Sunday, June 23, 2013

Oxford Institute Day 2

As with last summer, my program at Dallas Baptist University has me traveling to learn about leadership. Last year in D.C. it was about political/national leadership in the U.S. context, this year it is about Global Leadership. We spend June reading books and theories of Global leadership as well as preparing papers to present and for seminar presentations. Today, we went to Moulton and Olney, two small villages that though small in size, played a huge role in global missions, particularly Baptist global missions. Moulton was the town where William Carey served his first congregation. Carey is known as the "father of the modern mission movement." He was largely self educated but had a passion for missions to the unconverted, particularly in India. He worked with Jon Sutcliffe of nearby Olney to start the Baptist Missionary Society and set sail for India in 1792. He never returned to England but spent his life there, teaching, translating the Bible and eventually starting the first college allowed by the crown to be able to give university degrees in India. 

Carey's famous line was "Expect great things from God, do great things for God". Of course, Carey's obsession with missions pretty much cost his family everything. His wife went crazy due to neglect and overwork (she soon died and he married again, twice), his sons ran wild with no supervision and it took him seven years to win his first convert (who eventually went back to Hinduism).

To Carey's credit, part of his slow progress in conversions was his hope that missionaries would focus on understanding the local culture, translating and understanding the language and building up local leaders. That way the church would have sticking power and not simply be a vassal of the colonial power. Unfortunately, too many missionaries took it upon themselves to be agents of the colonial ruler, thus tying Christianity to Western culture and values, which significantly set the church back.

Heading over to Olney, we went to Jon Sutcliffe's (Carey's mentor)  church. This was an inspiring visit and had many leadership lessons. Not only was it interesting to learn about Sutcliffe's 39 year ministry in Olney but also his work ecumenically and in lifting up other leaders. One must remember that in England it was not until the late 17th century that it was even legal to be a Baptist (or Lutheran or anything not Church of England). So Sutcliffe was serving (in the late 18th century) with a relatively new community.

He lifted up leaders like Carey and others as well as worked with the local Church of England pastor (a guy named John Newton) to better the ministry in this town that was struggling with the industrial revolution. Many of the cities in the area had been lace manufacturers. With automation, that trade disappeared quickly. Working for social justice Sutcliffe demonstrated significant Cooperative and Adaptive leadership skills to lift out the best attributes of the people in his midst for the mission of the organization.

Even more inspiring was to met the current pastor of this congregation who has revitalized it into a living exciting place of mission in a basically de-churched community (only about 5-7% of folks in England are in worship on a Sunday). As you can see from the picture, they have renovated the 300+ year old sanctuary for modern use and have plans to expand to accommodate their growing membership. Perspective was also useful to understand that in England, a congregation with 60 members is considered large enough to support a pastor (hmmmmm...wondering about those American tithers).

From Olney/Sutcliffe Baptist we walked down the street to St. Peters and Paul Church (CofA). This is where Newton served and was ultimately buried. If you don't recognize the name John Newton, well you should. We sang his hymn, Amazing Grace, in the sanctuary while still being able to smell the sweetness of the incense remaining from the morning masses. A lovely experience for us all. Again, Newton showed Courageous leadership by working with folks like Sutcliffe. As the establishment church leader, he needed not do so, but he chose to because he believed it was the right thing to do for the people of the town. Unlike so many modern pastors, only concerned with their own congregations, both Sutcliffe and Newtown showed humility and focus on leadership and mission.

As I mentioned, a beautiful place to sing Amazing Grace. Although I had to speed up the tempo for our Baptist friends, they started out in funeral dirge speed.;-)

 John Newton's grave, just in case you didn't believe I was actually there. See, proof! The study part of the day complete, we headed back.
Back in Oxford we headed over to Christ Church College for Evensong. On the way, I saw these two young, very accomplished, cellists jamming "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on the streets. I gave them a pound in gratitude for their fun and ability.

Just tossing these in from Christ Church College. The buildings above were inspiration for and used in the filming of the Harry Potter movies. The one above are the windows for the great hall. Below is the quad featured in the first film, the famous scene where Harry flies a broom for the first time. Below you can see the young boys from the Evensong choir leaving in their official robes, looking like young Griffendors on their way to class.
 Edited out of that film (I think) was the pool in the center of the quad. In it were lilies, one of them was blooming. "Such beautiful magic..."

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