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Work with Purpose Receives Grant

Work with Purpose received a third major grant from the Kern Family Foundation to support its work, including hosting pastors and ministry leaders seminars. (Photo Credit: Nathan Klok ’17)

Bethel Seminary has received another grant from the Kern Family Foundation for $333,347 over one year to support the Work with Purpose initiative. The initiative exists to help the church come to an integrated, kingdom vision of work, vocation, and economics. The project serves pastors, students, workers, lay leaders, and congregants as they come to see work through the eyes of faith.

“Bethel Seminary is committed to training pastors and ministry leaders for whole-life discipleship,” explains Justin Irving, Work with Purpose initiative director and Bethel Seminary professor of ministry leadership. “We are grateful for the support of this grant to help us engage a theme we care about with greater effectiveness and greater reach.”

The first year of the initiative focused on faith and work integration and the second year focused on vocational stewardship. These activities have been supported through the initial Work with Purpose grant of $190,000 provided by the Kern Family Foundation. The second grant provided roughly $350,000 for the period of June 1, 2014, through May 31, 2015. The most recent grant of $333,347 is for the period of January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016.

In year three, the Work with Purpose initiative will focus on economic wisdom. “Although we all exist within the context of economies, the economic implications of everyday work are not regularly considered from a theological perspective,” says Irving. “The Work with Purpose team desires to assist seminary students, pastors, and church leaders as they engage such important questions from a Christian perspective.”

The Work with Purpose initiative will continue to host a pastors and ministry leaders seminar each semester. This week, Andy Crouch, author and executive editor of Christianity Today, will lead a seminar focused on culture-making and Christian vocation. “In addition to this, we are working with Christianity Today on two additional church-based courses in the Building Church Leaders. One course engages the theme of vocational discernment among a youth audience and the second course engages the theme of economic wisdom,” says Irving.

Irving and his team hold regular opportunities for Bethel Seminary students in St. Paul and San Diego to participate in lunch gatherings, student reading groups, and lectures to help them develop their “theology of work,” says Irving.  “People spend a majority of their waking hours in the context of work. The Work with Purpose team believes that God cares deeply about our vocational lives. God also cares deeply about how our work contributes to the good of those around us. In the year ahead, we will continue to nurture biblical and theological reflection on faith, work, and economics, and will seek to be effective partners for pastors and ministry leaders desiring to empower the people in their churches with a vision for whole-life discipleship as the people of God.”


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