May 30 2008

Summer at Candler

Today is my first day as the Candler Admissions Blogger—my first day as any kind of blogger, for that matter. Lane Cotton Winn has left us here at Candler to serve as Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church of Amite, Louisiana. Our blog will continue every two weeks throughout the summer.

There is actually a lot going on at Candler this time of year. We are offering ten courses this summer, including Dr. Joy McDougall’s Doctrine of God: Women’s Voices Past and Present, Dr. Steve Kraftchick’s Seeing Jesus: The Gospels and Cinema, and Dr. Ian McFarland’s Christian Creeds and Confessions. Additionally, Candler students will be attending the Africa South Regional Evangelism Seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa, with Dr. Wesley de Souza in August.

This summer, the admissions office is continuing to help students who are entering Candler’s MDiv, MTS, ThM and ThD programs starting this fall. We’re processing I-20s for our international students, preparing for the Hampton Ministers’ Conference in June, answering questions about fall classes and the MDiv curriculum, and help process students for Candler’s new need-based financial aid grants. We are also eagerly anticipating our move to the new theology building going up right before our eyes and out our windows. We are starting to pack our books, files, and belongings, and are recycling a lot of paper!

One of the projects I am working on this summer is putting together a resource guide for current and prospective students about some of the wonderful things there are to see, do, smell, eat, and take part in here in Atlanta. I grew up outside Chicago and moved to Atlanta in 1997 right out of college. I was a US-2 United Methodist missionary and came to Atlanta for a two-year term of service. I loved my first two years and decided to extend my stay for a third. Three turned into four then five. Six years after arriving, I felt the call to come to seminary, and the best fit for me was right here at Candler. So my two years has turned into ten, in no small part because of what a fantastic city Atlanta is. I love Atlanta for its community and diversity, its arts, sports, recreational opportunities, food, theater, live jazz, outdoor festivals, and proximity to mountains, beaches, hiking and camping.

In anticipation of my forthcoming and more extensive resource guide, I have begun to interview my coworkers here in the Admissions and Financial Aid Office about what they love about Atlanta. So here you have it, the Candler School of Theology Office of Admissions and Financial Aid’s 5 Things I Love About Atlanta, listed in no particular order.

Lisa Parker, Financial Aid Advisor

Lisa has lived in Atlanta for nearly twenty years, moving here from Brooklyn, New York. “I’m just as much a peach now as I am an apple!” she noted when she realized she’d been down in Georgia for about long as she’d lived in NYC.

Lisa’s Top Five Things She Loves About Atlanta
1. Fun independent theaters for shows, plays, and performances. Lisa sees the Alvin Ailey Dance Company perform every year when they come to town (this year was at the Fox Theatre) and also caught Daniel Beaty in his one-man play Resurrection at the 14th Street Playhouse.

2. Atlanta Dream, Atlanta’s new WNBA basketball team.

3. The Sundial Restaurant, an upscale, tri-level, revolving restaurant that sits atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel, the tallest hotel in the western hemisphere. Lisa recommends going for drinks and jazz.

4. MARTA—Lisa takes public transportation to work every day. MARTA is the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. Lisa catches the train and the #6 bus to get from home to Emory. Not only does she not have to pay for gas, but she receives a Cash for Commuters reward of $3 a day to not drive her car to work. Pretty cool.

5. The new World of Coca-Cola. In addition to helping pay your tuition at Emory, the Coca-Cola Company, headquartered right here in Atlanta, has a fun, interactive museum/tasting center. The Admissions Office saw Jimmy Kimmel there last summer. He was kinda thin. TV really does add a few pounds.

Jena Black, Admissions Advisor

Jena moved to Atlanta from Philadelphia in 2002 to begin the MTS program at Candler and has stuck around ever since.

Jena’s Top Five Things She Loves About Atlanta
1. The DeKalb Farmers Market. This family-run, international farmers market occupies 140,000 sq. ft. and serves up to 100,000 people per week! Try the fresh-baked breads and homemade pizzas. Check out the >virtual tour.

2. Proximity to the country-side. Jena enjoys living in the city, while also being less than 45 minutes away from the working farm she goes to where she can relax or work with the animals.

3. Festivals in the City of Decatur. Check out the BBQ, Blues & Bluegrass Festival, the Decatur Beach Festival—with 60 tons of imported sand—and Jena’s favorite the Decatur Book Festival.

4. The Freedom Park Trail. Jogging, rollerblading, or walking the dog—the trail dead ends into a fantastic panoramic view of downtown Atlanta.

5. The Flying Biscuit. One of Atlanta’s many award-winning restaurants, tucked in the Candler Park neighborhood. The biscuits are un-sane, Jena’s a fan of the Love Cakes, and you can get breakfast all day! She thinks their pastry chef might have been on Hell’s Kitchen Season 1.

