Sep 28 2007

Vocational Trinity

In a less than 24 hours, during Lent last spring, my plans for after graduating from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology with my Master of Divinity all came together from a variety of sources and individuals within the Candler community. It is not in my nature to say things like, “It was meant to be,” or “Everything happens for a reason.” However, I do believe the grace and love of God was at work during my time of discernment and exploration as I pieced together a plan—God’s plan for this year.

In that one, magical day, I was offered this fantastic internship in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at Candler School of Theology, found a perfectly quaint apartment just off the Emory Cliff Shuttle route, and was introduced to an urban ministry CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) program based out of the Training and Counseling Center (TACC) at St. Luke’s Episcopal near downtown Atlanta. If God didn’t have a hand in revealing these opportunities, I don’t know who did!

My internship in the Admissions Office and the apartment were fixed and finalized quickly, but I still needed to apply and be interviewed for the CPE program. After submitting my 14 page written application, complete with, as the application describes it, “a relatively full account of your life,” I had my interview and was offered a spot in the 28-week extended unit. The Rev. Miriam Needham, a Candler alumna and an ordained elder in the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church, is the Executive Director of TACC and the CPE Supervisor, and I bonded immediately through our common Candler connection and passion for urban ministry. Graduation and my move to the new apartment quickly approached in May, and I took June and July off, by replacing school and work with retreats and travel. By August, I was back on campus at Emory University doing research for Dean Jan Love and in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid as an Intern.

I’ve been cruising along in the Admissions Office and doing research for Dean Love since August, but on Monday of this week, I started CPE. As soon as I walked into St. Luke’s, I was greeted by a familiar face in Tracy, who graduated from Candler one year before me. She will be the CPE Intern at Central Presbyterian Outreach and Advocacy Center, which is one of the four centers the program assigns interns.

As we made introductions with the other CPE Interns, I found that Candler was well represented in the room. Not only were Miriam, Tracy, and I all Candler alumnae, but Paula, who will be serving with me as CPE Intern at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, graduated from Candler with a Master of Theological Studies in the 1990s. I immediately felt comforted because of the presence of my Candler sisters, and I have high hopes that the entire group will grow and meld together in the coming weeks.

While I feel called and passionate about the work we do in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, I am really excited about adding this new form of ministry into my life, in which I am outside the seminary walls doing ministry within a community and in an urban environment. TACC is one of only a handful of CPE sites to offer training in an urban environment, rather than the more traditional hospital and prison settings. Coming from New Orleans, I am deeply called to urban and community ministry, and believe this CPE program, along with my Candler education, will continue to prepare me for ordination and ministry in The United Methodist Church. I certainly had a chance to do supervised, practical ministry through the Contextual Education program at Candler during my first two years of seminary; however CPE is a more intensely engaged group process of clinical ministry, peer evaluation, and self reflection.

As Anne Lamott states it in her latest book Grace (Eventually), “I’m lurching forward in my life again, and it feels as if someone finally cracked open a window that had been jammed.” My Vocational Trinity, as I like to call it, of working in the Admissions Office, doing research for the dean, and participating in this urban ministry CPE program is finally in full swing. My window is wide open! Candler has opened these doors and windows for me, as well as nurtured and prepared me for the challenges ahead.

Nearly every element of my life, including the community for which I live and serve, is directly related to Candler. In fact, the apartment I’m renting is in the lower level of a close Candler friend’s parents’ home, and the vicar at Holy Comforter, where I will do my clinical hours for CPE is also a recent Candler graduate. The extended Candler community continues to call me to servanthood and encourages me to live out my vocational calling. I have a feeling that Candler will guide me through many of life’s journeys, long after I’ve ended this Admissions Office internship, said good bye to the community at Holy Comforter, and moved out of my apartment.

Candler would like to crack open windows for others through our outstanding theological education. If you are interested in taking the next step in answering your vocational call, please contact us in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at, call us at 404.727.6326, check us out online at and look for my profile on Facebook, named Candler Intern-Theology, and the Candler School of Theology Group at

Lane Cotton Winn 07T

The above photo is of the Edward Gay House on the St. Luke Episcopal Church campus. The Training and Counseling Center (TACC) is housed at the Edward Gay House in downtown Atlanta. This historic home was built in 1878 and was owned by the Gay family until 1956. It is one of the few
residences of its era remaining in downtown Atlanta.


