I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have been co-editing a book on the history of Grace College and Theological Seminary and now I am happy to announce that Becoming Grace: Seventy-Five Years on the landscape of Christian Higher Education in America is available for preorder!
I’ll be writing more about what you’ll find in each of the chapters, and the approach we have taken in this edited volume. But to start with, here’s a few paragraphs from Houghton College president, Shirley Mullen, who graciously agreed to say some very nice things in one of two forewords to the book. She says:
In the midst of the turbulence and skepticism surrounding so much of American higher education in our day, Becoming Grace offers a story of hope. It is the story of one relatively small academic institution, Grace College and Theological Seminary, inspired by the occasion of its 75th anniversary. Unlike many such institutional histories, Becoming Grace embraces the complexity, even the pain, of Grace’s own history.
The organization around themes and tensions, rather than chronology, inherently communicates the rich texture that characterizes the development of the institution over the past 75 years. We see the impact of key personalities—the presidents, certainly—but also selected faculty and staff whose individual faithfulness to their own callings also shaped Grace’s story. We see the ways in which Grace’s history is inextricably intertwined with the story of its sponsoring denomination, the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. We also see how the larger Grace history is shaped by stories within its own story—the story of global engagement, of curricular transformation, of expanded co-curricular activity, and of increasing partnership with the surrounding community. We also see how Grace’s story has been shaped by those that ran parallel to its own, such as the story of Winona Lake’s Chautauqua and Bible Conference … But Becoming Grace is not only a book for the Grace community. It links Grace’s story to the larger story of American Christianity in the 20th and 21st centuries. In this narrative, we see the working out of the various religious traditions that came together in its history. We see how, in Grace’s story, European Anabaptism and Pietism were reshaped in the context of American fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Beyond this, Becoming Grace reminds us of the ways in which Grace College and Seminary has helped to shape the Christian world beyond its own borders …
While Grace’s story is particular in certain ways, it shares key elements with many of North America’s institutions of Christian higher education over the past two centuries: the transition from a curriculum focused primarily on the Bible to a comprehensive “liberal arts” curriculum, but motivated throughout by the same desire to prepare young men and women to effectively incarnate the Gospel in their world; the tenacious effort to hold onto the essentials of the faith while also staying close enough to culture to have a redemptive impact on that culture; and the all-important and ever-challenging task of imitating our Lord Jesus in keeping Truth and Love in balance … In the spirit of God’s instructions to the Children of Israel in Jeremiah 29, Grace has “sought the welfare of the city” in which they have found themselves and in promoting the welfare of the surrounding community Grace has strengthened its own well being. For a community with roots in the Anabaptist tradition, this conscious effort to link its future to the surrounding world shows both remarkable creativity and courage.