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SPU houses largest work and faith library

John Terrill and Al Erisman

It’s hard to know when a day like any other will suddenly change your life. For Al Erisman, life changed while he was driving home from work some 30 years ago.

Erisman, who worked at Boeing for 32 years, was listening to a radio interview of R.C. Sproul, author of the book, Stronger Than Steel: The Wayne Alderson Story.

The book was about a coal miner’s son who became a successful executive by integrating Christian thought with business practices. Inspired, Erisman bought the book that day and finished it in one sitting. The book launched Erisman’s second career, focused on work and faith.

In 2007, Pete Hammond planned to retire as vice president at large for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and sought to donate his extensive book collection.

“He wanted his books to go to a place where they would be used,” said Erisman, then director of SPU’s Center for Integrity in Business (now the Center for Faithful Business). Erisman convinced Hammond to donate his nearly 2,000 books to SPU.

Now called The Work and Faith Collection, the library focuses on topics beyond the business world. “Some books are geared toward the tech community. Some toward medicine, politics, or life in the academy,” Erisman said. “There are documents that are deeply connected to Scripture or theology of work commentary, that delve into what every book in the Bible has to say about our daily work.”

The library, the largest of its kind, continues to grow thanks to a committee that meets quarterly to discuss new materials to add.

“The collection comprises the best literature within the broader faith and work movement. But more importantly, it shows through its collected works by Pete and others, the evolution of the faith and work movement over several decades — mainly the 1970s through the early 2020s,” said John Terrill, former director of SPU’s Center for Integrity in Business, who has helped grow the collection by securing funding for new material.

Much of the collection has been digitized and is available at digitalcommons.spu.edu.

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