relationship between Gordon and Grace is not defined by geographical distance but by a satisfying closeness in real-time relationships.
Gordon is calling this “church relations,” where Gordon and local churches can partner together and mutually benefit from one another. Here are three specific ways we’ve benefited as a church from this relationship with Gordon College.
Gift #1—Great guest teachers from Gordon faculty: In January Dr. Marvin Wilson taught one of our four-week January JOLT adult courses, entitled “Jewish Roots of Christian Spirituality.” A packed room of more than 100 people “went to school” on Dr. Wilson’s biblical insights and spiritual wisdom. As one person said afterwards: “It made my faith deeper. Please have him back to teach soon—but make it longer next time!”
Gordon College is a treasure chest of Christian teachers. The occasional visit goes a long way in blessing our people: guests such as Roger Green, professor of biblical studies; Dave Mathewson, associate professor of biblical studies; and Dorothy Boorse, associate professor of biology. Our minds are stretched, our spiritual growth is stimulated, and our lives are challenged.
Gift #2—Youth ministry majors: Gordon has a great youth ministry program. How do I know? The answer is from first-hand, personal experience at our church. Our middle school pastor, Andrew Breton ’08, and our high school pastor, Todd Szymczak ’97, are terrific advertisements for Gordon’s program. I bet similar things would be said by many congregations in our region.
We also have a steady stream of Gordon students who serve within our youth ministry on a weekly basis—some as volunteers, others as interns. Thanks, Gordon, and please keep them coming.
Gift #3—Gordon grads in our congregation: Our congregation is diverse in just about every way—ages, ethnicities, denominational and educational backgrounds. However, one of the patterns I am increasingly aware of is the presence of Gordon grads. So many are steady, spiritually savvy servant leaders in our midst. Take them away and it wouldn’t be pretty. Let them stay and we press forward and prosper together.
A lot of good things (mostly people) drift down those 27.9 miles from Wenham to Lexington. While Gordon has given greatly to Grace Chapel, it’s been a two-way street. Each year a few of our high school graduates choose Gordon. And one of my own children is in her junior year as a Gordon business major. Every time I travel up to visit her and watch one of her soccer games, I take pleasure in her good and multifaceted Gordon experience.
Rev. Doug Whallon has served at Grace Chapel for 14 years “strengthening and encouraging” people in their Christian growth and development.
Is Your Church in the Loop?
By Bob Whittet
Gordon's Church Relations Office offers many resources for curches. Here are just a few:
- The Great Gordon Shootout: Church youth groups attend Gordon basketball games and participate in halftime shooting contests.
- Annual New England Youth Ministry Symposium, for pastors and youth pastors (October 28, 2010, on the Gordon campus, featuring Cheryl Crawford ’77).
- Notes celebrating student accomplishments are sent to their home churches weekly.
Office of Church Relations
Youth Ministry Symposium Builds Relationships
Participants enjoy a lunch break during a Gordon-sponsored Youth Ministry Symposium held at Denver Seminary. The annual symposium, which began at Gordon in 2003, is a continuing-education and networking event for workers in the field of youth ministry.
Youth Ministry: Now More than Ever
by Jonelle Flood ’10
“I became a believer during my junior year of high school,” says Cheryl Crawford ’77. “I hungered for more—more of the Bible, more theology, more fellowship. Gordon provided an opportunity for me to engage in deep study and practice of faith.” That deep study led Crawford to complete her master’s degree in youth counseling at the University of Southern California and then receive her Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2008.
“I’d say what sparked my interest was working with adolescents. The more I work with them, the more questions I have and the more I’m intrigued by their experiences,” says Crawford, now assistant professor of practical theology at Azusa Pacific University in California. Her chief teaching area is in youth ministry. “Youth ministry provides caring, supportive adults during a time when adolescents may not enjoy their parents as much. As a result, youth ministry leaders can have enormous impact in all areas of an adolescent’s life—a deeper impact than many realize.”
But Crawford says the need for youth ministry continues as students enter college. “Students lose direct daily contact with family and long-term friends. As a result, a lot of students feel incredibly lonely.” The struggle to remain in the faith and to even grow in the faith is a hard battle for those who attend secular colleges, but it is surprising that faith can even be tested at Christian colleges.
“Students should get involved in a local church and/or on-campus fellowship groups as soon as they set foot on the campus,” Crawford says. “The first two weeks are critical—they set the pattern and tone for at least the first year, if not all four years.”
A student’s future isn’t always bleak, though—even with a culture that continues to corrupt. “When it comes to youth ministry I’m very hopeful because I have watched a generation of youth pastors move from activity-driven programs to relationship-driven ministries. Youth pastors are better equipped theologically, and as a result are more able to challenge students to grow
Youth Ministries Major Renamed and Expanded
For over 30 years Gordon College students majoring in youth ministries have been prepared for a wide range of leadership roles in community and church organizations. Now the youth ministries program has been expanded—and renamed Christian ministries.
The Christian ministries major allows students to focus their academic studies in one of five specific areas: juvenile justice ministries, global Christianity, youth ministries, urban ministries or outdoor education ministries. Gordon is the first Christian college in the nation to offer students the study option of juvenile justice ministries.
“Just as we read the Bible in context, ministry must be studied in a context,” says Mark Cannister, professor of Christian ministries. “With these options we’re helping students focus on their fields of interest while remaining united by the theology and values common to all facets of Christian ministries.
“One of the major reasons for the new approach and title is to reflect a fuller picture of our program.”www.gordon.edu/christianministries
NEXT: Peace That Passes Understanding