SPRING FALL 2014 2012
THE MAGAZINE OF GORDON COLLEGE
A Place for Invention 14 Mark Sargent: On the “Living Ground” of Gordon College 17
OF GORDON COLLEGE
Deeply Rooted, Always Growing Also in This Issue 28 Indwelling Urban (+ Rural) Landscapes 30 Living the History: People, Places and Connections
125 YEARS OF GORDON COLLEGE: DEEPLY ROOTED, ALWAYS GROWING Two world wars, the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the opening up of global markets: the world is quite a different place than it was in 1889. Yet there is much continuity between those who seek out a Gordon education today and those who first enrolled 125 years ago. In this issue of STILLPOINT, we explore both the change and the continuity.
Introduction 6 the First 8 Remember Hypernikon
Postwar Years 30 The (1945–1968) After World War II, the two colleges were challenged to remain grounded in the “essential content of the gospel” while navigating a changing world.
by Marvin Wilson
Early Years 10 The (1889–1906) Two founding visions on the eve of the 20th century.
Bedrock Years 20 The (1907–1944) Gordon and Barrington laid the foundations for the liberal arts colleges they would become.
The Pivotal Years (1969–1991) The ’60s happened at Gordon and Barrington in the ’70s, and the changes reverberated long afterward.
Millennial Years 54 The (1992–Present) What has changed, and what remains the same about Gordon College in the early years of the 21st century?
Concluding Pastoral 64 APostscript by Greg Carmer
18 What’s in a Name?
A field guide to Gordon and Barrington’s names—18 in all!
A Note from the Editor
IN EACH ISSUE
Among many historical resources on which we depended for this issue, Thomas A. and Jean M. Askew’s centennial history, A Faithful Past and an Expectant Future (1988), deserves special mention as an invaluable source of information about both Gordon and Barrington. We have borrowed factual material freely from this landmark study, with Tom and Jean’s kind permission.
66 Forever Friends
Front with 2 Up President Lindsay
Heartfelt thanks, also, to the many who offered feedback and corrections. (You know who you are.) A special shout-out to reviewers Rudy and Shirley Nelson ’48B—a power couple decades before the term became popular. —Patricia Hanlon
Residence hall camaraderie and traditions like “cruller Fridays” were building blocks of deep relationships for the women on the third floor of Ferrin.
69 Planned Acts of Kindness
Relationships at Gordon unfolded a sense of vocation for Doug MacGray ’81.
70 Challenging Roles
Carol Austin ’89 loves teaching middle schoolers—and acting.
71 A Vow of Stability
Abraham Gross ’00 encourages long-term ministry in northern New England.
Stretching the Mind
4 Gordon Life 5 SPORKS
Notes from a young alum
66 Class Notes Alumni news
UP FRONT with President Lindsay
Stretching the Mind
“Constructing an environment in which the liberal arts can truly flourish requires great intentionality, energy and focus.” I’ve long believed in the value of a liberal arts approach to life—that is, an intentional commitment to exposing ourselves to ideas and topics that are removed from our regular routines. But truth be told, the busyness of my job and the desire to spend any remaining time with my family has meant that I have fallen short of this ideal. Most of my reading these days relates to higher education, sociology, organizational behavior, or, occasionally, to Christian theology. But it’s been years since I’ve read Science or Nature, and even longer since I read Shakespeare or Chaucer. In May, however, I was invited to visit NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center just outside of Washington, D.C. It reminded me of how wonderful it is to pursue learning for the sake of learning, to open our minds to a field that is rarely on our minds, but is intrinsically interesting. After all, Colossians reminds us that “all things hold together in
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Christ,” so as we explore new ideas and concepts, we come to know God and his creation better. This is why learning is a form of Christian worship. On a balmy Friday morning, I made my way out to suburban Maryland to meet Joan Centrella, deputy director of astrophysics science at NASA. Joan, who became a Christian as an adult, taught space science at Drexel University before moving 13 years ago to NASA. This summer, she joined a dozen other Christian thought leaders (including former Gordon artist-in-residence Mia Chung and our own Dorothy Boorse) in Boston for a weeklong fellowship program called Veritas Riff. This program helps scholars develop their capacities as public intellectuals—everything from developing op-eds for national media outlets to sharpening abilities in front of a television camera—as a way of making the gospel more plausible to secular
New Book viewfromthetopbook.com
audiences through compelling Christian witness on pressing issues of the day. It’s been a real joy to play a small part in the program since it started five years ago, and spending time with Joan reaffirmed the value of helping more Christian intellectuals gain platforms to share their scholarly contributions. NASA is focused on a joint project with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018. This next-generation telescope will be placed a million miles from Earth, and will extend the discoveries made possible in recent years by the Hubble Telescope. The purpose of the Webb Telescope is to help us understand everything from the formation of galaxies to the development of planetary systems and the distribution of organic molecules (such as carbon, oxygen and iron).
The scale of this venture is massive. So is the preparation for its launch. The project’s centerpiece involves the construction of 18 hexagonal beryllium mirrors, which will form the Webb Telescope’s primary mirror. I learned that beryllium, a mineral mined in Utah, can withstand the extreme temperatures of deep space (where the mirrors will be exposed to -400 degrees Fahrenheit). Before the massive structure is launched from South America in a few years’ time, the Webb Telescope’s mirrors must journey to 14 different sites in a particular sequence as part of the manufacturing process. The meticulous care with which NASA is undertaking the entire process shows how careful we must be when launching something that we will not be able to correct or fix later. During the course of my visit, my mind began to free-associate. As I peered into Goddard’s manufacturing floor (which is arguably the most dust-free environment in the country), I began to wonder what parents are thinking when they send their sons and daughters to Gordon. Do they expect us to be a place of “sanitized education” that keeps the wider culture at bay? Probably some do. Or are they hoping that we provide a supportive context in which students’ character is developed in ways that will help them withstand the pressures they will face following graduation? I hope most parents do. Gordon continues to stand at the crossroads of important issues, seeking to be faithful to our biblical commitments and also responsive to the pressing issues of the day. As we weather storms, we learn and grow. Constructing an environment in which the liberal arts can truly flourish requires great intentionality, energy and focus.
I am not interested in building a so-called “safe” place where Christians might gather as a learning community. The calling of every Christian is to be in the world, even as we resist being of it. The challenge for us at Gordon is that there are strikingly few models of institutions doing this well. Perhaps we must see our task as akin, at least in part, to the mission of NASA: to “pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.” Likewise, we are to pioneer the future in academic exploration, spiritual discovery, and Christian formation. This past spring, Myron SchirerSuter, the head of our library, sent me something that A. J. Gordon, our founder, once wrote. Little did he or I know how much it would seep into my mind and heart: “We have come so much to regard humility a cardinal virtue of Christianity that we may have forgotten that the Christian should be ambitious.” The gift of this place is that we can spur one another on to be ambitious for the kingdom, as John Stott puts it. This commitment—at the heart of Dr. Gordon’s founding this institution 125 years ago—is still what we call one another to pursue today.
VOLUME 30 NUMBER 1
“At the still point of the turning world.” T. S. Eliot, from “Burnt Norton,” Four Quartets
Patricia C. Hanlon Editor
Tim Ferguson Sauder Creative Director
Cyndi McMahon Staff Writer
Rebecca Powell Abby Ytzen-Handel ’10 Publication Design
John Dixon Mirisola ’11 Staff Writer and News Section Editor Ann Sierks Smith Copyeditor and Staff Writer John Buckley ’15 Mary Hierholzer ’16 Marina Lavender ’15 Jesse Steele ’15 Student Staff Writers
ADMINISTRATION D. Michael Lindsay President Rick Sweeney ’85 Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communications
ALUMNI NEWS Adrianne Cook ’92 Director of Alumni and Parent Relations
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OTHER CORRESPONDENCE Editor, STILLPOINT | Gordon College 255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Opinions expressed in STILLPOINT are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gordon College administration, or of all members of the alumni community. The College reserves the right to edit for clarity, conciseness and appropriateness. Gordon College is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, or national or ethnic origin. Reproduction of STILLPOINT articles is permitted, but please attribute to STILLPOINT: The Magazine of Gordon College, and include author’s name, if applicable.
GORDON LIFE: Ways to stay in touch The latest news about the College now appears on Gordon-sponsored online sites and publications. Read faculty and student reflections, sit in on Chapel and Convocation, and join the open dialogue that has always been part of Gordon’s identity. (Postings do not necessarily reflect the College’s institutional positions and beliefs.)
Gordon College website WWW.GORDON.EDU
Gordon’s YouTube channel WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/USER/GORDONCOLLEGE
HOMECOMING AND FAMILY WEEKEND 2014
125th Anniversary Celebration and Homecoming 2014
600+ Videos and Counting
Find up-to-date details of Homecoming 2014 online and plan to be on campus for Homecoming events and the kick-off celebration of the 125th anniversary of Gordon College’s founding.
Performances, senior reflections, lectures, Chapel and Convocation talks—find hundreds of videos from the last five years on Gordon’s YouTube channel. (Under “playlists” check out “Loyatorio” and five other videos from the May farewell event for Barry and Donna Loy!)
Watch the video: www.youtube.com/user/GordonCollege
Notes Along the Way, the Gordon College blog GORDONCOLLEGEGRAPEVINE.BLOGSPOT.COM
Since 2008, the Notes blog has chronicled the life of the College. Talented student bloggers include those pictured here who helped research and write this issue of STILLPOINT. We are proud of all of them!
Gordon College Facebook page WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/GORDONCOLLEGE
Be In Touch Reminisce, connect with old friends, follow ongoing conversations at Gordon, and post comments of your own. Model for the social-media universe Gordon’s longstanding ethos of respectful dialogue and critical loyalty.
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IN EACH ISSUE
Story bryan parys ’04 Illustration Jon Misarski ’07
INSTALLATION 19: STUFFED POCKETS OF TIME This past Easter, my son Alfie discovered pockets. This didn’t seem like a milestone, or unlike all the other hundreds of daily wows that he encounters as a newly minted human. Each is incredible, but most of the time I assume they’re incredible mainly for my wife and me. (Would anyone else really get excited—seriously, I clap—when he says “hot” after months of referring to heated things as “oooff”?) But the pockets? This felt different. It meant he has started collecting things, and this seems primordially human. Soon, he will hear messages from our culture that tout only certain things as worth saving. Culture will teach him about trash, and how easy it is to take on the habit of being swiftly done with things, replacing them immediately with something that is equally temporal. He will be told to go through sneakers as if they were cans of soda, and the word “cobbler” will only mean a kind of fruit-based dessert. Then he will learn about milestones and timelines in the historical sense—what the world deems worth saving. And because the past that one did not personally experience can never feel real, what gets saved will imply an insta-legendary status, and he’ll think, yes, of course these untouchable heroes/villains deserved to be saved. But he won’t always understand why, nor will he have any say in why particular objects and moments and memories survive. For the time being, though, he saves things simply for the saving. He has no moral or economic code for what gets deemed special. He’s the saver, the agent of immaculate collection, making history out of the least of these because for now, there’s nothing least about them. The first item he saved was a wheel from an airplane-shaped coin bank. At first, he pretended it was a teacup. And after repeated pleas from his mother and me to maybe not put it in his mouth, because it was old and metal and maybe even lead, he decided it should go in his pocket. He then looked up, his almond-skin eyes widening because, and here’s the brain-break: He put something in his pocket and it was still there when he wanted it again seconds later. I could see awareness of that miracle growing in his eyes like a web, air-blown and spinning from a spider’s abdomen. So many things he wanted to keep around, he could, now, without having to hold them in one of his two hands. The second item was a giant beetle (he calls it a bee) preserved in clear plastic. The third item was a small wooden turtle (he calls it a baby).
The three objects have nothing in common, and no real value that much of the world attaches to them; they are basic trinkets and a broken toy. Honestly, the preserved beetle is kind of horrifying, and I consider it a parenting win that he isn’t terrified by it. But by choosing to store it, to keep it, he saved it. Since I am a writer, this lesson feels particularly massive. He is learning to see what others don’t see. He saves things because he wants
HERE’S THE BRAIN-BREAK: MY SON PUT SOMETHING IN HIS POCKET AND IT WAS STILL THERE WHEN HE WANTED IT AGAIN SECONDS LATER. the rest of us to look again, to see those objects differently. I can’t express how exciting this is for me to watch—to see him guard each item, to check for it religiously throughout the day, and to absolutely break down when one of these insignificant little miracles gets misplaced for a second. Gordon is turning 125. And there will be many names and black-and-white faces framing pages and hallways as we commemorate another number of years that’s divisible by five. For various reasons, we’ve saved those images, and they are markers on the timeline. But they are not the only history. The history is also in the broken planes, the wooden turtles, the ones who got B-minuses on OT exams no matter how hard they studied, who wrote essays with sentences moving from left to right—all of those who subsisted on the food and water cooked and piped in to the various locations that Gordon has called home. The timeline stops for no one, but the population has pockets, and history demands we use them.
bryan parys works and teaches writing at Gordon College. “Oooff” is not all that elementary when you realize that his son is just speaking the noise adults make when they emphatically blow on hot food before feeding it to their children. Most of the time, Alfie’s “jargon” makes more sense than learned English. email@example.com
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OF GORDON COLLEGE
Deeply Rooted, Always Growing October 2 will mark the 125th anniversary of the very first class at the Boston Missionary Training Institute. These pages explore the broad contours of its transformation into Gordon College, and its intersection with Barrington College along the way. We have, unavoidably, overlooked key people and moments that eternity may reveal were more crucial than we now understand. You may not read here about the athletic team that taught you grace under pressure, the professor who saved you from despair, the roommate who became for you an icon of faithful presence. Such reminiscences will appear in greater number in the Spring 2015 STILLPOINT, bringing this anniversary year full circle. â€‹
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Remember the First Hypernikon O Savior, for our College, for our best beloved Gordon, With its trials and its testing, with its weighty problems wrestling, For our College, Lord, we’re praying; Give us clearer understanding, give us deepening consecration, Give us hungry hearts for learning, for thyself a deeper yearning,— For thy glory, Lord, we ask it. —Dorothy S. Pitman, “Intercession,” 1923 Hypernikon When I began teaching at Barrington College in 1963, blackboards and chalk trays were state of the art. Such things look so “vintage” to today’s electronically-wired students, a generation whose orientation to learning inside and outside the classroom has been greatly altered by the technological revolution. Who knows what was cutting edge in 1889 when A. J. Gordon founded the Boston Missionary Training Institute; teaching styles and technology shift quickly. But for 125 years what has been permanent in a Gordon education is the Word of God. The bedrock has always been to go back to Scripture to give us perspective for whatever we do in life. We depend on God daily for living; and we mature through the wisdom of experience; and as we go through struggles and trials we gain greater appreciation of the life that awaits us.
