Traveling with Students, Forming their Faith

How does a student grow? A new book released this summer from Abilene Christian University Press entitled, “Building a Culture of Faith: University-wide Partnership for Spiritual Formation” explores that question and Greg Carmer, dean of the chapel, has contributed a chapter entitled, “Tour Guides, Translators and Traveling Companions: How Faculty Contribute to the Spiritual Formation of Students.”

The collection consists of 14 original essays organized in three sections: Institutional Influences on Spiritual Formation; Exploring Spiritual Formation; and Implementation, Praxis, and Models. Carmer’s chapter falls in the last category and in it he argues, “that the spiritual formation of students is a responsibility of all faculty and that the classroom affords a fitting and appropriate context in which that contribution can be made. I also try to explore the challenges that many faculty face in making this contribution and offer three metaphors—those of Tour Guides, Translators and Traveling Companions—for understanding how faculty can play critical roles in influencing the spiritual formation of our college students.” Continue reading

Receiving Grace: A Lenten Guide

This time of year leading up to Easter traditionally invites pilgrims to reflect and re-consider the essentials of the Christian faith. Last fall, Greg Carmer, dean of Chapel, and his staff invited several from the Gordon community to contribute their thoughts for a community reflection. The result is a Lenten Devotional: The Hope Before Us. The following is Dr. Carmer’s introduction to the series:

“Lent has traditionally been observed as a season of fasting, self-examination and purification in anticipation of the great celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Starting on Ash Wednesday and running until Easter, Lent consists of forty days of fasting plus six Sundays. In some traditions, Christians observe Lenten fasts only in the few days immediately preceding Easter, others fast the first, fourth and sixth weeks of Lent, while still others fast every day of Lent with the exception of Sundays. Likewise, there is a wide range of ways to keep fasts. Writing in the late fourth century, Socrates Scholasticus described the diversity with which Christians of his day kept Lenten fasts:

‘Some wholly abstain from things that have life; others feed on fish only of all living creatures; many together with fish, eat fowl also, saying that according to Moses, Genesis 1:20, these were likewise made out of the waters. Some abstain from eggs, and all kinds of fruits; others partake of dry bread only; still others eat not even this; while others having fasted till the ninth hour, afterwards take any sort of food without distinction.’

Diversity continues to mark the ways in which Christ-followers prepare for Easter. Today, in an effort to make room in our busy lives and open space in our hearts, believers may find it more helpful to abstain from using social media than to eat only fish. Continue reading