Jan 30 2009

Candler Students at the Obama Inauguration

On Tuesday, January 20, 2009, second-year Master of Divinity students Adrain Bowie and Kyndra Frazier (pictured above, left and right, respectively) attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, DC. Adrain and Kyndra’s dialogue about the preparations for and experiences on the trip is the subject of the Blog this week.

Adrain: Four students on January 16th, 2009 standing in line at Candler’s Cokesbury Bookstore, filled with excitement, asked the questions, “Well, are we going or no? Are we going to go to the Inauguration in Washington D.C.? Where will we stay?” I told them, “Don’t worry,Carolyn and I have made a call to friends in D.C. I ‘m sure we can stay with them for a couple of days. I’ll call everyone, but until then pray.”

Late Saturday night, Jan 17th, three of us from Candler decided to make history. On Sunday, January 18 at 4:40 p.m., Kyndra Frazier and Cheryl Wilcox, along with Carolyn and me, were on our way to Washington D.C., to witness the swearing in of the first African American President of the United States of America. This was a significant point of entry for me at 58 years old. 46 years ago I missed the chance to become a part of history when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, because I was too young to transport myself.

But not this time! I was determined to be among this enormous body of U.S. citizens who believed YES WE CAN! I knew in my heart that we all were the Yes We Can Generation and we were the ones we had been waiting for. We had changed the world.

We got to Washington, D.C. at 4:30 a.m. on Monday, January 19th, and by early evening we were on the streets of the capital city. Our host Daryl wanted us to experience the pre-inauguration mania. We purposely road the transit service, and exited the bus onto Pennsylvania Avenue, and it was already crazy out there!

Kyndra: I am a part of a generation that has had no Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X,or Huey P. Newton. Adrain missed an opportunity to see Martin Luther King, Jr. make history, but I was not going to miss this opportunity to make history. I was going to see the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at least partially realized at the 2009 Inauguration of President Obama. I am a part of the Yes We Can Generation in large part because Adrain and many others before her were a part of generations that had a vision. That vision has finally come to fruition even though our ancestors weathered the storms of institutionalized slavery, segregation, and the tumults of Civil Rights Movement. Current and future generations will reap the benefits of this Inauguration because of our work and the work that was done before us.

Adrain: In D.C., the vendors were selling anything from hats to sunglasses and everything in between— even socks!—with Obama’s name on them. All kinds of folks from every nationality were laughing and joking about the historical moment that was to take place. On Monday evening we got as close to the Capitol as we could, close enough to see the flags hanging up in front of the area where the swearing in process would take place. It was a moment of jubilance. We could hardly believe it. The three of us being 58, 60, and 68 years old just stood in silence. Then we were on to the parade route. Our friend Daryl said this would be about as close as we were going to get. Because the inauguration and parade took place on the same day, we had to make a choice to attend one or the other. We chose to attend the inauguration.

On Tuesday, January 20th, there were 5 of us going to the Inauguration from our household. We got up around 5:30 a.m. We packed lunches because we knew we would walk long distances and would be in the Mall area all day. The crowds were ENORMOUS, and the transit and metro systems were going to be incapacitated for hours. Finally, we were on our way. When we boarded the train we planned to stop at a street as close as possible to the Mall. Unfortunately, after boarding the train we were taken to the Pentagon, which was extremely out of the way. Upon leaving the train we caught a shuttle bus to the Mall. Once in the area we began the long walk. We walked for blocks, which turned into miles before we actually entered the Mall, and once we were there we pushed our way through the crowd. But we were still 15 blocks away from the Capitol building, and we couldn’t go any further. There were people in all directions as we pressed up against each other, as close as a crowd of people could possibly get. All we could do was stand there.

Finally when I got to a stopping point I looked around me and I noticed that there were all types of people in my immediate vicinity. There were people from the various Islands (Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, The Bahamas), and from other countries like Liberia, South Africa, and Nigeria. There were also a few Australians. All the conversations were filled with excitement and disbelief. Most people discussed how we could assure that Obama would be successful and how excited they were to witness his inauguration. So for hours we waited and watched all the dignitaries come on stage. A high point in the inauguration was Aretha Franklin singing “America, the Beautiful” and the diversity of the musicians who performed the classical selection.

