The purpose of this website and blog is to provide information about who I am for interested students and others and to promote discussion on two themes – mission and Methodism – that I teach and write about in my work at Palmer Theological Seminary in the Philadelphia area. I strive to gently integrate these themes without trying to force the issue in the ecumenical circles with which I relate. Simply put, I am a United Methodist who cares about the mission of God in the world today and throughout history. I even think that Methodism is a movement that is best understood when seen through the lens of Christian mission rather than an ecclesial institution even if it is indeed that as well. My hope is that this website will be a place for fruitful conversation with students, prospective students, and colleagues in the Eastern University community and beyond.
I also need to say something about the beautiful painting on the banner of this site. It is entitled “The Great Commission” by the artist Nalini Jayasuriya. I frequently begin my courses on Christian mission with this picture for my class to imaginatively reflect together on the meaning of Christian mission that is portrayed here. My hope is that this blog will help others to do the same whether persons are writing from the perspective of world Methodism or from some other tradition. I have also found the following quotation helpful to inspire people about what I teach.
“[Missiology is] the science about the Word of God as the Church in her becoming; the Word as the Church in her borderline situations; the Church as a surprise and a puzzle; the Church in her growth; the church when her historical appearance is so new that she has to strain herself to recognize her past in the mirror of the present; the church where she is pregnant of new revelations for a people in which she dawns…. Missiology studies the growth of the Church into new peoples, the birth of the Church beyond its social boundaries; beyond the linguistic barriers within which see feels at home; beyond the poetic images in which she taught her children… Missiology therefore is the study of the Church as surprise.”
– Ivan Illich cited in David Bosch’s Transforming Mission, p. 493.