These challenging times demand that Christian churches and their leaders faithfully and effectively address diverse global situations with Gospel-rooted compassion and justice. These essays argue that public theology provides the trinitarian theological framework which fuels wise and compassionate public participation in God's mission within the world today. Public church leaders from the Global South and Global North join their voices to explore the global implications of public theology within unique situational particularities. Their essays are principally based on the public theology and theological commitments of Gary M. Simpson, Lutheran pastor and systematic theologian. Simpson's public theology is an intersection of Lutheran theology, post-colonial approaches to missiology, the growing field of congregational studies, and the Civil Society turn in Critical Social Theory. Expanding on various aspects of Simpson's public theology, these essays provide a glimpse of newly-emerging global public theology with leadership implications for twenty-first century contexts.
This book calls the church to bear today's multi-dimensional crises with courage, mutuality and cooperation. Congregations who seek to participate in God's mission by confronting these challenging realities will find encouragement through the theological reflections, first-hand experiences, and innovative public leadership narrated in these essays.
Samuel Yonas Deressa is assistant professor of theology and the Global South and Fiechtner Chair for Christian Outreach at Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Mary Sue Dreier is retired professor of pastoral care and missional leadership at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Lenoir-Rhyne University (Columbia, South Carolina).
Foreword Mary E. Hess
Introduction Samuel Yonas Deressa and Mary Sue Dreier
Part I: Christian Mission
Chapter 1: Implication of the Trinitarian Vision for the 21st Century Dinku Bato
Chapter 2: What Can the West Learn from the Rest? Nurturing the Culture of Global Conversation Samuel Yonas Deressa
Chapter 3: The Commonplace Congregation Scott J. Hagley
Chapter 4: Turning Outward: One Moravian’s Journey from Pietist Quietism to Public Theologian Betsy Miller
Chapter 5: Giving Them a Fair Shot: Musings on an Evangelical Reading of “Preferential Option for the Poor” Mark Nygard
Chapter 6: Love Actually Tomas Gulan
Part II: Public Vocation
Chapter 7: Civil Society and the Church in Kenya as a Public Moral Companion William O. Obaga
Chapter 8: Late Reformation Lutheran Preaching on the Legitimacy, Duties, and Responsibilities of Civil Authorities Mary Jane Haemig
Chapter 9: Teaching Solidarity in Civil Society for Love of Neighbor Mary E. Hess
Chapter 10: The Vocation of the Local Congregation as Public Companion Jeremy Myers
Chapter 11: Pandemics are Terrible Things: A Theology of Promise for a Missional Church Emerging Dee Pederson
Part III: Christian Leadership
Chapter 12: Public Leadership Across Cultures: God’s Transforming Power for Mutual Governance Sekenwa Moses Briska
Chapter 13: Worldly Spirituality for a Missional Church Mary Sue Dreier
Chapter 14: Is Anybody Listening? An Analysis of the Role of Bishops as Adaptive Leaders and Public Theologians in a Time of Crisis Paul D. Erickson
Chapter 15: No Patiency, No Promise: Missional Warrants toward a Public Theology of Listening David C. Hahn
Chapter 16: A Missional, Open and Relational System for Faith Formation in the Local Congregation Steve Thomason
Epilogue I: Reflection about Professor Gary Simpson Marie Y. Hayes
Epilogue II: Gary M. Simpson: A Fruitful Vocation David L. Tiede
Afterword by Gary M. Simpson
About the Contributors
Forming Leaders for the Public Church is a fitting testimony to the illuminating and piercing work of Professor Gary Simpson. Like the book's dedicatee, the essays in this volume reflect a fierce love for the gospel, a deep concern for those on the margins, and a clarion summons for the church to help build a more just and fruitful world.
Nothing honors the career and creativity of Dr. Gary Simpson better than this salute to a true visionary from his former students, colleagues and friends. A collection edited with great love and respect, Forming Leaders for the Public Church lights up the theological depth and the manifold dimensions of Gary’s passion to send forth the church into public life. But it’s the personal anecdotes scattered among the chapters that remind us that a mentor’s deep love, affection, and sacrifice is key to forming leaders for missional vocation.
This excellent collection of essays by students and colleagues of Professor Gary Simpson carries forward his important teaching and scholarship on the theology and vocation of being a public church. The trinitarian theology that informs Simpson’s understanding of the public church as missional church is evident in these clear, well-written, and well researched accounts. Representing a variety of domestic, global, and cross-cultural congregational contexts and reflecting Simpson’s emphasis on the congregation as the center of the public church, the essays offer a variety of practical approaches to the church’s participation in civil society that are integral to the gospel centered worship life and witness of the congregation. Simpson’s gracious pastoral presence and love of the church, echoed throughout, has been infectious in the lives of these contributors and will shine through for readers as well. This is a treasure trove of insightful and innovative resources for leaders and leaders to be who aspire to the vocation of the public church.
What a gift this volume is! It is a gift to a wide variety of audiences: members and leaders of local churches, leaders of denominational systems that care about local churches, church leaders who want to learn how the Global South enriches the nature and mission of local churches, leaders of churches who draw upon the deep roots of Lutheran theology in communities no longer living in a European centered Christendom, and leaders of churches wrestling with the realities of the pandemic and racism. Most importantly it is a witness to the life’s work of a pastor, teacher, and scholar, Gary Simpson, whose dedication to the local church as a public moral companion provides a living metaphor for vital and thriving local churches.