Now, it was Barack Obama’s turn to be sworn in. As Barack came forward I remember feeling this huge lump in my throat, and tears rolling down my cheeks even before he repeated his oath. Once I heard the Chief Justice say, “So Help Me God,” and after Obama repeated it and we all realized that he was finally the 44th president of the United States of America, the crowd broke out in pandemonium. Flags with Barack Obama’s picture on it were being waved all over the place. All you could hear was people screaming “O-bam-a!!! O- bam-a!!!” However, I noticed even in all of the excitement and disbelief, we breathed a sigh of relief. President Obama had been sworn into office without there being any sort of mishap. Then it hit me, “O God, it was going to be a long walk home.”

Kyndra: On Tuesday, January 20th around 9:30 a.m. we all pressed our way onto the Mall to gather in the cold with our brothers and sisters from diverse faiths, ethnicities, nationalities, and ages. There were mothers and fathers carrying babies and elders walking on canes. There were people standing in trees and on top of port-a-potties and buildings. As the various politicians were marshaled on stage, there were many people with wide smiles and tear-soaked cheeks, waiting for Barack to take his rightful place. Although I did not know anyone around me (I was separated from the people I came with, due to the size of the crowd), we all spoke as if we had known each other for years. We leaned on one another, offering each other whatever we had to eat, or drink, to stay warm.

One thing I will remember distinctly about this day is Rick Warren’s initiation of the Lord’s Prayer, and hearing the crowd join in as my heart simultaneously filled with warmth and my eyes with tears of joy and disbelief. I could not help but think, “I am really here.” The next thing I knew I was received by a middle-aged African-American male saying, “Happy 44th!” as if it were a national holiday, like Happy New Year or Happy 4th of July. If holidays represent cycles in our lived experiences that celebrate our liberties, commemorate things we hold dear, and usher in gifts beyond realization, then this, my friends, marks what felt like a national holiday not only for Americans, but for the entire world. YES WE DID AND THE MOMENTUM CANNOT STOP HERE!

Jan 24 2009

State of the School Address- Spring 2009

On Wednesday of this week, Candler held its 8th annual State of the School conversation. Rev. Cindy Meyer, Assistant Dean of Student Life began the gathering with a prayer by Edward Hayes from his book Prayers for the Servants of God.

Kim Jackson (pictured left), president of the Candler Coordinating Council (C3)—Candler’s umbrella organization overseeing all student groups—engaged the crowd with words to reflect on. She asked students to share the words, thoughts, and feelings that come to mind in relation to certain phrases. For New Building, responses were: ahhhh!, internet, bright, technologically complicated, and paintings (referring to the paintings of John August Swanson whose artwork fills the building); for Chapel, students shared the words: worshipful, creative, involving, and centering; for Student Body, replies were: family, human, amazing, diffuse, spread out, microcosm, and supportive.

Kim shared that as a third-year MDiv student, she is in her final semester, and yet hasn’t checked out. She is nostalgic about her time at Candler, encouraged by many events and happenings in the life of Candler over the past three years. She expressed her admiration and pleasure in things like students joining Emory Club sports teams—teams typically comprised of only undergrads—teams like the swing dance team, weightlifting, Ultimate Frisbee, and water polo. She also reflected on celebrations around the Candler community, such as ordinations and weddings, awards ceremonies, children birthed, fellowships received, books read, and many, many papers and sermons written!

While acknowledging some hard times over the past year, Kim reminded everyone of hope for the future. As C3 President, Kim has worked with Candler staff to have available to students more spiritual and pastoral supports. Additionally, Kim has helped to create a cultural competency and conflict transformation program aimed at helping Candler students get to know their diverse neighbors on a deeper level. The Candler is a microcosm of the diverse Body of Christ and Candler is a great place to learn more about brothers and sisters from different traditions, cultures, countries, and theological viewpoints.

Candler’s Dean, Jan Love (pictured right), shared with the students her reflections on the past year. She has been Dean at Candler for two years, and relates that “the honeymoon definitely is over, but the marriage is still strong!” This past year has held many new and exciting developments at Candler, including our fantastic new building, six new faculty members, the second year of our new curriculum, and four new chaired professors—professors Minor, Petersen, Richey, and Tipton.

