Baylor University
March/April 2006
Volume 2, Number 2

From the Director

Douglas Henry Understanding the Theological Exploration of Vocation

Baylor University has long affirmed the significance of responding to the primary divine call to be reconciled to God through Christ, and to the correlative call to participate in God's work through loving, self-giving service to the world. Baylor's motto, Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, reflects this understanding by expressing the university’s purposes to be for the ecclesia (literally, "the ones who are called out," viz. the church) and to be for Texas, and by extension all the world. Precisely in the spirit of this institutional identity and motto, Baylor has nurtured tens of thousands of students during their university days, helping them to discern, prepare for, and embark upon a significant vocation.

In this respect, Baylor has always seen its mission as far more than merely career training or professional preparation, valuable though those endeavors be. A vocation or calling—in the theological sense—is not merely a career, no matter how noble, how passionately held, or how heroically performed. To have a calling, to be called, is to be summoned, to be claimed in the entirety of one's being, and thus truly to answer the call is to respond to this claim with an act of elicited self-donation which mirrors and participates in the life of the God who is self-donation. There is in this act an element of self-abasement, even as in so losing one's life, one finds it.

For these reasons it is also true that loving surrender to God's call, while an act with all sorts of subjective emotions, is also an acknowledgment of objective truth. To have a calling and follow it does not simply say something about oneself, but about the nature of reality ordered by the Triune God. In this understanding of vocation—embodied in Christian reflection upon vocation by Origen, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Barth—Baylor University has attempted to orient institutional life to inspire, inform, and guide its students to respond to God's call.

Over the past five years under Baylor Horizons, a grant initiative administered by the Institute for Faith and Learning (see story below), this vision of calling has taken root, sustaining convictions about vocation that are part and parcel to the Baptist heritage that undergirds the university. Indeed, one of the traditional strengths of Baptist life consists in the conviction that all are summoned, in the entirety of their lives, to service and fellowship in God's kingdom, in which are found the ultimate truths about ourselves.

“To have a calling, to be called, is to be summoned, to be claimed in the entirety of one’s being, and thus truly to answer the call is to respond to this claim with an act of elicited self-donation which mirrors and participates in the life of the God who is self-donation.”

Still, Baylor is no more immune than the Church to the forces that shatter the unity of this vision of vocation. Modern culture denies that religion has any public claim to truth, relegating it instead to a private, affective realm of values. In response, American Christians too often regrettably acquiesce in the privatization of their faith, and in doing so, they lose the sense of responsiveness to God's call that binds together the civic, ecclesial, familial, intellectual, and professional aspects of life. Such acquiescence, and the fragmentation that results, is not only inimical to a true notion of vocatio, but it is inherently dangerous. It is inimical, subjectively speaking, because it prevents our responding to God's call with the whole of our being: heart and mind, body and soul, head and hands. It is inimical, objectively speaking, because it denies what the act of responding to the call affirms: that all of life falls within the provenance of God’s Kingdom. It is inherently dangerous that we be deprived of the unity—and the humility—brought through responsiveness to God’s calling of us to loving labor on behalf of Christ's kingdom.

Baylor's response, in its statement of vision called Baylor 2012, is a commitment to embrace steadfastly a theological understanding of "life as a stewardship and work as a vocation." Thereby, the university hopes to guide students, staff, and faculty to see a response to God's call as the means: (a) of orienting themselves to life in all of its dimensions, (b) by which leadership for the church is identified, confirmed, and prepared for service to Jesus Christ and his followers, and (c) through which all Christians serve the church and world as co-laborers with Christ across the array of professions. The activities of Baylor Horizons are consequently organized around three interrelated emphases: vocation as orientation for life, vocation as church leadership, and vocation as professional service. These interconnected emphases give intentional expression to a set of Baptist principles that are grounded in the belief that God calls all of us: namely, the priesthood of all believers, the communitarian shape of the Church's life, and the universal obligation of service as co-laborers in Christ. In short, by giving attention—indeed a privileged place—to theologically underwritten discussions of vocation, we have attempted to offer students a sense of the unity, cogency, and desirability of life lived in responsiveness to God's call. To work toward such ends, of course, involves precisely the kind of faithful counterculturalism that lies at the origins of Baptist faith and practice.

