History - Mockler Center for Faith and Ethics in the Public Square

Mockler Center History

The Mockler Center for Faith and Ethics in the Public Square (formerly the Mockler Center for Faith and Ethics in the Workplace) has been a true pioneer in the world of theological education. Joanna Mockler created the center in 1994 in memory of her late husband, Colman Mockler (1929–1991). Colman was CEO of Gillette from 1975 to 1991 and an exemplar of “Level Five” leadership in Jim Collins’s best-selling management book, Good to Great. He was also a man of deep religious faith and high ethics who believed that pastors needed to be properly trained to help their parishioners act with biblical integrity in “the real world” of business and beyond.

After two years of discussion and planning, the Mockler Center was established under the creative leadership of Pete Hammond, long-time marketplace ministry leader for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.  From 1999 to 2008, the Mockler Center began to establish itself as a world leader in the Faith at Work Movement under the direction of Will Messenger who brought his rich background as a Harvard MBA with business leadership experience alongside his M.Div. training and experience as a pastor.  In 2009, Messenger left to become Director of the Theology of Work Project.

During its first dozen years, the Mockler Center often worked in close partnership with the interdenominational Marketplace Network Inc. under the leadership of Dan Smick in the 1990s and Kent Kusel in the 2000s.  Among the many Christian business leaders who played important roles in the development of the Mockler Center, none contributed more than the late Tom Phillips (long-time CEO of the Raytheon Corporation), especially through his Mockler courses and seminars on business ethics that were co-hosted by Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and others.

From 2010-2016, David W. Gill served in the newly created faculty position, the Mockler-Phillips Professor of Workplace Theology and Business Ethics, and as Director of the Mockler Center. The creation of the biannual Faith at Work Conference and the creation of the Entrepreneurship in Church and Community Project with Bishop Larry Ward were among his many accomplishments. The ECC Project has given birth to dozens of minority, faith-driven businesses in the Boston area.

In the fall of 2016, Ken Barnes (MATS ’89) returned from Oxford University to assume both the Mockler-Phillips Chair and Directorship of the Center.

Over the years, the Faith at Work Movement has become a more global phenomenon and has expanded its sphere of influence from the workplace to the general economy. Dr. Barnes’s recent book, Redeeming Capitalism, is an example of that evolution as is the recently redesigned Doctor of Ministry Track in Workplace Theology and Ethical Leadership. The D.Min. in WTEL is the only program of its kind, with residencies in Boston, London, and Melbourne, that examine the technical, biblical, moral/ethical, and pastoral implication of emerging technologies, government policies, and the environmental impact of economic activity.

This shift in emphasis within the Faith at Work Movement has brought the Mockler Center into conversation with thought leaders well beyond the traditional scope of the Center. This became evident during the COVID19 crisis when the Center began broadcasting its Fear, Facts and Faith Livestream events to thousands of people around the world.

Another innovation is the creation of a new annual event, designed to meet the spiritual needs of corporate executives called the C-Suite Sabbath (2019 brochure). This unique cohort-based retreat is designed to give busy executives and their families time to THINK deeply, PRAY earnestly, and REST peacefully at Gordon-Conwell’s beautiful hilltop campus on Boston’s North Shore.

In October of 2020, Mrs. Mockler generously agreed to fund the position of Associate Director, allowing the Mockler Center to expand its programs and influence even further. With God’s help, we pray that in everything we do, we will continue honor the memory of her dear husband and serve God’s Kingdom in the process.