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 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, named Candler Intern-Theology, and the Candler School of Theology Group at www.facebook.com.
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.