Truett Seminary’s “Program for the Future Church” to Address Modern Issues in a Changing World
by Lexi Nitishin, student news writer, Baylor University Media and Public Relations
WACO, Texas (Oct. 18, 2021) – George W. Truett Theological Seminary’s newly established Program for the Future Church (PFFC) is seeking to tackle emerging modern issues facing the Church. By serving as a “visible bridge” between the Church and Truett Seminary at Baylor University, the program will include a diverse group of individuals to serve as collaborative partners to religious institutions.
Under the direction of Angela Gorrell, Ph.D., assistant professor of practical theology, and Dustin Benac, Th.D., visiting assistant professor of practical theology and Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, PFFC will bring together professors, church and community leaders, and students to create a time and space for listening and imagining. The goal is for groups of collaborators and researchers to find system-wide solutions to system-wide challenges, such as how churches respond to mental health concerns or how churches can prevent pastoral burnout.
“Our hope is that we can be a good partner and a good bridge builder,” Benac said. “Collaboration is the way forward for the future Church.”
This program sees this time of transition from in-person church engagements to mixed media church opportunities as a time of great possibility. The organizers hope to be a center for resources and insights as they walk alongside local congregations and faith-based organizations that are taking the next steps in addressing issues faced by churches across the country. Gorrell emphasized the value of groups with members who have different perspectives to help guide churches to formulate meaningful solutions.
As an example, Gorrell points to the intersection of mental and spiritual health as a chief concern PFFC hopes to help address. With a rise in the incidence of mental health issues, she said she is curious as to what spirituality might have to offer those in need.
“We are working to put together research hubs of practitioners, academics and students who are at different levels of their education, with the goal of the research hub to have practitioners and academics work together to pilot solutions,” Gorrell said.
The directors want to begin by serving the Waco community, calling on Baylor students and scholars to participate in this initiative to support the vitality of the Waco community since it is seen as the basis for all future work. The need for this local collaborative work is to be met primarily with “catalytic collaboratories” and research hubs.
“We are committed first to be attentive to and grounded in our particular locale,” Benac said.
Among many other goals, the group aims to create regular opportunities for scholars and Truett students to engage with the stories of church and community leaders, develop research groups that will investigate pressing and emerging challenges facing the Church and contribute to Baylor University’s aspirations to become a Tier-1 institution as a center for research and innovation.
“There's no sort of bounds to the kinds of meaningful responses that a research hub might come up with for a solution to an issue,” Gorrell said.
To learn more about this program, visit the Program for the Future Church website.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT GEORGE W. TRUETT THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary is an orthodox, evangelical school in the historic Baptist tradition that equips God-called people for gospel ministry in and alongside Christ’s Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, Truett Seminary provides theological education leading to the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Theological Studies, Doctor of Ministry and Ph.D. in Preaching. The M.Div., M.A.C.M. and M.T.S. degrees also can be completed at the seminary’s Houston and San Antonio locations. In addition, Truett Seminary offers joint degrees: M.Div./M.S.W. and M.T.S./M.S.W. with the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, M.Div./M.B.A. with the Hankamer School of Business, M.Div./J.D. with Baylor Law School, M.Div./M.M. with the School of Music and M.Div./M.S.Ed. or M.Div./M.A. with the School of Education. Visit baylor.edu/truett to learn more.