John, or Jack (he likes both names equally) Biersdorf is the pastor of the Point of Vision Community. His family was without any official religious affiliation, but he remembers from his earliest years a sense of an overarching context, a sense of presence without name or description, around, above and within him. Upon graduation from college he was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps and was stationed in Japan toward the end of the Korean war. There he came to know a Southern Baptist naval chaplain who introduced him to a simple fundamentalist faith. That decision led him to the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California with Dr. Hugh Vernon White who greatly expanded his horizons with theologians such as Karl Barth, Emil Brunner and Rudolf Bultmann; and at the same time he was led to the “Beatnic Generation” in North Beach (San Francisco) where he came to know yogis and Buddhists with different and very interesting understandings and practices. Throughout seminary he went back and forth over the bay bridge and in his own mind and heart between Barth, Brunner and Bultmann in Berkeley and the beatniks in North Beach.
After seminary he ministered in parishes in California and then entered doctoral studies and joined the faculty and staff of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Subsequently he became Director of the Department of Ministry at the National Council of Churches. While there he conducted research and held a national conference on the future of religion in America. His first book, “Hunger for Experience” reported the results. His time at the National Council was richly leavened with exposure to the varieties of the personal growth and organizational development movements,and other religious traditions. They included meditating beginning before dawn at Zen Buddhist communities on the ‘goaless goal’ of realizing his true nature.
He left Union Seminary and the National Council of Churches to become the Director of the Institute for Advanced Pastoral Studies in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, which was the first school in the country for the continuing education of ministers. Over the years it evolved into the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, of which he was the first President and Dean. The Seminary is unique in building its mission on a place – metropolitan Detroit. In retirement he is active in the United Church of Christ, pastoring Point of Vision, writing, and other activities. He is most pleased with having designed and built a straw bale retreat house on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. He is the author of several books. The most recent is How Prayer Shapes Ministry.
His wife, Ruth, manages a branch of the Detroit Public Library. They share their home in Lathrup Village, Michigan with four cats. His three sons, Mark, Steve and Dan: and four grandchildren Samantha, Christopher, Emily, and Rachel; live in the midwest. His wife, Ruth, manages a branch of the Detroit Public Library. They share their home in Lathrup Village, Michigan with four cats. His three sons, Mark, Steve and Dan: and four grandchildren Samantha, Christopher, Emily, and Rachel; live in the midwest.
List of JB books
Creating an Intentional Ministry
Edington Press 1976
!SBN 0-687-098 10-6
Essays by Leading Teachers, Executives and Practitioners on creating a faithful and effective ministry, including negotiating your ministry, taking charge of your career, the intentional congregation, and social issues in ministry, and ministry as gift of the spirit.
Hunger for Experience: Vital Religious Communities in America
Seabury Press 1975
The results of a national delphi study and resulting national conference on emerging trends in american religion. Catholic Protestant and Jewish communities were survyed across the country. intensive case studies were carried out on promising harbingers of the future. The essence of the findings were that people hungered for authentic and vital spiritual and religious expeiences.
Healing of Pupose: God’s call to discipleship
Abingdon Press 1985
The learnings and curriculmn foundations from years of continuing professional ministerial education. the model of minister as contemplative as foundation for professional minstry.
How Prayer Shapes Ministry
Alban Institutue 1992
In depth exploration of the life of prayer as a theological basis and a practical guide for professional ministry.
Silence – The Language of God (correct)
New ways to look at faith (recovering fundamentalists)
What doesnt change in religion/the beauty and truth in religion/what remains true and beautful in religion
The end of metaphysics
Spiritual practice and life not as rehearsal
Is God Acting in the Worl
Frontiers of Science and Religion/VS./Or/
How Power Contaminates Religion
Beyond Belief and Labels
What can be named is NOT the eternal name
What is My True Name
Festivals and Rituals