On April 20 and 21, 2017 Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM) hosted a historic summit gathering of leaders, staff and faculty from colleges and universities related to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Participants gathered to discuss what it means to be a Disciples-related school as well as to identify opportunities for working together and with various general ministries in ways that are mutually beneficial.
In discussing the importance of higher education in the history of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), all present were reminded that early leaders in the movement viewed education as a key component in building a just and civil society. Chris Dorsey, president of HELM, noted that Alexander Campbell, founder of Bethany College, believed that “churches and colleges go hand in hand in the progress of Christian civilization.” The social, political and religious contexts have changed since Campbell wrote those words. However, even in these changed contexts, the work of educating and forming students intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and physically or, as Douglas Searcy, president of Barton College noted, “building up the whole person” continues. Glennell Lee-Pruitt, provost and vice-president of academic affairs at Jarvis Christian College, shared that one key component in working towards that goal in a diverse and pluralistic country and world is helping students “to be able to know and value a story other than their own.” Those present acknowledged the need to recognize and celebrate that working towards this kind of non-sectarian education is in our DNA as it has been part of Disciples history from the beginning.
HELM gives thanks for all the colleges and universities that relate to the church and their work in student formation, leadership development and connecting communities. We are also thankful for the many colleagues in ministry who share their time and gifts in seeking to support this work. To learn more about the work of HELM as well as the 14 Disciples-related colleges and universities, visit www.helmdisciples.org.