By Samantha Adams
University President David S. Dockery recently accepted a position as the Carl Henry Chair on the Board of Directors for Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest ministry for prisoners and their families.
For at least the next three years, Dockery said he will be chairman of the theological review committee for the board, review Prison Fellowship publications, advise Prison Fellowship President Jim Liske on theological matters and give a theological lecture to board members once every year.
“Prison Fellowship is unusual among evangelical ministries in that it recognizes the importance of having someone on its board who can help the board think theologically and not just pragmatically about ministry,” said Dr. Hal Poe, Charles Colson professor of faith and culture at Union.
The position is the latest role connecting Dockery to two leading American evangelical theologians from the twentieth century: Dr. Carl F. H. Henry and Charles Colson.
Dockery said that Henry, a premier evangelical theologian in the second half of the 20th century, and Colson, Prison Fellowship founder, shared one of Dockery’s passions: discussing the role of evangelical faith in educational and cultural spheres in America.
Dockery said Colson, before he died in April 2012, had told Dockery he wanted him to be the next to take the position on the board when it became available. So when the previous chairman, Dr. Timothy George, stepped down, Dockery became the third person in Prison Fellowship’s 36-year history to assume the role.
Dockery’s pastoral and educational experience make him uniquely fitted to continue Henry’s legacy of practical application of theology, Poe said.
From the 1980s until his death in 2003, Dockery said Henry was a friend and mentor to him, writing him letters of advice.
“Clearly he was the dean of evangelical theologians in the 20th century,” Dockery said of Henry. “Dr. Henry’s commitment to biblical authority and to classical orthodoxy will serve as a framework for me as I think about the theological foundations reflected in the international ministry of Prison Fellowship.”
The three men have many connections beyond Prison Fellowship. Dockery served on the board of Christianity Today International, the parent organization of “Christianity Today,” a magazine of which Henry was the founding editor. Chuck Colson wrote a column several times per year for “Christianity Today.” Dockery continues to serve as an advisory editor for the magazine, a role he began in 1992.
Both Colson and Henry also served in advisory capacities for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, an organization for which Dockery has served as both board member and board chairman.
Union is one of a very small number of schools that have positions honoring both Colson and Henry. Poe is the first to hold the Charles Colson Chair of Faith and Culture and Dr. Justin
Barnard, associate professor of philosophy, is the director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Intellectual Discipleship.
“Union has been given an amazing privilege of carrying on aspects of the heritage of both Chuck Colson and Carl F. H. Henry, two of the most significant leaders in the evangelical world over the past 50 years,” Dockery said.