Dr. Carstensen was an early user of multimedia material in his ministry. We are collecting his video, audio recordings and other materials as well as doing technical restorations on all of the materials. The first of these preservation efforts efforts using one of his videos from the 1980s is shown in the community. Once preserved and remastered, we are making Adaptive Streaming sets and adding them to this free community for viewing. We are launching this new special-interest community with the first of our preservation efforts and will be adding additional material regularly as we finish new items.
The lives of countless Disciples in hundreds of congregations were touched by Dr. Roger Carstensen through his Bible teaching, his “Feasts of the Scriptures”, his Biblical Storytelling. Roger’s passing in 1996, left behind not only his loving wife, Maretta, and family, but also the Mission for Biblical Literacy. It was Roger’s vision and vocation to “Stamp out Biblical Illiteracy.”
With a renewal of that vision, Christian College and TransformingTheChurch are collaborating with the Mission for Biblical Literacy in gathering documents and media to share with the Church. We will preserve any and all media which we can recover, and such materials will be restored to start afresh the vision Roger left for us.
Through this new platform and the Internet, we may be able to do what Roger could only dream of doing, as the Internet was never part of his plan. Many will recall that in his last five years, Roger traveled world-wide – not only to the Middle East but also to Russia, Siberia, and Armenia. He forged partnerships to carry his vision in new ways to new places. At a time when many Christians were rushing in to “Christianize” Roger was stepping forward for dialogue. He was a "Disciples Missionary" in the classic sense of the word. He did not overlook the rich Christian history of lands opened by Perestroika; neither did he ignore the other traditions of faith which empowered people and cultures. Roger found, through open doors, opportunities for mutual hospitality, reconciliation, and shared education and Biblical teaching. And those many pilgrims who went to the Middle East with Roger will recall on-site storytelling which brought to life the Scriptures, the places, the people, and the Gospel.
Individuals and congregations with stories about Roger or with materials to contribute to this project may contact Dr. Bob Harris at 770-815-9078.
Roger Norwood Carstensen was born in Nebraska in 1920. At the age of 75, Roger’s energy and schedule exceeded that of most who knew him, with his commitment and productive ministry moving forward with full-force and impact.
An example of his leadership: on the day of his first stroke, he sent a fax at about 5:30 p.m. prior to leaving his office on the campus of Christian College of Georgia (where he had formerly served a President). The fax confirmed the facts that every goal outlined and adopted by MBL for the year 1995 had been accomplished and exceeded beyond the greatest dreams of the leaders of the Mission for Biblical Literacy. This was the condition in which Roger exited his ministry. (taken from memorial comments by Tom C. Cook, Jr. ) In Roger’s own words: “I’m not much of a prophet, but check me out at the end of 1995. I have a feeling that 1995 will be the most significant year in our seventeen year history. I anticipate this both in terms of the global sweep of Biblical Literacy mission and in the rise of work in the United States.”
But Roger was more of a prophet than he was willing to admit. And according to Dr. Fred Craddock, who was Roger’s faculty office-mate at Phillips University and who ministered the Eulogy in Athens, Georgia, on February 24, 1996, Roger was also a poet, a musician, a story-teller, a preacher, and a Biblical scholar. Roger was the beneficiary of “Five Talents.”
And we were all the beneficiaries of his stewardship of those talents. “He worked awfully hard…because Roger had this immense vision of the saving knowledge of God covering the Earth like the waters cover the sea.” (Dr. Craddock).
He was the captain of a ship called the Institute for Biblical Literacy, and later the Mission for Biblical Literacy, which he founded as he departed his term of ministry at Christian Colege. His mission: to help stamp out Biblical Illiteracy. His ship: himself, his car, the airlines, the train. His ports: congregations across the nation – on the map of the continental USA that hung in his office, there were too many push-pins to count, each representing at least one visit to that location; and each visit represented several days, usually in what came to be called “Feasts of the Scriptures.” But not in the US only; into the Middle East as well, not as a tourist, but as a friend to residents and a story teller on Sacred sites. Roger could sing not only “I walked today where Jesus walked,” but also “I taught today where Jesus taught.” And the people always listened intently.
Indeed, one of the objectives of this “Carstensen Restoration Project” is to restore and replay actual footage of Roger teaching onsite in the Holy Land. And then, Roger heard a voice calling, “Come on over to Moscow and help us.” Into Moscow, St. Petersburg, outlying villages, and then into the expanse while seated uncomfortably at best in frigid Siberian winter to the borders of northern China. Roger would welcome those strangers God brought into his ministry and would not only share the Story with them but also learn more deeply of the Story FROM them. His was a ministry of hospitality, mutuality, shared vision.
His stops at familiar ports included residence as a youngster when his family relocated to Eugene, Oregon. He attended Northwest Christian College and earned his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. He was a professor: at Phillips University in Oklahoma, at Northwest Christian College in Oregon, and finally as President of Christian College in Athens, Georgia. Yet his footprint was in the hearts of those who heard him preach, teach, play familiar hymns blended with improvisation, tell stories to children on his television program, sing, SING, and then harmonize with his northwestern US traveling quartet, read poetry of his own and of the classics, laugh, and pray. Roger’s life with us ended on February 22, 1996 – and it is there that this project begins.