These Hypernikons reflect not just a new editorial team each year, but changing styles in graphic design and typography. Editor-in-chief for the very modern-looking 1961 volume was Bill Harper ’62; aesthetics editor was Howard Moon ’62.
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This is as true in 2014 as it was in 1889. All that is different is the nature of the struggles. At Barrington College, at Gordon College, and now at the United College of Gordon and Barrington, students have grappled decade by decade with a constantly changing array of cultural and intellectual issues: World War I, the Depression, modernism and higher criticism of the Bible, World War II, the tumult of the ’60s, the Culture Wars and their aftershocks, postmodernism, and debates about marriage, family and sexuality.
Essay Marvin Wilson
Life is uncertain and unpredictable, but we have the words God spoke as Joshua took over leadership from Moses: “Be strong and of good courage; don’t be frightened; neither be dismayed: for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” We have these words of assurance from Hebrews 13:6: “God has said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you’; hence we can confidently say ‘the Lord is my helper; I shall not be afraid.’” No one reading this can remember the first Hypernikon, Gordon’s yearbook. It was published in 1923. The school was called the Gordon College of Theology and Missions then—one of 12 names that cycled through over 125 years—and it offered degrees in theology and in divinity. But just the year before, French courses had gotten underway, and a year before that the school had begun welcoming graduate students. The transition to liberal arts was underway. In 1915 there were 150 students, in 1931 there were nearly 300, so let’s take a guess that the 1923 student body numbered 200 or more. That year’s Hypernikon reveals they were diverse and busy. Men’s and women’s basketball teams started around that time, and played other colleges’ teams at the YMCA near Symphony Hall. Students worked part-time in local churches, in the pulpits and the choir lofts. In a yearbook snapshot, one drives a buggy across the Manitoba prairie during her summer missions trip. The students were interracial, international, and pretty evenly split along gender lines. We don’t know who chose Hypernikon as the name of the yearbook, but we celebrate the choice. This Greek word that occurs only once in the Bible ought to be a foundational emphasis in each of our lives. Hypernikon (or hupernikomen) means “we are more than conquerors.” We find it in Romans 8:37. It means we are winning a surpassing, most glorious type of victory. Paul, who has known all kinds of hardship, gives to the early Roman church the secret of being successful and victorious in trials. He asks: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Should
trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?” Like Paul, it seems our founder A. J. Gordon wanted us to remember the original hypernikon too. “Victory” is the last word A. J. is reported to have spoken as he exited this life. His victory was glorious, a true hypernikon, for it was in Christ. The words remind us of the need to live confidently and victoriously, for we are a “school of Christ.” No, in all these things—not some of these things, but all of these things—we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. More than conquerors. Hypernikon people. Christian growth comes only when there’s a contest, and life is that contest. No pain, no gain. At Gordon, we learn in the classroom; we learn from outreach work; we learn from athletics; we learn from life. Ultimately God will look us over, not for degrees, not for diplomas, not for medals, but for scars gotten in the daily struggle of coming to be more like him, realizing that his grace is sufficient in every weakness. Yes, remember the first hypernikon. It only occurs once in Scripture. It was Paul’s standard for living—Romans 8:37— and has become our standard too. In Christ alone we have ultimate victory.
Marvin Wilson, the Harold John Ockenga Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College, is uniquely positioned to reflect on the history of the United College of Gordon and Barrington: he taught at Barrington from 1963 through 1971, and has taught at Gordon College ever since. In 2012, at the beginning of his fiftieth year of service to the colleges, he received Gordon’s Lifetime Achievement Award. His latest book, published this summer, is Exploring Our Hebraic Heritage: A Christian Theology of Roots and Renewal (Eerdmans). firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Early Years 1889–1906 If you’re at all familiar with Gordon College, no doubt you’ve run across this account of how it came into being: Gordon College was founded in 1889 under the name Boston Missionary Training School, in the basement of Clarendon Street Church. The school is named for its founder, the Rev. Dr. Adoniram Judson (A. J.) Gordon, pastor of the church and prominent clergyman of the late 1800s. For those of us alive in 2014, though, Gordon’s beginnings can seem about as prehistoric as the Genesis account of creation. In this first chapter of the Gordon story, we’ll take a closer look at the “Cliffs Notes” version of how it all began.
Clockwise from top left: A. J. Gordon. • Maria Hale Gordon. • Clarendon Street Baptist Church. • Unidentified Gordon student. • Gordon’s global focus began with its early purpose to train missionaries to Africa.
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Early Milestones 1818
Adoniram Judson begins ministry in Burma.
1854-56 David Livingstone is among first Westerners to journey across Africa. 1866
Hudson Taylor co-establishes China Inland Mission.
A. J. Gordon named pastor of Boston’s Clarendon Street Church.
Dwight L. Moody’s Boston revival meetings.
First Protestant mission to the Belgian Congo.
Centenary Conference on the Protestant Missions of the World takes place in London.
First day of classes for the Boston Missionary Training Institute, Oct. 2.
Name #2: Bowdoin Square Missionary Training Institute.
Name #3: Boston Missionary Training School.
Death of A. J. Gordon; deans run the school until 1906.
Name #4: Gordon Missionary Training School.
Bethel Bible Training School founded in Spencer, MA, by Essek Kenyon. 1903
Name #5! Gordon Bible and Missionary Training School.
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The Rev. Dr. Adoniram Judson (A. J.) Gordon The most important thing to understand about Adoniram Judson Gordon, according to his biographer, Scott Gibson, is that he was a pastor, “first and foremost.” He served two churches—the first for six years, and the second, the Clarendon Street Baptist Church in what we have come to call Boston’s South End, for 25. During these years he was one of the most influential evangelical clergymen and missionary statesmen of his day. Also critical for our story here: Gordon was a premillenialist, affirming the premillennial Second Coming of Christ. Specifically, he adhered to the “‘historic’ interpretation: the belief that the book of Revelation is an unfolding of Christian history.” This meant, Gibson says, memorably, that “A. J. Gordon founded institutions and conducted ministerial affairs out of a theology of haste.” 1 For all this drive and restless energy, though, Gordon was also a visionary—what one might term an “active contemplative.” In a 2010 Chapel address, Dr. Greg Carmer (now the dean of Christian life) related one of the formative experiences of Gordon’s life: In his spiritual autobiography, How Christ Came to Church, Gordon recounted a vivid dream that spoke profoundly to him and captured the heart of his life in ministry. In this dream Gordon is in the pulpit on a Sunday morning when he notices a stranger in the church. When the service ends, Gordon hurries to meet the visitor, but he has already left. The man who sat beside the stranger says, “Why, didn’t you know him? That was Jesus of Nazareth.” “How could you have let him get away before I had a chance to welcome him?” Gordon asks in his dream, with some distress. To which the man replies: “Do not be troubled. He has been here today and no doubt he will come again.” As Dr. Carmer summed it up, “these two assurances—Christ’s presence here today and his certain return—became for Gordon the two great convictions that gave shape to his life.”
1 Scott M. Gibson, A. J. Gordon: American Premillennialist (University Press of America, 2001).
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Boston Common, at the heart of downtown Boston. A. J. Gordon was arrested in 1885 for preaching there, and in the 1890s, Maria Hale Gordon led temperance rallies on the Common.
The City Like any church, the Clarendon Street Baptist Church was a product of a particular time and set of geographical coordinates. In this case, it was late 19th-century, Victorianera Boston, a city that had flourished economically and culturally in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. Sometimes called “the Athens of America,” Boston was also challenged by the social problems that tend to accompany rapid industrialization, and by an unprecedented post-Civil War surge in immigration. The evangelical churches of the time were a prophetic—and pragmatic—“Jerusalem” presence in this Athens. For A. J. Gordon’s energized congregation, the city was a wide-open mission field. But Dr. Gordon led them, as well, to think globally. Cultural ties between Britain and America were close during the Victorian era; it was also a time of strong transatlantic ties between evangelicals in the U. S. and Britain. After British explorers, most notably David Livingstone, made their way into the interior of Africa (which they broadly called “the Congo”), British Christians were challenged to send missionaries to this land. But the burden was heavy and the workers too few. In 1884 Dr. Grattan Guinness—an Irish evangelist who had founded the East London Missionary Training Institute in 1873—sailed to America to enlist American Baptists in the work of the Livingstone Inland Mission. He became a close friend of A. J. Gordon; in 1888, Gordon attended the great international Centenary Conference on Foreign Missions, in London. The experience expanded his global vision.
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Class of 1893
The School Dr. Guinness encouraged A. J. Gordon to start a school in Boston to recruit and train missionaries. Dr. Gordon wasted no time. On October 2, 1889, sixteen students began their studies at the new Boston Missionary Training Institute. Let’s clear up a long-standing misconception: for its first two years, BMTI’s classes were held not in the basement of the Clarendon Street Church, but in rooms behind the Bowdoin Square Tabernacle, which partnered with the Clarendon Street Church to found the school. The location was near where Boston City Hall now stands, a few blocks northeast of the State House. In 1891 the school moved to the Clarendon Street Church. Dr. Gordon was the president; his wife, Maria Gordon, served as secretary; and the pastor of the Bowdoin Square Tabernacle, Dr. M. R. Deming, managed daily affairs and religious work.
Top: Dr. Gordon with the Class of 1893. Below: Juanita Harpell entered Gordon in 1920, and was very active in the spiritual and social life of the College, and of the First Baptist Church of Everett. In 1921 she was called to a summer pastorate in Pembroke, Maine.
Like similar schools of the time, the BMTI was established to train what Dwight L. Moody—a friend and colleague of Gordon’s—termed “gap men [and women]” for God’s service. Some of the Institute’s students were too old, poor, or lacking in classical schooling to enter colleges, but at BMTI they could be equipped for ministry support roles by a short, practical course emphasizing spiritual growth. Just a small number of college and university graduates were entering the mission field at the time, and alone they could not accomplish all the pastoral, missionary and evangelistic tasks the mission field demanded, both abroad and at home. With no organized curriculum and the Bible as text, these “gap” men and women studied Greek, church history, and a range of topics in Christian ministries, including missions, homiletics, and ministerial skills. During this time, other Christian organizations, such as the Salvation Army and the Y.M.C.A., also opened training institutes.
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“Though inauspicious by conventional standards, the launchings of Barrington and Gordon were accompanied by extraordinary portions of vision, faith and applied Christianity, combined with dashes of practicality and ingenuity.” Thomas Askew, author of the centennial history of the College
An unexpected loss This page, clockwise from top left: After A. J. Gordon’s untimely death in 1895, the school was renamed the Gordon Missionary Training School. • The Marble Farm in Spencer, MA, was the first home of Bethel Bible Training School, which would later become Barrington College. • Farm chores were part of community life at Bethel. • Essek Kenyon (at right in photo) was Bethel’s founding visionary and also its first president.
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Dr. Gordon missed entering the 20th century by just five years. In the Institute’s sixth year, he died unexpectedly, at age 59. A Boston newspaper obituary stated that “the death of A. J. Gordon is a loss that will be felt hardly less keenly by those in his own denomination than those in all the evangelical churches who have stood most valiantly for a type of Christianity based upon personal experience and of its spiritual power.” At the time, the school Dr. Gordon founded had 150 students, nearly two dozen graduates in foreign mission fields, and many more ministering stateside. By 1905, though, ten years after Gordon’s death, the original vision for the school had run its course. The baton would pass to others to re-envision the school’s mission, and to lay the foundation for a college that would outlive its founder’s vision. It was time to rethink the biblically concentrated but free-form course of study, establish a more articulated curriculum and credit system, and seek additional resources.
Meanwhile, in Spencer, Massachusetts As Dr. Gordon’s years drew to a close, a young minister named Essek Kenyon was just getting started. Kenyon had been raised a Methodist and had a dramatic conversion experience at 17, but in his 20s he had a crisis of faith and stepped away from the church. He studied at Emerson College in Boston, and in 1893 he and his new bride attended a Sunday service at the Clarendon Street Church, heard A. J. Gordon preach, and rededicated their lives to Christ. He soon joined the Free Will Baptists and took the pulpit of a small church in upstate New York. Deeply committed to Scriptural literacy, in the late 1890s Rev. Kenyon began inviting young Christians to live in his home and receive intensive instruction in the Bible. The group soon outgrew the space he could provide. In 1900 he received a generous offer from Mr. and Mrs. John Marble: a 70-acre farm with a 3-family house and a country store in Spencer, Massachusetts, west of Worcester. The Marbles’ farm became Bethel Bible Training School. Its focus was different than A. J. Gordon’s institution in the city. Bethel nurtured Christians for lives in all walks of life. Staff and students lived, worked and studied communally—a sort of evangelical version of Bronson Alcott’s Fruitlands. Faculty and students met four mornings a week for coursework, and spent the rest of the daylight hours working together on the farm. The faculty received no salaries. The music program was strong from the hiring of the school’s first music teacher in 1908, Thomas P. Fletcher. British nurse Amy Ridge served as the resident superintendent, and Dean Lydia Rebecca Smith oversaw the coursework. As many as 50 students at a time lived, studied and worked together at the Bethel Bible Institute (its name from 1906 on) into the early years of World War I. Three geographical shifts and four name changes later, the Bethel Bible Institute would become Barrington College.
