The Leighton Ford Initiative in Theology, the Arts, and Gospel Witness embraces and engages with God’s gift of artistry through impactful teaching, relevant scholarship, and catalytic events that form students, enrich the church, and propel participation in God’s mission to make all things new.

This initiative is named in honor of Leighton Ford, who has been a witness to the gospel through preaching, writing, artistry, mentoring, and leadership with Leighton Ford Ministries and as a trustee emeritus of Gordon-Conwell. Leighton remarks, “God is an artist and he has painted this world with beauty. We have a responsibility both to enjoy it and to preserve it.”

In addition to the types of events and courses listed below, the Leighton Ford Initiative has plans to offer a Certificate in Theology, the Arts, and Gospel Witness, host pilgrimages to sites of global arts influence, provide theological engagement with public art, host creative residencies, and explore an arts chaplaincy concentration.

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Upcoming Events

Upcoming Courses and Degrees

Global Education Course: The Irish Imagination

Doctor of Ministry Track: The Arts, Ministry, and Mission

Current Leadership

Dr. Wes Vander Lugt

Acting Director of the
Leighton Ford Initiative,
Adjunct Professor of Theology

Dr. Wes Vander Lugt is the Acting Director of the Leighton Ford Initiative and Adjunct Professor of Theology at Gordon-Conwell. Dr. Vander Lugt is a pastor-theologian with a deep love for the arts. He holds a PhD in Theology, Imagination, and the Arts from the University of St Andrews, has pastored in a variety of church contexts, and is a board member of Christian in Theatre Arts and Lorien Academy of the Arts. He also writes, speaks, and publishes in the area of theology and the arts, including the forthcoming Beauty Is Oxygen: Finding a Faith that Breathes (Eerdmans, 2024). To learn more, feel free to visit his faculty page, and you can reach him at [email protected].

Funding for the Leighton Ford Center

The Leighton Ford Initiative will become an official Center within the Gordon-Conwell Institute once $3 million is committed for the Leighton Ford Endowed Chair in Theology, the Arts, and Gospel Witness. Currently, $1.6 million is secured, and once the full amount has been committed, the Center will launch, and attention will turn toward creating operational and scholarship endowments for the Leighton Ford Center.

In addition to the Endowed Chair, the Leighton Ford Initiative relies on gifts that support current programming and operations, and both recurring and one-time gifts are invited.

You can give online by selecting either the Leighton Ford Chair (endowment) or the Arts and Gospel Witness Initiative (operations) in the dropdown menu, or you can give by check, wire transfer, or other methods.

Brian Gardner

Have Questions?

If you have any questions about your gift, please contact Brian Gardner, the Vice President of Advancement, by email. Thank you for your prayerful consideration!

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