Steve Moore

Serving and changing the world as a foundation CEO

Steve MooreThe CEO and executive director of the Murdock Trust has turned to other John Wesley Fellows about how to apply Wesleyan distinctives in the 21st-century context.

John Wesley would understand why someone pursuing a doctorate in a secular field might apply for a scholarship that bears his name. He himself admonished, “The world is our parish.”

Steve Moore had completed seminary and was executive director of the Wesleyan Foundation Campus Ministry at Texas Tech University, where he was also on faculty, when he decided to pursue additional graduate work. Rather than study church history or delve deeper into theology, he chose a doctoral program in philosophy and higher education at the University of Michigan. He applied for a John Wesley Fellowship, and A Foundation for Theological Education took a chance on him.

“The way we serve in the world is as important as the way we serve in the church,” Moore said. “If I was going to be in ministry on college campuses, I wanted to better understand the philosophical foundations of higher education.”

As he neared completion of his studies in 1989, Moore was invited to become vice president of campus life at Seattle Pacific University, a Wesleyan school, and he later took an equivalent position at Baylor University before moving to Asbury Theological Seminary, his alma mater, as senior vice president, as well as president of the Asbury Foundation.

As his career developed, he stayed immersed in the fellowship — participating in the annual Christmas conferences and individual mentoring relationships he had developed with other fellows.

“I wanted to make sure I was preparing myself as an innovative educator, not just a technician or simply a participant in the guild,” he said. “The fellowship helped me do that. Rather than get caught up in the preoccupations of the academy, I had to understand the larger role of being an educator, a mentor and a leader.”

Three themes held constant as Moore’s career progressed: the way faith engages culture; how mission-driven institutions develop leaders who are missional and strategic; and how to bring faith to bear on the challenges the world serves up. In 2006, he was offered a job that brought those three themes together in a unique way.

Moore was asked to serve as CEO and executive director of the Murdock Trust, a private foundation that has invested more than $700 million in leaders and organizations that nurture the educational, cultural and social life of the Pacific Northwest since the trust’s inception in 1975. Before he said yes, he called a John Wesley Fellow who held a similar position to talk over the role of philanthropy from a Wesleyan perspective and in the larger work of ministry. That fellow helped Moore see what a unique and strategic opportunity this was.

“Many in the fellowship have helped me understand common grace for the common good, how to apply Wesleyan distinctives in the 21st-century context, and the ways that ideas and world views have implications long into the future, in lives as well as institutions,” Moore said.

The relationships he has formed in the fellowship have sharpened the idea of leadership from a Biblical perspective, which is a very different perspective and practice of leadership than in popular literature or culture.

“Our conversations have helped me identify ways and places I can bring my gifts to serve the church and the development of its leaders, often upstream and in unique ways,” he said. “Whether you’re in higher education or a hospital or military chaplaincy or missions or a teaching role, the Church is bigger than the local church.”

The fellowship also casts a vision for being transformational educators, Moore said, and for keeping the commitment of adaptive leadership a priority. Are church leaders today able to adapt and grow their leadership to fit the new challenges life presents?

“Our culture is always in need of leaders,” Moore said, “holistic leaders who are about helping people find the fullness of life in Christ regardless of their vocation. It’s not about maintaining institutions; it’s about forming faithful disciples who are helping serve and change the world.”

catalyst
religion headlines
news & events
catalyst
November 15, 2017
The Spirit and the Trinity

At a popular level, the role of the Holy Spirit in the church is often thought of in the idiom of today as “empowering,” “renewing,” apportioning particular ...

October 25, 2017

Seminary preparation for a preaching ministry hopefully includes an over-stuffed file of classroom-delivered and critiqued sermons. But in a real-life setting of the church, the file folder is quickly depleted. What ...

religion headlines
May 19, 2015
CNN: U.S. Christian population dropping...
May 13, 2015
Patheos: Frederick Schmidt offers a dozen things your pastor wishes you knew.
news & events
May 1, 2017
A Foundation for Theological Education (AFTE) John Wesley Fellowships awarded to three doctoral students in the Wesleyan tradition. The John Wesley ...
April 11, 2016
The 2017-2018 AFTE Christmas Conference and Fortieth Year Celebration will take place at Shaker Village Inn and Asbury Theological Seminary ...