Sep 21 2007

Familiar Voices

Rarely does one recognize the anonymous voice heard in a commercial, on the radio, or during an audio guided tour through a museum as a familiar friend or friendly acquaintance. However, that is exactly what happened to me as I turned on the audio headset at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University last weekend. Familiar voices from my Old Testament, New Testament, and Introduction to Preaching classes filled my ears and immediately transported me back to the Candler School of Theology classroom, a place of exploration and creative learning.

With my parents in town, a trip to the museum, also a place of exploration and creative learning was a perfect Saturday afternoon activity for us. The Carlos, which sits on the quadrangle at Emory directly across from Cannon Chapel, currently has a ground breaking special exhibit, The Cradle of Christianity, Jewish and Christian Treasures from the Holy Lands, which is here until October 14, 2007. Not only is it important for Emory to house such an amazing exhibit of Jewish and Christian artifacts, but the Carlos Museum is only one of three U.S. venues exhibiting this traveling collection of biblical archaeology. That in and of itself makes the exhibit appealing, but when learning that some of Candler’s best and brightest faculty would be featured on the audio guided tour, I could not resist checking it out.

Entering the section of the exhibit focusing on the Time of Jesus and the Second Temple Period, Dr. Gail R. O’Day, Associate Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs and A.H. Shatford Professor of Preaching and New Testament at Candler School of Theology, could be heard through the guided tour. I was already impressed with both the exhibit and Dean O’Day, but in that moment, as I heard the familiar voice of my preaching professor, I became more impressed with my seminary and degree from Candler School of Theology. I know the competitive enrollment statistics of our student body and have read the biographies of our diverse and widely published faculty, but in that moment, I was blown away at the leading role Candler faculty was taking in this university and community wide project. Our faculty, from the most well known to the most recently hired, are all teaching and advising students. However, through this exhibit, it became clear to me that they are not only in the classroom, not only on the covers of the books seminarians and theologians around the world read, but they are also leaders across the entire community as well as ambassadors of Candler and Emory for visitors to the museum. And these are the great scholars I got to take classes from!

I felt like I was privy to an inside joke, and in a way, as a Candler alumna, I am. I wanted to share with the museum visitor next to me that Candler students affectionately call Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson, another expert voice along the way on the audio tour, who is the R.W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, “LTJ” for short. And does the Sunday School class touring the exhibit know that Dr. Carol Newsom, who passionately teaches tour goers about the Dead Sea Scrolls on the audio guide, who is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament, that she used to hide under her bed covers as a little girl reading the Old Testament by flash light long after her parents thought she was asleep? After a full year of Old Testament studies with Dr. Newsom and another year of New Testament exploration with “LTJ,” I have the insider scoop about the life and teaching behaviors of these voices projecting through my audio headset and the headsets of the thousands of people who are touring this terrific exhibit at the Carlos.

As I entered the section of the collection exhibiting the remains and ruins of an ancient Byzantine era church, I hear another familiar voice. It is not a voice from the classroom, though he certainly teaches, but a voice from a worship memory of mine. In fact, no one could ever recreate the powerful feeling of the Holy Spirit I experienced during a worship service in Cannon Chapel lead by Dr. Richard Valantasis, Professor of Ascetical Theology and Christian Practice and Director of Anglican Studies at Candler and audio tour guide in the Rise of Christianity section. It was one of my most memorable and moving services I attended at Candler as he invited us into worship and led us on that day. As I browsed the books in the museum gift shop and walked back to my car, I realized how much I internalized and retained from the exhibit because I was hearing familiar voices guide me through the collection—voices I have worshipped alongside, voices I have studied under, voices who wrote the textbooks I read, voices I consider mentors, and voices connected to a life that I know well through the Candler community.

