The Newbigin Fellowship is designed to train women and men for meaningful engagement with the intellectual, social, and spiritual needs of urban centers like San Francisco. We want to see wise urban Christians bringing the life-giving reign of God to bear in every arena – the sciences, media, technology, the arts, finance, politics, education, and more.
The Fellowship is designed to equip you to be an agent of transformation through:
- Biblical and Theological Formation: The program is designed shape our biblical and theological imaginations, rooting progressive Christian faith and practice in the rich soil of wisdom and knowledge from a broad cross section of the church. Through a combination of readings, podcasts, and group conversations, Newbigin Fellows will be equipped to begin recognizing the countless ways God is at work in the complex cultures of the Bay Area.
- Spirituality and Practice: The program will introduce fellows to both ancient and contemporary means of spiritual formation and renewal, providing guidance through readings and experiences. We will develop tools for both personal and communal spiritual practice – the embodiment of Christ within our own lives and vocations, within the Fellowship and our churches, and within our neighborhoods and cities.
- Relational Connection: The communities we are part of shape what is possible for us to know, believe, and do. The Fellowship provides a relational context for deep personal transformation in relationships with peers and mentors. The relationships developed here hold tremendous potential for lasting, transformative friendship.
More than a decade ago, a group of urban Christians pondered what it would mean to prepare individuals for wise and relevant Christian engagement in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as other strategic urban centers across the world. Today, that vision is a reality in The Newbigin Fellowship.
The name of this fellowship is inspired by the British theologian Lesslie Newbigin, whose work in India and influential writing on the Gospel and culture spurred a movement. Men and women began to see the West differently, as well as the church’s place within it. Western European cultures were not manifestations of God’s kingdom so much as they needed to be transformed by it.
Newbigin believed that lay people in the local congregation would be the driving force behind societal change. Newbigin writes, “If the gospel is to challenge the public life of our society…it will only be by movements that begin with the local congregation in which the reality of the new creation is present, known, and experienced, and from which men and women will go into every sector of public life to claim it for Christ, to unmask the illusions which have remained hidden and to expose all areas of public life to the illumination of the gospel. But that will only happen as and 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.” (from The Gospel in a Pluralist Society)
The program is also influenced by the vision of William Wilberforce and his circle of friends who promoted social reform and, most notably, the abolition of slavery in late 18th, early 19th century England. Within this fellowship were men and women of influence in business, politics, and the arts who longed to see the justice and mercy of Christ meet the injustices of slavery, poor work conditions, inadequate child labor laws, and poverty. Their efforts impacted education and orphanages, hospitals and prisons. In recent years, followers of Jesus have spearheaded reforms such as the Civil Rights Movement and fostered help for people in need through initiatives geared towards addressing poverty, sex trafficking, sustainable living, mass incarceration, immigration, equality for sexual minorities, and racial justice.
The Newbigin Fellowship involves a nine-month commitment from September to May. During the nine-month period, the Newbigin Fellows will be invited into an intensive exploration of Christian worldview, spirituality, and community:
Weekly: Fellows are assigned to a cohort of 6-8 people with 2-3 Newbigin Fellowship alumni leaders. Cohorts meet weekly to discuss weekly readings and/or videos and podcasts. Click here to view a sample month of curriculum.
Monthly: Six Saturday events, which may include city excursions, in-depth personal engagement through personality inventories and spiritually formative experiences, interaction with a noted thinker/writer, and more. All Saturday events last from 9:00am to 3:00pm unless otherwise noted. Below is the 2018-2019 schedule, we are still finalizing some of the dates and will be updating this page accordingly.
- October 12, The Enneagram with Kirsten Oates
- November 2, The Bible as Narrative with Dr. Daniel Kirk
- December TBD, Faith + Work with TBD
- February 22, Relationships & Sexuality with Dr. Scott MacDougall
- March 14, Social Justice with Ben McBride
- April 25, Faith & Science with Dr. Jeffrey Schloss
Retreats: Three retreats devoted to a specific topic or spiritual discipline.
- September 6–8 at Ben Lomond Quaker Center, Ben Lomond CA (Friday evening through Sunday morning)
- January 10-12, 2020, at The Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg CA (Friday evening through Sunday at noon)
- May 15-17, at The Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg CA (Friday evening through Sunday at noon)
Social Events: Each year we organize a few social events. These are not part of the curriculum, but a great way to continue building relationships. A major event is the annual holiday party with both current and alumni Newbigin Fellows.
