The integration of faith and vocation, the foundation underlying InterVarsity’s Following Christ 2008 conference, was promoted at the conference in the Bosscher-Hammond awards competition. Twenty-five semi-finalists received free registration to the conference, December 27-31, 2008, in Chicago. Three winners of the award were announced on the final day of the conference.
The winners each offered a unique proposal for expressing their faith through their occupation to the benefit of others.
- A team from Baylor University, led by engineering professor Walter Bradley, proposed a plan to develop more economically beneficial uses for the coconut. Noting that coconuts are abundant in many of the poorer regions of the world, the Baylor team believes that the application of engineering, distribution, manufacturing, and business resources can develop markets that will improve the financial yield from the shell, the husk, and the inner parts of the coconut.
“It is exciting to think that this abundant renewable resource has been provided by God to help the poorest of the poor, if we can just see the value that God has put into this fruit and figure out how to get that value out,” their proposal said. “We set out to discover the technology that would allow us to start a triple bottom line company called Whole Tree, Inc. around coconuts, one that would make a profit, make a difference in the lives of people most in need, and be good stewards of our planet.”
- Stephanie Gehring’s goal is to write orthodox theology in the form of poetry. “As an artist and a Christian, it is part of my practice of belief not to ask questions as though they have no answers,” she wrote in her application. “The balance between clarity and mystery is one I’m struggling to find.” Stephanie recently received an M.F.A. degree from Cornell University.
- A public health initiative in the state of Arkansas focused on working with both white and black churches in an effort to improve information and motivation related to healthier living practices. Two important principles in Karen Hye-cheon Kim’s proposal were, “God cares about your health and we cannot be healthy by our own strength.” Karen works for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and has also won government grants for her initiative.
Each of the winners received a $2,000 prize.
The competition is named after Peter Bosscher, a former professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who passed away in 2007, and Pete Hammond, a former senior staff member and vice president at-large with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship who passed away in December 2008. Both men committed their lives to the integration of faith, learning, and practice. Bosscher was the organizer of a chapter of Engineers Without Borders on the UW-Madison campus. Hammond founded and led InterVarsity’s Ministry in Daily Life Resource Group, originally known as Marketplace.
Two more reports on Following Christ 2008 are online: Honoring God at Work and Human Flourishing.