The Maryville College Faith and Learning Committee seeks to help the campus community think carefully about and act on what it means to be a church-related, liberal arts college in the 21st century. One of the goals of the committee has been to help the College articulate to a variety of constituencies how the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition shapes the identity and mission of this community of faith and learning. Two years of study and reflection led to the creation of two documents that spell out a broad understanding of Maryville College's church-related identity.
The Rhodes Consultations on the Future of the Church-Related College is funded by Lily Endowment, Inc. and directed by Stephen Haynes, Professor of Religion at Rhodes College. I was initially involved as a participant in the Southeast Regional group. During the Fall of 1998, I coordinated a series of discussions on the Maryville College campus in which faculty wrestled with what it means to be a church-related college in the 21st century. During the following May, I attended a national conference at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. In the current round of the consultations, I am serving as an associate regional director for the southeast group and helping a new set of professors plan and carry out discussions on their campuses. The Fall 2000 Southeast Regional Meeting was held at Maryville College on October 27-29, 2000. For more information about the consultations click on Rhodes Consultations.
The Consultation on the Vocation of the Presbyterian Teacher grew out of the Rhodes activities. Presbyterian teachers were interested in exploring the particular implications of being part of the Presbyterian tradition for colleges and teachers. I am one of four "Brain Trust" members who prepared papers for the consultation's first meeting in August 2000. This effort is co-sponsored by the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities and Centre College and is financed by a grant from the Wabash Center and the Lilly Endowment. For more information click on Presbyterian Teacher.
Growing out of my work with the Rhodes Consultations and the Consultation on the Vocation of the Presbyterian Teacher are two publications. Published in the July 2002 volume of Teaching Theology and Religion, "The Vocation of Teaching: Themes and Models from the Presbyterian Tradition" was written with colleagues Roger Ebertz and Mary Shields from other institutions. The article looks at theological themes and historical models related to teaching, suggests an alternative understanding of divine sovereignty, and illustrates major points through examples from the history of Maryville College. A small portion of this article will appear as part of a chapter in a book about teaching in the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition that will be published by Geneva press in late 2002 or early 2003. The chapter illustrates various approaches to teaching in Presbyterian colleges, with Maryville College as one of the three examples.