Together with others across campus from Academic Life, Ministry Guidance, Student Life, and University Ministries, the Institute for Faith and Learning is proud of the good work that Baylor Horizons has accomplished. We also are excited about the good work that remains yet ahead of us. And we are especially glad for the continued support of Lilly Endowment Inc. on behalf of our efforts. Be sure to look in future newsletters for stories relating how the theological exploration of vocation is contributing to the fulfillment of Baylor’s motto, Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana. To these ends—for the sake of the fullness of the calling that is ours by God's grace through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit—the Institute for Faith and Learning remains unfalteringly committed.

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Recent Events

Baylor Horizons Project Receives $500,000 Follow-Up Grant from Lilly Endowment

Baylor Horizons, a university project which helps students, faculty and staff explore the relationship between faith and vocation, has received a $500,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. as a follow-up to an earlier $2 million grant that was part of Lilly Endowment's Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV) initiative in 2000.

With matching funds Baylor will provide, the grant will total $1.1 million for the three-year project.

"This is a terrific opportunity for us and helps perpetuate an important collaborative partnership with Lilly Endowment," said Dr. Douglas Henry, director of Baylor's Institute for Faith and Learning.

Lilly Endowment initially awarded grants under the PTEV initiative to 88 Christian colleges and universities. Baylor was in the first round of universities receiving grants.

"Lilly Endowment wanted to sustain the good work that had begun with the grants, so they rolled out the matching grant program. We were invited to apply for that," Henry said. "The idea is that the Endowment gives $500,000 and the institutions will at least match that from a variety of different sources. The hope is that at the end of the three-year period, those programs have completed their work or have become so central to university life that the institutions want to keep them."

"We are grateful that the Lilly Endowment is extending the funding for our highly successful Baylor Horizons project," said Baylor President John M. Lilley. "The university and its students have realized tremendous benefits from the programs associated with this innovative initiative. We look forward to continued positive outcomes for our students, the campus and beyond."

Baylor Horizons encompasses 10 projects that fall under three central aims: helping students examine the relationship between their faith and vocational choices; providing opportunities for young people to explore Christian ministry as their life's work; and enhancing the capacity of the school's faculty to teach and mentor students effectively in this arena.

First and foremost are programs, such as New Student Orientation and vocation-specific chapel services, to encourage incoming/new students to consider the relationship between faith and vocation. In a recent poll, 87 percent reported these programs helped them learn about their faith and vocational choices.

Other innovative and significant initiatives include the resident chaplain program, vocation-specific mission trips, such as the Africa 05 program, and Institute for Faith and Learning faculty retreats.

"Baylor Horizons has succeeded beyond our expectations in reaching a large population of students, faculty and staff," Henry said. "Baylor is a big ship, but Baylor Horizons has been undertaken with a commitment to comprehensiveness and scope. The result has been that every student at Baylor is challenged to think about faith and vocational choices. It is realizing its aims in admirable fashion."

Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation, created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family. In keeping with the wishes of its three founders, Lilly Endowment helps support the causes of religion, education and community development.

This story was written by Baylor University's Office of Public Relations and first appeared as a news item on the university's web site.

Crane Scholars Program Holds Annual Retreat

The Crane Scholars Program held its annual Spring Retreat once again, March 31-April 2, at Moon River Ranch outside Waco. Over thirty students participated in this year’s retreat along with faculty leaders and friends of the program. The chief purpose of the retreat was to provide the opportunity for sustained reflection on the intellectual life as a form of Christian vocation and the intellectual and spiritual challenges to heeding this vocation faithfully. This year’s theme was ‘Who Will I be Today?’ Faith, Intellect and the Call to Wholeness and was led by the Reverend Dr. Simon Oliver, a clergyman in the Church of England and a professor of theology at the University of Wales at Lampeter. In addition to guiding the participants through a series of Lenten liturgies and meditations, Dr. Oliver offered three lectures under the rubric On Discerning Vocation: Struggling with the Call; On Prayer and Reason; and Wholeness of Self and Creation.

