FTE Blog

Vocation in Between the Aftermath of Violence and a Hoped-for Future

What future does God envision for us? What future do we long to see? What are we willing to do to give shape to it? These questions, written by FTE President Stephen Lewis, are ringing in my ears as I follow on-the-ground reports of what’s happening in Baltimore ...

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By: Dori Baker May 01, 2015

To Follow a Call

What does it look like to be a woman in ministry? At FTE’s East Coast Discernment Retreat in Black Mountain, NC, I met many examples of women in ministry including Tiffany Thomas, a United Methodist pastor who began preaching at 15.

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By: Kate Stoltzfus April 29, 2015

Tooth Fairy

Last week I attended a retreat in Black Mountain, North Carolina hosted by the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE). The main point that I took away was that God’s ministry can be present in the work I want to do – animal therapy. If God is truly calling me, I can get there. But in order to get there, I have to continue to accept the experiences in my past.

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By: Katherine Mockler April 28, 2015

Where Two or Three Are Gathered

Every two weeks, I have a standing date with three of my favorite people in the world. We gather online over laptops and lunches in Boston, New York, and Nashville for a time of communal learning and fellowship. Together we form quite the motley millennial crew.

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By: Jennifer Bailey April 22, 2015

Marking Vocational Transitions Faithfully

I was only 20 years old when a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church hired me – a devoted United Methodist to serve as Assistant Minister for Youth. At that point in my life, I was certain of my place in the church.

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By: Rob Lee April 21, 2015

Our Becoming

Normally when I hear terms like “church retreat” or “staff retreat”, I mentally prepare to not be able to, well, “retreat”. However, my most recent experience with the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) proved otherwise. I was extremely fortunate to be nominated by Mission Year to attend FTE’s Discernment Retreat in Lake Arrowhead, California.

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By: Cailin Choy April 08, 2015

Falling Deeper Into My Calling

Last week a kid died in the alley by my office. A homeless kid. He overdosed and fell into a deep forever-sleep by the mail truck next to my office. His name was Dylan.

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By: Margie Quinn March 25, 2015

Let the Streets Inspire You

Less than 25 minutes. This is the time it typically takes one unnamed, unknown British artist to create a public work of art that provokes conversation—and most times, controversy. Banksy.

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By: Kimberly R. Daniel-Brister March 24, 2015

Whose Name is on the Invitation?

It is not uncommon for institutions in the Church and in the part of the academy engaged in Christian academy education to approach diversity through the idea of inclusion.

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By: Stephen Ray March 19, 2015

The Feeble Art of Radical Hospitality

I once told a friend who has lived in the South all of her life that I was going to teach a conference on hospitality in the church. She replied emphatically, “What are you, a Northerner, going to teach Southerners about hospitality? We [Southerners] invented hospitality.”

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By: Tiffany Thomas March 03, 2015

Finding God in the Rabbit Trail

Do you ever feel guilty for getting distracted by the way any good book, blog or podcast leads down a rabbit hole of connected thoughts, ideas, people and movements? This is part of the contemporary human condition; indeed Nicholas Carr (The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains) suggests humans are losing our capacity to dive deeply and concentrate single-mindedly.

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By: Dori Baker February 19, 2015

What is Worship to Me

What does worship mean to you? As I contemplated that question, I began to examine my heart in the midst of my worship. For example, was I really worshiping God, or just uttering words with no substance.

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By: Anthony Ramos-Ruiz February 10, 2015

A Resolution for Religion

With the advent of every year, we gain a fresh start or a new perspective on where we are, where we have been or perhaps what fills us with hope to begin. The beginning of each year provides Christians an opportunity to reflect and discover God’s epiphanies in their lives, communities of faith and through their witness in the world.

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By: Stephen Lewis January 13, 2015

Sacred Cows at the Lord’s Table

There were four of us young adults: my United Methodist self, an Episcopalian, a self-avowed Luthera-costal, and a non-denominational turned Presbyterian. As we sat together in the musty, old-fashioned bed and breakfast that was our home-base for the Wild Goose Festival ...

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By: Cassidhe Hart January 06, 2015

I am a Pile of Trash

A pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?” Reading what the Ferguson Police Department’s representative said about Michael Brown’s memorial, I remembered the day I visited that sacred space with my FTE mentor, Pastor Shonda Gladden.

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By: Trevor Persaud January 06, 2015

The Church Knows Something

Sixty years ago, FTE emerged during a segregated era. Twenty days later the United States Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools and universities unconstitutional, provoking civil unrest throughout the country.

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By: Stephen Lewis December 23, 2014

Critical Feeling

I can’t breathe. Protesters chant: We can’t breathe. The police officer who strangled Eric Garner was not indicted for any crime. This on the heels of the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. The weight, of horror, of despair, of heartbreak, of rage. But I can breathe. I’m breathing right now. I always find my breath, after those breathless moments. Eric Garner did not. Many of us do not.

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By: Mimi Khuc December 17, 2014

“Do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19

Zimmerman mistook Martin for a thief. Wilson saw Brown as a charging “demon.” Ronald Ritchie, when he called the police, stated John Crawford III was loading a gun, waving it around, and pointing it at people, including children. We know, for certain and beyond all doubt, this account was false, an imaginary situation spun from fearful misperceptions. But the policeman involved, they went with this fiction. They made a crucial and split-second choice, they made the wrong choice, and the costs were enormous. John Crawford III, totally innocent, is dead. My scholarly interest is in this crucial, split-second decision-making: what factors influence judgment when you aren’t conscious of your making a decision?

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By: Erica Ramirez December 11, 2014

Buddy Crossed the Line

Nearly eight years ago, I sat on a bus from Chicago headed to Fort Benning, Georgia, to protest police militarization, torture and human rights violation at the School of Americas also called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Buddy was unsuspecting—casually dressed and quiet. He had one small satchel. I thought he was shy and mastered traveling light.

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By: Waltrina Middleton December 10, 2014

Teaching Theology after Ferguson

When my students enter my classroom most consider theology to be a task centered on ideas, on their beliefs. Some are pretty sure of what they believe, but most are open and hoping that these ideas have something to do with their lives. Still others are pretty sure theology has little to do with their lives. To disrupt all of these starting points with either confusion or hope, we begin the class by reading scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk. This might seem like an odd choice for a course focused on theology. And for many of the students it is difficult to see how this book is a theological text.

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By: Brian Bantum December 09, 2014

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