Above: Dean Lydia Rebecca Smith’s long career began at Bethel Bible Training School and culminated at Barrington College. Top center: Bethel teachers on a bicycle outing. Top right: Bethel students participating in an outdoor exercise class.
“Though inauspicious by conventional standards,” Thomas Askew wrote in the centennial history of the College, “the launchings of Barrington and Gordon were accompanied by extraordinary portions of vision, faith and applied Christianity, combined with dashes of practicality and ingenuity. They were among the four or five earliest Bible institutes in America, schools founded to meet specific needs in church and society.” 2
2 Thomas A. and Jean M. Askew, A Faithful Past, An Expectant Future (Gordon College, 1988).
History continues p. 20
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What’s in a Name? Over 125 years Gordon College has had 12 different names. Barrington College was known by six during its 85-year history. As the character of the colleges changed and as they moved between towns and between states, it made sense to update the institutional names. Looking back, making sense of it all can be a challenge. Here is some historical context to bring it into focus.
Gordon College names 1889 Boston Missionary Training Institute
Barrington College names
1914 Gordon Bible Institute
1900 Bethel Bible Training School
Upon separating from Newton, the school’s leaders adopted an institutional seal, a new charter, and a new name.
Bethel was founded to nurture Christians through communal living, shared work and biblical teaching.
1916 Gordon Bible College
1906 Bethel Bible Institute
1889 Bowdoin Square Missionary Training Institute
College versus Institute? Perhaps this seemed compelling at the time.
Its second name reflected state incorporation.
Classes were held in Boston’s Bowdoin Square neighborhood (near today’s Government Center), so the name was changed to indicate that location.
1921 Gordon College of Theology and Missions
1923 Dudley Bible Institute and Nichols Junior Academy
This change signaled the addition of graduate level courses in theology.
When it outgrew its first home and moved to the campus of Nichols Academy in Dudley, Massachusetts, the school took the name of its new “home town,” and continued Nichols’ work with high school students.
In October 1889, sixteen students began a “bold experiment” to quickly train workers for the mission field.
1892 Boston Missionary Training School When classes shifted to the Clarendon Street Church in the South End, the name shifted, too.
1962 Gordon College and Gordon Divinity School
1895 Gordon Missionary Training School
Gordon moved to its Wenham campus in 1955 as a single institution with graduate and undergraduate divisions. In 1962 they divided into separate, but linked, institutions.
After the death of founder A. J. Gordon, the school was renamed in his honor.
1970 Gordon College
When the mission of the school expanded to prepare students for ministry within the U.S. as well as overseas, its name was again amended.
The College became solely an undergraduate school in 1970. (The graduate division joined with a Philadelphia graduate school in 1969 to establish Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in nearby Hamilton, Massachusetts.)
1907 The Gordon School of the Newton Theological Institution
1985 Gordon College, The United College of Gordon and Barrington
During a seven-year institutional merger with a seminary, classes remained in the Clarendon Street Church, but the name changed to make it clear Gordon was an undergraduate division of Newton.
Gordon College and Barrington College merged to become a single institution.
1903 Gordon Bible and Missionary Training School
Descriptive information comes from A Faithful Past, An Expectant Future, by Thomas A. and Jean M. Askew.
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1929 Providence Bible Institute A move to Rhode Island’s capital brought another name change and a long-lasting acronym, PBI.
1951 Providence-Barrington Bible College When the school bought a 110-acre estate in Barrington (across the river from Providence), sophomores studied at the new campus while other classes continued in Providence.
1959 Barrington College Once all college operations shifted to Barrington, the name was shortened.
1985 The United College of Gordon and Barrington Barrington College and Gordon College merged to become a single institution.
Gordon’s Heritage: Then and Now
Rev. Ronny Lanier (1918–2014) Born as World War I wound down, Veronica “Ronny” Lanier knew as a child that she was called to Christian service; her mother’s stories about Baptist missionaries Adoniram and Ann Judson inspired her. Also inspirational was that at its inception, Gordon College (whose founder and seventh president had been named for Adoniram Judson) had welcomed women and minorities. Before Ronny entered Gordon, however, the College had reneged somewhat on its early egalitarianism. From 1930 to 1945, a quota had been imposed upon female students—they could comprise only one-third of each entering class. And for a few years after that quota had been rescinded, women were barred from seeking the Bachelor of Theology degree. We will never know what those missing women might have contributed to the Church. What we do know is that Ronny did her best to make up the difference. She graduated as one of 16 women, and the only African American, in the class of 1954. Following a decade of Christian education work across the U.S., she joined the staff of the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts (ABCMA). She earned her M.Div. from Andover Newton Theological Seminary. Ordained in 1970, she served for 25 years as ABCMA’s Minister of Education. In 1978 she received the Gordon College Alumna of the Year Award.
Photo Melrose Free Press, David Sokol
A confident, determined woman, she was known for her joyful spirit and loving heart, evident in the brief passage of Scripture with which she ended all her letters: “Be of good cheer!” Ronny called those she mentored her children, and delighted in claiming some 7,000 of them. In her 70s, with the help of one of her “sons,” she founded a mission house north of Boston to provide housing for visiting missionaries. Into her 90s she maintained deep wells of energy for pastoral care, playing an active role as pastor emeritus at a multicultural church on the North Shore and rising early each morning to visit folks who were homebound or hospitalized (and often several decades her junior). In 2012, at 93, she spent days traveling by bus to California to accept an honorary doctorate from the American Baptist Seminary of the West, and the following year she received Andover Newton’s prestigious “Spirit of the Hill” award in recognition of her enduring embodiment of the seminary’s mission and values.
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The Bedrock Years 1907–1944 At the turn of the century, Gordon and Bethel focused on biblical teaching and preparation for a lifetime of service. By the end of World War II, both were becoming liberal arts colleges, focused on cultivating broad knowledge for many arenas of contribution. As specifically Christian colleges, they had the additional challenge of negotiating the relationship between Christianity and culture. This chapter of the Gordon/Barrington story is of two faithand-learning communities laying the foundations for a more wide-ranging education that—in the words of Gordon’s current mission statement—would prepare young adults “distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character, committed to lives of service and prepared for leadership worldwide.”
Clockwise from top left: Dr. Nathan R. Wood, Gordon’s second president. • Dean Isabel Warwick Wood with students. • The original Frost Hall at 30 Evans Way, Boston. • Notebook of a Providence Bible Institute student.
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Milestones 1907–1944 1907
Gordon merges with Newton Theological Institute. (They separate in 1914.)
Fire guts Clarendon Street Church; classes meet temporarily at the nearby United Presbyterian Church.
Miss Martha Frost’s philanthropy provides new campus at 30 Evans Way near the Museum of Fine Arts. Name is now Gordon Bible College. Official institutional seal is adopted.
Gordon receives state approval to confer advanced degrees.
Dudley Bible Institute becomes Providence Bible Institute. 1930
Carlton Booth comes to PBI, builds music department. 1931
Graduate program becomes the separate Divinity School of Gordon College.
College establishes dormitory for women, Wood Hall.
Nathan R. Wood becomes president of Gordon.
May E. Hancock receives Gordon’s first bachelor’s degree.
A charter change is reflected in a name change: Gordon College of Theology and Missions.
Edwin Gedney becomes Gordon’s first science professor.
Harold John Ockenga joins Gordon Board of Trustees.
Debut of Gordon yearbook, The Hypernikon.
Gordon adopts its first statement of faith.
Golden Jubilee: 50th anniversary of Gordon’s founding.
Gordon expands language instruction, adding Spanish; German follows in ’44.
President Wood and Dean Isabel W. Wood retire after 36 years.
T. Leonard Lewis becomes president of Gordon College.
Bethel Bible Institute becomes Dudley Bible Institute. 1925
Terrelle Crum joins the PBI faculty; he later becomes dean.
Howard Ferrin becomes president of Dudley Bible Institute.
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“The more elaborate an organization grows, and the more many-sided its works, the more it needs the unity of an organizing centre. We need it more now at Gordon than in the earlier days of simpler and smaller work. For a Christian organization the only right and sure centre is Christ. I think that no-one questions that for the wonderful, complex busy life and work of Gordon now the one true centre is Jesus Christ.” —Gordon College President Nathan Wood (1941 Hypernikon)
Re-envisioning the mission It’s been said that Gordon had two beginnings. This is no dishonor to the founder’s vision, which equipped hundreds of students for service on the mission field, in churches, and in other Christian organizations. But to flourish in a context of increasing higher-education standardization, it was time to reconfigure. Affiliating with the Newton Theological Institute enabled Gordon to reorient around a more expansive vision of history, Christian vocation and education. In Gordon and Barrington’s early years, few people completed high school, much less college. In 1900, less than 4 percent of the population graduated from post-secondary education of any sort. By the mid-1940s that percentage slightly more than doubled. The two colleges’ numerical growth and identity shift corresponded with a general trend toward more Americans going on to college‚ a trend that accelerated after World War II. Gordon’s brief joint venture with Newton (1907 to 1914) had long-lasting impact on the school. Fresh academic talent drawn from Newton included the scholarly Nathan R. Wood (the son of Newton’s president Nathan E. Wood). In 1908 he began an affiliation with the Gordon School of the Newton Theological Institution that would last for 36 years (and three more name changes!); he would teach for two years, serve as dean for nine, and then lead the College for 25 more as president. A graduate of Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, Harvard, and Newton, he had also pursued graduate study in Germany and was conversant with theological trends that would challenge Protestant orthodoxy.
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“When we consider the varied interests of Prof. Isabel Wood in the home, at college, and with the Mission Board, we wonder how she still finds time to so graciously lend her motherly counsel and sympathy to her Gordon family.” 1926 Hypernikon
President Wood was a prolific writer and a big-picture thinker. His books 3 reveal an agile mind engaging with expansive theological issues, and he was influential in leading the College in a more mainstream, Christocentric direction, evidenced in its 1923 doctrinal statement. This put the young college on the path to being the multidenominational college it is today. It was a step in the direction of what C. S. Lewis memorably called “mere Christianity.” As dean of faculty throughout her husband’s presidency, Isabel Warwick Wood, who held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown University, brought her own considerable gifts as a scholar, teacher and administrator to the institution, planting and tending seeds for the liberal arts college Gordon would eventually become. Thomas Askew reports in the centennial history of the College that Mrs. Wood “completely reorganized the system of grading and evaluation, academic record-keeping, requirements for graduation and other administrative procedures. Surprisingly, enrollment increased to about one hundred students, despite new entry requirements which screened out half of applicants.” Although Isabel Wood was on the pedagogical front lines, she would be one of the last female senior administrators at Gordon for many years to come. And in 1930 the Board of Trustees instituted a quota on female students, who could now comprise only one-third of each incoming class. “This has meant turning away many splendid girls,” Mrs. Wood said. 4
Above: Students hard at work in the library in Frost Hall in the early 1920s. The chairs are bowback Windsors; hairstyles have not yet transitioned to the “bobbed” cuts popular later in the decade.
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3 His books include The Secret of the Universe (1932), Seven Lamps of Fire (1943), and The Open Secret of Christianity (1950). 4 “President’s Report, Minutes of the Board of Trustees, 12 June 1930,” in Margaret Lamberts Bendroth, Fundamentalists in the City (Oxford University Press, 2005), page 211.
Dudley Bible Institute
Another transition In its early years Bethel Bible Institute, like Gordon, shared the free-form structure that often characterizes a movement led by a dynamic founder. Kenyon’s gifts as an evangelist drew many new students, and after Bethel Bible Institute bounced back from low admissions during World War I, it moved to larger quarters in Dudley, Massachusetts (on what is now the Nichols College campus) and became Dudley Bible Institute. When President Kenyon left in 1924 to pursue evangelism in California, the school—like Gordon in 1906—needed to reorient itself. Howard W. Ferrin, a 26-year-old graduate of Moody Bible Institute and Northwestern University, became its new president. He had considerable evangelistic experience, and was keenly interested in the revolutionary new communications medium of radio. In 1927, the brand new NBC radio network carried live coverage of the Rose Bowl for the first time, and Dudley Bible Institute began broadcasting its own regular program, The Sunshine Hour: Dr. Ferrin preached, and the Dudley Radio Carollers were regulars. As conservatory graduate Dean Richard W. Oliver and other musicians joined the faculty, the show blossomed.
This page, clockwise from top left: Dudley Bible Institute campus, the school’s home from 1923 to 1929. • In 1929 DBI moved to former buildings of the Lying-In Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. DBI became PBI. • PBI seniors conducted a weekly 15-minute devotional broadcast on radio station WEAN. • A second-year Gordon class in front of Frost Hall.
In 1929 the school moved to Rhode Island and was renamed as the Providence Bible Institute (and commonly called PBI). Professor F. Carlton Booth came on board to lead its music department and guide its radio ministry. When the music program won national accreditation, it was the first in the state of Rhode Island to receive this recognition. In 1948, PBI launched the state’s first FM non-commercial radio station, WPTL, which it operated through the mid-’50s. It broadcast classical and sacred music, evangelistic messages, a quiz show called Stump the Preacher, Christian education, community and public service content, wholesome children’s programming, and news. On other radio stations, the school’s long-running show The Mountain Top Hour (which had replaced The Sunshine Hour) remained on the air through the 1960s.
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Women’s Basketball “To you Alumni—who have gone before us into city and country churches, into home and foreign mission fields, into social, medical and educational work— we who follow in your steps are proud to dedicate this, the 1939 volume of the Hypernikon.”
