The mission of the Weyerhaeuser Center is to provide resources and support for primarily faculty and students at Whitworth University in their efforts to integrate faith and learning.
The Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith & Learning was established in 1998 with the support of an initial gift from The Stewardship Foundation, established by C. Davis Weyerhaeuser. A long-time trustee of Whitworth, Weyerhaeuser served on the then-college's board of trustees for more than 30 years. Steadfast in his commitment to Whitworth's Christian mission, Weyerhaeuser refused to be honored by having any building at Whitworth bear his name. Shortly before he died, in April 1999, the Whitworth administration determined that a center dedicated to the support of the college's Christian mission would be an appropriate way of honoring Weyerhaeuser and his wife, Annette.
Since the center's founding, Dale Soden, Ph.D., has served as its director. From the outset, the Weyerhaeuser Center has focused on providing funding for Christian scholarship among Whitworth faculty. The WCCFL has offered programs designed to help faculty understand Whitworth's Christian mission as well as the college's relationship to the Presbyterian Church. The center sponsors reading groups, summer seminars, and occasional workshops on various aspects of the integration of faith and learning. In addition, the WCCFL sponsors public lectures from nationally known speakers on a wide array of subjects. These lectures and presentations are designed to stimulate the intellectual and spiritual life of the campus.
A major initiative of the Weyerhaeuser Center emphasizes vocational discernment. Funded with $2.5 million from the Lilly Endowment and beginning in 2001, this effort is co-directed by Soden and Dean of Spiritual Life Terry McGonigal, Ph.D. In addition to two films, countless public lectures and programs for spiritual mentoring, the center has helped shape a commitment to the idea of vocational discernment that persists at Whitworth to this day. Another major initiative has been the Weyerhaeuser Younger Scholars Program. Each year, the center has financially supported a mentoring relationship between a faculty member and an upper-level student. This relationship is centered on a research project that is to be delivered each year at an undergraduate research conference. The purpose has been to encourage Whitworth students to consider the possibility of becoming Christian professors/teachers. More than 190 students have participated in the program. The center has also engaged in an important partnership with Gonzaga University's Faith and Reason Institute. In most academic years, the center and the Faith and Reason Institute have sponsored a national conference, first on the topic of "Physics and the God of Abraham," and since 2008 on the topic of "Faith, Philosophy, and Film."
For much of its first 15 years, the center has developed and sponsored a number of programs aimed at serving the broader church. These include workshops, seminars, pastors' reading groups and, most notably, certificate programs for lay ministry. In addition, the center has helped initiate a special collection of manuscripts focused on the history of Protestantism in the Pacific Northwest. That collection, which has grown substantially, is housed in the Whitworth University Library.
In 2013, the university determined that it would coordinate its efforts to serve the broader church through the creation of the Whitworth Office of Church Engagement. At that point, certificate programs in lay ministry as well as all other efforts to serve the church were offered through this new office. In 2015, the center remains a vital part of Whitworth University's efforts to fulfill its mission as a Christian institution. It is dedicated to providing resources, programming and ideas central to the effort to integrate faith and learning.
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