Beginning with a very simple premise of faith, The Yellowstone Center (TYC) believes that love for God and love for neighbor are intimately intertwined. With this in mind, TYC seeks to create an environment where people of differing worldviews can learn to relate to and appreciate one another. This includes dialogue between religions, faith and science, faith and the humanities, and faith and the arts, all in an effort to create a better community, a better world.
The laboratory for this endeavor is an 80-acre parcel of land in Bozeman, Montana, donated to TYC by Klein and Karen Gilhousen. A growing educational, artistic, and research center in the northern Rockies, Bozeman is an idyllic setting for just such an adventure. The Yellowstone Center—with its resident educational arm, Yellowstone Theological Institute—makes a difference not only through educational programs, but also through intentional interdisciplinary and inter-religious dialogue.
There are five focal points for enhancing TYC communication: dialogue, education, community, adventure, and the arts. Historically, each of these areas is prominent in Western culture, but not necessarily in dialogue with the foundation of faith. The nature of what people believe in is at the heart of human existence. What a person believes or trusts to define existence is different for each individual. For some it a form of theism or religion, for some it is a nature-based agnosticism, for some it is celebration through artistic expression, and for some it is an intellectual evaluation of the workings of science. Our belief is at the heart of our worldview and informs how we approach life. Thus to include faith in a dialogue between science, politics, economics, literature, and the fine arts is not only logical, but also necessary.
Dialogue is not just a two, three, or four-way conversation, but rather an opportunity to listen, and to “learn-a-bit” from the other participants. The Yellowstone Center creates opportunities for people to participate in dialogues regarding faith and science, faith and politics, faith and economics, faith and conservancy, as well as faith and the arts.
Community is a catchword in contemporary culture, but at its root it refers not merely to a group of people located in a particular location, but to a group of people with specific cares, concerns, and interests. It indicates a group of people that cares for one another. The Yellowstone Center promotes community development through its amenities, which include miles of trails, athletic fields, an arts complex, and public gardens. Events and presentations at the property are designed to promote interdisciplinary and interreligious dialogue.
It is part of human nature to be creative. The Yellowstone Center believes that inside every person, whether one is an engineer, a scientist, a musician, or a commercial artist, there is a creator. To bury, marginalize, or disregard creativity can cause emotional and psychological dysfunction. At the Center, creativity is not limited to the art studio. Rather, every aspect of TYC is designed to help people discover and practice their own creative impulses.
Learning involves dialogue and synthesis. The dialogue entails an engagement between teacher and student, with the material to be mastered as its content. Out of this critical and creative dialogue comes a learning synthesis, whereby student and teacher alike are inwardly formed. Residing at The Yellowstone Center, Yellowstone Theological Institute (YTI) seeks to create this learning synthesis for every student who is part of its degree programs, as well as for non-students who simply visit TYC for community lectures and other community learning initiatives. YTI challenges what we know today in order to make the world a better place tomorrow.
John Calvin referred to the created order as "The Theater of God’s Glory”. The Yellowstone Center's location in the northern Rockies, with majestic mountain vistas and Yellowstone National Park right at our doorstep, place us in a unique setting to appreciate the splendor of the natural world. As we learn to appreciate the environment in which we live, we will desire to experience this environment in a more holistic—even spiritual—fashion. We also recognize that we live in a world where our natural resources are finite, and quality theological education must address how we can be good stewards of these resources.