The Reverend Tom Are Jr. has served on the Seminary Board of Trustees for seven years; he was recently appointed as the chair for a three-year term. He currently serves as the senior pastor of Village Presbyterian Church, Prairie Village, Kansas. Are has served as a commissioner to the 214th General Assembly and is the leader of NEXT Church. He has served as a trustee of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. and is currently a trustee of Montreat Conference Center. He is pictured here with his daughter, Sarah, who is considering seminary. Tom shared some interesting thoughts with THE REED.
THE REED: If you had a bumper sticker made, what would it say?
Tom Are: Choose Humility
You've served on the board for 7 years. What leads you to invest your time and energy in Austin Seminary?
I love the church and I want her to have the best leadership possible. I believe the church will be strengthened if we increase the ties between congregations and seminaries. Graduates of Austin Seminary are equipped for various ministries, but congregational leadership is the focus. When it comes to developing the next generations of leaders for the church, I'm all in. It is been a great privilege for me to serve the Seminary.
How has your work as a leader of the NEXT conversation changed the way you think about church?
NEXT has given me a renewed sense of hope for the PC(USA). God is at work in our church in creative and beautiful ways. NEXT has created room for many to pay attention new signs of life and love in the church. It has also placed a premium on friendship ... like the ordination vow asks: Will you be a friend among your colleagues in ministry? For me, NEXT has been a space to practice that friendship.
The Seminary is engaging in critical thinking about the future. What excites you about that process?
It seems to me that there are a couple conversations going on in the mainline church. One is shaped by fear. This conversation laments what is lost, weeps over what used to work but no longer bears fruit, and ponders the death of the church. The other conversation trusts that God is doing a new thing, it celebrates new ventures in ministry and is unafraid of the ups and downs that are surely part of transformation. I believe Austin Seminary is part of the latter conversation, and therefore I am confident that we will be healthy and helpful voice in the church that is becoming.
What's your favorite stress reducer?
I love woodworking ... making furniture for our home. And I have discovered canoe/camping in the boundary waters of Minnesota and Canada. I go every summer. I can't wait for July!
To learn more about the other Trustees, you can go to Austin Seminary's Board of Trustees page.