News from the Hill November 21, 2013 | back to index
Andover Newton is my adopted seminary. In the twenty years I have been in the Boston area I have developed great devotion to and appreciation for our school. I have taught here and have served as a trustee for ten years. Many of my cherished ministerial colleagues and many of the ministers I most admire are Andover Newton graduates. I am continually impressed by the talent and dedication of our wonderful faculty and staff. Through my teaching I have experienced the considerable strengths of the student body. I am proud of and share Andover Newton’s commitment to diversity and interfaith relationships. I believe in Andover Newton’s mission and its future. I cannot imagine a greater honor than to serve as Andover Newton’s next president.
It is also an honor to follow President Nick Carter, who has served Andover Newton so faithfully and so well. Nick has been a strong and effective leader whose passionate commitment to Andover Newton has been key to the school’s success during a challenging time.
We live in a time of great change. I love the lines from the old hymn, “New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth.” Besides the fact that it is wonderful to encounter the word “uncouth” in a hymn, I appreciate that this old hymn recognizes both the “new occasions” and the “new duties.” For twenty years I have served an old and established congregation that is known for being a vital faith community. The vitality does not come from being old and established. It comes from being forward-leaning and innovative. It seems to me that the older the church, the more it is necessary to think in new ways. The same is true of a theological school.
The famous management consultant Peter Drucker used to ask two questions whenever consulting with a business or other organization: “What kind of business are you in?” and “How’s business?” The first question is key. I would describe Andover Newton’s “business” as “educating excellent faith leaders for the changing contexts of the 21st century.” I use the term “faith leaders” because not everyone is called to ordained ministry, and I refer to “changing contexts” both because the world is changing rapidly and because not all will be called to serve local congregations.
I have always believed that new directions or changes need to be based on a deep and nuanced reading of an organization and its wider context. In addition, I have found that commitment to a shared vision is essential to instituting change successfully. So I look forward to working with the wider Andover Newton community to chart the course for the next phase of our school’s proud history. In the months ahead, I will seek opportunities for informal conversation with faculty, students, and staff about how they experience Andover Newton today and their hopes for Andover Newton in the future.
For me, there is nothing quite so energizing as the conviction that one’s gifts can be used in an important cause, and that is what I experience when I think about taking on the role of president of Andover Newton. I will bring all of my gifts, experience, faith, and dedication to the task. It will be an honor to do so.
Martin B. Copenhaver