Location, location, location As a university town, Boston was (and still is) fertile soil for the life of the mind. During the ’30s and ’40s, Gordon drew faculty from the ranks of graduate students in the area, some of whom would become prominent thinkers who helped chart the course of mid-20th-century conservative Protestantism. They included Carl F. H. Henry, first editorin-chief of Christianity Today; Edward Carnell, president of Fuller Seminary from 1954 to 1959; and Kenneth Kantzer, president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). The College’s location in a world-class center of commerce and industry helped it attract prominent businessmen and clergy to its Board—such as Frank Wyman, who, according to a remembrance in the 1924 Hypernikon, “regarded Gordon College as the evangelical hope of New England, and by his loyal friendship and loving devotion he was to the president and to the groups of loyal laymen who lead its affairs a constant strength.” Another Board member, Harold J. Ockenga, became one of the 20th century’s most influential evangelicals, and, eventually, the fifth president of the college.
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Real life But there is more to the life of a college than institutional milestones and major players. We get hints of the more personal history of the schools in the yearbooks of this era (Gordon’s Hypernikon began in 1923, Providence Bible Institute’s Torch in 1943). Fashions change over the years—finger waves and shingle-bobs in the ’20s and ’30s give way to perms, pompadours and knee-length hemlines during the ’40s. Gordon students went to Sharaf’s Cafeteria for root beer and ice cream; the PBI hangouts included the Triangle Diner, a five-minute walk from campus. The constants in these volumes are Presidents’ and Deans’ letters, dedications to beloved faculty members, earnest faces in the senior-class portraits, Class Wills and Prophecies. (Sometimes the Class Prophecies are surprisingly prescient. In one, the author speculates about what the Class of 1925 will be doing in 1952, explaining her “videograph machine” through which she can see the future: “You operate it so that you can tune in, so to speak, on people and see what they are doing. Then by listening in on the radio you get a brief biography of them.”) Clubs and organizations grew over the years and gave grassroots strength to the schools’ missions. The Gordon Forum, for example, gathered frequently to discuss topics that, in 1924, included “Racial Relations” and “Will [Woodrow] Wilson Be a Man of the Ages?” Student Volunteers was a missions-support organization: “One in vision and life purpose, [these students] form the wires of the Student Volunteer Band cable, which reaches from Gordon to the uttermost parts of the earth, securing their fellowship with those who but yesterday had stepped into wider fields of service.” These “wider fields of service” included missions on all the continents except Antarctica, in locations as varied as Hector’s River, Jamaica; Jubbulpore, India; Medellin, Colombia; Orissa, India; and Swatow, China—as well as an increasing number of stateside concerns, including pastorates. An extraordinary proportion of the Baptist ministers in Greater Boston were graduates of Gordon College. Students’ earnestness was punctuated by humor and pranks: the Spinsters Club, or a dozen students jammed into a Model T. What you don’t see in yearbooks, of course, are dark nights of the soul—yet they happened. Consider this description of a standard “happy group of students” yearbook shot—and the narrator’s interpretation of what was going on under the surface. The time is the mid-1940s; the setting is a fictitious Bible Institute, though the moment could have occurred at PBI or Gordon, especially in those years: A dozen students are present around the long white table, four men, eight women. Jo claims she is one of them, the rather scant person, third from the left clockwise— though it is hard to tell. Most of her face is hidden by the glass of milk she is drinking, and the top of her head is sliced off to make room for the caption: “Every meal an occasion.” The dark, shoulder-length hair could be anybody’s, she admits, but those are her eyebrows. They hover, straight and a little untidy, just above the rim of the glass. They say nothing. Clockwise from top left, facing page: PBI Student Gospel Team, 1944. • Students relaxing on the lawns outside Frost Hall on Gordon’s Fenway campus. • Pickup football game on the Fenway. • Gordon Women’s Basketball team. • Gordon library book plate. • 1920s-era class photo in Frost Hall library.
Examining the picture now, Jo marvels that a camera would expose so little. What was concealed in the living moment should in some way have betrayed itself on film. She wonders why the table is right side up, why the walls are plumb, or why, at the very least, the glass of milk is not exploding in her hand. 5 5 Shirley (White) Nelson (Providence Bible Institute ’48), The Last Year of the War (Harper and Row, 1978).
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Wartime World War II was a game changer coast to coast. At Gordon, Providence Bible Institute, and everywhere, sugar, butter and meat were rationed; so were shoes. Blackouts were routine. Students who entered in 1939 (as Gordon recovered from the deadly Great Hurricane of 1938) took extra years to finish, as young men and women from the student body took time off to serve in the military. “What a relief to be home again! How beautiful the Fenway looked!” one member of the Gordon class of 1943 exclaimed in the Hypernikon. Dean Isabel Wood wrote: “For those of us who are within the warm shelter of Gordon and are shielded from the struggle outside, there is a two-fold challenge. There is the daily routine of faithful study . . . and we must carry extra duties in the war effort, and in the outside Christian service where we must be radiant witnesses as never before.” Graduates’ travel to mission postings overseas took grit: Bob Muir (Gordon ’19) and his wife Martha survived the 1941 sinking of the Zamzam, torpedoed in the South Atlantic, and spent a month on a German prison ship; a friend of Barrington alumna Alicia Bishop knew only that she was “somewhere in Burma, unless war has driven her elsewhere.” In 1944, 15 PBI students and graduates from the classes of ’33 through ’45 were on active duty. Carl Burke had entered PBI with the class of 1944, but World War II interrupted his plans. An Army medic, he came ashore on D-Day and served at the Battle of the Bulge. Then he was taken prisoner by the Germans. He survived, and after the war returned to PBI and graduated with the class of 1947. He went on to Gordon Divinity School for a seminary degree, started a family, and embarked on a 50-year career in ministry. “He spoke very little about the war,” his daughter Joyce Lingenfelter says, “saying only that ‘war is terrible.’ Only toward the end of his life did we hear a little more about how terrible it had been for him.” During his retirement an Honor Air trip to the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., helped bring some closure. As the nation readjusted after World War II, both colleges had become, in the sociological sense, institutions—organizations with rules and patterns for operation that transcended particular human lives and intentions. As conservative Protestant institutions that were open to inquiry and respectful of the insights of various disciplines, both colleges would come, postwar, to identify as “neo-evangelical” rather than fundamentalist. They increasingly regarded Christian vocation as “a synthesis of new possibilities.” 6 One of Gordon’s alumni of this era, Kenneth Pike ’33, was a walking, talking example of such a synthesis. He arrived at Gordon hoping to follow in Hudson Taylor’s steps as a missionary to China. But for reasons that may, ironically, have included his poor showing as a student of Chinese, that door closed—and he became one of the pioneering linguists of the 20th century, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 16 times. Increasingly, Gordon graduates would seek vocations in a wide range of fields.
Top: Carl Burke entered PBI with the Class of 1944, but served as an Army medic in WWII. He returned and graduated after the war. Center: The chapel in Frost Hall on Gordon’s Fenway campus. Below: A Gordon 1940s-era class photo.
Looking back at this era, Gordon’s sixth president, Richard Gross, noted in the early 1980s that as the College transitioned from Bible school to liberal arts college, it gradually shed the sense of a dichotomy between “full-time Christian service” and “secular” work. He wrote in the College magazine: “Such a distinction is simply not scriptural. At Gordon all of the liberal arts are at the service of Christ; and we understand Christ’s injunction to ‘go into all the world’ to include the worlds of education, business, music, computer science, and politics, as well as foreign missions.” This expansive view of Christian vocation—and of the Kingdom—would set the agenda for the College in the decades to come. 6 Mark Sargent, “The Last of the Rowanberries,” Faculty Forum, October 2011.
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History continues p. 30
Gordon’s Heritage: Then and Now Carrying on the Pike legacy Originally drawn to Gordon for one reason—to play lacrosse—Mike Tishel ’08 tore his ACL two years into his lacrosse career. During his sidelined season, he reassessed his academic plans. Through the Kenneth L. Pike Honors Program (instituted in 1982, and named for the 1933 alumnus who is pictured in inset), he designed his own major in comparative historical theology. Raised Eastern Orthodox, Mike found that his Pike major plus a year in the Jerusalem and Athens Forum galvanized his calling: to become an Orthodox priest. A history seminar in Greece and a spring break service trip to that nation with Gordon’s Orthodox Christian Fellowship cemented his vocational choice. “The campus was open to dialogue and to learning more about my tradition, and I was open to learning more about others’ traditions,” he says. “Gordon gave me the opportunity to evaluate my own faith, to solidify my beliefs and way of life, and to gain some insights from my friends who came from Protestant or Catholic traditions.”
Still loving the truth of Christ Gordon’s Philoi Aletheias Christou (Phi Alpha Chi) Society—“Lovers of the Truth of Christ”—was founded in 1928 to promote high academic standards. At the honor society’s 2014 reception, Assistant Professor of Economics and Business Dr. Kristen B. Cooper ’06 (a member of Phi Alpha Chi) spoke on “Grace and Inefficiency.” “Our society aspires to recognize and encourage scholarly pursuits, clear thinking, and creativity. . . . I have been coming to realize that inefficiency is probably not the biggest weakness in my life or even in our society. Maybe it’s not so much that efficiency doesn’t matter to God, but that in the spiritual domain, efficiency just isn’t relevant. As an instrumental value for achieving worthy, and worldly, goals, efficiency is worth understanding and pursuing. But the significant shortcomings of narrow-mindedly striving for efficiency should give us pause. To have wise goals and priorities, and to give and receive grace as we move towards our goals: these are much bigger challenges, and more important commissions, for us to face.”
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The Postwar Years 1945–1968 The postwar years saw world-altering advances in transport and communication—changes that inevitably affected the Church. Evangelical Christians became more diverse in terms of geographical distribution, cultural orientation and theological emphasis—more so than in any era since the evangelical movement began in the early 18th century. 7 During this era both colleges were challenged to stay grounded in the “essential content of the gospel” while coming to terms with the realities of a rapidly changing world. Some cultural changes were swift and obvious; others were slow and subterranean, their full ramifications becoming clear only decades later. 7 Brian Stanley, The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism (Intervarsity Press, 2013).
Clockwise from top left: President T. Leonard Lewis served from 1944 to 1959. • During President James Forrester’s tenure (1960 to 1968) the Gordon tartan first appeared. • Ferrin Hall was Barrington College’s most prominent building. • Allen Brown ’69 at Barrington’s Walker tracker action organ, in 1968.
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Milestones 1945–1968 1945
Two new departments: education and philosophy.
1960–61 New majors: biology, chemistry and physics.
Gordon buys Princemere estate in Wenham.
Gordon wins NEASC accreditation.
Hiring of chemist John Haas leads off build-up of science departments.
Education Department launches Reading Center and graduate program.
Providence Bible Institute buys “Miracle Dollar” campus in Barrington. 1951
Gordon Divinity School moves to Wenham.
Undergraduate common core curriculum instituted.
Psychology becomes independent department.
Undergraduates move to Wenham campus.
Gordon College celebrates its 75th anniversary.
Gordon Review newspaper and “Scots” athletics theme begin.
Alton Bynum becomes Director of Music.
Ann Ferguson founds Gordon Players.
Hockey club is formed, and plays in Lynn. Gordon’s outdoor rink opens in 1965.
1959–60 New buildings: Emery and Lane. 1960
Barrington wins NEASC accreditation.
James Forrester becomes president of Gordon College.
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Dr. Charles Hummel becomes president of Barrington College. 1968
New majors: economics and political science.
G. Lloyd Carr becomes director of Gordon Players.
“The future now is yours. The heritage which you have received from us is the best that we could give you. It is yours to enrich, use, and pass along to others. The coming day—the New Day— belongs to you. To get the Gospel to every last man, woman and child around the world becomes your task. To this end, it will be yours to nurture children in the Truth, and to cultivate Christian graces, to publish, teach, and transmit the Word of God.” —Dean Terrelle B. Crum, Providence Bible Institute, in 1948
Postwar growth As American GIs returned from the war, stateside employment surged, couples married or reunited, and the housing market boomed as those families set up housekeeping. The “baby boom” that followed would contribute to large numbers in Gordon and Barrington College classrooms in the 1960s and ’70s. The G.I. Bill of 1944 ushered in major changes in higher education. It offered veterans unprecedented government mortgages and educational loans, and those leaving the military made the most of them. By 1947, nearly half of the students admitted to colleges in the U.S. were veterans. When Dr. T. Leonard Lewis was inaugurated president of Gordon in 1944, the College still restricted total enrollment to 300 (including its graduate division, the Gordon Divinity School), as it had since 1931 due to space and salary constraints. But the GI Bill made it clear that waves of students soon would be overflowing available campuses nationwide. Gordon’s leaders acted quickly. In one of his first official acts as president, Dr. Lewis rescinded the quota for women students, and in 1945 the College moved the Divinity School to nearby Brookline, which freed up the Fenway campus to accommodate more incoming undergrads. The trustees amended the charter to declare that the College, which to that point had been led by Baptists, would henceforth be officially interdenominational. They instituted the first substantial tuition in the school’s history, to bring in G.I. Bill dollars to pay for expansion. They bought more buildings on the Fenway to house more students. By the early ’50s, total enrollment nearly doubled.
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“Your task is to render your opponent epistemologically self-conscious: This profound dictum, uttered by a deceptively relaxed-looking professor, T. Grady Spires, has a way of sticking in the mind.” 1960 Hypernikon
Providence Bible Institute was a tiny school of just 50 students in the ’30s, but postwar, enrollment swelled to 500, and as freshmen entered in 1946—many of them returning GIs—the three-year Bible program was lengthened to a four-year B.A. (A five-year Bachelor of Theology option was added in 1950.) Shirley (White) Nelson PBI ’48 recalls that “the romantic possibilities for female students increased considerably when the veterans hit campus.” PBI’s certificate and degree programs were flexible enough to serve the needs of “regular” students and of those whom Moody had called “gap” people— people who normally might not have considered college. In contrast to earlier generations of students who were more universally called to Christian ministry, many of the veterans who enrolled at Gordon and PBI in the late ’40s were not aiming for a church-related career—but they wanted a Christian college education. In 1948, the Gordon trustees again amended the College charter to state that one of the institution’s purposes was to “provide a Liberal Arts education for qualified persons.”
