The award-winning website Faith and Leadership has recently been highlighting "traditioned innovation." That's their term for an entrepreneurial orientation that's tempered by the wisdom of the ages. Their latest example: Beeson Divinity School at Samford University.
Although part of a Baptist university, Beeson is explicitly interdenominational. Its founding dean, Timothy George, is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School who has tried to open Beeson's doors to various historic emphases: respect for Mary and the saints, appreciation for monasticism and iconography, and more. The divinity school's blend of tradition and innovation is most evident in its marvelous Hodges Chapel, which could easily grace a European capital but is an unusual sight on the skyline of Birmingham, Alabama.
Jason Byassee, the author of the article about Beeson, has written an essay for the upcoming issue of In Trust about another example of "traditioned innovation" -- the weekly congregational reports published by the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. Byassee points out that a focus on numbers is nothing new, since John Wesley himself was obsessed with membership reports and other data. But putting the numbers online every week (along with a list of scofflaw congregations that haven't submitted their data)? That's innovative.
Look for Jason Byassee's article about the weekly congregational reports in the upcoming Summer 2011 issue of In Trust. Read his article about Beeson Divinity School here.
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