A letter from Tom and Judy Harvey in Oxford, England
September 7, 2009
Interesting visitors pass through the Overseas Center for Mission Studies. It is a regular stop for architecture profs from Oxford University who lead their students through our research centre in historic St. Philip and St James Church to consider the work of G. E. Street, one of England’s foremost church architects. Walls, arches, pillars, windows and architectural influence are carefully and considerately discussed, yet one hears little or nothing of the spiritual light and line that animates, informs and illumines “Pip and Jim’s” majesty. That Street’s church at every point embodies the ecclesial, theological and practical aspects of the Oxford Movement, which sought to renew and reform the church and society spiritually and politically, seems lost on them. The result is their own intellectual and architectural poverty. This myopia pervades much of Oxford and other leading universities. Those who cast aside the relevance and relationship of spirituality, faith and religious identity to political, social, economic and cultural development are condemned to misunderstanding and missteps when it comes to effective holistic engagement and transformation, especially in the global south. This is why OCMS is reaching out to work with leading scholars to break down this counterintuitive wall of hostility. Given our unique global connections and location in Oxford and OCMS’s commitment to holistic transformation, we have been working to overcome these philosophical, theological and intellectual barriers. Indeed, we are starting to get the attention of leading scholars and officials who recognize the need for the open exchange of ideas between scholars, students and officials of various religious and secular backgrounds.
Thus, we have begun planning for conferences on the implications of global Christianity on political reform and nation-building, global aid and development, global faith and the arts. We have applied for a significant grant from the Templeton Foundation to examine the impact of Christianity on economics and politics globally. And we are planning a series of lectures — beginning next spring — that will shape the vision of these endeavors and help define our role in them. So the coming year has much excitement as well as critical academic and spiritual items on the agenda. This is an exciting development and do keep it in your prayers.
It has now been nine months since Tom was promoted from associate dean to academic dean. The transition has gone smoothly, and we have seen a steady increase in applications for enrollment. Tom has instituted several measures to tighten up OCMS administratively. With the academic side relatively well organized, Tom’s desire is to see the actual work area at OCMS better organized. As noted above, the site of St. Phillip and St. James Church is beautiful, but as a research center, the development of its physical space is a bit ad hoc. Like most institutions in Oxford, OCMS is trying to squeeze a lot of activity into a very small space. Nonetheless, this requires better planning and coordination of the facility. So OCMS is beginning to eye a major capital campaign to raise funds for an extension of the building that will not only open up desperately needed office space but allow us to enhance the natural beauty of the facility as well as enhance our work as a research centre. Do keep this in prayer as we move forward.
As for the family, we are doing well. Judy and Tom traveled to North Carolina in May for Joe’s graduation from Davidson College. Paul, Joe, and Judy then traveled to Kentucky to be at the wedding of Judy’s niece, while Tom flew back to the United Kingdom for work. Paul worked at a Presbyterian Camp in North Carolina this summer and is now back at Wheaton for his senior year. Joe worked as a research assistant at Davidson and is currently looking for work before applying to law school next year; do pray that he finds a job in these tough economic times. Emma traveled to Spain for a four-week intensive Spanish course in Santiago de Compostela. Judy has been teaching English through the summer with students from around the world.
Tom will be traveling to Korea to attend a conference on missions and migrants. He is also writing for the Edinburgh 2010 centennial. He will be giving the keynote lecture launching a series of articles that will both address mission in the 21st century and hone the vision of OCMS. Tom is also scheduled to travel to Nigeria to work with church leaders there and give lectures on theology and mission.
Thank you for your prayers and support of our ministry.
Tom, Judy, Joe, Paul and Emma