An expanding (and shrinking) world Another postwar demographic shift was the spread of city-dwellers into the suburbs. Highway construction and a boom in auto ownership shifted public perceptions: cities no longer seemed to have pronounced advantages as locations for large institutions. When PBI and Gordon College began to feel growing pains in Providence and Boston, both looked outside the city for new campuses with extensive grounds for sports and other activities—and with inexpensive housing nearby for faculty and staff.
Above: The Providence Bible Institute faculty, staff and day school students on the steps of the Rhode Island State Capitol (1946).
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PBI had operated for 30 years in buildings scattered around a former hospital campus, and the post-war surge in enrollment sparked a move to bigger and more modern quarters. Just across the river and a bit southeast of Providence, a 150-acre estate in the beachfront town of Barrington, Rhode Island, became the college’s new home. A beloved bit of Barrington history is that PBI beat a competitor’s bid by just one dollar. The dollar that did the trick emerged from a strategy session of the Board of Trustees and President Howard Ferrin. PBI’s new home became known as the Miracle Dollar Campus. A year after the move, the college name was changed to Providence-Barrington Bible College. (That stuck until 1959, when it was renamed for the final time, as Barrington College.)
Gordon looked north. In 1953, even before the Highway Act of 1956 pumped $25 billion into road projects that began to transform how Americans travelled, Route 128 had been extended as a modern highway from Danvers all the way to Gloucester, and towns previously off the beaten path became easier to reach. One of them was Wenham, and just beside Route 128 in that wooded equestrian enclave sat Princemere, the estate of the Prince family. A Gordon student and part-time pastor at Wenham Neck Baptist Church, James Higginbotham, drove by the estate each Sunday as he traveled to and from the church. Gradually, he said, “the thought came to me that this would be a tremendous location for a college.” He approached the owner, Frederick Prince; impressed, Prince sold the 1,000-acre estate to Gordon for $150,000. This page, clockwise from top left: A portion of the Gordon campus in 1954. Visible are Prince Chapel, Coy Pond, and a gravel pit used in the construction of Route 128. The Beverly–Gloucester portion of the highway was begun in 1952. • Barrington campus in the 1960s. • The elegant reflecting pool in front of Barrington’s Ferrin Hall. • Newly completed Winn Library in 1955.
The Divinity School moved to the Wenham campus in 1951. The undergraduate division of the school relocated to Wenham in 1955 upon completion of Wood Hall (a dormitory) and Winn Library (a gift of trustee Arthur L. Winn). Two other buildings rounded out the Wenham campus. One was a turn-of-the-century stone mansion, the Princes’ home, which the College renamed Frost Hall to continue the tradition begun on the Fenway of honoring donor Martha Frost. The second was Prince Chapel, a new building a bit beyond Wood. Frederick Prince donated the money for the construction of the chapel, and asked that it be named for his wife, Abigail Norman Prince.
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“The Gordon family has the unique opportunity of walking in that light which is the domain of the Son of God. In the holy fellowship of this light may you always find your true education and rewarding service.” Dean Hudson T. Armerding (1957)
“That Gordon program” Soon after Gordon College relocated to Wenham, and nearly 70 years after the Boston Missionary Training Institute was born, A. J. Gordon’s vision for global service was formally integrated into the academic experience when historian Professor David Franz (a 1945 PBI grad) began what was then called European Seminar. The first tour, in the summer of 1958, involved 18 students, a transatlantic voyage on a converted World War II troop ship, and eight weeks of study and travel. “The spark came out of my own study experiences,” Franz wrote. “I had seen the damage of the war all over the place. When we got to Paris, I began to feel a sense of excitement for being in Europe, aware of how abstractly I had studied history before, but how alive it came by actually being there.” By the early ’60s, European Seminar enrollment soared, and included students from other colleges eager to be part of “that Gordon program.” The itinerary expanded, and Seminar participants flew rather than sailed across the Atlantic. The leadership team included Diane Blake ’58, Lillian (Bennett) Harper ’60 and William Harper ’62, all of whom were instrumental in developing what is now known as Global Education.
Clockwise from top left: Dr. David Franz. • Graduating class on new Wenham campus. • Sketch of Ferrin Hall tower. • Gordon’s choir on tour. • European Seminar, on the Rhine River.
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“European Seminar changed the direction of my life’s work in a way I couldn’t have imagined at the time,” says Marnie (Kerr) Ketcham ’66. After a translatlantic trip in a retro-fitted prop jet plane, the students lived in hostels throughout Europe, including “very close quarters on a houseboat in Holland and Germany. We ventured into East Germany and Berlin, and followed in the steps of the Apostle Paul during a two-week sojourn in Greece.” European Seminar gave impetus to Marnie’s career as a German language teacher and, now, a cross cultural communications trainer.
Gordon Lore “Nothing could be finah than to be in Carolina on Thanksgiving! Nothing could be sweetah than to meet a team and beat her on Thanksgiving!” —Men’s Soccer singing at the fall 1966 talent show—feeling pretty darned good about the team’s holiday trouncing of Keene State College
Thinking theologically A less visible but even more critical shift during the postwar years affected Gordon and PBI deeply. That was the turn, among many theologically conservative Protestants, from fundamentalism to what came to be called “neo-evangelicalism.” In the ’40s and ’50s it became increasingly clear to an emerging Christian intelligentsia, more than a few of whom had links to Gordon and PBI, that there was critical territory to be contested, the heart and soul of a movement to be defined. What was at stake was preserving the best of fundamentalism in the earlier sense of the word, but leaving behind the separatism and legalism increasingly evident in fundamentalism. In previous decades, the “Green Berets” of conservative Protestantism had aspired to be jungle missionaries. Some still did, but many of the most ambitious were drawn to a frontier of a different kind. The “front lines” shifted from the geographical realm of unreached people-groups to the realm of ideas. Since Protestantism has never had the equivalent of Roman Catholicism’s magisterium (that is, the centralized authority vested in the Pope and bishops, that lays down the official teaching of the Church), the working-out of Protestant theological issues tends to happen in seminaries and through publications. This era was no exception. Key players on the intellectual front included Terrelle Crum (the long-time PBI dean), and Edward Carnell and Carl F. H. Henry, both of whom had taught at Gordon for a few years while earning their doctorates at Harvard Divinity School (see page 26). Carnell’s influential first book, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics (1948), won first prize in the Eerdmans-sponsored Evangelical Book Award. Henry’s 1947 book, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, was a milestone, as Brian Stanley puts it, “marking the
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Dean Terrelle Crum
emergence of the ‘new evangelicalism’ in the 1940s.” The book’s foreword was written by Harold John Ockenga, then the pastor of Park Street Church in Boston, who served for years as a Gordon trustee; later, as Gordon’s fifth president, he would see the school through the tumult of Woodstock and the Nixon era. Ockenga called for “a progressive fundamentalism” that engaged with social issues in the way Henry was advocating. In Stanley’s analysis, Although those in the liberal mainstream of denominational Christianity in 1947 would have regarded the idea of a “progressive fundamentalism” as an absurd contradiction in terms, neither Ockenga nor Henry did so at that stage: only gradually did they reach the conclusion that what was needed was not merely a revamped fundamentalism but rather a form of classical biblical orthodoxy that clearly distanced itself from the unsophisticated theological pugilism beloved of so many fundamentalists. 8
8 Brian Stanley, The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott (Intervarsity Press, 2013), page 29.
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Growing the liberal arts Questions of exact definition aside, neo-evangelicalism was fertile soil for growing a liberal arts college. Many faculty who arrived in the 1950s and ’60s were not only founding fathers and mothers of their respective disciplines, but stayed for the follow-through, some of them for decades. At Providence-Barrington Bible College, under the leadership of Dean Crum and veteran faculty, curricular changes redefined the school as a college of liberal arts with required Bible courses in the core curriculum. When Gordon College moved to Princemere in 1955, it offered majors in English, history, German, philosophy, Greek and biblical studies, and education. Programs that had been initiated in 1945 to certify elementary and secondary teachers were going full tilt by the 1950s, and Professor Edwin K. Gedney, editor of the Harvard Educational Review, led that effort. He also taught the natural sciences—alone, until Thomas Henry Leith joined the faculty in 1953 to teach mathematics and science. Those subjects were still offered as electives to round out the education of those majoring in the “classical subjects,” but in the later ’50s and the ’60s, Gordon developed majors in a broader range of disciplines and transitioned to a liberal arts curriculum. The College turned first to the sciences. 1957 was the year when the Soviet Union successfully launched the world’s first spacecraft, the Sputnik 1, sparking American national anxiety about the state of science education. Gordon could only take science education so far with limited staffing and facilities, so by the late 1950s, President Lewis’s top priority was to construct a science building, which he judged would lead to regional accreditation. Lewis’s unexpected death in 1959 from a heart attack came during the fund-raising campaign for the new building, so he did not live to see his objective reached with the opening of Emery Science Hall in 1960.
Clockwise from top left, facing page: Dr. Terrelle B. Crum, dean of Providence Bible Institute and Providence-Barrington Bible College. • Dr. Richard T. Wright. • Dr. Omar Olney. • In the Winn Library stacks. • Gordon students of the early 1960s worshipping in Prince Chapel. • Gordon’s Philosophy Club, 1953.
The Board of Trustees asked Dean Hudson Armerding to keep the college running smoothly while they searched for a permanent replacement, and just weeks before Emery Hall opened, the board brought Dr. James Forrester from the west coast to serve as the new president. He had served as president of Westmont College for several years, and then as vice president of development at Whitworth College. He guided Gordon through the process of winning regional accreditation, which added to the practical value of students’ diplomas and therefore raised the marketability of “the Gordon experience.”
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Gordon Lore The Homecoming 1966 Mighty Frosh float was meant to be a Trojan horse, but according to Paul Knudsen ’70 it looked more like a giant lamb. He is mum about how all the paper flowers from the float ended up in the Wood Hall third floor upperclassmen’s room.
It’s complicated Legacies are often complex. Dr. Forrester made valuable contributions to the College at a time when it was growing rapidly; he won the trustees’ approval of construction of two more dorms and Lane Student Center, and oversaw expansion of the faculty and creation of several new academic departments. In the heady experimental context of the early ’60s, however, he took the College down an educational road that proved bumpy. Sweeping changes included shifting to a trimester system, offering a fast track to graduation in three years, emphasis on team teaching and independent study, and an innovative reliance on closed circuit television for classroom instruction. But few students who attempted to graduate in three years could make it work. Faculty were unhappy with “TV teaching” and the students of the late ’60s agreed emphatically. After a spate of resignations by professors and administrators, Dr. Forrester departed, and a year later the trustees named Harold John Ockenga to be the College’s fifth president.
The ongoing experiment Thomas A. Howard, a professor of history now at Gordon, considers the Gordon and Barrington of this era among the “patchwork of faith-based schools” in the United States that participated in a “vital legacy of the American experiment in religious liberty.” 9 Experiments are inherently risky, and perhaps it is supremely risky to build a college committed to the conviction that all truth is God’s truth. But that is the path that Gordon and Barrington took as they navigated significant changes in postwar America and, with their expanding liberal arts curricula, opened new arenas for students eager to serve Christ in a range of vocations. Above left: Seniors in a 1967 couch pile-up. Above right: Gordon’s late-’60s TV studio in the Winn Library attic, where lectures were taped and broadcast to classrooms.
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9 “The Promise of Religious Liberal Arts Colleges,” Inside Higher Ed, Sept. 19, 2013.
History continues p. 42
Gordon’s Heritage: Then and Now Whatever happened to the Class of ’64? In 1964, Girls’ Basketball players wore dresses. The HUD dorms were under construction. Boys’ Basketball won the Bean Pot Classic. Constance Thurber was Spring Formal Queen. Students were involved in the Foreign Missions Fellowship and the Student National Education Association, wrote for the Tartan and the Idiom, and were the “marching lassies.” This June, members of the class of ’64 caught up at their 50-year reunion, and others mailed updates. Student Body President George Cottendon retired in 2008 from Trinity Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Other ’64 grads were missionaries, like Virginia (Goff) Strout—or salesmen and agronomic specialists, like Ronald Manley—or conductors, like Sonja Pryor. Sibyl (Wry) Coleman has taught social work at Gordon for 25 years. Clara Whitney has traveled with her husband to Alaska, Italy, and Ireland, and planned to go to Norway, Iceland, Greenland, and the British Isles this summer. Eleftheria Sidiropoulou served for 20 years as an Air Force chaplain and now is the minister of counseling at Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Boston. “The best years of my life as a new person from Greece were at both Gordon College and Divinity School,” she says.
STEM2 conference June’s “STEM2 Summit” at the Ken Olsen Science Center marked partnership between two enterprises that developed together at Gordon from the ’50s forward: strong departments in the natural sciences, and Gordon’s teacher preparation program. Hosted by educational software entrepreneur Francis Vigeant ’04 (in photo) and the moderator of Gordon’s Division of Education, Dr. Priscilla Nelson ’74, the event brought hundreds of elementary school teachers and administrators to campus to hear from distinguished speakers who stressed the importance of immersing students in STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, math—from a young age. A collaborative project of Gordon College, the Massachusetts Northeast Regional Readiness Center, technology firms, industry groups, and local school systems, STEM2 created a networking structure easy to adopt and replicate. Software and technology pioneers and inventors spoke of memorable teachers and the “ah-ha” moments that inspired them in their K-12 years. “It’s one thing to teach people about things, and another to improve their abilities to think,” said Dr. Bernard Gordon, a pioneer of analog to digital conversion.