Dean Love also shared her excitement about Candler’s strategic initiative to make Candler an even more international place of worship, study, and community. Dr. Jonathan Strom is leading the way towards making more international travel and study opportunities available to Candler students. (For current international opportunities, click here). Pointing out the increasingly global and international nature of the City of Atlanta, Dean Love mentioned that even those students who stay here in the U.S. will experience an increasingly internationalized curriculum in our degree programs to reflect the wide diversity of Christian and non-Christian cultures one encounters every day.

All in all, the gathering was a great start to the new semester, taking stock of where we’ve been as a school and looking forward to what the future holds for us all.

Jan 16 2009

Study Abroad While at Candler

Our guest blogger this week is Amanda Mountain (pictured right). Amanda is a third-year MDiv student at Candler and will graduate in 2010. Originally from Roswell, Georgia, and Interlochen, Michigan, Amanda did her undergraduate work in dance at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania. She spent the fall 2008 semester away from Candler at Wesley House in Cambridge, England. Photos are all by Amanda.

The decision to study abroad at Wesley House, the Methodist theological college in Cambridge, United Kingdom, was a difficult one. Spending a semester in the UK meant I would not graduate on time and would not finish my 3rd and final year with the friends and fellow colleagues who began my seminary journey with me. I would miss out on all the wonderful Candler events, from the opening convocation, to the daily worship services in Cannon Chapel. I would miss the wedding of one of my closest friends (whom I met during my first 2 years at Candler). When I voiced my concerns about going, these same friends told me this kind of opportunity only comes around once in a lifetime and that I should go for it. So, I did. I packed up my apartment, sent my cat to live with my parents, and boarded a plane for Cambridge.

Kings College, Cambridge. Founded in 1441 by King Henry VI,

the chapel was completed by Henry VII in 1544.

Still unsure about my decision to leave my Candler family behind, I decided to take a walk through the city-center on my first day in the UK. I wandered up and down the narrow streets, and strolled along the famous “backs” of the colleges. I felt like I was floating through a dream. I was actually in Cambridge, England, the University that produced alumni like Sir Isaac Newton, Bertrand Russell, John Maynard Keynes, John Harvard, John Milton, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, to name a few. My anxiety was eased as I realized where I was and the possibilities and opportunities present for me.

The term began with an opening worship service followed by a community meal in the formal dining hall. The next morning, I met with the principal of the college and the director of pastoral studies to plan my coursework during my time in Cambridge. We decide
d, based on my calling to lay rather than ordained ministry, that I would focus on my passion for inter-faith studies as an avenue for peace-building. I registered for a class entitled Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in Encounter that provided basic historical background on each religion, and then looked at how each religious tradition encountered “the other” throughout their histories. The course is still teaching me, as I apply what I learned to the current crisis in the Middle East. In addition to this class, I registered for Pastoral Skills and a course with the Center for Muslim and Jewish relations, which is located on Wesley House grounds.

Many of the residents in the college were around my age, and all of them training for ministry in the Methodist Church of Great Britain. I felt welcomed by their warm hospitality and numerous offerings of cups of tea—a drink I had never before found appealing. My accommodations were very nice, and even included my own study with a gorgeous view of the central courtyard of the college. I will cherish memories of sipping hot cups of tea in my study while reading books for one of my classes, looking out at the tree that grew right outside my old lead glass window (pictured above).

Weekends were spent exploring the surrounding countryside with my new friends. One Saturday, we embarked on a daytrip to London where we walked through the streets of London, past Buckingham Palace, and the Cabinet War Rooms at the Churchill Museum. We then went through St. Paul’s cathedral and had a wonderful lunch in a café across the street. After lunch, we boarded one of the famous red double-decker London buses, and rode to Westminster Abby. Unfortunately the Abby closed early on Saturdays, so we could not go inside, but I had chills thinking of all the history—Anne Boleyn’s coronation, Queen Elizabeth I’s coronation, the marriage and funeral of Princess Diana—that took place on that site. We wandered across the street to the Westminster Methodist Central Hall, where we had a snack in the café. The central worship space was empty, so we took pictures of us standing in the pulpit and at the baptismal font. As the day progressed, the weather started to turn gray and cold (like weather does in the UK), so we took the London Tube to Harrods, where we walked around the massive department store and had a wonderful high tea before boarding our train back to Cambridge.

