Circle of Grace: Praying With -- and for -- Your Children
Ballantine Books, 2000
By Gregory and Suzanne Wolfe

"It is our earnest hope that you will unlock your child's -- and your own -- potential for the divine conversation that is prayer. This is a well-known paradox of the spiritual life that when we gather together and focus our love and attention outward -- on God's goodness and grace -- we actually grow closer to one another. That is the secret of praying together as a family.

- Gregory and Suzanne Wolfe,
Circle of Grace

Families today often find their Christian walk sidetracked by piano lessons, soccer practices, gymnastics, TV, long work weeks et al. They are searching for ways to grow spiritually in the midst of daily chaos. Two Seattle Pacific University faculty members are helping them to do just that.

Gregory Wolfe, SPU writer-in-residence, and publisher and editor of Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, and wife Suzanne Wolfe, Image executive editor and SPU instructor of English, recently released Circle of Grace: Praying With -- and for -- Your Children. The book, full of advice, stories and simple prayers, is aimed at developing a family's spiritual health.

Prior to writing Circle of Grace, the Wolfes had already earned a reputation for writing books that support families. In 1994, they authored Books That Build Character. Three years later, they released two books: Climb High, Climb Far and The Family New Media Guild. When Ballantine Books asked them to write about prayer for children, they agreed.

The Wolfes drew from their own experiences as the parents of four children, ages 5 to 15. Both raised in broken homes, Gregory and Suzanne didn't pray as children with their families. But as parents, they determined to make prayer a consistent part of family life.

"We started praying for our children when they were in utero," Suzanne recalls. Once the children were born, they prayed over them. When the children became toddlers, they taught them simple prayers and prayed with them. Today, the Wolfe family comes together at the day's end to pray. Together they offer praise, make requests, confess and give their concerns to God.

Circle of Grace was a natural outgrowth of this prayer time. In the book, the Wolfes discuss the implications of family prayer, offer suggestions for getting started and describe how children's prayers change over the years. They also include simple prayers -- some by their children -- for a variety of times and family milestones.

"I do think it's necessary, especially as children grow, to give them a secure, prayerful family for a strong foundation," says Suzanne. Gregory agrees. "In a strange but wonderful way, praying together is democratic," he explains. "Parents and children meet as spiritual equals, pilgrims on a common journey."

Now in bookstores nationwide, Circle of Grace can also be ordered at the Image Web site.

Fashion Group Designs Scholarship in Warnick's Honor

Associate Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences Stella Warnick has invested 27 years in building an apparel design program at Seattle Pacific University that is unique among Christian institutions. Today she can point to dozens of graduates who have created a lasting impression within the fashion industry on both coasts.

In recognition of her profound impact on both education and fashion, the Seattle chapter of Fashion Group International (FGI) has established the Dr. Stella Warnick Leadership Scholarship for Seattle-area students who desire to study fashion. FGI, with chapters in most of the world's major cities, provides a network for industry professionals and is dedicated to raising funds for educational programs.

The 1998 SPU Professor of the Year, Warnick will set the criteria for the FGI scholarship in her name. The award, its creators say, is meant to ensure Warnick's "unique and inspiring" characteristics will be imparted to students today who will be the industry's leaders tomorrow.

Known for her warmth and tenacious advocacy of students and their desire to create and promote quality clothing, Warnick always has numerous success stories at her fingertips. For instance, she says, "April Kauffman, a 1983 graduate, went on to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York to study advertising design. She became head of advertising for Eddie Bauer Inc. and today runs her own advertising agency with 14 employees."

She also speaks proudly of graduates like Greg Gale '87, who has worked for major costumers for Broadway shows, first as a researcher, then as a designer. His innovative costumes continue to delight theatre audiences.

Warnick likes to challenge her students to think of their responsibilities as Christians in the fashion world. What colors lift the spirits and help people feel better about themselves? What cut or style will leave the best first impression at a job interview? What ethical consequences does a clothier bear for exploiting cheap Third World labor?

"Clothing is essential to how we look and feel about ourselves, and to how others judge our appearance," says Warnick. "We're not talking about outlandish Paris fashions here. We're talking about creative, affordable clothing that addresses individual needs. Some Christians think that fashion is too materialistic, but people need educated designers who understand the psychological and sociological implications of apparel in our lives."

Warnick is excited about the rising talent that will benefit from the scholarship newly established in her name. Her students are her prime motivation. "What an incredible blessing they have been to me over the years," she says with emotion. "Such a richness they have added to my life."

Faculty-Student Duo Presents Original Research

The first time Kathleen Braden was asked to present a paper to the conference titled "Will Civil Society Save the World?" she declined. With tandem responsibilities as dean of student life and professor of geography at Seattle Pacific University, she had no time to do the needed research. However, her expertise on development work in the former Soviet Union prompted the organizers of the event to ask again. "I really wanted to see Russia represented," says Braden, "so I decided I would do it -- if I could find a good student to help me."

As she asked colleagues for recommendations, the name of University Scholar Heather Eggen came up repeatedly. So Braden approached the junior philosophy and English major, who accepted the invitation.

For Eggen, the subject was completely new. She researched and recorded her findings on the connection between Western non-government organizations and Christian development groups in the former USSR. "The parts I wrote were more theoretical," the student researcher explains. "Dr. Braden had the experience." On the other hand, as the professor points out, "Heather's background in philosophy complemented my social science background. She is a good thinker who approached the topic with a fresh viewpoint."

Together they produced a paper titled "Western NGO Support of Grassroots Christian Organizations in Former USSR Republics." And in November they jointly presented their work at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to the attendees of the symposium titled "Will Civil Society Save the World? A Conference on Christian Insights Into the Role of the Third Sector in International Development."

Heather was the only student author there. "I was impressed by her," Braden recalls. "She really carried herself well and did a good job of actual presentation. We were a team."

"Being at the conference," says Heather, "made me think a lot about the role of academics in my future. Most of the others had lived in or traveled in the areas they were talking about. It reinforced to me the idea of doing, not just reading and theorizing. I saw how the two parts can interact so profoundly."

While at the conference, Heather gained an interest in sustainable agriculture. Upon returning, she enrolled in "Sociology of Hunger" for Winter Quarter.

When World Vision's Marc Press publishes a book of the proceedings of the conference, Braden's and Eggen's words will appear in print side-by-side. Says Braden, "The experience of the faculty member and the new perspective of the student is a dynamite combination."

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