Feb 27 2009

Environmental Sustainability at Candler

Candler is proud to be a part of a Green movement that has been taking place across campus here at Emory for a number of years. As you may have heard, our new Theology and Ethics Building was designed and built with sustainability in mind; in fact, we’ve applied for LEED Silver certification, and our application is now in review. The LEED certification is the standard for Green building in the United States. All new buildings that Emory ever builds will be LEED certified. In fact, Emory has the most Green building space of any university in the country! Emory was even named 2008 Distinguished Conservationist of the Year by the Georgia Conservancy.

Candler and Emory have been up to several new Green initiatives lately. Last December, the University was closed for two days over the winter break. With mandatory building shut-downs, Emory saved over $19,000 in electrical costs! In just two days! Candler is in the midst of investigating how to install a system that will shut down the air handlers in the building overnight, which will have no noticeable effect on the school during the day and will cut between 10-15% off of our power bill and consumption!

Another campaign Emory is working on is the White Paper Recycling Campaign. Emory Recycles currently handles mixed and white paper, plastics #1-6, corrugated cardboard, phone books, magazines, glass, aluminum, scrap metal, and Styrofoam. In terms of re-selling recycled goods, far and away the most money comes from white paper. With the downturn in the economy, prices for raw recycled goods have plummeted. For instance, mixed paper has gone from $90-95/ton to $0-5/ton. White paper, however, has retained much of its value. But white paper must be separated from colored paper in order to be sold at the higher price ($170-180/ton). So Emory Recycles is launching an informational campaign to educate students, faculty, and staff about separating mixed and white paper. Plus the Theology is getting 50 new recycling bins for mixed and white paper.

Finally, food services around Emory are switching from paper, plastic, and Styrofoam packaging, plates, and cutlery to sustainable and compostable products! I know! At Cox Hall, Emory’s main food court, there are NO Styrofoam containers any more. The containers are all made of recycled sugar cane and straws and clear “plastic” lids are made from corn. No petro-chemicals, plus you can compost all of it! My entire lunch (above) came from renewable sources and then went into my home compost bin (below). How fantastic! Go Emory!

Feb 20 2009

Seminary Travels with Juana Jordan


Our Guest Blogger this week is Juana Jordan (pictured above, on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera on the rocks at the Glass Window). Juana is a first year MDiv student who came to Candler from Tallahassee, Florida by way of Jacksonville, Florida. She is seeking certification for ordination as an elder in the United Methodist Church in the Florida Conference. Juana is a second career student whose former life was that of a journalist and radio co-host before coming to Candler.

It was after reading a blog in this space last year that I made the decision right then and there – once I was accepted into Candler, I too would take the opportunity to fill my passport with stamps before I left there. And now, after completing one semester, I can say I’m on my way to doing just that!

Preachers in the caveMy first stop: Nassau, Bahamas. I thought what better way to kick off the New Year and prepare for my second semester than to spend 10 days among the Bahamian people learning about evangelism. I mean after all, it was one of the gifts I felt God had given me. So I figured, why not test it out and see if this was really one of the areas of ministry God was calling me to? The trip was part of the Evangelism Regional Seminar, a January-term three-credit course sponsored by the World Methodist Evangelism Institute, that I along with nine other Candler students (pictured above right in Preachers Cave, said to be the first spot where English settlers arrived on the island of Eleuthera) took part in. We were joined by one of Candler’s evangelism professors, Dr. Wesley de Souza and the center’s director, Dr. Winston Worrell. The tour was scheduled from January 3-13, with the first three days dedicated to a tour of Nassau and the surrounding islands, including Spanish Wells and Eleuthera, which is about 50 miles and a 2 ½ hour ferry boat ride east of Nassau and Harbor Island, off the north coast of Eleuthera.

I must admit, the trip was definitely not what I expected. Actually it exceeded any expectations I had. Dr. de Souza, during preparation meetings before leaving for Nassau and as part of our assignment, asked us to journal our expectations of our learning experience and then to chronicle our time there. Our experience started as soon as we arrived in Nassau that Saturday night. Dr. Worrell didn’t waste any time telling us where we would be preaching on that Sunday (most of all of us, those who volunteered, were assigned to local churches). We were told the ministers would pick up each of us and we would have lunch with them that afternoon.

IMG017I got the assignment – my first outside of the United States — to preach at John Wesley United Methodist Church on the island of Eleuthera. I was excited, yet nervous. For one, I hadn’t finished my sermon and secondly, there I was, on the first day we arrived, being shipped off that Sunday morning for a 2 ½ hour ferry ride by myself to another part of this country that was still foreign to me. I was the only student with an assignment outside of Nassau. And I’ll tell you, I wondered why that was. I wondered what God had in store.

I soon realized it was an opportunity for me to experience, in part, the gift of hospitality offered by the Bahamian people I met. Upon hearing that I was coming to the island of Eleuthera, the Methodist ministers between that island and the island of Spanish Wells and Nassau worked out a plan that would allow me to stay overnight in Spanish Wells. Now get this: Spanish Wells isn’t exactly a place most African Americans hang out. Now you will see a few on the island, working and such. And they have students who attend school there. But they don’t live there. In fact, many years ago, blacks weren’t even allowed to spend the night there — at least that’s what the native Bahamians told me. I learned that Spanish Wells, which got its name from the Spanish ships that used to stop over at the primarily white settlement to get water because of the island’s many wells, is pretty much still all white. Fishing is its dominant trade. In fact, it’s the Spanish Wells fishing house that provides lobsters to the U.S. Red Lobster restaurants.

