It is a true pleasure for us to introduce to you the new Director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders, Adam Copeland. Adam brings a fresh perspective and wonderful energy to the Center, and we know this ministry is in good hands as we continue the journey with all of you. Adam will begin at Luther Seminary on July 1. In today’s newsletter we receive a delightful “first word” from Adam.
Glenn Taibl and Gerry Rafftery
Center for Stewardship Leaders
It’s a true honor to accept the call to Luther Seminary as the Director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders. I’ve so appreciated the Center’s ministry over the years. I’m very excited to both continue the great work that’s been accomplished, and–after much good listening, praying, and discerning–launch some new ventures in the years ahead.
I’ll share some of my professional history below, but I thought I’d first introduce myself with two stories of my experience with stewardship and growing up in the church.
First, I think I was around six years old when, at a worship and music conference with the church choir, I was speaking to an older church member named George. Somehow the topic of whether I received an allowance came up, and when George heard I didn’t, he immediately reached into his pocket.
“Here’s a dollar, Adam. I’ll speak to your parents. It’s time you learned about money,” George said.
Now, as a pastor’s kid, my father served as George’s pastor. But George was slightly older than my dad and had several children (one of whom was my regular babysitter when my parents were at church meetings). George ministered to all of us when he explained it was time to talk about money in the family.
When we arrived back from the conference, my dad and I worked in the garage to make a box out of wood with my grandfather’s old tools. Eventually, we constructed a sturdy wooden box with three slots about the size of a dollar bill. With a black sharpie marker my dad wrote “SPENDING” on one slot, “CHURCH,” on another, and “SAVING” on the third. He explained to me that whenever I got my allowance –which my parents would be continuing, after George’s initiation–10% should go to each church and saving.
I’m not sure where that box is these days (though I hope it’s still in my parents’ garage somewhere). But it’s always struck me that my first real lesson in stewardship occurred when my parents were pushed when a wise, older church member discerned it was time to teach me about money. George is now a member of the church triumphant, but his lessons live on as I begin work with the Center for Stewardship Leaders.
Things have changed since my first stewardship lessons. Today, the millennial generation faces student debt and a housing market very different from George’s generation. I can pay for coffee at Starbucks using an app on my phone. In more than a few churches I can swipe a credit card at a machine in the narthex to give as I walk in to church.
In addition to the essential work of supporting wise, prudent, and faithful financial stewardship, I hope to help shape a multidimensional culture of stewardship theology and practice in households, congregations, and society. For instance, I’ll bring a passion and, at least some experiences, in digital ministry and holistic stewardship. I’m particularly interested in how faith communities might employ crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo for God’s work in the world. I’m also keenly aware, however, that we need to ask new questions of how to steward our technologies so they bring glory to God–and not just a constant flow of notifications.
I come to this position with experience in leading faith communities and in teaching at a church-related college. My undergraduate degree is in religion and English from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. I then went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia and am currently finishing a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture from North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.
Ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), I served as a pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Hallock, Minnesota for several years before becoming director and mission developer for The Project F-M in Fargo, an emerging young adult faith community related to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Currently, I serve as Director of Theological Inquiry and a religion faculty member at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.
If you’re the type, you’re certainly invited to follow me on Twitter @ajc123 and peruse my blog, A Wee Blether.
Before I close, I’d like to thank Gerry Rafftery and Glenn Taibl for their fine work beyond the call of duty Co-Directing the Center for Stewardship Leaders the past many months. I look forward to a smooth transition come July, and am exceedingly grateful to God, and to Luther Seminary, for offering me a call in which I might steward my own vocation in the years to come.
Adam Copeland is currently serving as the Director of Theological Inquiry at Concordia College in Moorhead where he is a member of the religion faculty. He will begin his work at Luther Seminary on July 1, 2015.
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