I am both sad and excited to tell you about a major decision that Janice and I have made recently.
A Great Run at ESA and Palmer
After much travail, discussion and prayer, I have decided to resign as co-President of Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA). This is the sad part. In my heart of hearts, I knew God was up to something in our lives these last few years, but it was only recently that I considered the possibility of moving on from ESA, an organization that has shaped my life as a reflective-practitioner of the gospel more than any other. And I’m not just talking about the last nine years since joining the staff. ESA and I date way back to the early 1980s, when I was heavily involved in the ESA student chapter on my college campus in Southern California. I’ve been intimately connected to ESA ever since and probably always will be.
I don’t know of another organization quite like ESA. These last 40+ years ESA has embodied both Christ’s lordship and biblical faithfulness across conservative/liberal and right/left divides. It has championed peace and justice in the world while never abandoning evangelism and discipleship. And it has been, in my estimation, the standard bearer of scholar-activism—that is, of theologically informed action and practically informed theology. It engages the world with head, heart and hands! ESA is my kind of organization, which is why I’m profoundly sad to leave it.
ESA chapter on the campus of Southern California College, circa 1983. Intentionally blurred to protect the innocent
To compound the sadness, leaving ESA also means stepping down as Ronald J. Sider Associate Professor of Holistic Ministry at Palmer Theological Seminary, my kind of school. I’m disengaging from an institution that has championed holistic ministry and culture diversity like no other. I will deeply miss my ESA and Palmer colleagues.
Executive Minister of Serve Globally
But here’s the exciting part: As of August 1, I will be the new Executive Minister of Serve Globally, the international ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). Ordained in the ECC, I get the privilege of leading my denomination in all things holistic mission on a global scale, and that energizes me. Furthermore, this position includes a faculty appointment at North Park Theological Seminary (an ECC institution) as Associate Professor of the Practice of Missional and Global Leadership.
Accepting this position is a coming home of sorts, as I return not only to work with and through my denomination but also to engage the international scene once again in a prominent way. As missionaries in the 1990s, Janice and I lived across and between cultures as we worked among the poor in the Philippines. This new position thrusts me back into the fray of cross-cultural ministries, except this time it will mean crossing not just one culture but many. Serve Globally has approximately 140 missionaries in 44 countries around the world, doing evangelism, church planting, relief and development, medical ministry, and theological education—and a 20-person stateside team and I get to walk alongside, support, and equip them.
I covet your prayers as I take this challenge on. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad nervous and a little bit intimidated by the giant task before me. I’m certain, however, that much of what makes my heart beat fast about this new challenge is not just the nervousness, but also genuine excitement and a clear sense of call from the God who longs to transform the world and everyone in it.
Some of you are rightfully asking, “Well, what’s Janice going to do?” What she has always done—use her gifts of service, mercy, and hospitality, as well as her skills as family nurse practitioner, to bring joy and healing into peoples’ lives. The avenue through which she’ll do this is yet to be determined, but several opportunities have already presented themselves. We’re confident that the way will be made clear as our time approaches to make the move.
Oh yeah, we’re moving! This transition requires us to relocate to the Windy City. We will be sure to share our Chicago contact info once we pitch our tent. We will leave behind Christian and Shanae in Philadelphia, where they are getting their new music company, Beatpeace, Inc., off to a good start. But we will be joining Zoey, who will resume her studies at North Park University in Chicago this fall, after completing a year-long certificate program at the Greek Bible College near Athens, Greece. (Go, Zoe!) The move to Chicago also gets us one plane ride closer to Corrie, and Candace and family, who all live in Berkeley, CA.
So we’re on the go again, friends. Transitions are tough, but they are also signs of movement, vitality, and life! Thanks for keeping up with us, praying for us, supporting us, loving us. Our lives are immeasurably richer because you are with us.