Samford University's Beeson Divinity School has received a grant to train pastors to help their congregations understand the intersection of faith, work and economics. The grant from the Kern Family Foundation will provide $105,047 to be dispersed over the next 18 months.
The project supervisor, Associate Professor of Divinity Mark DeVine, said, "The need for equipping pastors for leadership of their congregations at the intersection of faith, work, and economics is immense, not least because theological curricula has largely ignored this vital subject in the formation of pastors. There has been a deafening silence in preaching and discipleship where the workaday lives of believers is concerned."
DeVine added that the goal is to educate and train pastors to affirm the work their congregants do, that it belongs to the original and ongoing purposes of God. While the church gives significant focus on the mandate to witness outside church walls, DeVine said it does not give sufficient attention to how work belongs to God's purpose and that even though the workplace has become hostile terrain, it remains terrain that belongs to God.
"Many American Christians spend the majority of their time each week not at church and not even at home, but in the workplace," said Samford Provost J. Bradley Creed. "What they experience and how they live between Sundays is a crucial subject for people of faith. The grant from the Kern Family Foundation is a remarkable resource for equipping pastors to encourage and guide their church members in navigating the challenges of the marketplace which dominate our society and have such an impact on their lives."
The provisions of the grant will allow Beeson Divinity School to host several events, DeVine said. These will include a conference on faith and work, a Beeson Pastors School focusing on the relationship between church life and economic life, and a symposium on faith and work for a select group of pastors. The grant will also pay to bring in guests to speak on the theme of faith and work in divinity chapels.
The Kern Family Foundation, established in 1998 by Drs. Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern, seeks to enrich the lives of others by promoting strong pastoral leadership, educational excellence and high quality, innovative engineering talent.
One of the institutional goals of Beeson Divinity School is to "train pastors who can preach," DeVine said. "This grant will help current pastors and divinity students who hope to become pastors better teach their congregations how faith should influence and drive their work lives, to the glory of God."