As the psalmist wrote, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” In the Proverbs, Solomon mused, “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” And in the New Testament we hear Jesus respond to the tempter by saying that, “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” In all of these examples, we are reminded of the power of language, of speech, of words: we live with words, work with words, make with words, and are made by words.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Do we use words to build up or break down? To encourage or to intimidate? To empower or to enslave? Tim Blackmon, chaplain of Wheaton College, comes to Upper House to explore our use of language, reminding us of our calling to speak life into a broken world.

In July 2015, Rev. Timothy Blackmon became the sixth Chaplain of Wheaton College. Born and raised in the Netherlands with an African-American father and a Dutch mother, Rev. Blackmon studied Bible and Theology at the European Bible Institute in Lamorlaye, France. He went on achieve his Masters in Divinity at Calvin Theological Seminary, where he met his wife Betsy. Ordained in the Christian Reformed Church in North America in 1995, Rev. Blackmon has served as the Founding and Senior Pastor of River Rock Church in Folsom, and the Senior Pastor and Head of Staff at The American Protestant Church of The Hague (in the Netherlands)—the church of his youth, where his father had been the music director for more than 40 years. After a number of years serving an expatriate congregation of people from 55 countries and an equal number of denominations, Rev. Blackmon moved to Wheaton College; bringing with him a dynamic and intellectually attuned vision of campus liturgy, worship, discipleship, and spiritual formation.