In fact, when I consider all this church does and what its prospects can be, I'm amazed. I have never known a congregation with a greater level of knowledge and zeal for the Word than they have. And when it comes to responding to a challenge--like conducting last summer's Vacation Bible School--they reveal how adequate God has made them.
But I've decided to leave Connecticut to become the next director of the Bible Chair in Amarillo, Texas. This ministry serves Amarillo College, a two-year school with over 10,000 students.
Having grown up among the Churches of Christ in Southwest Oklahoma, I've heard about Bible chairs since way back when. But I know it's not a familiar term to everyone.
"Bible Chair" refers to a fairly unique concept of Christian work that is carried out on a college campus. It offers courses in religion that are accredited by the college, and its teacher is regarded as a member of the faculty. The financial sponsorship for the chair comes from interested churches and individuals. So it operates much like an endowed chair of Whatever Studies at Anygiven College.
Bible chairs typically have a facility that is adjacent to the college campus. The chair at Amarillo is no exception. The building includes a large classroom, offices for secretary and director, a library, and a student lounge.
That part may sound a little bookish. But the work of a Bible chair is more than merely academic. It also has a spiritual and whole-life emphasis. Working from a list of purposes written by Jerry Klein, one of the previous directors, I would include the following goals as part of the holistic vision for the Bible Chair at Amarillo College:
- To provide opportunities for intellectual and artistic self-expression in a Christian setting.
- To allow students the opportunity to participate in intramural sports on campus, through membership in Kappa Chi, the college-sanctioned group associated with the chair.
- To sponsor retreats, picnics, ski trips, and other activities designed to build friendships and a sense of community among the students.
- To train and develop Christian leaders.
That's a tall order. But it's a mission that a Bible chair is perfectly situated to accomplish.
I have to say that a big reason that I feel positive about this change has to do with some people I've recently met in Amarillo. The first person I talked with was Kay Chism, the secretary for the San Jacinto Church of Christ, under whose auspices the Bible chair operates. Kay was friendly and helpful from the very first.
The search committee who contacted and interviewed me consisted of two good men: John Dannelley and Jerry Chism, Kay's husband. Whenever you look at another job thousands of miles away, you depend on those people on the other side. Jerry and John could not have been better.
Becky Hugg handles all sorts of administrative tasks at the Bible Chair. We've already met and emailed back and forth. I've been told by everyone that I will feel fortunate to have her as a co-worker.
I've known Ken and Jeanette Danley for many years. Ken and I both served churches in Connecticut. About the same time I came to the Ward Street Church in Wallingford, he began as the minister for the Whitney Avenue congregation just a few miles down the parkway from Wallingford. Years later, when he was working for the BIC Corporation, Ken was the deacon of education at Ward Street. From there, he went on to become the children's minister at Amarillo Central Church of Christ. When the Danleys moved to Texas a couple of years ago, I never dreamed I'd be reunited with them there.
Earlier I mentioned Jerry Klein. For many years Jerry served as the director of the Bible Chair. He's been handling the fall semester teaching responsibilities while maintaining his work as one of the ministers for the Comanche Trail Church of Christ. He's also done a lot to help me so far, and has pledged to lend his assistance as I get started.
What an array of great friends (present and future) and co-workers!
The immediate future? My plan is to continue with the South Road congregation through the end of the year. We'll make the move shortly after the first of the year. Then, school starts at Amarillo College on January 17th.
With a ministry to wrap up, a house to sell, a house to buy, a cross-country move to make, a new work to begin, and some major holidays in between, we feel overwhelmed. If you don't hear from me at this blog anytime soon, you'll understand why.
Finally, I want to ask you to pray for South Road, for the Bible Chair ministry at Amarillo, and for my family. So long for now.
You can check out the Bible Chair's website here.