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The Pivotal Years 1969–1991 Os Guinness issued an intriguing challenge in his 1994 foreword to a new edition of his 1973 The Dust of Death: Precisely as the 1960s get further away in terms of calendar years, the decade looms larger in terms of cultural influence. It was the period that shaped the lives, faith, hopes, experiences, and horizons of countless individuals—and still does. In one area or another, we are now all children of the sixties, and we need to assess the best and worst of the legacy that is ours. These changes—and their aftermath—also indelibly affected evangelicals. In this chapter we explore how Gordon and Barrington have responded to those turbulent years and their aftermath. Clockwise from top left: Dr. Harold J. Ockenga, fifth Gordon president. • Dr. Richard F. Gross, sixth president. • Dr. Ann Ferguson, professor of English. • Gordon’s first computer, a DEC PP-12. • Hockey team. • Playbill from a 1986–87 Princemere Readers performance. • Biology professor Dr. Richard T. Wright.
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Milestones 1969–1991 1969
Harold John Ockenga becomes president of Gordon College.
Barrington’s strong music department wins accreditation. 1970
Gordon College campus becomes entirely undergraduate as former graduate division relocates after 1969 merger creates Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
New majors: early childhood, special needs, and middle school education; business administration.
Two departments expand: Mathematics and Computer Science, Economics and Business.
Barrington and Gordon merge.
New majors: accounting, social work, youth ministries, marine biology.
Jenks Learning Resource Center triples the size of Winn Library.
Gordon is founding member of Christian College Coalition.
Rhodes Gymnasium opens.
Richard F. Gross becomes president of Gordon College.
Department of Visual Arts launches.
R. Judson Carlberg becomes Gordon’s Dean of Faculty.
New overseas program: Gordon IN Aix.
New majors: special education, movement science.
Previously linked departments de-link, creating new majors: leisure studies and recreation (now recreation, sport and wellness), kinesiology.
New building: A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel.
Harold L. Fickett becomes president of Barrington College. 1979
Life and Conduct Statement approved.
New building: MacDonald.
David G. Horner becomes president of Barrington College.
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“I arrived at Gordon in the fall of 1973 with a lot of questions. In Romans, for example, St. Paul writes, ‘Be not conformed to the patterns of this world.’ But what is the ‘world’ that we are not to be conformed to? Given my Lutheran upbringing, I was naturally suspicious of the old evangelical claims that nonconformity to the world meant avoiding alcohol, dancing and the like. Gordon was a place I could ask the toughest questions about my time and myself, but in ways that encouraged rather than denied the relevance of faith.” —James Davison Hunter ’77 (Spring 2007 STILLPOINT)
Student life, Gordon style The 1969 Hypernikon contains a curious story. It’s about a sit-in. At Gordon. Photos show students crowding a hallway, fists raised; students sitting on the floor of Lane Student Center; and a 38-year-old, sideburned dean, Richard Gross, on the floor with them, appearing both authoritative and empathetically attentive. Turning the page reveals what this was all about: the administration had denied the students’ petition to have a jukebox installed in the snack shop. It’s mostly tongue-in-cheek, and all in good fun, but a hint of “attitude” creeps into this yearbook that hadn’t been so evident before. It appears that the cultural, political and social watershed in American history we tend to call “the sixties” emerged more slowly at Gordon than in the country as a whole—at least if hairstyles and events like sit-ins are any indication. Late into the decade the Gordon yearbooks still show a few women students in Donna Reed bouffants, and nearly all the young men sport neat, short haircuts; it’s not until about 1970 that their sideburns inch cautiously downward, and ears begin to disappear. Along with dramatically increasing in size, the student body was less homogeneous than in the past. Unless they had grown up in isolation tanks, students were wrestling with questions about war and peace, authority and freedom, faith and doubt. The majority of students entering Gordon still came from Baptist churches, but forces were at work that made the Gordon of the 1970s and ’80s more truly interdenominational than even a decade earlier. Parachurch movements like Young Life and the Urbana conferences mobilized students to choose a Christian college who otherwise might not have.
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Photo Tom Febonio
Clockwise from above: Professors Peter Stine, Tom Dent and Winifred Currie. • Dr. Richard Gross. • Dr. Harold Ockenga. • Professor Virginia Anderson. • Students outside The White Whale, a coffeehouse in Beverly owned by the First Baptist Church and run by Gordon-Conwell and Gordon College students, plus some local volunteers. It was open Friday and Saturday nights, and worship services were held on Sunday mornings. Says Bill Collins ’70: “We painted the ceiling with glow-in-the-dark paint by flinging it up with spoons.”
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In search of church And there was, of course, the Church’s version of the ’60s: the “Jesus Movement,” the phenomenon that resulted when the charismatic renewal movement met up with the youth culture of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Some students arrived on campus not as war veterans, but as veterans of Christian communes with names like Love Inn and God’s Army. More students than in the past had not grown up in evangelical settings, and they arrived with penetrating questions about the subculture. They were aware of new ways of “doing” church. Church could happen on the beach, or, in the case of the White Whale, in a storefront in downtown Beverly.
Harold John Ockenga This, then, was the campus zeitgeist Dr. Harold Ockenga entered when he was inaugurated as Gordon’s fifth president in April 1969. He had surely already had enough major careers for several lifetimes—as senior pastor of Park Street Church for 33 years, founder and first president of the National Association of Evangelicals (in 1942) and the prime mover in the founding of Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California (in 1947). He had authored many books and held 13 earned and honorary degrees from 11 colleges and universities. In his inaugural address, he made it clear what his focus would be as Gordon’s fifth president: There is no “divorce” in the Gospel between a personal gospel and a social gospel, but both are brought together so that the individual expresses his life in the framework of social responsibility. Separating Gordon’s undergraduate and graduate divisions into separate institutions was Dr. Ockenga’s first major step as president, an action that allowed more space—physically and otherwise—for Gordon College to develop as an undergraduate liberal arts college. The graduate division, which had long been known as Gordon Divinity School, merged in 1969 with Temple University’s Conwell School of Theology and became Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. It moved in 1970 to a campus in Hamilton two miles from Gordon College; today the schools have a friendly relationship, but are not officially affiliated. President Ockenga also created a pivotal new position: he hired New Zealander Ted Schroeder as Gordon’s first dean of Christian life. Appointing a minister to serve the spiritual needs of its rapidly growing student body was a benchmark in itself, and bringing an Anglican into that leadership role was a bellwether of the wider denominational representation of the College community. In a Q & A session, when asked whether Gordon College could be called a “Christian community,” Schroeder responded: Yes, we are a Christian community, and no, we are not yet a perfect Christian community. That’s not to say that we should be content with what we are, just as we are never content with where we are as individuals in the Christian life. [As a community] we’ve got to push on to the outward call of being more like Christ.
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“I believe the time has come when we as individuals must accept something more than the autonomy of the human mind, something more than a return to the dictum that man is the measure of all things.” President Harold Ockenga, inaugural speech
Faith, meet understanding Dr. Ockenga’s personal style was somewhat stiffer than Dr. Gross’s, and a photo of him addressing students sitting on a lawn looks a bit staged. Those students may not have been aware that their president was one of the chief architects of the new evangelicalism— that he had made room for exactly the kind of questioning and debate that would come to characterize the school, an ethos later expressed at the College, during the Carlberg years, as “freedom within a framework of faith.” Gordon’s classrooms and campus culture allowed for questions—and the students asked lots of them. Visiting speakers included people as diverse as Billy Graham’s right-hand man Leighton Ford and social activists William Stringfellow and Tony Campolo. Students heard from Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield, and Malcolm Muggeridge. Dutch World War II heroine Corrie ten Boom shared the Gordon bully pulpit with American evangelical leader Vernon Grounds, young adult novelist Madeleine L’Engle, and prominent speaker, writer and former missionary Elisabeth Elliot.
Above left: Stan Gaede, an early member of the Sociology Department faculty. Above right: Corrie ten Boom visited Gordon.
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The increasing interest at Gordon in scholarship across a number of disciplines produced a heady, charged atmosphere in which the academic departments and disciplines grew during these years. Development of the natural sciences was key, and talented players within the walls of the school teamed up with donors and other supporters out in the business and larger academic worlds. Technology pioneer Ken Olsen had been a trustee since 1962, and would continue to be involved at the College as his firm, Digital Equipment Company, became one of the country’s most successful businesses. Biologist Richard Wright’s s strong reputation buoyed the profile of the sciences at Gordon; hallmarks in the ’60s included a grant-funded program in estuarine ecology.
As the natural sciences geared up, so did the social sciences. In 1964, President James Forrester had organized a conference on “The Role of the Christian Educator in Today’s World,” which featured noted speakers including Minnesota Congressman Walter Judd and Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright. Barbara Freuhauf Bristol, a new Christian, was so energized by the conference that she persuaded her father, Harvey C. Freuhauf (founder of Freuhauf Trailer Company), to donate $10,000 to launch a department of economics at Gordon. With the Freuhauf funding, Gordon was able to hire its first economics professor, Dr. John Mason. The Department of Economics that Mason founded in 1968 was driven by his “vision for putting economics at the service of biblical norms of justice and stewardship,” as his colleague Stephen Smith puts it.
Gordon Lore It’s not apocryphal: there really are vehicles at the bottom of Gull Pond. In the ’70s students dove to the VW and station wagon, stripped them of hubcaps and mirrors, and decorated their Conrad Hall rooms with their trophies.
This page, clockwise from top left: Kicking back in the Barrington student union, 1976. • Gordon Players 1963 production of Cry Dawn in Dark Babylon. • Professor Jack Haas and a student in the Gordon chem lab.
Political scientist Bill Harper, a Gordon alumnus, also joined the faculty in 1968 and began building that department in similar fashion. Psychology, independent of its parent Department of Education since 1962, added faculty during the ’70s. Sociologists were added to the Gordon faculty starting in 1973, and after joining that fledgling department in 1974, Stan Gaede put under the microscope the evangelical subculture that was the school’s milieu. It was risky, of course. But the result was that some of Gordon’s most notable alumni became sociologists influential both in that subculture, and in the field at large. Professors Ann Ferguson, Peter Stine and Lloyd Carr opened the door for the arts at Gordon—Ferguson and Carr through their advocacy and support of the Gordon Players, Stine through the Princemere Readers. Academic Dean Richard Gross shepherded many of the changes in the 1970s, as President Ockenga served dual roles as president of both Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Gordon’s ecumenical stance, for example, led to a hospitable engagement with other faith traditions, creating arenas within which the College continued to develop innovative approaches to learning. In 1971 Dr. Marvin Wilson introduced his field-trip course, Modern Jewish Culture, which has been praised ever since as an educational model in the field of Christian-Jewish relations. He wrote Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith for the course. “The biblical vision is pneumatological, ‘the Spirit poured out on all flesh’ (Joel 2),” says Wilson. “The Church’s role in this is not passive detachment, but personal engagement of the other.”
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Gordon Lore ServiceMaster cafeteria trays were great in the ’80s for sliding down the snowy hill from Frost to Coy. Experts could do it standing up. At meals, if you spotted scratch marks on the bottom of your tray, you’d know you were carrying breakfast on a “Servo-sled.”
“Seniors: who are those curious people . . . whose apathy is antipathy, and whose depression is angst; who no longer date but become involved, and who have passions for Brie, backgammon and Chablis.” 1977 Hypernikon
Rediscovering tradition Equally challenging—perhaps even more so because it hit closer to home—was the exploration of the broader Christian tradition, which began to happen in earnest during the ’70s and ’80s at Gordon. Put differently, it was the challenge of recognizing the gospel—which for many evangelicals was mostly defined in terms of Protestantism— in the entire sweep of Christian history. Although Gordon officially identified as nondenominational, its presidents had largely been Baptists until the 1960s. But in the 1970s a number of Gordon faculty members and administrators found themselves drawn to liturgical and Reformed denominations. They had grown up Baptist, or free church, or in some other tradition, but as their theological and ecclesiological understanding broadened, they became adherents not just of different forms of worship but also of a more expansive vision of Christianity and culture. This shift influenced how these individuals approached the academic enterprise. Many Reformed speakers were invited to campus, including Donald Drew, Calvin Seervald and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Gordon students became familiar with the neo-Calvinist stance toward culture set forth by the early 20th-century theologian Abraham Kuyper, who had famously said: “No single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
Left: Gordon President RIchard Gross with the 1981 A. J. Gordon Scholars. Right: Dr. Jud Carlberg, Dr. Marvin Wilson, and Rabbi A. James Rudin.
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In the ’40s and ’50s at Gordon, Deeper Life conferences had tended to emphasize individual spirituality. During the Ockenga years, Christian Life Conferences were more focused on the thoughtful application of one’s faith to the issues of the world.
Richard F. Gross When Richard F. Gross became the sixth president of Gordon College in 1976, he called for excellence in every sector of institutional effort. “Holy shoddy is still shoddy,” he said, and asked for expanding perimeters of support because “excellence costs money.” For the decade-and-a-half of his presidency, Dr. Gross led the College in major expansions in nearly every aspect of its work. A new faculty development program sought to support faculty in their research and professional development, and new faculty were recruited to strengthen academic programs. Enrollment, budget and facilities also expanded under Gross’ leadership. In 1967, Gordon had 28 full-time faculty and twelve academic majors. By 1991, Gordon had a faculty of 75 and twenty-eight majors.
This page, clockwise from top left: Women’s softball. • Gedney Hall on its 1980 journey from Beverly Hospital to Grapevine Road. • A special (if reluctant) guest at a Barrington basketball game. • “The Andrews Sisters” (with current Gordon trustee Dr. Judith Dean ’78 at right) at a mid-’70s Blue and White Review. • Dr. John D. Mason.
