Newbigin House seeks the peace of the city by developing leaders through theological education.
Three primary activities support our vision:
- Public Conversations. Featuring prominent speakers to facilitate spiritual conversations in the city.
- Newbigin Fellowship. A year of contemplation for lay persons seeking intensive discipleship training.
- Seminary Education. M.Div. and M.A. programs in partnership with Western Theological Seminary.
- Scot ShermanExecutive Director
- Kevin AdamsDirector of Formation
- Peter ChoiDirector of Academic Programs
- Christy LaLondeAdministrative Coordinator
- Jonathan GundlachDirector of the Newbigin Fellowship
- Kirsten OatesDirector of Operations
— Senior Fellows —
- Tuck BartholomewPastor, City Church Philadelphia
- Chuck DeGroatAssociate Professor, Western Theological Seminary
- Paul WestonTutor, Ridley Hall, Cambridge University
Who Was Lesslie Newbigin?
A newly married Lesslie Newbigin set off for India in 1936 as a missionary of the Church of Scotland. No one knew that in the coming years he’d not only impact a remote region, but the entire world.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Lesslie and his wife Helen moved to India in 1936 in order to serve the Madras Mission. He soon realized that, particularly in mission, the church needed to be unified. In 1947, the young missionary became Bishop Newbigin, a strange thing for a Presbyterian, but essential for the unity of the Church of South India, an ecumenical church formed in mission. The church and its unity would become Newbigin’s mission.
Newbigin soon found himself in Geneva, working for the unity of the church within the World Council of Churches. He would become the Associate General Secretary before returning to India as Bishop of Madras in 1965. He’d serve there until 1974, when he and Helen returned to their beloved UK. But Lesslie was not done yet.
Newbigin had left the West as a missionary, but he returned as a missionary, as well. He was not merely a minister, but a philosopher, of sorts…a rare scholar-practitioner who studied Michael Polanyi and Alasdair MacIntyre, who was troubled by the Enlightenment and its influence on the West, and who embodied his missionary sensibilities in the secular West. Newbigin believed that the UK needed the Gospel as much as India did. And so did the United States. Thus, Newbigin began a second career of sorts – Newbigin, missionary to the West.
Lesslie Newbigin died in 1998, as both father and husband, but also as a father of a movement. Today, the Gospel and our Culture Network cultivates his vision for North America, led in part by our good friend – Western Seminary Professor’s Jim Brownson and George Hunsberger. And you can find many of Newbigin’s writings and lectures at Newbigin.net.
With the blessing of his children, Newbigin House of Studies continues to champion his vision of a missionary movement to the West. Emerging from Western Theological Seminary (Michigan) and City Church San Francisco, Newbigin House seeks to embody the spirit of Lesslie Newbigin in our 21st century context.
Newbigin House of Studies, named for missionary-theologian Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), is a ministry of City Church San Francisco. Our faculty of pastor-scholars have rich experience in church planting and revitalization, social justice ministry, vocational discipleship, counseling and pastoral care. Newbigin House seeks the peace of the city (Jeremiah 29:7) by developing leaders through theological education. We provide resources for spiritual growth through our Fellows program for lay people and through conferences and special events. We are partners in special Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degrees offered by Western Theological Seminary that focus on urban church planting.
The great missionary, pastor and theologian Lesslie Newbigin taught that “the church is mission.” It “exists by mission as a flame exists by burning.” The contemporary church is in desperate need of leaders who are capable of planting new churches or revitalizing churches in decline. According to Newbigin, spiritual renewal will only happen when “local congregations renounce an introverted concern for their own life, and recognize that they exist for the sake of those who are not members, as sign, instrument and foretaste of God’s redeeming grace for the whole life of society.” Newbigin House seeks to redevelop a vision for mission within our churches by training and mentoring a new generation of missional leaders, in partnership with the church and the seminary.
We have chosen an ancient symbol as the “face” of Newbigin House, the Celtic cross. I would like to give a quick description of a few components of this particular Celtic cross design and why I am excited about what this logo says about us.
Notice first, the circle. This is a symbol of God’s eternal being, power and unending glory. A circle has no beginning or ending. It reminds us that the source of life behind our calling as a community is nothing less than the new and unending life of the Lord.
Now look at the cross. The cross is our glory! It is the symbol of the gospel, the message that God’s love and life are ours to enjoy because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It reminds us of that message which is at the center of our calling into mission.
Finally, notice that this is a Celtic cross. This reminds us of the great missionary movement in the British isles dating back to the 5th century, on through the spiritual renewal of the Protestant Reformation, then on through the great missionary movement to plant churches in the new world. It reminds us of our calling to continue being a missional church, true to this great heritage.
Celtic crosses were originally carved on ancient Rune stones, ancient sculptures that dated back to Druid times. For these newly converted Christians, it was a conscious testimony to the gospel’s power to change people and places that were originally deeply hostile to Christ. The Celtic cross is an important reminder for Christians in post-Christian America that the gospel is still the most powerful force working amid all the principalities and powers of the world.
Finally look at the links. This is probably the most recognizable element of Celtic (also called Insular artwork). It reminds us that the life of Christ is received and lived out in a new community. When we are joined to Christ, we are necessarily joined to one another. The links remind us that we are part of the mystical body of Christ and are called to love one another deeply from the heart.
May God use this symbol for us as he did for earlier generations of Christians: as a reminder of our calling and of the hope of the gospel.