Check back in two weeks for more Atlanta favorites!

Brad Schweers is an Admissions Advisor at Candler and a 2005 graduate of Candler’s Master of Theological Studies program. His interests include comparative religion, mystical theology and social change (Howard Thurman, Thomas Merton, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Dorothee Solle, Swami Vivekananda), woodworking, Ultimate (frisbee), the Chicago Cubs and fantastic beer.

May 16 2008

The Journey

Today is my last day of interning in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at Candler School of Theology. I have had four wonderfully amazing and nurturing years here—three as a Master of Divinity student and one after graduation as an intern and research assistant. But I know from the lyrics of Steven Tyler, lead singer of Aerosmith, and other wise sages, who have spoken these words through the ages that, “Life’s a journey not a destination.” Candler was a significant stop along the journey, but the journey of life certainly does not end here. In fact, many things are just beginning. It seems fitting that the word seminary was used to describe a plot where plants were raised from seeds back in the mid 1400s. My calling, much like a seed, was nurtured from its tiny conception into a spout of new possibilities for living and ministry during my time at Candler.

Candler has played midwife to my pastoral identity and personhood while still allowing me to find my own way. This community has helped birth me into a new way of being in ministry and care of the world, my neighbor, and myself. Candler has allowed me to ask the challenging questions and created space for deep dialogue. As I prepare to go, I pack with me a box full of friends, memories, moments, and their loving words as I take the next step in my vocational journey in ministry. As I prepare to be appointed as the Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church of Amite, LA, I realize that Candler will still be with me along the journey. Sure, the relationship will change and grow, but Candler has become and will remain a large part of my very being and my ministry for years to come.

I carry Candler with me as a journey to the Louisiana Annual Conference on June 1 where I will be commissioned a probationary elder in The United Methodist Church. Candler will be there as the clergy vote on my preparedness for ordained ministry, for Candler helped prepare me for this. Candler will be in the congregation on the night of my commissioning as other alums from the seminary participate and attend the service. Candler preaching professors, Dr. Tom Long, Dr. Teresa Fry Brown, and Dr. Gail O’Day will be with me in word and spirit as I call upon their teachings as I write my sermons. On June 15, my first Sunday at my new church, Candler will be present in the face of my former housemate that I lived with during seminary, who is driving 5 hours to come hear me preach my first sermon as Rev. Lane Cotton Winn.

Candler will be along for every step of my journey into ministry—as I visit parishioners in the hospital, as I lead meetings and teach classes, as I administer the sacraments and bake communion bread using the same recipe we use here in Cannon Chapel. Candler will be there when a church member tells me she feels called to ministry and is interested in going to seminary. I will tell her of my mystical and amazing time at Candler, and I can confidently say that I believe God does marvelous things in the halls, classrooms, corners, chapel, courtyard, and offices of Candler School of Theology. We’re growing a beautiful garden here, and this spring of my time at Candler, I am ready to be in full bloom for others as I move into local church ministry and service to the world. Candler has prepared me for this next step, and I am ready to be harvested.

Poet Mary Oliver ends her poem “The Summer Day,” with these words that I leave with you today. I hope you will carry Oliver’s closing question around in your heart as you discern the next steps for you along your journey.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

May 9 2008

Candler Exchange

By Guest Blogger Mark Rowland

Time flies as the old adage says, and that has certainly been the case for my time here at Candler School of Theology. I came here last August for one school year on exchange from the UK, where I’m training to be a presbyter (elder in United Methodist Church terms) in the Methodist Church of Great Britain. As I sit here a week away from leaving Atlanta it doesn’t seem long since I stepped off the plane at Hartsfield-Jackson, the Atlanta airport, wondering how anywhere could possibly be so hot!

The UK system works quite differently to the US one and one effect of my coming on the exchange is that I will have spent the three years of my training (1 year discernment and 2 years pre-ordination) in different places. I began in September 2006 in the Urban Theology Unit (UTU) in Sheffield, UK. UTU is a small institution – very small by comparison to Candler – situated in inner-city Sheffield and devoted to study and action in the inner-city context. There’s a strong emphasis on contextual and liberation theologies and being situated in the midst of the context stops you from having any illusions about it.

It was in May 2007 that I heard that I had been accepted as a candidate for ordination and chosen as the exchange student to come to Candler. There was a lot to sort out in the few months between then and when I had to be in Atlanta. The array of forms for Candler, the visa, accommodation and so on; travel plans to sort out, arrangements to be made for my possessions in the UK while I was gone. There were times when I thought that it would just be easier to stay at home.