One of Dr. Gross’s initiatives that predated his presidency was the convening of a committee to draft a revision of Gordon’s code of conduct. The Life and Conduct Statement that resulted focused more on the positive virtues that Christians are called to than on prohibited behaviors. It remains in effect today, with only minor updates. Remarking on the 41-year anniversary of the initial drafting of this document, Dr. Wilson says, “How we live in community to the glory of God is very important for all. Here is a place one may begin to think about these things.”
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A tale of two colleges At Barrington College, in the meantime, the strong music department had won accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music in 1969. Under President Charles Hummel, who led the college from 1965 to 1975, Barrington had shifted to a 4-1-4 academic calendar and a more interdisciplinary curriculum. The student body grew during Hummel’s years, and additional facilities were built. But the increasingly competitive situation in higher education made the following decade tougher going, as Pastor Harold L. Fickett served as president for the second half of the 1970s and was succeeded in ’79 by David G. Horner. In the 1980s the leaders of Barrington College and Gordon College agreed to merge the two schools and close the Barrington campus. In 1985, 150 Barrington students and seven teachers and administrators joined the Gordon family, including Jane Andrus, Muriel Radtke, Marion Bean, Martha Sobaje and Roger Green (who is now the second-longest-serving member of the Gordon faculty). Another Barrington faculty member, Jim Trent, arrived later. Reflecting Barrington’s more applied curriculum, four Barrington majors became part of the united colleges’ curriculum: marine biology, youth ministries, social work and accounting. Dr. Gross led the United College of Gordon and Barrington until his retirement in 1992. He is remembered for his intelligent and graceful leadership during a time of rapid expansion of the College—in terms of both quantity and quality. He is remembered no less for being a good sport with a dry sense of humor. In a President’s Address published in the 1987 Hypernikon, roughly halfway through his tenure, he wrote: Gordon students have pulled a number of pranks in various corners of the campus during my presidency. I have found my office knee-deep in balloons and my desktop converted to a putting green. During one Commencement exercise, hundreds of squares of pink Bazooka bubble gum were palmed off on me as graduating seniors shook my hand. On that same Commencement morning, I awakened to find that the booth at the main campus entrance had undergone a mysterious nocturnal transformation into a Fotomat.
Clockwise from above: Gordon and Barrington students after the merger in 1985. • Barrington students during the year of the merger. • Forging the Gordon-Barrington “Anvil,” an object intended to symbolize the two schools’ unity. Stealing and hiding “The Anvil” became a new tradition.
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I applaud such expressions of good humor and high spirits, and I think it is no accident that the height of the silly season usually coincides with Commencement. It is then that we know with an unaccustomed sharpness how quickly four years can pass and how much we have come to mean to each other. It is then that the hijinks and the practical jokes proliferate, not only as a way of celebrating having reached the goal of graduation, but of celebrating all that we have shared together. So send in the clowns!
History continues p. 54
Gordon’s Heritage: Then and Now
“Beauty in Fugue” DEEP FAITH Week 2014 Before The Black Keys, there were the black keys of Johann Sebastian Bach. When Christianity Today editor Andy Crouch took the stage this winter at the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel, so did the baroque-era composer. Crouch played Bach’s Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C major, the tones striking a chord that strung together the themes of DEEP FAITH, a worshipthemed week of events. Gordon’s modern DEEP FAITH was preceded in the 1900s by “Deeper Life Conferences” at Gordon, which were rooted in the Holiness Movement that emerged from a 19thcentury Methodist revival. Much influenced by that movement, A. J. Gordon drove home its themes in his book The Holy Spirit in Missions. “The importance of [the baptism of the Spirit] I cannot emphasize too strongly,” he wrote. “Whenever in a single heart or in a Christian community there is an effusion of the Pentecostal Spirit, there will be a fresh outburst of missionary zeal.” Gordon’s founder considered the indwelling of the Holy Spirit just as integral to the Christian life as a commitment to mission work. “Deeper Life Conference” speakers told of the Holy Spirit’s work in their ministry, and as the years passed, the conference highlighted those from other disciplines who experienced this same renewal. This year, Gordon students again experienced testimony to the work of the Spirit. As the DEEP FAITH keynote speaker, Crouch captured God’s act of Christian renewal. He emphasized that like the arpeggio of Bach’s fugue, our story must go “not just from good to very good—but from good to very good, to suffering, and then to glory.” The Gordon community responded with prayer, remembering that in our shortcomings the Holy Spirit produces fruit, and that, as Crouch concluded, “God is not making all new things, he is making all things new.” DEEP FAITH gave us, as it always has, a taste of the final glory Christ is laying out for us on his streets of gold.
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The Millennial Years 1992–Present “Contemporary” Gordon straddles the decades on either side of the millennial mark. The years leading up to year 2000 saw polarizing conflicts in American politics and culture, along with an increasing globalization of Christianity. Students during these years were increasingly likely to spend a semester or more studying abroad. They were more and more familiar with information technologies, but unlike their younger siblings who arrived at Gordon during the “00s,” they were not “digital natives.” No wonder that R. Judson Carlberg, who handed the reins of the College over to D. Michael Lindsay in 2011, believed that college presidents must always be thinking a decade or two ahead: “Will our graduates be prepared to enter a world no one can actually define?”
Clockwise from left: Dr. R. Judson Carlberg, seventh president. • The Ken Olsen Science Center, dedicated in 2008. • Dr. D. Michael Lindsay, eighth president. • 2013 Women’s Basketball team. • La Vida belaying exercise.
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Milestones 1992–Present 1992
R. Judson Carlberg becomes president of Gordon College.
New environmental group: Restore Creation.
New service-learning program: Lynn Initiative (now Gordon IN Lynn).
New major: international affairs.
Music Department starts graduate program.
Center for Christian Studies launches (now Center for Faith and Inquiry).
New honors program: Jerusalem and Athens Forum (JAF).
New major: finance.
New major: French.
New major: communication arts.
Brigham Athletic Complex opens.
New building: Bennett Athletic and Recreation Center.
Ken Olsen Science Center opens.
Department of Visual Arts moves into new Barrington Center for the Arts.
New facility and program: Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness.
New major: linguistics.
Theatre Arts becomes independent department.
D. Michael Lindsay becomes president of Gordon College.
First “Beyond” week, student exploration of moving beyond preconceptions about a critical issue.
Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership launches.
First annual spring Symposium, diverse engagement about a contemporary issue.
La Vida Center for Outdoor Education is established.
New major: German.
Formal partnership with Oxford University expands Gordon’s Oxford program.
Prince Chapel demolished. Phillips Music Center built on same site.
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“I want to bring more of the world to Gordon and to send more of Gordon out into the world.” —D. Michael Lindsay, eighth president of Gordon College
Toward the millennium Born just 10 years apart, Richard Gross and Judson Carlberg followed similar arcs to the Gordon presidency. Both earned an undergraduate degree at Wheaton College, and a Ph.D. at Michigan State University. Both were senior administrators at Gordon for a number of years, thoroughly immersed in the life of the College, before taking the helm. Additionally, Carlberg had earned a master’s degree in theology, experience that Dr. Gross—who hired Carlberg in 1976 as dean of faculty—believed would contribute to the institution’s understanding of leadership and the relationship of Christianity and culture. In 1990, after serving under President Gross for 14 years as an especially active dean of faculty who recruited many stellar professors, Dr. Carlberg was appointed as senior vice president for development, and assisted with completion of a capital campaign and construction of the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel. Recognizing Dr. Carlberg’s administrative savvy and his grasp of the core identity and mission of the College, after President Gross retired in 1992 the trustees appointed Dr. Carlberg to be Gordon’s seventh president. The U.S. economy was robust during the Clinton administration, due in part to the explosive growth of new information technologies. But high unemployment persisted through the early ’90s, and the median price of a home tripled between 1976 and 1992. The cost of a college education was rising, too, at the same time that the number of prospective college students was contracting nationwide. The last of the baby boom generation had graduated from college by the mid-’80s, and the unprecedented spike in the number of college students tapered off. All this presented liberal arts colleges with an increasingly competitive market. Christian colleges like Gordon faced additional challenges in recruiting top students who could benefit from what it offered: an academically rigorous, faith-based, residential undergraduate education.
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Gordon Lore A 2009 nest in a library courtyard kept eggs safe, but proved problematic once the ducklings hatched. Dr. Greg Keller and some students created a duck walkway through the winding halls of Jenks, so the family could find a more appropriate habitat.
This page, clockwise from top left: Bruce Herman founded Gordon’s Art Department. • The College Choir sang at the 1996 dedication of the Bennett Athletic and Recreation Center, which was a gift to the Gordon community from the George and Helen Bennett family. In 1997 it won Athletic Business magazine’s Top Ten New Facilities Award for its design and usability. • The 1991 Blue and White Review.
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Gordon’s location proved both a benefit and a challenge. On the one hand, proximity to Boston provided access to all the city had to offer. On the other hand, there were (and still are) fewer evangelicals in New England than in other regions of the country. Although enrollment grew during this period, the higher-education market was becoming increasingly competitive. Facilities mattered. Marketing mattered. Above all, vision mattered. And President Carlberg acted. His legacy includes not just significant growth of Gordon’s physical campus, but implementation, in programs and initiatives, of an expansive vision of what it means to be faithful and bold in a rapidly changing world.
Visual thinking What a difference a generation can make. Gordon’s fifth president, John Harold Ockenga— born in 1905—was a bit baffled when all three of his children became artists. Dr. Carlberg was born 36 years later, went through college in the early ’60s, and “got it” when his son turned out to be an artist, too. When after 10 years of teaching electives at Gordon, art teacher Bruce Herman turned up in then-Dean of Faculty Carlberg’s office to propose establishment of an art major, the dean was intrigued. Herman brought to Gordon a rigorous focus on materials and tools, and a keen understanding of contemporary visual idioms. When the major in art debuted in 1988, it was about more than painting and drawing; it represented an understanding of the importance of visual communications in a postmodern culture. (Dr. Carlberg’s son Chad was one of the department’s graduates in 1995.) The communication arts major that followed in 1996 similarly explored how forms of visual storytelling mediate culture and human relations in a globalized context of media convergence.
Science for the common good The opening in 2008 of the Ken Olsen Science Center—an 80,000-square-foot science and technology center at the heart of campus—was a landmark achievement in the life of the College. There were immediate benefits: for example, a state-of-the-art microscope would be used to image fluorescently labeled cells as part of Dr. Craig Story’s micro engraving research. The Robert W. Bowden Engineering Lab would provide a significant boost to Gordon’s existing physics and 3-2 engineering programs. Dr. Francis S. Collins, who currently directs the National Institutes of Health, spoke at the opening ceremony. “Science is our opportunity to explore God’s creation and the questions behind it,” he said. “This beautiful building stands for a future of science and faith working in tandem.” Increasingly through the ’90s and into the new millennium, students and faculty evidenced a concern for environmental issues. A “green chemistry” emphasis initiated by students was enthusiastically embraced by faculty. Dr. Dorothy Boorse’s environmental science courses galvanized students to think more wholistically about environmentalism, especially about how poor stewardship of the earth harms the welfare of people worldwide.
Global outreach and connection During the Carlberg years, urban and global education offerings expanded to more than 20 approved programs, including three signature “Gordon IN” off-campus study programs: Gordon IN Orvieto (Italy), Aix (France), and Boston. The “IN” highlights the Global Education Office’s intention that students would not be just outside observers, but, as former provost Mark Sargent put it, “‘citizen-sojourners’ who patiently earn the trust and respect of the local populace and its leaders, and therefore could contribute to the cultural, social, economic and spiritual life of the community.” Increasingly, speakers brought the world to Gordon. Philip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, spoke at Gordon in 2005. Jenkins’ main thesis is that “Christianity has in very recent times ceased to be a Euro-American religion and is becoming thoroughly global. In 1900, 83 percent of the world’s Christians lived in Europe and North America. In 2050, 72 percent of Christians will live in Africa, Asia and Latin America.” Top: The student-led Advocates for a Sustainable Future involves the campus community in environmental efforts and education. Below: Students enrolled in the Gordon IN Orvieto program visit Palazzo Spada in Rome.
In 2010 Dr. Carlberg attended the Third Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa—122 years after the London Centenary Conference that had so inspired Dr. Gordon. “It’s one thing to understand that global Christianity’s center of gravity has shifted from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern,” Carlberg said, “but it’s transforming to actually inhabit these vibrant realities. The stories we heard of martyrdom and persecution were a shock to our systems, but it was a good kind of shock.”
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Generational shifts In 1998, the entering first-year class—according to the Beloit “Mindset List”— were too young to remember the day that the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up. The Vietnam War was ancient history to them, just as much as WWI. The compact disc had been introduced as they celebrated their first birthdays. To the class of 2002, the special effects in Star Wars look pathetically fake. For the Class of 2015, who arrived at Gordon the year Dr. Carlberg retired, there has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway. Ferris Bueller could be their dad. The Communist Party has never been the official political party in Russia, and they’ve grown up hearing about suspiciously vanishing frogs. Charter schools have always been an alternative. 10 “There was a rumor that one of the washing machines in Evans worked with only 75 cents instead of a whole dollar; it was a definite bargain! This is one aspect of the economy everyone is concerned about.” Julie Burns ’99 in the 1996 Hypernikon
Gordon Lore David Black started cooking for Gordon students at age 19, in 1965; he’s now first cook. His chowder is a tradition on campus. The College celebrated his 45 years of service in 2010 with a dinner at the president’s house.
