Baylor's Truett Seminary Hosts Ministerial Ethics Conference

Feb. 10, 2006

by Lori Fogleman (254) 710-6275

Within today's rapidly changing culture, ministerial ethics are more complex than ever. Even with a perceptible increase in moral failures in ministry, churches formerly assumed - rightly or wrongly - that Christian ministers were persons of integrity who could be counted on to be ethical.

No longer is this presumption possible. As a result, theological seminaries and church-related colleges are reexamining their responsibilities for spiritual formation and rethinking their curricula. In partnership with the Christian Ethics Today Foundation, Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary will hold a Ministerial Ethics Conference for clergy, church members and seminary students on "How To Be A Good Minister" Feb. 13-14 on the Baylor campus.

"Christians need to think more about ethics, because it is basic to scripture and is so often neglected among us," said Dr. Paul W. Powell, dean of Truett Seminary. "We tend to give more attention to things like evangelism and church growth and neglect the importance of ethics. But no vocation is as ethically demanding as the Christian ministry, and no professional is expected to model morality as much as a minister.

"Today's ministers walk an ethical tightrope," Powell added. "At one moment they may serve as prophets, priests or educators; in the next they may be administrators, counselors or financiers. Each of these roles raises ethical dilemmas and exposes moral vulnerability not faced by other professionals."

Powell said three significant facts verify the need for an ethics conference for ministers:

• The Christian minister occupies a unique role among all vocations.

• Literature on the subject of ministerial ethics is rare.

• The teaching of Christian ethics in seminaries and universities is declining.

Among the topics to be discussed are "Faith, Family, and Finances," "Pastoral Ethics," "Ethics In The Pulpit," "The Minister and Politics," "Colleagues or Competition?" and "Clergy Sexual Abuse."

Conference speakers will include authors, scholars, theologians and pastors, led by Dr. Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa. Campolo is widely used as a media commentator on religious, social and political matters and is author of 32 books, most recently "Speaking My Mind" and "The Church Enslaved."

Other speakers will be:

• Dr. James E. Carter, former director of the Division of Church-Minister Relations in the Louisiana Baptist Convention and co-author of "Ministerial Ethics: Moral Formation for Church Leaders, 2nd Ed.," which will be used as the conference text;

• Dr. Joel C. Gregory, professor of preaching at Truett Seminary and author of the best-selling memoir, "Too Great A Temptation";

• The Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco and a contributor to the book, "Putting Women In Their Place";

• Dr. Joe E. Trull, editor of Christian Ethics Today since 2000 and author of eight books, including "Walking in the Way: An Introduction to Christian Ethics"; and

• Dr. Philip Wise, senior pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Lubbock.

The Christian Ethics Today Foundation publishes the journal, Christian Ethics Today, five times per year, in order to provide laypersons, educators and ministers with a resource for understanding and responding to moral and ethical issues of concern to Christians, to the church and to society. Christian Ethics Today is sent without charge to anyone requesting it and is supported solely by the voluntary contributions of its readers.

The conference registration fee is $25 for the public and $10 for Truett students. For more information, visit www.ChristianEthicsToday.com or http://www.baylor.edu/truett/index.php?id=33982 or call Truett Seminary at (254) 710-3755 or 1-800-BAYLOR-U, option 5.

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