Litchfield’s book explores the power of place in ministry
Professor Randy Litchfield is taking a fresh look at the question of vocation in his new book, Roots and Routes: Calling, Ministry, and the Power of Place, which will be released March 5 by Abingdon Press. He knows from experience the power of the settings in which we live and work.
Litchfield, MTSO’s Browning Professor of Christian Education, was a General Motors engineer when he began taking part-time seminary classes. Over the course of his academic studies, he learned about enculturation, ethnography and issues of diversity.
“Eventually,” he said, “the concept of place overtook context as a way for me to understand local relationships and situations, because place encompasses human and non-human dimensions of the world.”
In earning his master’s degree at Indiana’s Anderson University School of Theology and his Ph.D. at the School of Theology at Claremont in California, Litchfield immersed himself in a series of places. He also had affiliations within a number of denominations – Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), United Church of Christ and United Methodist – deepening his contextual experience. Now, having served as both professor and academic dean at MTSO, he brings his wisdom and research to bear in Roots and Routes.
The book is a resource for those preparing for or already engaged in leadership related to faith communities. It brings together education, leadership and practical theology. Litchfield envisions its use in general education courses addressing vocation, in graduate theological courses, and in communities of faith, where it can guide clergy, professional and lay leadership.
“Too often, vocational imagination fails because we look for abstract answers for all time, rather than an embedded call for a particular time and place,” he said. “You see, vocation is not a thing we have but a living partnership with God’s work in the world. We encounter God in the places we dwell and move between. Partnerships with God, our vocations, are birthed and embodied in the womb of place. I hope this book aids persons in their spiritual dwelling and journeying.”