Although many have shaped the work of Seeing Things Whole, three voices in particular—those of Robert Greenleaf, Jitsuo Morikawa, and Dick Broholm—shaped our mission and theologically understanding of the nature and purpose of organizations. In many ways they are the elders of STW, guiding our rich history and motivating us to continue to evolve and grow in wholeness.
Robert Greenleaf (1904-1990)
Founder of the modern Servant Leadership movement and the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership
Born in Terre Haute, Indiana, Greenleaf graduated from Carleton College in Minnesota before working for AT&T. For more than 40 years, he researched management, development and education. He came to realize that the power-centered authoritarian leadership style so prominent in U.S. institutions was not working, and in 1964 he took an early retirement to found the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. He challenged organizations to consider the theological issues of origins and ends, of power, love and justice, just as they have learned to handle the practical issues of operations efficiency and financial management.
“I do not believe that the urgently needed fundamental reconstruction of our vast and pervasive structure of institutions can take place, prudently and effectively, without a strong supporting influence from the churches. And I doubt that churches as they now stand, with only a theology of persons to guide them, can wield the needed influence. I deem it imperative that a new and compelling theology of institutions come into being. It is my hope that contemporary churches will take the lead to produce it. Our times are crying out for such leadership.”
Rev. Jitsuo Morikawa (1912-1987)
Baptist minister who served the American Baptist National Ministries; vice president for the American Baptist Churches
Born of Buddhist parents in Hammond, British Columbia, Morikawa converted to Christianity at age 16. Shortly after graduating from UCLA and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Morikawa was forcibly placed in internment camps during World War II. He served as a pastor at a camp in Poston, Arizona, for 18 months. After his release, he continued to pastor several churches, including Riverside Church in New York and the First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor. Morikawa received six honorary doctorates of divinity, helped establish the University of Michigan Conference on the Teaching of Ethics and Values.
“But today, more than in the past, the fate or welfare of human life is powerfully affected by the institutions of society; in fact, the future is being largely shaped by these economic, political and social institutions of our culture, so that the role of institutions, the moral and social accountability of institutions, becomes perhaps the number one agenda in our historical enterprise. How to confront these powerful organizations, which are our greatest achievement, before they destroy us on the one hand, and how to evoke and provoke them to a fresh discovery and discernment of their true purpose and calling, on the other hand, is the task of an American, indigenous, evocative theology.”
Richard Broholm (1928- )
Baptist minister who co-founded Seeing Things Whole and pioneered the exploration of ministry of the laity
Broholm began his professional career in 1957 as an associate pastor to Dr. Edwin Dahlberg in St. Louis, Missouri. From there, he became the Baptist chaplin at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In the early 1960’s, he began working with Jitsuo Morikawa, which led to full time work representing the division of evangelism. In 1966, Broholm established the Metropolitan Associates of Philadelphia, which became a World Council of Churches action research study focused on what lay people do in and through their workplace. In 1974, he joined Hay Associates, a human resource consulting group in Boston. During this time, he was in regular conversation with thought leaders in the area on the ministry of the laity, which ultimately led to the establishment of the Center for the Ministry of the Laity at Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. In the mid 1980s, Broholm began a working relationship with Bob Greenleaf that eventually led to a full time position at the Greenleaf Center. From there, he worked for the Lilly Endowment for several years. In 1994, he co-founded the organization Seeing Things Whole. Broholm continues to be actively engaged in both mentoring young people and as a thought partner in his lifelong journey of exploring the ministry of the laity.
“While many organizations have broken down or become destructive, they are, on the whole, ordered ways of serving God’s people by meeting needs and solving problems. We do need them. …But, in that they have been structured in such a way that they do not serve all of God’s people, but primarily those who are wealthy, white, male and western, they must be changed. In that they are structured in a way which keeps us isolated, alienated and frustrated, they must be restructured. They must be made more human-oriented: they must be humanized. …The objective of lay ministry is to develop within the Christian Church a new ministry through the laity to the organizations of the secular world. …If lay people are to minister to society they will require clergy who can act as enablers of lay action. They will also require the church to provide resources, both human and financial, as well as guidance, training, and support to lay ministry groups. In fact, the entire structure of the church must be open to enabling the ministry of the laity.”