Yet the so called “millennial generation” 11 is unified by having grown up in the shadow of what sociologist (and 1977 alumnus) James Davison Hunter has termed the “culture wars” 12—a polarizing realignment of American politics and culture, often fought in terms of hot-button issues including abortion, gay rights, and women’s rights. Another Gordon alumnus, noted Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith ’83, researches the spirituality of emerging adults. His research indicates that this generation develops a less robust faith than that of their parents. This has important implications for Gordon. In another research project, a team of researchers from Gordon and Wheaton interviewed almost 1000 alumni and 60 undergraduates about their faith commitment, and about “questing”—that is, viewing religious exploration from within a strong faith tradition as a positive experience. The study revealed that although Gordon students grapple with the hard issues of faith, Gordon seniors describe themselves as just as religious as Gordon first-year students. “Undergraduates ask questions about their faith while at Gordon, questions that are also explored in the classroom and dorm rooms—and, within the right context, lead to stronger development of faith,” Landon Ranck ’12 and Claire Lawes ’11 wrote in their report on this project, in which they were among the research assistants to Gordon psychology professor Kaye Cook. “All students struggle with the hard issues of faith, and they need to come to better understand what it means to serve God in the unpredictable world they will soon face. We are gratified to find that students explore, but that core beliefs remain unchanged.”
Passing the baton Presidents Gross and Carlberg were born before the Second World War. The eighth presidency of Gordon College would skip a generation: David Michael Lindsay was born in 1971, almost a decade after the last of the baby boomers. He saw Star Wars as a first grader and thought its special effects were just fine, and his memories of the Challenger explosion are clear—but the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK took place before he was born. His demographic niche lies between current students’ and their parents’. Dr. Lindsay became Gordon’s president in the summer of 2011. A sociologist fluent in social media, he holds three advanced degrees and is the author of a Pulitzer-nominated
Top left: Jubilee House in Dorchester was home to the first students in Gordon’s “BUS program” in 2000. BUS—the Boston Urban Semester— has since become Gordon IN Boston.
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10 www.beloit.edu/mindset 11 The Pew Research Center has defined “adult Millennials” as those born 1981–1996. 12 James Davison Hunter, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America (Basic Books, 1991).
book, Faith in the Halls of Power (Oxford University Press, 2007) and View from the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World (Wiley, 2014).
Phillips Recital Hall
Clockwise from top left: Three Gordon presidents: R. Judson Carlberg, D. Michael Lindsay, and Richard F. Gross. • Men’s soccer. • Outdoor study. • Phillips Music Center, dedicated in 2000, was a gift of Tom Phillips, longtime Gordon Board of Trustees member and a major benefactor of the College.
A scholar of the nature of leadership, he has built on the College’s foundational Christian understanding of leadership—defined as a commitment to excellence and service, both hallmarks of the Gordon experience. In his second year the Gordon Presidential Fellows program was launched, modeled after the highly selective White House Fellowship; it entrusts the student Fellows with “a lot of responsibility through the year as they work with Gordon’s top level of leadership, the Cabinet officers,” 2013–14 Fellow John Buckley ’15 relates. Funding has ramped up for research, including collaborative research by students and faculty. Dr. Lindsay has invited alumni and others, specialists in many fields, to provide input into Gordon’s ongoing strategic planning, and along with Provost Janel Curry is involved in a Gordon-centered three-year study on women in leadership in evangelical institutions. President Lindsay’s active travel schedule is focused on forging global institutional partnerships. After traveling with him to Brazil in 2013, Kaye Cook noted that the nation has the world’s second largest community of Protestants. “Brazil seems uniquely positioned to send able students to Gordon who have a desire to learn and develop a solid Christian faith. These students can contribute to and learn from the education that Gordon offers—and strengthen our excellent soccer teams in the process!” she says. “I’m trying to make us a more globally Christ-centered institution,” President Lindsay says. “I want to bring more of the world to Gordon and to send more of Gordon out into the world.”
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“Our lives are interwoven here at Gordon. As I saw row after row of my friends share in the offering of Holy Communion, I was humbled to be part of a community of Christ seekers. My sense of community grew from this visual.” Leslie Paul ’10 in the 2010 Hypernikon
Dreams and visions The most compelling ending to this chapter of Gordon’s history is being written by its graduates. Take Ian Corbin ’06, for example, who at Gordon was introduced to two very influential Thomases: Thomas Aquinas and Professor Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard. Now Corbin writes for The Wall Street Journal, First Things, The Weekly Standard, Commonweal, The New Criterion and The American Conservative. “I want there to be more clarity and understanding and happiness in the world,” he says. Or Katie Joy Nellis ’13, who is using the visual theme of braids, interlocking strands lending strength to one another, as she paints abstract depictions of the virtues— prudence, temperance, justice, fortitute, faith, hope, and love—for the Gordon College Center for Faith and Inquiry. Or Prashan DeVisser ’07, whose passion for biblical studies and the political landscape came together in an internship in D.C. Now he leads his own organization, Sri Lanka Unites, to move his home country toward reconciliation.
Above left: Commissioned by Dr. Tal Howard (director of Gordon’s Center for Faith and Inquiry) to produce two large panels for the Center, Katie Nellis ‘13 developed abstract imagery to convey the classical virtues of Prudence, Temperance and Justice. Above right: Prashan DeVisser ’07.
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Or you. You also are part of the ongoing story of Gordon College. What makes Gordon special, in the end, are the people and their shared commitment to Christ. The mission and outreach of this institution have been carried through the generations by individuals in many walks of life who responded to extraordinary callings from God. You also help fulfill the College’s mandate to send forth people who will, in the words of the prophet Micah, “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” Turn page to read a postscript by Gordon’s Theologian-in-Residence
Gordon’s Heritage: Then and Now
Postcolonial conversations in postmodern times The gathering that so inspired A. J. Gordon was the 1888 Centenary Conference on the Protestant Missions of the World, held in London. It was visionary, and a product of its times. “Children of their age, as we all are, the delegates hoped to plan for the future,” reflects Dr. Thomas Askew, professor emeritus of history, “but in actuality were celebrating the passing of the heroic formative century of modern missions.” They were “buoyed by a benign, loosely defined confidence in evangelical unity and the beneficence of Western civilization, confidences that would not long endure.” And yet, Askew notes, some speakers were sensitive to the dilemmas of mission work in the colonial era, and acknowledged “Western complicity” in the opium, liquor, firearms, and slave trades. 13 That 1888 conference launched a tradition: Christians from many nations gathering to reflect on how to collaborate across cultures and borders to evangelize the world. The Lausanne Conference that Dr. Jud Carlberg attended in 2010 drew 4,000 participants and was the most diverse gathering of Christians in history. While it was underway, Gordon College hosted and co-sponsored a “postcolonial roundtable” that explored issues such as nationalism, mission, Christology, catholicity and shalom, and the significance of “postcolonial discourse” for evangelicalism. Dialogue that began during the roundtable grew to involve a larger community of authors who have contributed to a book published this summer, Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations: Global Awakenings in Theology and Praxis (IVP Academic). It includes an essay by Associate Professor of Social Work Dr. Judith Oleson (at right in photo, with some of the other 2010 roundtable participants). “I feel like Rip Van Winkle, who went to sleep and woke up in a changed world,” wrote evangelical sociologist Tony Campolo in his endorsement of the book. “The ways of doing missions have undergone a paradigm shift, and these writers helped me understand it.” 13 Thomas Askew, “The 1888 London Centenary Missions Conference: Ecumenical disappointment or American missions coming of age?” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, July 1994.
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Essay Greg Carmer
A Concluding Pastoral Postscript In 2010, Greg Carmer spoke in Chapel about profound changes during the history of Gordon College, and what has not changed—the common threads that link the founder’s vision to the College community of the 21st century. The essay below is adapted from that sermon. After two world wars, the Great Depression, the Cold War, the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the spread of liberal democracy and the opening up of global markets, the world is quite a different place than it was on October 2, 1889, when Gordon’s first classes were held. The industrial revolution changed the way we work and the way we produce and consume natural resources. The green revolution changed the way we grow and distribute food. The information revolution has changed the way we gather, organize, share, use, and even think about information. Social revolutions have changed the way we relate across races and across genders; they have transformed how we order our families and structure our home lives. Technology has changed the way we entertain ourselves, learn things, relate to one another and view ourselves.
Facing page, left: Members of a 1920s-era graduating class, with President Nathan R. and Dean Isabel W. Wood. Right: Members of the Class of 2014.
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A lot has changed in the 125 years since the founding of the Boston Missionary Training Institute, and keeping faith with Gordon’s legacy of education requires that we be vigilant in understanding our times. In the 1990s we saw how the re-appropriated insights of previous times can so easily be undermined by the mentality of the modern world. Charles Sheldon’s 1896 challenge to congregations to ask themselves “What would Jesus do?” was re-appropriated a century later, but far from being a lens though which to view one’s daily interactions and professional decisions (a practice I believe could revolutionize daily lives), this little question was shortened to WWJD? and quickly co-opted as a fashion fad—a slogan that could be slapped onto bracelets and bumper stickers, T-shirts and ticket stubs. A question meant to spur self-examination and social reform was reduced to a consumer product.
Living traditions are not kept alive through simple slogans.
A tenacious commitment to a Christ-centered faith
To faithfully embrace our heritage as a school of Christ and to faithfully continue our tradition in Christian education, we must be circumspect so that the material mindset and consumer mentality of our day do not undermine our core values and central mission. Even in times like these, when financial pressures bear heavily upon us and the economic environment poses serious challenges, we must take care not to compromise ourselves. We must reaffirm our call to prepare students for lives of sacrificial service through leadership, with characters shaped by Christ and intellects awake and engaged with all the spheres of God’s good creation. Our task of education begins even before students arrive, helping them rethink their perspective on what education is for. We need to challenge them to think of education not primarily as an investment in their financial future, but as a process of growth and transformation into persons who more fully reflect God’s love.
An attentive awareness of what was happening in the world around him
As important as technical competency is, and as freeing as liberal education can be, they fall short of the distinctly Christian task of having our hearts shaped by the heart of God. That is what distinguishes Gordon as “a school of Christ,” and it is made possible by the reality that shook A. J. Gordon all those years ago: that Christ himself is here with us, among us. Yes, our world is distinctively different than the one A. J. Gordon inhabited during his days on Clarendon Street: a more complex world. There is, arguably, much more at risk in the decisions we make, the policies we enact, the culture we create and the paths we pursue. The challenges that students face today are all the more difficult because some are ill-defined, and even the ones which are obvious seldom offer obvious solutions. In 2010, when we celebrated the 175th anniversary of A. J. Gordon’s birth, we framed our celebration in terms of themes central to Gordon’s life, distinct organizing principles:
A boldness in declaring the lordship of Christ A similar boldness in decrying social practices that demeaned human lives Radical reliance upon the real presence of the Holy Spirit And a leadership style that was visionary, directive, and allowed the Spirit to flow through the gifts and ideas of others. These principles and practices still animate our work here today, even though our circumstances are quite different. In remembering our origins and claiming our heritage, we must not attempt a flat, unimaginative repetition of Gordon’s original vision. We must be mindful of who we are now, where we are today, and the challenges of our current situation. Gordon is indeed a school belonging to Christ. Yet it is not the watchful eye of Adoniram Judson Gordon that we need care about, nor is it his legacy that we must maintain. Rather, as “A. J.” himself knew, we are but guests in the presence of the divine Lord, present to us through the Holy Spirit; we give our hands and minds to work that belongs to the Risen Lord, who is mindful of and present to all we do. That this place is indeed a “school of Christ” is what grants us continuity with the past and confidence as we move into the future.
Greg Carmer is Dean of Christian Life and Theologian-in-Residence at Gordon College. email@example.com
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HOMECOMING AND FAMILY WEEKEND 2014
Gordon College 125th Anniversary Celebration and Homecoming and Family Weekend Highlights OCTOBER 2–4, 2014 THURSDAY, OCT. 2
SATURDAY, OCT. 4
125th Anniversary worship service featuring Dr. Os Guinness
Scot Trot 5K trail race
FRIDAY, OCT. 3 Homecoming Golf Classic at The Meadows at Peabody 8:15 a.m.
Homecoming Awards Celebration 7:30 p.m.
Marc Whitehouse Reception
Women’s Soccer vs. Endicott
Men’s Soccer vs. Endicott
Science Carnival (for all ages)
Alumni Reunion Lunches
Flying Squirrel, Moonbounce, and more
Open-air jazz Coy Pond Piranhas
Department receptions— reconnect with faculty
Goose with Suits: A special Golden Goose event for Homecoming
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255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899 www.gordon.edu
CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED
oil, acrylic and gold leaf on panel, 10 x 5 x 2 inches © 2006
One makes a difference— many make an impact
Tanja Butler painter and printmaker
“It is in my genes to share with others.” Annunciation depicts an intersection of time and eternity in the moment of decision offered Mary by the archangel When Sherry Tupper’s son Erikthe studied Gabriel. Mary, by accepting God’s invitation, opens door Gordon, she since witnessed the great to God’s redemption,atthe door shut the Fall. need for scholarship support as his The bottom panel depicts the biblical narrative within time roommates piled up student loan and human history while the upper panel refers to the obligations. She and her late husband activity in eternity, symbolized by the gold background. experienced Gordon’s warm, caring Mary’s conception has been likened in medieval and atmosphere, and learned firsthand the Byzantine theology to the image of the burning bush. Just impact Partners can have on a young as Mary contained God in her physical body, a miracle person’s life. “Giving was modeled by similar to the bush not consumed by the divine flame, the my parents, who had very little money. Japanese paper lamp behind Mary holds light within fragile, However, they gave something of combustible material. everything they had—food, kindness, support, presence, and money,” she Artist bio text goes here says. “God has blessed me with much. My hope is that I can be the example for www.website-here.com | www.website-here.com others as my parents were for me.”
Sherry gives to Partners to lighten the load of student debt. Visit gordon.edu/partners to make your gift online. To arrange a recurring gift, call 978.867.4234.
Published on Sep 3, 2014