Rod Light | April 23, 2021

Foursquare Scholars Fellowship Annual Conference at LPU unites lay leaders, pastors, and academicians who live on mission together, making the most of quality research, resources, and relationships.

“Sometimes people listen only to refute or retaliate,” Foursquare Scholars Fellowship Chairperson Andrew K. Opie says. Responding to what he considers a prophetic call of God, Andy and the FSF Executive Committee bridge the listening gap through healthy, informed dialogue as they unite lay leaders, pastors, and academicians through high quality research, resources, and relationships.

The FSF Annual Conference arguably is the hallmark gathering for the fellowship and involves dozens of pastors, educators and other thought leaders across disciplines; many have earned graduate and post-graduate degrees, are published and are researchers in fields of theology, the Scriptures, psychology, leadership, and the Church.

“Listen to learn and speak to serve”

A primary target of the FSF Annual Conference, Andy says, is to “Listen to learn and speak to serve” as ministers of the gospel and academic researchers collectively reflect on conventional thinking and contemporary approaches to the mission of the Church. Life Pacific University faculty, staff, and graduates partnered with the FSF Executive Committee to host this year’s conference under the theme “Spiritual Unity and the Bond of Peace,” conducted entirely online due to protocols surrounding COVID-19.

Keynote speakers included Fuller Theological Seminary professor and author of The Azusa Street Mission Revival Dr. Cecil M. Robeck Jr. and Dr. Rodolfo Galvan Estrada III, author of A Pneumatology of Race in the Gospel of John: An Ethnocritical Study. LPU alum Dr. Doretha O’Quinn shared a keynote address with author and educational consultant Dr. Doris J. Sims, which both challenged and inspired conference participants to action.

The 2021 FSF conference addressed four points of inquiry. First, pastors grappled with the question, “How can we embody our call as a witnessing community?” Scholars then were challenged by, “How do we understand unity in diversity?” Leaders discussed, “What is peacemaking in politics, multi-ethnic ministry, and the marketplace?” And, Educators shared ideas and inspiration around the question, “What does the Gospel of Peace look like?”

“We need to start talking with each other and the conversations must be surrounding common Kingdom objectives. It may be uncomfortable at first, but to make real progress we have to put away agendas that make us feel better about what we have or haven't done and get to the heart-work.” - Kristina Ingles, LPU Ph.D. student

Inspired in part by Foursquare President Randy Remington’s theme, “Together,” the Foursquare Scholars Fellowship solicited proposals for presentations on unity and dialogue for the 2021 conference. Martin Ruarte, a recent graduate of the MASL program at LPU gave a presentation during this year’s conference focused on how dominant and emerging cultures can effectively work together to focus on the Shared Kingdom Mission of the Church. "Organizations cannot fully achieve Spiritual Unity and the Bond of Peace around an organizational structure, a culture, a language, a philosophy, or a strategy,” Martin said during his presentation that was simultaneously translated in Spanish. “They can do it centered on a Shared Kingdom Mission."

Relatedly, FSF co-chair, Kristina Ingles, a Ph.D. student, researcher and LPU adjunct professor says it this way. “We need to start talking with each other and the conversations must be surrounding common Kingdom objectives. It may be uncomfortable at first, but to make real progress we have to put away agendas that make us feel better about what we have or haven't done and get to the heart-work.”

Polarizing divisions threaten the unity of Christian leaders, but Andy believes FSF’s biannual publication Quadrum offers examples of what spiritual unity looks like, challenging readers to go beyond anecdotal content into practical research for academics and lay leaders alike. Further, Quadrum delivers important research conducted by Foursquare scholars, made accessible to ministry leaders across the Movement. The word quadrum is Latin in origin, meaning “square,” “foursquare,” or “that which is in proper order,” according to the fellowship website.

Now in its tenth year, the Foursquare Scholars Fellowship is just hitting its stride, uniting a diverse group of scholars and promoting young voices along with seasoned mentors who influence them. A decade ago, Foursquare scholar and historian David Moore was instrumental in launching the FSF and envisioned a place for people in Foursquare with graduate education to produce material and become a resource for the Church.

“Start by doing what is possible, and soon you will be doing the impossible." - Pastor Heidi S. Messner (LPU alum, Foursquare minister, and city council board member)

That vision has become reality and was evident during the 2021 conference. Among the 80 participants in this year’s FSF conference were LPU faculty and graduates like Steve Overman and Eric Lopez who presented papers on the theological foundations of unity. They cited examples of the theology of Foursquare founder Aimee Semple McPherson and her desire to work together with others in fulfillment of the mission of the Church. Dr. Douglas S. Bursch offered insight into practical ways to bring Unity in the Bond of Peace in social media spaces, “We can radically change online communication if we take seriously our mandate to participate in the ministry of reconciliation.”

Foursquare Scholars Fellowship executives contend for Unity in the Bond of Peace through research, resources, and relationships. LPU alum Pastor Heidi S. Messner is a Foursquare minister and city council member in Eureka, Calif. During a presentation to FSF conference participants, Heidi posed a salient and practical challenge that offers wisdom and motivation for ministers and ministry practitioners everywhere.

“Start by doing what is possible, and soon you will be doing the impossible,” Heidi said. Indeed such a challenge is the heart and soul of the Foursquare Scholars Fellowship as it gathers and equips ministry leaders to live on mission together.  

Learn more about the Foursquare Scholars Fellowship at foursquarescholars.org