Archived Posts June 2007 - Page 5 of 9 | Acton PowerBlog

Acton University 2007 came to a close this evening with another stirring address by Rev. Robert Sirico which capped a great week in Grand Rapids for all involved. It’s getting late and I can’t hope to top what Father Robert had to say this evening, so I’ll refer all of you to the audio link below.

It’s always a relief when we come to the end of what is without a doubt the busiest week of the year for Acton’s Grand Rapids staff, but there’s a hint of sadness as well as we have to say good bye to so many people who have come to our hometown to engage in this remarkable conference. Over the next 24 hours or so, many of our new (and old) friends will be heading back to their various corners of the world via automobile and airplane, and we send along our prayers for traveling mercies for each and every one of them. I think I can speak for everyone at Acton in wishing all of our alumni the best in their various endeavors, and in hoping that we’ll see them again in the future.

Today’s lectures from Acton University 2007 (updated as more audio becomes available):

Random AU Pic of the Day

I just made Kara Eagle’s Supergirl socks famous.
Blog author: kschmiesing
Friday, June 15, 2007

That religion can be big business is not news to anyone. But this Zenit analysis by Fr. John Flynn is an especially good synopsis of the current state and size of the “Christianity market” in the United States.

On a roughly related note, I’ve been meaning to mention the creation of a new blog on faith and business: the Business as Mission Network blog run by Justin Forman. It tracks news in the “business as mission” movement, which envisions businesses, especially within predominantly non-Christian regions, as instruments of evangelization.

Blog author: mvandermaas
Friday, June 15, 2007

Sometimes you come across a story that’s so powerful that it DEMANDS to be posted. This is one such story:

“Usually, if a turd gets into the Senate, it’s because he or she was elected,” Emily Heil reports for Roll Call. “But on Wednesday, several large piles of actual, nonmetaphorical ‘No. 2’ found their way into the Capitol, and the source isn’t yet clear.”

It was the first sentence that got me.

Today’s lectures from Acton University 2007 (updated as more audio becomes available):

Acton PowerBlogger John H. Armstrong is with us this week in Grand Rapids for Acton University. He is founder and director of ACT 3, a ministry aimed at “encouraging the church, through its leadership, to pursue doctrinal and ethical reformation and to foster spiritual awakening.” Here’s his post on Wednesday’s conference activities:

The relationship between integrity, virtue and vision is not often developed in the business world. Yesterday the Acton University experience afforded me a unique opportunity to understand better why such a relationship fosters both free markets and free people. The moral dimension is critical to both sound economics and entrepreneurial leadership. This is one of several ways that Acton brings together the worlds of faith and freedom.

Last evening Mr. Jeff Sandefer, a Texas businessman who twice made a fortune and then sold his hugely profitable companies, shared his own story: “A Journey from Pride to Gratitude.” It felt a little like being back in the world I experienced growing up in Tennessee or the world I saw when I visited my businessman-farmer uncle in northeast Texas. Jeff is a down-to-earth humble guy who has made enough mistakes to fill a book. Divorced, filled with himself and his accomplishments, and determined to follow a course of running from God at several junctures in his life, he again and again met the God of all grace who called him to radical faithfulness and gratitude.

Today Jeff directs a charitable foundation, built with the money he earned, and leads a most innovative and highly regarded school of business, named appropriately the Acton School of Business, in Austin, Texas. He is now shaping the future by giving himself to others through his vocational skills. Jeff provided a wonderful model to Acton University students of a simple, but radical, “long, slow, obedience in the same direction” (Eugene Peterson). It was a refreshing conversational address. (more…)

Kris Mauren (far right) and African guests get ready to visit GFS.

Acton University is now well underway, and on Wednesday a group of seven African attendees joined Kris Mauren on a visit to Gordon Food Service’s Grand Rapids headquarters for an up-close look at ethical capitalism. Mauren called it a great opportunity for people from countries with barren and corrupt markets to see an efficient, principled business for themselves. “The management of GFS also has a strong concern for philanthropy and international missions,” he said. “So it’s a great model of the capitalist ideal to hold up for these folks, who are used to a much more hostile economic climate.”

The group met with Gordon Food Service management for a luncheon, then toured the company’s office and factory area. Harry Ayile, formerly from Ghana and now residing in Norway, was completely blown away by what he observed. “It was like … wow,” Ayile commented with a smile. He was struck by the dedication shown by the company’s workers. “At every level, the workers are extremely well-organized, focused, and committed to doing their jobs excellently,” he said.

Ayile was astonished at how the “energetic” GFS employees took pains to avoid mistakes in the orders they were filling. “The business has a good system of checks and balances, and most of the employees have been there for fifteen years or more,” he said. “They take true satisfaction in their work.”

Comparing Gordon Food Service’s methods to the way business is done in Africa and even in Europe, Ayile said his visit couldn’t have been more of an eye-opener. “Before I came to Acton, I thought all people who did business were evil,” he said.

Ayile recalled one food-production company in Ghana that deliberately had been selling expired grain infested with maggots. “They would just sift out the maggots, package the grain, and sell it at full price,” he said. “Finally one employee caught on to what was happening and was able to produce evidence and pictures, but it went on for awhile.” Ayile called the incident typical of business practices in much of Africa, which lacks the institutional support necessary for free enterprise to flourish. When the rule of law is unreliable, incentives for greedy and corrupt behavior often outweigh the benefits of integrity. He added that many businesses “show very little respect for the consumer, as opposed to the way American businesses like Gordon Food Service care about their customers.”

Ayile and others from the group — which included visitors from the Congo, Kenya, and other African countries — all said they were very impressed with the way GFS invested in its employees and how these employees, in turn, were invested in the success of the company. Although Africa has a long way to go, Ayile said his visit was inspiring and gave him hope for the future of Ghana and other developing countries in Africa.