UTU to Candler was a big shift in many ways, but there were some exciting things in common: context is still an important word and an inclusive ethos is at the heart of what happens. We read some books by familiar authors and the familiar strains of liberation theology began to play, though sounding a little different in the US South to the inner-city of Sheffield, in a large university rather than Edwardian townhouses. There were some new themes too and they make exciting harmonies.

At a time when the Methodist Church back home has been cutting back on spending for training clergy, the resources at Candler present an impressive contrast. There is so much available in terms of people, facilities, equipment and possibilities. Many things are possible here that we cannot do. Training for ministry in this setting presents a lot of exciting opportunities – indeed, far too many for me to be able even to scratch the surface in just one year.

One of the most exciting opportunities at Candler is worship in Cannon Chapel, which is always an inspiration – in the thought that goes into its preparation, in the community coming together in worship as part of its daily life, in the diversity of traditions represented. The group that gathered daily for Morning Prayer was a constant source of support and fellowship. Music has always been a passion for me and singing in the Candler Singers (see our photo to the right) – one of the choirs that assists in worship – has been fantastic. As well as our regular place in the rhythm of worship, we have traveled to various places, from the mountains to the beach to the rodeo! We sing a wide variety of music, reflecting the diversity of our community and the wider church.

I’ve been really interested by the number of different vocational goals and aspirations that students at Candler have: some training for ordination, some for lay ministries, some for work outside the church, some aiming to the academy and some still in discernment. Different routes and stages bring different questions to the task of theology and the broad sweep of perspectives present has opened my mind to other ways of asking theological questions and to new approaches for responding to them.

My winding path continues as I head home for the summer and then to Wesley House in the ancient University city of Cambridge, where I’ll be excited to be joined by two Candler students – the first exchange students in the other direction. The long and winding road of vocational discernment takes me to many places, each different to the last. Candler has been an interesting, stimulating and exciting stop along the way: I go on from it greatly enriched and wondering what will get written on the next page.

Mark Rowland was born and brought up in Aberystwyth, on the west coast of Wales, UK. After graduating from the University of Cambridge in 2003 with a Masters degree in Chemical Engineering, he worked for three years in the field of chemical and pharmaceutical patents. Blown by the wind of the Spirit (or something…), he began training in September 2006 towards ordination as a presbyter in the Methodist Church of Great Britain. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Theology and Religious Studies and will be appointed to one or more churches somewhere in the UK beginning in September 2009.

If you are interested theological education through international travel and exchange programs, you should consider Candler a destination for your adventure. We offer a wide variety of travel opportunities for students, and would love to give you more information about them. Please contact us in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at, call us at 404.727.6326, check us out online at and join the Candler School of Theology Group at

May 5 2008

Candler at General Conference

Candler School of Theology at Emory University was well represented at General Conference of The United Methodist Church. General Conference meets every four years, and is the international decision-making body of the denomination. It met from April 23-May 2, 2008 in Fort Worth, TX, and we had members of the Candler community active in all aspects of the conference, from delegates, to singers and dances, to pages and marshals. In fact, Dr. Darryl Stephens, Visiting Assistant Professor of Christian Social Ethics and Acting Director of Methodist Studies, even lead a class of Candler students to General Conference as they got to experience United Methodist polity live and in person.

Check out this photo blog of the journey of the Candler Singers, one of Candler’s choirs, which sings every Tuesday in chapel and represents Candler on tours throughout the school year.

Candler Singers offer back rubs to one another as they warm up for their noonday concert at General Conference on Monday, April 28, 2008.

Liturgical dancer Parker Diggory, Master of Divinity student at Candler School of Theology, dances during morning worship at the 2008 United Methodist General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Parker is a student at Candler School of Theology. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose. April 26, 2008.

Liturgical dancer Julie Songer dances during morning worship at the 2008 United Methodist General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Songer is a student at Candler School of Theology. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose. April 26. 2008.

Candler Singers help lead a 120-member student choir, from nearly 30 United Methodist-related schools, on April 28 at the Higher EducationCcelebration Dinner at the Fort Worth Convention Center, site of the 2008 United Methodist General Conference. A UMNS photo by Ronny Perry. April 29, 2008.

Candler Singers lead the procession on to the stage at the Higher Education Celebration Dinner on Monday, April 28, 2008.

Candler Singers and some of Candler’s liturgical dances perform April 28 at the Higher Education Celebration Dinner, along with students from other United Methodist institutions, held at the Fort Worth Convention Center, site of the 2008 United Methodist General Conference. A UMNS photo by Ronny Perry. April 29, 2008.

For more information about Candler School of Theology, visit our website at, or email the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at In addition, you can call us at 404.727.6326, or learn more about the admissions process at Candler by clicking here. Look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology Group at