The next weekend, we decided to try our punting skills on the River Cam (pictured right). A punt is a flat-bottom boat used in shallow waters such as the River Cam. The person steering the punt stands on one end, and pushes the boat forward with a pole. We punted to Grantchester, and took high tea at the historic Orchard Tea Gardens, a popular location for such an event. In fact, figures such as Wittgenstein, A.A.Milne, Stephen Hawking, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Emory’s own Salman Rushdie have enjoyed an afternoon cup of Earl Grey under one of the many apple trees.

Though I did not get to travel much outside the UK, I did create memories and make friends that I will cherish always. The lectures I attended enhanced my vocational calling to interfaith peace and justice work. Living in a Methodist Theological College in the UK meant I also studied what made the Methodist church unique and set apart from the Anglican Church. Many community conversations centered on what it meant to be a Methodist, not only in Great Britain, but the world. I discovered a deep passion for the history and theology of the Methodist Church, and a new love for John and Charles Wesley. I am now certain I will remain in the United Methodist Church and feel an even deeper conviction and calling to ministry as a Deaconess in the denomination I love.

So, here I am back in the states. Classes started at Candler this week. I am moved in to my new apartment. My cat is sitting on the back of the sofa as I type. I chat with my Wesley House family online thanks to Skype and Facebook. I miss them. Even though I left my Candler family for a few months, I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Instead, I return to Candler this week with memories of my new Wesley House family close to my heart, and with a new found love for Earl Grey tea. And, as it turns out, I did in fact make it to that wedding!

Jan 9 2009

Pitts Theology Library

Did you know Candler is home to one of the premier theology libraries in the world? It’s true. Pitts Theology Library is the second largest theology library in North America at over 520,000 volumes and 1300 active periodical subscriptions. Scholars and researchers come from around the world to use the resources, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. The Special Collections, for instance, has over 100,000 volumes of rare and special books and materials.

Here are just a few highlights of Pitts.

Rare Materials

  • The first five editions of Erasmus of Rotterdam’s Greek New Testament (1519 and following) and 70 other works by him
  • Thomas Merton Collection, containing over 200 first and early editions of the American Trappist monk’s books, as well as digital facsimiles of hundreds of pages of Merton’s unpublished notebooks.

Wednesday Workshops

Along with great text resources, Pitts hosts bi-monthly Wednesday Workshops for faculty, staff, and students. The workshops focus on some aspect of technology and ministry or research. Topics range from Statistics for Religious Studies and Bibleworks for Beginners to Developing Church Websites and hosting Podcasts.

Digital Image Archives

Pitts maintains an archive of over 19,000 images of biblical illustrations, portraits of religious leaders, printers’ devices, engravings of church buildings, and other theological topics. The entire archive is searchable by Scripture Reference or Topic. With proper citation, the images can be used for church bulletins, presentations, or sermon illustrations.

Ask A Librarian

The Pitts website allows you to send an Instant Message to one of our Reference Librarians from anywhere in the world! So if you’re having trouble with a search for a book or if you’ve got a question about where to look for a resource, send an IM and someone will get back with you quickly.

When I was a student at Candler, I foolishly neglected to take advantage of many of the amazing resources Pitts has to offer. The books and periodicals are world-class. The classes are informative and keep you up to date with the very latest in technology. And the staff. The staff of twenty is fantastic, often times going well beyond what I would normally expect from a library staff. Many staff members have advanced degrees in theology/divinity as well as library science. So don’t be afraid to ask Natalie or Myron questions at the front desk about reserves or circulation. And check with Pat or Tracy in the Periodicals Room—Pat for all things Blackboard-related and Tracy about the vast periodical collection. John in the Reading Room is the Head of Public Services and an expert on just about everything at Pitts. Debra up on the second floor handles all of the Special Collections—I’ve been working with her on access to some of the Thomas Merton materials. And Pat Graham is the Library Director, Old Testament scholar, and Margaret A. Pitts Professor of Theological Bibliography.