Celebrating a Birthday or Celebrating the Birth of an Idea

By: Stephen Lewis
April 27, 2014

It was a cool Tuesday morning. With no technology to navigate the way, they moved briskly through New York City’s morning traffic. The destination: 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The air was filled with the smell of freshly brewed coffee, New York Times 1954 headlines, and vibrating streets from the subways below moving people quickly throughout the five boroughs. This Tuesday was unlike any other one. With nervous energy, 12 Christian leaders, pastors and educators gathered in Room 5600 to give birth to an idea and organization—The American Association of Theological Schools Fund (AATSF)—which would become the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE).

Unaware of the impact FTE would have on individuals for years to come, these faithful leaders knew that something was at stake. They recognized the signs of the time and need for a new breed of Christian leaders who would shape the future of church that none of their elders would live to see.

AATSF would go on to cultivate a new generation of Christian leaders who demonstrated certain leadership qualities amid a changing world. These qualities reflected the following commitments:

  • spiritual and educated leadership,
  • openness to ministry,
  • engaging diverse perspectives, and
  • ethnography—studying and understanding the culture and people of their future ministry context.

Sixty years later, FTE’s understanding of these four commitments have expanded and matured as it works with diverse networks of partners. They continue to reflect the DNA and character of FTE and approximately 5,500 leaders it has supported through the years.

FTE has supported amazing Christian leaders, pastors and theological educators who have advanced the church in important ways during the last six decades. We are grateful to them and supporters like you who have invested in FTE and these leaders. We are also thankful for an amazing cloud of witnesses who continue to rejoice, cheer on a new generation and encourage them in pursue God’s calling in their lives.

As the staff and I pause to celebrate a new era of cultivating diverse, young leaders for the church and academy, join us in wishing FTE a happy 60th birthday. Here’s to giving birth to an idea and celebrating a new era of cultivating a new generation of diverse leaders who will envision a new church and world and work toward realizing heaven on earth for generations to come.

Tags: Inspired Leaders, Thinking Out Loud, Shaping the Future


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