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 email@example.com, call us at 404.727.6326, check us out online at www.candler.emory.edu/admissions/ and look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology group at www.facebook.com.
By Lane Cotton Winn 07T
Candler School of Theology
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Intern