Written by Hillsboro Free Press Wednesday, 09 May 2007 09:34Move over Bunsen burners, there’s a new type of lab at Tabor College.
The Carson Center for Mission, Service and Global Education has been established to help the college live out one of its core values—service—through a laboratory of spiritual formation, according to Jason Mohn, director of church relations and Carson Center coordinator. “By having a place that centralizes mission, service and global education, we can really benefit,” he said. “(The Carson Center) basically becomes the lab for spiritual formation efforts on campus.”
Two primary goals of the spiritual formation efforts through the Carson Center are:
- To provide opportunities for students to learn about and participate in missions, service projects and to become globally minded and skilled graduates.
- To advance missions, service and global education through strategic collaborations with churches and organizations who share Tabor’s vision.
According to Mohn, efforts to raise the intentional service component of Tabor’s core value system are ongoing. Currently, the chapel program is being retooled, as are small groups and Bible studies for students.
And, while global education is already a strong component through interterm trips, efforts are also being made to raise student participation, as trips become less about site-seeing and more about understanding global issues.
“The efforts being made are to help individual students develop a deeper character,” Mohn said.
In order to achieve the second goal of the center, efforts are being made to explore new collaboration initiatives with outside organizations.
A primary effort occurred March 8-22 as a group of Tabor constituents traveled to India to make connections with the Mennonite Brethren Church, Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite MSI and the Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College in Shamshabad.
“It was an exploratory trip,” said Lawrence Ressler, vice president of academics and student development and a member of the India initiative.
“We began to create a vision for how we might work together, understanding what is available and exploring how Tabor can collaborate, with whom we can work in India, and for what purpose.”
According to Ressler, three faculty and administrators from MBCBC have been appointed to work with members of the Carson Center in order to find ways to collaborate.
“The idea at this point is to develop an international study and service center for students and life-long learners interested in India,” Ressler said.
As the Carson Center continues to develop through international collaboration as well as efforts closer to home, it is important for Tabor to find ways to adapt its mission of “preparing people for a life of learning, work and service” in order to be relevant and effective in a changing world, Ressler said.
“The Carson Center demonstrates Tabor’s commitment, both symbolically and practically, to respond to the profound changes that are taking place,” he said. “The center has the potential to be the catalyst for the changes that must take place at Tabor and the constituents with which it collaborates.”
While the Carson Center efforts are new, the concepts behind the organization have long been a part of the institution and the Mennonite Brethren Church.
“The Carson Center is not breaking new ground,” Ressler said. “It is taking passions that lie deep within the soul of the denomination and college and breathing new life into them for our time, and in ways that incorporate the changes that are taking place in the world.”
The development of the Carson Center came from many factors, including the closing of the Carson Church, Delft, Minn., a Mennonite Brethren congregation. The Carson Church had a strong history of promoting international missions, Ressler said, and the church decided to give a portion of its proceeds from closing the church to Tabor in the fall of 2005.
Wanting to honor the legacy of the Carson Church in a way that would last, the Carson Center was formally approved by the Tabor College Board of Trustees in February 2006, and has since been gaining strength and support.
“There is much to be done for the center to fully realize its potential, but the momentum that has emerged far surpasses that of those who only a year ago planted the seeds of what has become a grand vision for Tabor College and the church,” Ressler said.
More information on the India initiative is available on Ressler’s blog. It can be accessed by visiting www.tabor.edu, then clicking on the blog link on the homepage.