Engaging the Kingdom of God to Transform the Culture of a City
This is the tagline of the Nashville Fellows Program, and it is at the heart of every aspect of our program. We are teaching our Fellows to be aware of how God is working through his people and places to bring about his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We are pressing in together as we consider how God might use us to bring transformation into areas of need within our beloved city, Nashville. And all the while, we are doing this in the context of a partnership between three churches who have come together out of a love for the Fellows Program and a desire to serve Nashville together - even across denominational lines.
With a desire to create a logo that reflects our core values and identity, we began thinking through logo designs over the summer, and we are happy to present our new logo - a logo that speaks to who we are as the Nashville Fellows Program, specifically.
In order to honor the location of our program, we have made the logo the same colors as the Tennessee flag: red, white, and blue. In addition, we have included three stars, similar to the three stars on the Tennessee flag. We have also included olive branches, speaking to Nashville's historical nickname of the "Athens of the South," a name given to Nashville in the 1800's for the numerous institutions of higher education throughout the city.
The three stars and olive branches speak not only to our location, though, but also to our commitments as a program. The three stars represent the partnership between West End Community Church, St. George's Episcopal Church, and Christ Presbyterian Church. The desire of these churches to come together across denominational ines for the sake of the greater good - for the sake of the Gospel - serves as a beautiful model to our Fellows in a time of growing division within our culture and even within the Church. Thus, the olive branches also demonstrate the commitment of our churches to peace and unity - we are extending an olive branch to each other, recognizing that the only way the Church can experience healing is through mutual repentance and humility.
The three stars also signify the relational nature of the Nashville Fellows Program as a whole. In the same way that we are made in the image of the Triune God, our Fellows engage in academic study and conversation around what it means to be in personal communion with God, the Church, and the world around us. Our class time is structured this way, spending about 1/3 of the year reflecting inward, then learning about the Church, and then studying Christ and culture.
Before the Fellows begin our program, they all read a Henry Nouwen article entitled "From Solitude to Community to Ministry," and this article provides the framework for our three-fold focus in our classes with Fellows. I highly encourage you to read this article, which we've linked - your time will be well-spent! In this article, Nouwen posits that in order to effectively serve the world together, we must first have a healthy relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ; that is, the Church. And in order to have a healthy relationship with the Church, we must have a healthy personal relationship with Christ. Nouwen shares with us:
So often in ministry, I have wanted to do it by myself. If it didn't work, I went to others and said, "Please!" searching for a community to help me. If that didn't work, maybe I'd start praying. But the order that Jesus teaches us is the reverse. It begins by being with God in solitude; then it creates a fellowship, a community with whom the mission is being lived; and finally this community goes out together to heal and to proclaim good news.
Likewise, in Life Together (which our Fellows also read before starting the year together), Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “Let them who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community… But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.”
Our goal with the Fellows is to help them "Start Well" as they begin their careers and to do so by being grounded deeply in a life of prayer, reflection and involvement in the local Church. In a world barreling along at a dizzying pace, we hope to pause and consider how we might best engage the world each day as we set about the tasks God has given us to do. May our logo be a constant reminder to us of what God has called us to do as the Nashville Fellows Program. Amen!