Seeing Things Whole as an organization began in 1993 to accompany individuals and businesses eager to integrate moral reasoning and spiritual imagination into their work life. In 2016, STW integrated its work and processes with longtime partner, Augsburg University. This shift will further strengthen Augsburg’s mission to nurture tomorrow’s whole leaders while significantly expanding STW’s reach and impact. We look forward to continuing to expand partnerships and enhance resources to help you and others see things whole.
Seeing Things Whole comes from author E.B. White, who wrote that the role of the artist is to “see things whole.” These three words evoke our mission and core values. We want to:
- see better what is with the eye and what could be with the mind’s eye. We want to
- see from the ground up the practical things that organizations face.
- see things in the context of something more, a larger whole, a larger possible context of meaning of which organizations are a part.
Building on Tradition
Although STW is relatively new, it draws upon a rich tradition and history that dates back to the 1950s. Three voices in particular—those of Robert Greenleaf, Jitsuo Morikawa, and Dick Broholm—continue to inspire our theological understanding of the nature and purpose of organizations. In many ways, they are the elders of STW.
It was in the 1950s when Dick Broholm (eventually one of the founders of STW), George Bauer (IBM) and others at the Delmar Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, began a conversation about a lack of faith in the workplace. They felt real battles of faith and conscience were unfolding in the midst of the organizations where people went to work every day—in factories, shops, laboratories, schools, hospitals, banks, offices, and government agencies.
In the 1960’s Dick, George, Jitsuo Morikawa (National Council of Churches) and others engaged in an action research effort known as MAP (Metropolitan Associates of Philadelphia). They explored how institutions from various sectors of metropolitan Philadelphia might contribute to the renewal of the city during this time of social unrest.
In the 1970’s, Dick Broholm, George Bauer, David Specht and others led a research task force at Andover Newton Theological School to explore how church congregations might better empower lay people for their full ministries as change agents within the communities and organizations where they lived and worked.
In the 1980’s, the Center for the Ministry of the Laity and The Robert K. Greenleaf Center were founded. Dick and David, now in collaboration with Bob Greenleaf (AT&T and Servant Leadership), George Bauer, Jitsuo Morikawa, Bob Lynn (The Lilly Foundation) and others began to focus on developing a theological understanding of institutions capable of informing the way we think about and engage organizations and those who lead them. Two research task forces anchored this effort. One was focused specifically on developing a theology of institutions. A second explored how we might best support organizational leaders as they sought to draw upon their deeply held religious beliefs and moral convictions as they grapple with the complex dilemmas facing their organizations.
Seeing Things Whole is a direct descendent of these efforts, emerging in the 1990s, and continuing to evolve today.
We invite you to review this visual history of some of the people, institutions, initiatives, and resources.