If you are interested in being in dialogue with these voices mentioned above and others or feel like Candler is a community calling you here for theological study and exploration, please contact us in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at, call us at 404.727.6326, check us out online at and look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology group at

By Lane Cotton Winn 07T
Candler School of Theology
Emory University
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Intern

For more information about the Cradle of Christianity exhibit check it out on the Carlos Museum website at

Photo by Jon Rou from the June 11, 2007 Emory Report:

Sep 14 2007

Carnival Season at Candler

The smell of grilled hamburgers and cotton candy lingers in the air as we clean up our snow cone machine after the Candler School of Theology Opportunities Carnival on Friday, September 7, 2007. Though our first week of classes had concluded, the Candler community gathered together at the close of the week for an afternoon of fun in the sun. Each year, the Candler Office of Student Programming hosts a carnival for student groups and offices around Candler and Emory to set up booths, games, offer prizes, and share informational materials about upcoming events and activities they have planned for the semester ahead. We went all out in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, offering free snow cones and candy as we encouraged students to volunteer for the Student Admissions Team, who serve as hosts to prospective students who visit Candler.

Though we had our hands full making cherry and blue raspberry snow cones for everyone who stopped by the Admissions table, I took a few minutes to walk around and browse the tables and games of each of Candler’s student organizations. After watching Theo Turman, the C3 (Candler Coordinating Council, our student government) Vice President throw a football for the Football Toss Game at the Candler Evangelical Society’s booth, I took a moment to talk to Emily Coulter, the Candler Evangelical Society (CES) President about plans the year ahead. The CES partners with the Nicholas House, a non-profit organization here in Atlanta that houses homeless families and helps them achieve self-sufficiency. Emily said, “We visit there monthly and prepare meals for and fellowship with the residents, all in the name of Jesus. We are bold about our faith but gentle in sharing it.” I also learned that the CES has hopes of partnering with organizations across the Emory campus again this year, such as Intervarsity and the Catholic student association for a service project like Habitat for Humanity.

The Candler Evangelical Society is not our only student group volunteering and doing service projects; in fact, nearly all of our Candler student groups have service and volunteer ministry opportunities. Sacred Worth, a group made up of straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students who affirm the diversity of human sexuality and its importance in the theological conversation, volunteers at Common Ground on the first Monday of every month, which is an interfaith HIV/AIDS support community. They provide a devotional to the group followed by lunch. David Sigmund, who is the Common Ground coordinator for Sacred Worth shared with me, “The discussions that occur during the devotional time are amazing. They are so honest…so real. I find I am usually the student and they are the teachers when it comes to those discussions.” October 15-29, 2007 will be Sacred Worth Week, and Harry Knox director of the Religion and Faith Program Area for the Human Rights Campaign will be the keynote speaker, along with other events, meals, and conversations throughout the week.

Moving along at the carnival, I stopped to talk to my friend Sara Pugh, the President of the Candler Children’s Initiative, who had a cool, shady spot under the tent. Many of our Candler student groups partner with each other to co-host events, and the Candler Children’s Initiative along with the Order of St. Luke (OSL), a sacramental order centered on preserving the sanctity of the sacraments and educating people about the sacraments, are hosting a workshop on Preparing a Children’s Sabbath. As Sara explained it, The United Methodist Church has decided to honor Children’s Sabbath as part of the liturgical calendar, not just as a Special Sunday. Therefore many congregations within the Atlanta area will celebrate Children’s Sabbaths in October. Sara said, “Our hope is that we will gather together future and present ministers, mainly our students, to train them on how to lead a congregation in a Children’s Sabbath, making sure that it’s not just letting the children sing in the choir, but really honoring the fact that they are children of God. Hopefully the session will also educate worship leaders on how to always be including children in services so that a Children’s Sabbath does not feel so different.”

Three of our student groups plan and host a themed week every year, which focuses on their work and mission in the community and world. Those five days often feel like a full week of carnival and celebration. I mentioned Sacred Worth Week earlier, which is October 15-19, and, in addition, the Black Student Caucus (BSC) and Candler Women also host themed weeks, which will happen in the spring semester. I ran into Mark Jefferson, the BSC President, at the carnival, and though Heritage Week will not happen until the spring, they have their first meeting September 20 and their first social on September 28. Mark told me, “It’s our BSC Kickoff celebration. We will be welcoming new students, reacquainting the old, and having a good time and building harmony with the Candler Community. All are welcome. We want it to be a celebration!”

