The Final Proofs Are In!

title-pageOver on their Facebook page, the Brethren in Christ Historical Society just shared this image of the title page for their forthcoming book Worthy of the Calling. As you can see, the book contains three biographies of Brethren in Christ couples — including one about Luke and Doris Keefer written by yours truly!

Faithful readers know that I’ve been working on this book for well over three years. I’m so excited to see it in print and share it with readers. If you’re interested, you can check out posts about the book here, here, here, here and here. You can also read my interviews with the other biography authors here and here, and my interview with the book editor here.

Here’s what the Society says about the forthcoming book:

Screen shot 2014-09-12 at 1.51.00 PM

I’m holding my breath, too!

I hope many of my readers will plan to attend the 2014 annual meeting of the Brethren in Christ Historical Society, scheduled for October 4. Reservations can be made by contacting the Society.

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Photo Friday: A Teacher and a Scholar

Luke L. Keefer Jr. teaches a course at Ashland Theological Seminary, the institution at which this Brethren in Christ theologian and church historian spent the majority of his career. (Courtesy of ATS)

Luke L. Keefer Jr. teaches a course at Ashland Theological Seminary, the institution at which this Brethren in Christ theologian and church historian spent the majority of his career. (Courtesy of ATS)

A few weeks ago I finalized the page proofs for my forthcoming biography of Luke and Doris Keefer. So I thought it perfectly fitting that today’s Photo Friday installment should further preview this soon-to-be-published book by focusing on my treatment of Luke’s work as a college and seminary professor.

In the biography, I dedicate an entire chapter to Luke’s teaching career, focusing specifically on his contributions to the intellectual life at Messiah College (1971-1987) and Ashland Theological Seminary (1987-2008). While I detail Luke’s work at each of these institutions, his fellow faculty members’ reminiscences of him, and his favored courses, I spend the last part of the chapter focusing on a set of key questions: What qualities and habits made him an effective professor? What giftings made him a cherished adviser?

While you’ll have to wait until the biography comes out next month to read the full results, here’s part of the answer:

Most obviously, Luke’s success in the classroom stemmed from his being a gifted teacher – a skill he honed over many years. Former students describe Luke’s instruction as “excellent,” “engaging,” and “Spirit-led.” In his church history courses, Luke made the material “come alive.” He had an extensive — even encyclopedic — knowledge of the subject matter; thus he lectured in great detail and with comprehensiveness. But more than that, Luke had an ability to move beyond dry recitation of fact into deeper levels of meaning and connection. Rob Douglass, who had Luke as a professor before becoming his pastor and faculty colleague, suggests that Luke wasn’t so much “lecturing” in his church history courses as he was “recounting family stories.” Jason Barnhart credits him with an ability to “craft [his extensive] knowledge into some larger story that captivated his students.” Perhaps this ability to “captivate” in the classroom helps to explain why so many students commend him for instilling in them a love of history.

Of course, Luke’s lectures were not perfect; even though they were well laid out, he had a habit of departing from them to pursue theological “bunny trails” that sometimes led his students onto unrelated topics. Nevertheless, some appreciated this quality in him: former student Teresa Davis recalls fondly that Luke “would depart a little from the topic [at hand] and speak so eloquently and beautifully about a truth that had just come into his mind.”

Readers: Did any of you have Luke Keefer as a professor? If so, what qualities do you think made him a great teacher? Share below!

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Born-Again Brethren in Christ: Week #9 — The Structure’s In Place!

outline_paper-penClick here for some background on this post.

Last week, I worked diligently to create an outline for my article, “Born-Again Brethren in Christ.” Despite that diligence, plotting the piece proved harder than expected. As I said in last week’s post, I’ve accumulated an impressive array of materials about the Brethren in Christ Church’s engagement with Evangelicalism in the mid-twentieth century: scores of articles from the Evangelical Visitor and other publications, correspondence and other archival materials from the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives at Messiah College, transcripts from oral histories, responses to questionnaires, and other sundry artifacts. It’s difficult to synthesize all this material into a concise, argument-focused article.

