Places Along the Way: Celebrating the Art and Legacy of Leighton Ford - Gordon Conwell
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Places Along the Way: Celebrating the Art and Legacy of Leighton Ford

April 23, 2023 at 3:00 pm5:00 pm EDT

Leighton Ford is a man of many places. Born in Chatham, Ontario, Leighton has since travelled the world as an evangelist, leader, and mentor with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Lausanne Movement, and Leighton Ford Ministries. While Charlotte is Leighton’s home, his journey has taken him to many other places where the veil between heaven and earth is thin and God’s presence is palpable.

For the last thirty years, Leighton has been capturing these thin places on canvas, mostly in watercolor, which according to Leighton “teaches me to give up control and look for surprises.” Although he did not begin painting until later in life, Leighton discovered a passion for artmaking alongside a fresh calling to mentor younger leaders and to embrace his role as an “artist of the soul.”

Places Along the Way features dozens of Leighton’s watercolors and celebrates his legacy as an artist, mentor, and leader, including his role as a long-time board member of Gordon-Conwell. The program will include an interview with Leighton, readings from his forthcoming book of poetry, reflections from a few artists and leaders who have journeyed with Leighton along the way, and an opportunity to learn about the emerging Leighton Ford Center for Theology, the Arts, and Gospel Witness.

This event is free, but advance registration is required.


Dr. Leighton Ford

Dr. Leighton Ford is an author, leader, mentor, and preacher, having served as Associate Evangelist and Vice President of the Billy Graham Association, Chairman of the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization, and the founder of Leighton Ford Ministries. Dr. Ford alternated with Billy Graham on the weekly broadcast of the Hour of Decision, created a daily inspirational TV feature, and published a dozen books, including Transforming Leadership: Jesus’ Way of Creating Vision, Shaping Value, and Empowering Change (IVP, 1993), The Attentive Life: Discerning God’s Presence in All Things (IVP, 2013), and A Life of Listening: Discerning God’s Voice and Discovering Your Own (IVP, 2019). In recent years he has focused on mentoring emerging younger leaders around the world, helping them to “lead more like Jesus and more to Jesus.” What is less known is that Dr. Ford is also a visual artist and poet, and we are delighted to celebrate this by displaying his work and hearing selections from his forthcoming Ninety Poems for Ninety Years.

Dr. Wes Vander Lugt

Dr. Wesley Vander Lugt (PhD, Theology, Imagination, and the Arts, University of St Andrews) is Acting Director of the Leighton Ford Initiative in Theology, the Arts, and Gospel Witness and Adjunct Professor of Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Prior to his role at Gordon-Conwell, he served as lead pastor of Warehouse 242 in Charlotte and Theologian in Residence at First Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, and he serves on the boards of Christian in Theatre Arts and the Lorien Academy of the Arts. Dr. Vander Lugt is the author of Living Theodrama: Reimagining Theological Ethics (Routledge, 2014) and the forthcoming Beauty Is Oxygen: How Buffered, Battered, and Bored Souls Can Breathe Again (Eerdmans, 2024). He is also co-editor of Theatrical Theology: Explorations in Performing the Faith (Cascade, 2014).

Melanie Spinks

Melanie Spinks received the MFA from Georgia State Atlanta in Sculpture with a focus on ancient art-making and aesthetics. She went on to pursue her MA from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary to explore the spiritual and aesthetic connections between art & design, awe, and desire. Melanie has worked in the museum and luxury design markets as an artist, builder, and curator for blue-chip designers and clientele, and she currently works as a researcher and strategist of digital design with Slalom here in Charlotte. In her art-making, Melanie works in a variety of mediums, many of which you can see here in the building, and she also has spoken widely on the intersection of art, spirituality, and creativity.

Derrell Young

Derrell Young has a great passion for teaching people to trust God, accomplish goals, and love hard. In the past 18 years, he has dedicated his time toward developing young adult ministries for ages 18 to 35 in Raleigh, Greensboro, Memphis, and Charlotte. He has a BA in graphic communication systems from NC A&T State University and is close to completion on an MDiv from GCTS. The mission of his graphic company, The William Group, is to offer branding services and expand a company’s brand awareness. He has recently started the company Coach D Fitness as a way to help people become more motivated towards health and fitness. Poetry is his reality written and it has helped him share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in unique ways.

Dr. Scott W. Sunquist

Dr. Scott W. Sunquist (PhD, History and Ecumenics, Princeton Theological Seminary) is President and Professor of Missiology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Prior to these posts, he has served as a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Trinity Theological College in Singapore. He is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Dr. Sunquist’s publications include The Unexpected Christian

Century: The Reversal and Transformation of Global Christianity, 1900–2000 (Baker Academic, 2015), Understanding Christian Mission: Participation in Suffering and Glory (Baker Academic, 2017), Explorations in Asian Christianity: History, Theology, and Mission (InterVarsity Press, 2017), Why Church? A Basic Introduction (InterVarsity Press, 2019), and The Shape of Christian History (IVP Academic, 2022).

Dr. Michael Marsicano

Dr. Michael Marsicano (PhD, Philosophy, Duke University) was President and CEO of Foundation For The Carolinas from 1999 until 2023, the community foundation serving Charlotte and a 13-county region. Dr. Marsicano joined FFTC after serving as President and CEO of the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte for 10 years. He has also been active as a board member and advisor in many organizations, including Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte Executive Leadership Council, Duke University, Queens University, Americans for the Arts, UNC School of the Arts, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Discovery Place, and many more. Dr Marsicano has received numerous honors and awards at national, state, and local levels, including the Selina Roberts Ottum Award, given annually to the top arts administrators in the nation, and The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina.


3:00 – 3:30 pm – Gallery Opening and Hors D’oeuvres
3:30 – 4:30 pm – Presentations and Poetry Reading
4:30 – 5:00 pm – Cont. of Gallery Opening & Hors D’oeuvres


General Admission: Free

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary—Charlotte

14542 Choate Circle Charlotte, NC 28273

Hamilton Campus

Wes Vander Lugt

Event Organizer and Adjunct
Professor of Theology,
Acting Director of the Leighton Ford Initiative

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We look forward to seeing you at our Charlotte campus! If you have any questions about the event, please feel free to reach out.

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April 23, 2023
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT
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Wes Vanderlugt


Charlotte Campus
14542 Choate Circle
Charlotte, NC 28273 United States
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(704) 527-9909
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