Gotham: City-Center Mindset
How many hours did you spend at work this week? Does your work matter? Were you able to bridge the divide between work and your spiritual life?
Work is where many people spend most of their waking hours and energy. How we work, and the decisions we make while at work inevitably shape our culture. So creating a place to begin those conversations and equip our church family for their work is an exciting prospect. As First Pres continues exploring ways to become a city-center church, one of the major ways we hope to influence the culture around us is through participation in our emerging center for faith and work. (You'll see an official name for this new ministry in the next few months.)
The Gotham Fellowship is one of the early components of our ministry efforts in this area. This nine month program is an intensive education in integrating faith and work.
The Gotham Fellowship strategically prepares disciples of theological depth to tackle the biggest issues in culture today. We mine the classics of Christian faith by authors such as St. Augustine, Calvin, Kuyper and N.T. Wright. The insights and doctrines are applied to various industries, societal spheres, and institutions of significance. All this is done in the context of directed spiritual formation. Gotham Fellows emerge with more than a number of newly understood books; they are equipped with a tool belt of spiritual formation exercises to shape their faith and their engagement with the world. As a city-center church we hope to see Gotham Fellows lead in making our city more beautiful, pursuing a common grace for the common good, and reflecting the coming of the New Jerusalem.
We asked a few members of the inaugural Gotham Fellows class to share their experience with you.
What was your motivation for becoming a Gotham Fellow?
I was intrigued by the concept of erasing the sacred/secular divide in my own life and work – as soon as I heard the concept mentioned, let alone described in detail, I knew it was for me. I also wanted to add whatever talents, resources or support I could offer to get a program like Gotham off the ground and successful, as I perceive it is desperately needed for the Church in the U.S. – Michael Kelley, Attorney, Shutts & Bowen.
For a long time I was yearning for something to guide me deeper in my walk with Christ, in my heart and in my mind. I was attracted to the Gotham Fellowship because of its theological and devotional elements and its promise to integrate the two. It did not disappoint. The Fellowship has introduced me to new ideas and stretched me in a way I never could have done on my own. I realize (once again) just how little I know and how wonderful growth can be after the initial pain of the stretch! – Becky Martinez, homemaker.
Having spent much of my 35+ year working career ‘juggling’ multiple roles, I have been encouraged to learn more and more about how God – in the creation story – called us to work. And to do our work for Him. [Gotham] provides a fresh approach to our lives, integrating work and faith and providing discipleship into how to apply our theology to our spiritual formation as we change the culture. – Tami Kaiser, Senior Director, Red Lobster Training (retired).
My motivation for becoming a Gotham Fellow stemmed from a conference I attended that explained a different view from the Bible of how work was worship and how it played an intricate part in establishing our sense of significance. This was a new theological understanding that I desired to know more about. – Larry Curry, Pastor, Kingdom Power and Praise Ministries.
Share a moment when your faith impacted your work or influenced your career.
When I learned a close friend was troubled about whether her role as a homemaker really counts, whether her everyday vocation has value, I felt completely prepared to address her doubts. Of course it has value! Eternal value, as a matter of fact. In whatever sphere we work, God, who gave us these gifts for us to be fruitful, and calls us each to use these gifts to glorify Him. – Becky Martinez.
Gotham almost immediately impacted my daily interactions with my employees; from HR & compensation decisions, to hiring and future growth planning. We began to take a more human-centered approach to managing the company. – Ross Johnston, President and Trustee, OCE Landfill Management, Inc.
How will you approach your work differently having been through this experience?
I have a stronger assurance of God's call, equipping and pro-vision for me to accomplish his purpose through my work. – Dr. Jason Powell, Head of School, The Christ School.
I think my faith has impacted my work in that I now view work not simply as a chore, but as a very important part of my contribution to God's Kingdom and I have learned to extend much more grace to those I interact with (and to myself!). I've really learned to appreciate that we all have different roles, perspectives, motivations and backgrounds that drive us and we all struggle with underlying idols we may not even be fully aware of. A real eye opener for me was that my sin is greater than I thought, but God's grace is also greater than I knew.
– Jennifer Bostedo, Trust Officer, Commerce National Bank & Trust, and Chair of The Christ School Board of Trustees.
How would you encourage someone considering applying to become a Gotham Fellow?
It's worth it. There are so few places outside of academia where people actually sit down in a structured way and try to achieve more than surface answers to life's most important questions. – PJ Wehry, teacher, The Classical School of The First Academy.
I would tell potential fellows that the Gotham Fellowship is one of the richest experiences I have been a part of, both from an education standpoint and a spiritual standpoint. The combination of theological study with spiritual growth and enrichment provided for such a multifaceted experience and really pushed me to examine my own beliefs, viewpoints, and decisions. Gotham is an experience I will forever cherish and be grateful for.
– Jennifer Bostedo.
If you take your faith and your profession seriously; if you seek to experience greater purpose in the mundane, routine of day-to-day life; if you dream of something “bigger” about yourself, the reason there is still breath in your lungs, and how you fit into God’s Purpose, Plan, and Kingdom: then, becoming a Gotham Fellow is not only helpful, but vital. For those who lack knowledge and courage, those who lack vision and purpose, and those (like me) who lack(ed) a strategy of how God might use your specific work and vocation for eternal purposes, today, Gotham both equips the called and presents a strong call to the equipped. For those called to the workplace, they don’t teach this stuff in your Graduate Program! – Michael Kelley.
Are you interested in becoming part of The Gotham Fellowship? We are now accepting applications for the next group of fellows, which begins Fall 2016. Applications are due no later than June 15, 2016. For more information or to begin the application process, visit fpco.org/gotham2016 or call Jen Kaiser at 407.423.3441 x1412.