In last week’s process of outlining, I realized that a LOT of the stories I’d like to tell about the Brethren in Christ and Evangelicalism won’t make the final cut. (Maybe they’ll show up here at the blog.) I also realized that I have a number of “plot holes” I’ll need to plug if I’m going to bring this article to completion.

In any case, here’s a rough sketch of the article’s outline:

I. Introduction

II. The Less-Than-Quiet in the Land (Brethren in Christ Background)

III. “Unity Amid Diversity”: The Brethren in Christ and the NAE

IV. “Reaching Youth for Christ”: The Brethren in Christ and YFC

V. [As-Yet-Untitled Section on Brethren in Christ & Church Growth]

VI. The Collapse of “Evangelical Unity”: The 1960s and 1970s

VII. Conclusion

My hand-written version of the outline includes a lot more detail — and even as I re-scan the outline now, I’m realizing that everything I’m trying to fit into this outline might not even fit! But the basic structure of the article is in place — and it’ll help direct my next steps in this process.

I’m hoping to begin drafting the article soon. But before that, I need to head back into the archives and do a bit more research on Section VI above. Stay tuned…

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2014 Sider Institute Conference: “Who’s In? Who’s Out?: Rethinking Church Membership in the 21st Century”

14_1458 BIC Study Conference fB cover imageMake plans now to attend this year’s Brethren in Christ Study Conference, sponsored by the Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan Studies at Messiah College. The 2014 theme is “Who’s In? Who’s Out?: Rethinking Church Membership in the 21st Century.” The conference will be held October 9-10, 2014, at the Carlisle Brethren in Christ Church.

According to the conference brochure, here are some questions that the event will tackle:

  • Does church membership matter in the twenty-first century?
  • What does it mean to “belong” in a post-Christian society?
  • What are the connections between membership and the concepts of conversion,
    discipleship and accountability in the church today?
  • Can we revitalize church membership? Should we?

The conference will begin with a keynote lecture on Thursday, October 9, 2014, at 7pm. This lecture is free and open to the public. The conference will continue all-day Friday, October 10, 2014, beginning at 9:00am. Brethren in Christ pastors can earn life-long learning credits by attending.

To learn more about the conference or to register online, visit the Sider Institute website.

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Brethren in Christ Bishop in Zimbabwe Retires after 15 Years

Danisa Ndlovu

Danisa Ndlovu

Danisa Ndlovu, the bishop of the Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe, will retire from his post after serving three five-year terms.

Sinda Ngulube, the current overseer of the Harare District, was elected to succeed Ndlovu at the Brethren in Christ Church’s annual General Conference, held recently at the Wanezi Mission. Ngulube will be installed as the bishop in January 2015.

Here’s a report on the decision, from Bulawayo 24 News:

“In the corporate world, a bishop would be likened to a company chief executive officer,” he said.

“As far as the church is concerned, my major responsibility is to look after our denomination countrywide and see to it that everything is in order.

“There are a lot of duties related with being a bishop and through the grace of the Lord, I will manage to fulfil my duties.”

Ngulube said he could not outline his objectives for the church before his inauguration set for January 2015.

To read the full report, click here.

Ndlovu is also president of Mennonite World Conference, and his term in that role will come to an end in summer 2015.

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Move-In Day at Messiah College

The students have arrived! Check out Messiah College Move-in Day from Messiah College on YouTube

HT = John Fea

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Putting the (Literal) Finishing Touches on My Biography of Luke L. Keefer Jr.

Working through the page proofs of my forthcoming biography of Luke and Doris Keefer

Working through the page proofs of my forthcoming biography of Luke and Doris Keefer

In addition to working on my article “Born-Again Brethren in Christ,” I’ve also pouring over page proofs for my forthcoming biography of the late Brethren in Christ church historian and theologian Luke L. Keefer Jr. Faithful readers of The Search for Piety and Obedience have heard all about this project — and there are more details to come! (To catch up, check out previous posts here, here, and here.)

The page proofs have been corrected and submitted to the publisher. Now, we wait!

I hope that readers will plan to attend the 2014 annual meeting of the Brethren in Christ Historical Society on October 4, when the book will be released. I’m looking forward to seeing it in print.

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