Cost: Tuition for the Newbigin Fellowship is $2,250.00 plus the cost of reading material. Tuition must be paid by the end of the nine-month program. All retreat costs (lodging, food, facilities), guest speaker, faculty and administrative costs are included in the Fellowship Tuition. A portion of the tuition fee goes toward providing partial scholarships to Fellows, based on their financial need. We welcome donors who are willing to provide scholarships and to support the Fellowship in its important work. If you would like to provide a scholarship, please visit the GIVE link on the main navigation bar.
Questions? Contact Daniel Kirk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the conclusion of your Fellowship, you will be equipped to live more fully and wisely in your faith, vocation, and relationships.
Your perspective on life, culture, and the ideas that shape us will have grown immeasurably, with a deeper understanding of how the narrative of Scripture meets the narrative of the contemporary world and how we as modern-day people meet the narrative of scripture.
You will inherit a community of fellow travelers who know you and who have challenged you. You will have been shaped by spiritual practices which have benefited Christians for centuries, and which add vibrancy and texture to your spirituality.
You will benefit from a more honest assessment of yourself – your brokenness as well as your gifts. And will be able to engage more wisely and faithfully in every sphere of your life from home to work to friendships to church to your neighborhood, your city, and the world.
Christie Anderson, Newbigin Fellowship Alumni 2011-12
"One pleasant surprise this year was the amazing sense of community I felt from the people in the Fellowship. I had the privilege of going on a 9-month journey surrounded by caring, engaging individuals, who have invited me to learn and grow alongside them while examining current events and timely topics from a Christian perspective. The members of the Fellowship pushed me outside my comfort zone and made me reexamine why I believed what I believe."
SJ Lu, Newbigin Fellowship Alumni 2011-12
"The experience taught me how the Gospel sheds light on the grandest and the most intimate parts of life. Reading Lesslie Newbigin made me seriously reassess the assumptions behind my own faith, and grapple with what it means for the church to be in mission amidst our culture.
Other authors taught me to envision the role that faith can play in social justice, and how to think productively about the relationship between faith and science. Ultimately though, I grew the most from what I learnt about myself amidst a community of intentional believers who were willing to be vulnerable and love each other as Jesus commanded. It taught me how the Gospel redeems my own brokenness, and how I can love people better given what Jesus has done for me."
Will Horn, Newbigin Fellowship Alumni 2011-12
"My wife Shiying and I joined the Newbigin Fellowship together this past year and it was a great experience! Taking this journey as a couple, we now have a common vocabulary for talking about and understanding our Christian story, we have practices and frameworks for wrestling with our sins and discovering our true selves, and we have a revitalized vision of the good news of the gospel for the world we live in."
Albert Wang, Newbigin Fellowship Alumni 2013-14
I came into the Newbigin Fellowship thinking I had a pretty good theological foundation for getting through life as a Christian in Bay Area, but was proven wrong when I read the texts, listened to the speakers, and engaged with my cohort members. Throughout the past nine months we have wrestled with our own stories, the story of God in the Bible, and the story of the church in the world. In engaging the material throughout the fellowship alongside my cohort, I realized that we all are so very different, spiritually, academically, professionally, etc. This difference used to bother me, but it has proven to be a blessing as I have learned as much from my fellow cohort members as I have from Leslie Newbigin, James Smith, and other authors we have read. Truly, the Holy Spirit was present in our group!
As I make plans this fall to move up to Seattle to attend seminary, I will hold close these conversations we have had this past year, and lean on them to build and inform my further Theological inquiry.
Chrissie Deist, Newbigin Fellowship Alumni 2013-14
"Newbigin has changed the way I think about the Bible, how I relate to the church's liturgies, how I view and deal with my own shortcomings, how I see my role at work and in daily activities, and so much more. This is one of the most valuable things I've ever done."
Priti Sanghani, Newbigin Fellowship Alumni 2014-15
"And through this year I’ve learned that, miraculously and with infinite grace, Christ is mercifully calling me to a new starting place. It is a place where I can be hidden with Him. Here, I am not subject to my own ‘starting places’–the mental and emotional baggage I have accumulated over the years–but can have a fresh start as His beloved child and daughter. Here, when the world renders me homeless, I can be at home with Him, because indeed, Lord, in the words of St. Augustine, 'my heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.'”