Beginnings - Gordon Conwell


Dr. Scott W. Sunquist

President & Professor of Missiology

Today is my first day as the seventh President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. New beginnings are filled with hope as well as loss; of possibilities as well as anxiety.

“In the beginning was the Word….” Is filled with hope and promise. This morning I read about another new beginning. “When Rehoboam was established and he grew strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord….” (II Chron. 12:1) It was all downhill from there…

However, this new beginning for me has been a slow transition where I have been blessed with three months to learn about the seminary we love through its people: staff, faculty, alumni, and even retired faculty. As with all beginnings that have hope, this beginning is an affirmation of what has been great in our past, and a turn to grow new expressions of that healthy, unique DNA from Gordon and Conwell: “Two great pastors, one great seminary!”

So, as I begin my period of service, I think it is helpful for all who read this blog to know what I have discovered that we love about Gordon-Conwell, and what is our unique calling. This will be unpacked more at our 50th anniversary celebration on October 11th, 2019 (mark your calendar!). But here is an outline of who we are and what has given us unction through our first half-century.

  • Pervasive and respectful study of the Bible — all the Bible
  • Commitment to God’s global mission — for all of us
  • Diversity of evangelicalism and diversity of cultures and peoples
  • Renewal and planting of new churches in North America
  • Renewal of the church through unity of Christians
  • High academic standards and deep piety

There are other ways of expressing these, but what you see above is the result of both soft data (stories) and hard data (surveys). This is who we are.

So, what is the new beginning? It is that the Board, in choosing a missiologist as president has said (I believe) “We want Gordon-Conwell to continue to be Gordon-Conwell, but with a renewed missional dimension. The trajectory is from the heart of God into the nations of the world.” This is my phrasing, but I think it is accurate.

We want Gordon-Conwell to continue to be Gordon-Conwell, but with a renewed missional dimension. The trajectory is from the heart of God into the nations of the world.”

This new beginning, like any Christian renewal, will be through an affirmation of the core of the Gospel that unites our diverse cultures, and a turn to a new direction of global engagement.

Gospel and global.

If I may be forgiven for reading too much into symbols and timing, let me express this renewal through two publications coming out of Gordon-Conwell. Last week Todd Johnson and Gina Zurlo of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity sent off the final copy of the third edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia (EUP). This important publication will be available by January 2020. Todd is our newly appointed Paul and Eva Toms Professor of Missions and Global Christianity. Also last week, I received the first copies of my new book Why Church: A Basic Introduction (IVP).

Two volumes: one on the global church, and one on renewal of the western church. These concerns or themes will be essential in the warp and woof in our new beginnings.

Please pray for us.


Scott W. Sunquist, the new President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, writes a weekly blog, “Attentiveness” which is posted each Monday morning on the Gordon-Conwell web site. He welcomes comments, responses and good ideas.


Read more from Scott on his blog: Attentiveness.

Read More