Friday’s carnival truly was a celebration. In fact, I believe this expression of carnival and celebrations will continue throughout the year. Between the cotton candy, the free lunch of hamburgers and veggie burgers, the games and prizes, and our delicious snow cones, everyone seemed to end the first week of classes feeling energized and excited about what lies ahead. There will be little carnivals happening all over campus and within the Candler community, including many from groups I did not mention today, happening all semester. If you feel like Candler is a community you would like to explore your call, receive an exceptional theological education, and be a part of the carnival, please contact us in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at, call us at 404.727.6326, check us out online at and look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology group at

By Lane Cotton Winn 07T
andler School of Theology
Emory University
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Intern

Sep 7 2007

Newness at Candler

A ruffle of robe flutters in the warm summer air, as we line up outside. Brass players tune their instruments next to the organ. Professors, bishops, and university leaders assemble two-by-two. Students and guests gather in the sanctuary as vibrant colors such as magenta, indigo, and gold process down both aisles of Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church. Today was the first day of class at Candler School of Theology, which always opens with a celebratory convocation worship service. However, the expectation and excitement surrounding the day felt a little more elevated, for on this historic day, Tuesday, September 4, 2007, we installed Jan Love as Dean of Candler School of Theology at Emory University, our ninth dean of the seminary and the first woman to hold this distinct office.

As I processed in with the Candler Singers, one of our student choirs, I made eye contact with friends I had not seen since my graduation from Candler last May, and my eyes welled up with tears of joy and feelings of remembrance. It seemed appropriate that Candler’s graduation and the dean’s installation were both held at Glenn Memorial, the United Methodist Church that sits on the edge of Emory’s campus. Graduation, in May, was the last time the entire Candler community gathered together for worship and institutional ceremony, in which Dean Love charged graduates to go forth from Candler as servant leaders; and now on installation day, we, the Candler and greater Emory community, charged Dean Love to be our servant leader, quoting President James W. Wagner from the ceremony, “with the obligation to advance Christian learning, to encourage acts of reconciliation, and to provide leadership for all of God’s people.” At the beginning of an academic year, particularly in the context of a seminary, at a time when we set goals and live in anticipation of the year ahead, these words remind me that we should all strive to fulfill that calling from President Wagner.

There has never been a time in Dean Jan Love’s life and vocation when she was not living out that call in her life. Dean Love’s resume is quite impressive, from being the chief executive officer of the Women’s Division of The United Methodist Church, to director of the International Studies MA and PhD programs at the University of South Carolina, and from serving on the World Council of Churches for over two decades to being recognized at the 2000 General Conference, by the United Methodist Council of Bishops for “Exceptional Leadership in Ecumenical Arenas,” she not only models servant leadership , but her way of being in the world encourages others in their intentionality towards service to the church, academy, and world. NOW is the time to be at Candler, as we nurture servant leaders under the new leadership of Jan Love!

In fact, when I examine that commission of furthering Christian learning, being a community of reconciliation, and providing leadership for all of God’s creation, I see the Candler community within those words. Candler is a place that takes Christian and religious study seriously. Our faculty and staff challenge students, as well as each other, to dig deep in writings of the past and present as well as deep within ourselves to find meaning and answers. From the classroom, in collaborative worship experience at Candler, and through programs of the Office of Student Programming and various student groups on campus, we are a community engaging in formal and informal acts of reconciliation and renewal. And from the moment we begin Candler, through the Contextual Education program and as we graduate from Candler, we are nurtured and molded into well-educated leaders for the church and world.

This is an exciting time the school’s history, and I am thrilled to be interning in the Office of Admission and Financial Aid at Candler for such a time as this. We’ve got a new dean, a new curriculum, a new class of first year students, and we are always looking for additional new faces to share the Candler experience with. There will be many more moving, special worship services, stimulating and challenging lectures, and opening convocation services and graduations to attend, and my hope for every one is to find a community, such as the one here at Candler, to live and grow in as we all prepare for and continue our ministries in the world. If you feel like Candler is that community for you, or would like to explore that as an option, please contact us in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at, call us at 404.727.6326, check us out online at and look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology group at

by Lane Cotton Winn 07T
Candler School of Theology
Emory University
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Intern