The Mockler Center Adopts a New Name
This week’s Ockenga blog post shines the spotlight on the newly renamed Mockler Center for Faith and Ethics in the Public Square. The Mockler Center is led by Director Dr. Kenneth Barnes, the Mockler-Phillips Professor of Workplace Theology and Business Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
DR. KENNETH BARNES
The mission of the Mockler Center for Faith & Ethics in the Workplace has always been to explore and promote biblical ethics, values, and insights for today’s workplaces and to bring helpful insights and experiences from workplace laity to the church and its leadership. Joanna Mockler created the Center in 1994 in memory of her late husband Colman Mockler (1929–1991). Colman was CEO of the Gillette Corporation from 1975 to 1991. He was not only a brilliant business strategist and leader, but he was also a man of deep faith and high ethics. He felt that pastors were ill equipped to serve the business community effectively and wished that there could be more opportunities for pastors, seminarians, and marketplace women and men to interact with each other. The goal, of course, being the integration of faith and work across a wide spectrum of industries and sectors. The Mockler Center has since served as a bridge between Sunday and Monday: simultaneously serving the seminary and the university, the academy and the marketplace, and the church and the workplace.
Over the years, the Center has been led by distinguished leaders in the Faith at Work Movement, such as Pete Hammond (InterVarsity), Will Messenger (Theology of Work Project), and David Gill (EthixBiz). As the Movement has evolved, so has the Mockler Center, and the publication of Redeeming Capitalism (2018) was a milestone in the Center’s expanded foray into what is now commonly known as the Faith, Work, and Economics Movement. However, even this turned out to be only one step in a new direction as the COVID-19 pandemic brought about new opportunities for engagement with a wider audience.
When the COVID crisis hit, the Center began a conversation with Dr. Jim Longhurst, Director of the Public Square Forum, a local off-shoot of the Trinity Forum with whom the Center had a long association. Concerned about the proliferation of rumors and conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic and wanting to allay people’s fears, the Center called upon a panel of experts (including a world-renowned leader in the field of public health) for a livestream discussion entitled “COVID19: Fear, Facts and Faith.” The response to this event was significant with over seven thousand people from around the world engaging in the discussion either live via Facebook or the via the Seminary’s own website. The event’s success led to a series of other livestreams on related topics, such as the economic impact of COVID19, xenophobia, and race relations—all explored from “theological” and “pastoral” perspectives. Before long, the Center was receiving invitations to speak at Harvard Law School (on Niebuhr’s Nature and Destiny of Man no less!), Oxford University (on the role of new technologies and venture capital in the fight against COVID19), and other institutions (on a wide variety of topics far beyond the traditional scope of Faith, Work and Economics).
Because of the unexpected “pull” in response to these forums, the Center leadership began to wonder if they should re-imagine the Center’s wider purpose. What is meant by “human flourishing,” for instance, if not the flourishing of individuals and society as a whole? And what does the church’s “prophetic voice” mean in the context of national and global crises?
Ultimately, it was determined that the Mockler Center for Faith and Ethics in the Workplace needed to expand its “vision” of what it could and should be. Embracing its “new reality” and anticipating new global opportunities, the Center has officially changed its name to the Mockler Center for Faith and Ethics in the Public Square, and the leadership looks forward to expanding its influence and programs accordingly. The Center is deeply grateful for the generous support of Ms. Mockler.
The Center is also happy to announce the addition of Dr. Sara Minard as the first Associate Director. A trained economist and practitioner herself, Dr. Minard brings a wealth of experience to this position, including expertise in international development, impact investing, and organizational leadership. Among her first duties will be helping to organize the 2021 C-suite Sabbath (view last year’s brochure) to be held on Boston’s North Shore later this year.
The Center will also be creating other Visiting Fellowships. Stay tuned!
About Dr. Kenneth Barnes: Dr. Barnes has served as a senior international executive for multibillion dollar companies across the globe as well as in pastoral positions in the US and UK. He has received two doctorate degrees (Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Theology & Ministry) and three masters degrees (Philosophy, Divinity, Biblical Studies). Dr. Barnes has also published three books (Redeeming Capitalism, Light from the Dreaming Spires, and Business Ethics and Religious Belief) as well as numerous articles.