North American Christian Foreign Language Association Hosts 16th Annual Conference at Baylor

Baylor University was pleased to serve as the host institution for the 16th Annual Conference for the North American Christian Foreign Language Association (NACFLA) on March 30-April 1, 2006. The title of the conference was Faithful Teaching and Scholarship in Language, Literature and Culture. Local co-chairs for the event were Dr. Jan Evans and Dr. Jennifer Good from the Department of Modern Foreign Languages. The Provost’s Office, Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office, Institute of Faith and Learning, and the Department of Modern Foreign Languages helped to sponsor the conference.

The conference was well-attended with language faculty and student participants from around the country and the world; a large number of Baylor and Mary Hardin-Baylor faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and teachers from the Waco community participated. To showcase the campus, plenary events were held in the Mayborn museum and the Barfield Drawing Room, with a worship service in the Armstrong Browning Library on Saturday morning. In all, over 15 academic panels with over 50 presenters were held.

The plenary speaker, Dr. Terry Osborn, offered a provocative look at teaching language in a Christian context in his address: World Language Education and Social Justice. His advocacy for a paradigm shift from mere communicative teaching to a focus on our ability to seek and achieve social justice was well received, and much discussed during times of fellowship and meals. Its refrain was also raised in many of the panels and papers presented and clearly struck a chord for these educators who are interested in the theoretical and the practical application of language learning in a Christian context. Dr. Osborn is Associate Professor of Curriculum Studies and World Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut.

The conference was a deemed a success and Baylor University proved to be an excellent venue for the conference; participants were particularly impressed by the caliber of Baylor student presentations, and gathered insight and inspiration from the many fine panels that delved into the scholarship of literature, teaching and culture.

Story contributed by Jennifer Good, Assistant Professor of German.

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Take Note

Announcement of Search for Associate Director

Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning invites applications and nominations for the position of Associate Director, with service beginning in Summer 2006.

The Institute for Faith and Learning assists Baylor in achieving its mission of integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment, and its goal of becoming a university of the first rank committed to its Christian heritage. Since its founding, the Institute has developed several major programs in support of this mission, cultivating high-quality research, sponsoring national conferences, offering faculty development retreats/seminars, and encouraging teaching faithful to the Christian intellectual tradition.

The Associate Director manages the day-to-day activities of the Institute for Faith and Learning and assists the Director with the organization and oversight of faculty development initiatives, the Pruit Memorial Symposium, the William Carey Crane Scholars Program, and a faculty grants program. The Associate Director is also expected to contribute to the national discussion of the role of religion in higher education through conference participation, presentations, and grant proposals, and through an active program of research and publication within an academic discipline. The Associate Director reports to Director and supervises an assistant director and an administrative associate.

The Associate Director is expected to maintain a close working relationship with the academic community, including teaching in areas of specialty and involvement in other activities designed to support the educational goals of the University. If mutually agreed on by all parties, the Associate Director will have a faculty appointment in an appropriate academic department.

Applicants or nominees should hold the Ph.D. and three to five years of teaching/research in a university setting. Strong communication and organizational skills, ability to work collegially, commitment to Baylor’s mission, and understanding of faith/learning issues in higher education are desired. Salary and benefits are competitive and negotiable based on experience.

To apply for this position, please visit our web site at: Please submit a completed application, a written letter of application, a CV, and the names of three references. Review of applications will begin on April 15, and will continue until a successful candidate is identified. Material should be sent to Douglas Henry, Director, Institute for Faith and Learning, One Bear Place # 97270, Waco, TX 76798-7270.

