Pathways with purpose

Terry Walling

Photo By Robert Speer

Don’t call Terry Walling “pastor.” Though he has a master’s in divinity and a doctorate in leadership development, both from Fuller Seminary, in Pasadena, being a pastor was “too defining,” he says. “My bent is, how do we help the church be more effective in the community?” Walling moved to Chico in 1999 with his wife and four children, was a major force behind establishing Matthew’s Café, and is now director of a new venture, the Center for Transformation Studies, a “post-baccalaureate school and learning resource” for Christians who wish to apply “Christ and Kingdom principles” to all sectors of society,” according to its Web site, The first classes begin Sept. 22.

How did the center get started?

Discussion started about six months ago. Larry Lane, of the Chico Neighborhood Church, was very involved. The idea was to take the values learned in church into the wider community by training people in transformation.

Which churches are involved?

It’s primarily the evangelical churches. They run a wide gamut, including some, like Bidwell Presbyterian, that are very involved in the community.

What is meant by “transformation”?

Embodying a way of life that is Christ-like, taking what we truly believe and translating it into actual behavior. It’s to shift from a self-centered focus and lifestyle to an increased awareness and alignment to God, and an influence marked by greater acts of love and kindness within a community.

Does it involve proselytizing?

No, not at all. It’s about how we say what we truly believe and translate it into actual behavior. It’s not about the rules you have to follow to get to heaven and guilt if you don’t follow them. That’s not what Jesus taught.

Your Web site speaks of “mentoring leaders.” Who’s that?

We’re not trying to create great CEOs. We’re trying to make leaders aware that God has put people in their pathway for a purpose, and that’s to love them and care for them.