Gordon College hosts regional faith leaders at workshop

WENHAM -- Gordon College, a Christian college located in Wenham, recently hosted a Faith Leader workshop for New England pastors and ministry leaders. This event brought local faith leaders into a conversation around the shift in faith for rising generations through sessions led by J.R. Briggs, founder of Kairos Partnerships and friend of the college. Representatives from more than 20 faith communities across New England attended to network and encourage each other in their vocational ministry.

Father Harry Winter, of St. Mary Parish in Georgetown, was one of 60 attendants. As director of the Ministry of Mission, Unity and Dialogue for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the USA, Father Winter has seen the progress of evangelical Christians and charismatic Catholics growing together.

"During J.R. Briggs' presentations, it became very clear that most evangelical parishes are not faced with the problem of clericalization that Roman Catholic parishes are. As some develop into mega-churches, this danger emerges. But for the many which do not, Roman Catholics can learn from them, to involve the laity more in leadership," says Father Winter. "It is also clear that with so many different Christian denominations, today's men and women are increasingly frustrated. Christian churches are no longer in the majority, but have become a confusing minority. Briggs showed the participants how to present Christianity to the rising generations."

In his two sessions, Briggs developed a case for the need to approach faith in rising generations through a different lens. He emphasized the need for faith leaders to be flexible as they actively listen to, ask questions of and engage rising generations in crucial conversations. In addition to Briggs' sessions, a panel discussed the challenges and opportunities of faith formation for students and young adults in their respective contexts. Panel participants included Brian Gawlak, associate pastor of youth, children and outreach at East Baptist Church in Lynn; Dan Klassen, associate pastor of worship and discipleship at Barrington Baptist Church in Barrington, Rhode Island; and Rachel Dean of InterVarsity.

"Our vision for Gordon College is to be a convenor and equipper of churches, ministries, and camps in New England," said Andrew Breton, director of strategic partnerships and the Dokes Ministry Scholars program at Gordon. "An event like this helps us to accomplish the vision."

The college plans to host more gatherings like this one, focused on faith in rising generations, to converse with and encourage local faith leaders.