Baylor is a Christian university affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Applicants should embrace Baylor’s Christian identity. As an Affirmative Action, Equal Employment Opportunity employer, Baylor encourages minorities, women, veterans, and persons with disabilities to apply. See for further information about the Institute.

Baylor Leadership to Participate in Retreat on Vocation, Liberal Learning and the Professions

As part of Baylor Horizons, our Lilly Endowment program for the theological exploration of vocation, Vocation, Liberal Learning, and the Professions has been convened each May as a five-day faculty retreat experience. New faculty members have been invited to participate each year, along with all faculty members within a given school, for approximately thirty-five to forty participants annually. This well-received initiative has been motivated by a series of mission-related and community-building purposes.

In response to newly inaugurated President John Lilly's call for departmental leadership in delineating the shape of Christian intellectual life at Baylor and in cooperation with Provost Randall O'Brien, this year's retreat has been designated for departmental chairs and program directors together with senior academic leaders. Both the president and the provost will be in attendance for portions of the retreat. The event will afford participants opportunity to reflect upon such as issues as teaching, research and administration as vocations, engendering Christian community through intellectual friendship, and overcoming differences through charity and humility. There will also be occasions of communal worship and ample opportunity for casual conversation, recreation or reflection in the beautiful natural surroundings of Laity Lodge near Leakey, Texas on the Frio River.

Guest speakers are to be Elizabeth Newman, Professor of Theology and Ethics at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Mark Schwehn, Professor of Humanities for Christ College at Valparaiso University, and Thomas Smith, Associate Professor of Political Science at Villanova University. Burt Burleson, pastor of Dayspring Baptist Church in Waco, will be leading worship services.

Call for Papers: The World and Christian Imagination

Orgranizers for this year's Pruit Memorial Symposium and Lilly Fellows Program National Research Conference, The World and Christian Imagination, are still accepting proposals for individual papers or concurrent sessions for consideration until May 12, 2006. This event will explore the interaction of Christian thought with various aspects of contemporary intellectual, social, and political life. Proposals on this theme from scholars in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, professions, and social sciences are welcome, and interdisciplinary perspectives are especially encouraged. For more information about this call for papers, please visit our web site.

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Conference Calendar

Upcoming at Baylor

May 15-19, 2006

Vocation, Liberal Learning, and the Professions
Baylor University Faculty Retreat
Laity Lodge, Texas
November 9-11, 2006

The World and Christian Imagination
Sponsored by the Pruit Memorial Symposium and the Lilly
Fellows Program National Research Conference

Upcoming beyond Baylor

June 6-9, 2006

National New Faculty Workshop: 2006 — The Christian Professorate: Balancing Career, Faith, Mind & Heart
Southeastern University, Lakeland, Florida
Sponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
June 26-July 28, 2006

Calvin College Seminars in Christian Scholarship, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • June 26-July 7 — John D. Witvliet, Calvin College: "The Transformation of Christian Worship: Recent History of Protestant and Catholic Practices (1960-2000)"
  • July 3-28 — William T. Cavanaugh, University of St. Thomas: "Liturgy and Politics: Is the Church a Polis?"
  • July 10-28 — Ellen T. Charry, Princeton Theological Seminary: "'Taste and See That the Lord Is Good': Liturgical Participation and the Dynamics of Happiness"
  • July 17-21 — David I. Smith, "Faith in the Classroom: Christian Perspectives on Teaching and Learning"
July 20-22, 2006

Scholars Coming to Faith: Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of C. S. Lewis' Conversion
Airport Hilton, Kansas City, Missouri
Sponsored by the International Institute for Christian Studies and Christian Studies International
July 24-28, 2006

Young Scholars in the Baptist Academy
Regent's Park College,
Sponsored by The Meetinghouse at Georgetown College
September 28-30, 2006

Inscription — a conference for teachers, writers and readers on the Christian teaching of writing, rhetoric and literature
Abilene Christian University in collaboration with the Southwest Conference on Christianity & Literature

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