Me and the LewisesBut I can now say I stayed there. I had a chance to speak to the students of the All Age School there and interact with them in their classes. I particularly enjoyed the religion class. And I had the chance to have dinner with the minister and his family, who put me up in their apartment. Many of us on the trip had opportunities to go into the homes of our Bahamian friends (Juana is pictured right with Rev. and Mrs. Lewis, a host family) and sit around the table in conversation and spend time in their neighborhoods and within the churches in which they served. Most of our days were spent in sessions where we discussed what evangelism looked like in the Bahamas and how to effectively do evangelism there, particularly when almost the entire country is Christian. There were sessions on faith-sharing and even opportunities to walk within some communities to share our faith. A few of us, Michael Hunt and Lance Eiland, Julie Gordon, Cynthia Whitehead, Monica Jefferson and I even got a chance to be interviewed on a few of the radio programs, which are broadcast across the entire Caribbean and into New Zealand. I had the chance to be on two radio programs, sharing with listeners the ideas being discussed in the evangelism conference.

But what I probably enjoyed the most were the Wesley sessions, where groups of us conference participants would get together to share experiences about ourselves and our culture. The Wesley groups were originally a part of the Wesleyan tradition for new congregational development and renewal. Monica Jefferson led our group in discussions about who influenced us spiritually as a child and invited us to reflect on what our experience there had taught us. Not only did I learn more about my fellow colleagues in ministry, but I gained insight into our new Bahamian friends, realizing that we are all more alike than different and face similar challenges in ministry and our individual lives.

I shared with my fellow seminarians and workshop participants that I was beginning to see what God was doing with me there. This seminar was the fulfillment of prayers I had prayed in regard to my ministry and a fulfillment of the promises God made to deliver on my desires. I didn’t realize until later that this list I had been compiling of the 100 things I would like to accomplish in my lifetime was dwindling somewhat as God was crossing some of those things off the list. I had written my desire to connect with people of other cultures and have the opportunity to speak and minister internationally and have them share their faith with me. This trip has allowed me the chance to do that. It connected me with people and other ministers, some of whom asked me to speak at other future events and churches. This seminar was the marriage of my former life as a journalist and my present life, which I could see coming together in this place. And Candler made it possible. It opened up a world that I didn’t realize existed for me. This opportunity presented me insight into the ministry God is possibly shaping me for and brought ministry of the “other” up close and personal.

It’s prompted me to live my life with the expectation that God has so much more in store for me and those of us he has called to serve.

I must say, this isn’t a bad start. Today the Bahamas, tomorrow…maybe South Africa. I’m praying!

Feb 13 2009

Candice Austin: Musings of a Third-Year

Our Guest Blogger this week is Candice Austin (pictured above in Ghana), a third-year MDiv student at Candler. She went to high school in Washington, D.C. and got her undergraduate degree from Florida A&M University (Go Rattlers!). When she wasn’t in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Greece, or Ghana, or becoming ordained in Pensacola, Florida, Candice has been involved with numerous student groups on campus, including the African Methodist Episcopal Connection, Black Student Caucus, and has helped host visiting prospective students with the Admissions Office.

Having started Candler almost three years ago, I look back and realize this seminary experience has been one of the most intriguing journeys of my life. I remember sitting with my parents in the ministry and talking about the ministry prior to leaving Florida to head to Atlanta. They spoke very simple yet profound words that till this day I hold close to my heart. They said, “Many people go through seminary, but seminary doesn’t go through them.” I vowed to myself to not leave seminary the same way I came. Little did I know, a few weeks later in Orientation 2006, I would be singing the song “You Won’t Leave Here Like You Came” with my new classmates. As I reflect on my seminary experience, I know without a doubt that I have made the most of the journey and come May 11, 2009, I will not leave here the same way I came!

Candler has opened many doors and provided me with numerous opportunities of a lifetime. I entered Candler knowing no one, yet I leave with a new family whom I will miss dearly. I entered Candler seeking to explore theology and I leave having explored all the small pieces that have been magically woven together to create my own theology. I entered Candler desiring to go to Africa and I leave having explored Ghanaian traditional healing practices in Ghana, West Africa (pictured above, right). I entered Candler with a mental picture of Mt. Sinai and leave having hiked it at the crack of dawn and watched the sunrise from the top (pictured below). I leave Candler having floated in the Dead Sea and on the Red Sea, been to Damascus and walked the “Street Called Straight,” hiked Petra, walked the desert of Palmyra, and seen with my own eyes the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered—all made possible by the Middle East Travel Seminar. I have spent time with God on a Silent Retreat. I have rediscovered myself and my calling through Clinical Pastoral Education at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. I leave Candler having been educated at the feet of David Petersen, Luther Smith, Brooks Holifield, Noel Erskine, Emmanuel Lartey, Don Saliers, Nikki Giovanni, Jimmy Carter, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to name just a few. And most importantly, I entered Candler struggling with the calling God placed on my life and I leave comforted and confident that I am able, with God’s help, to walk courageously in it.

Singing “You Won’t Leave Here Like You Came” at Orientation in 2006 was truly a prophetic moment in my seminary experience. I am grateful for every professor who has challenged me, every faculty and staff member who ever assisted me, and every friend who has kept me going. Candler was one of the smartest moves I made in the life of my calling. I do not take my seminary experience lightly and am forever indebted for all the life-changing opportunities Candler has presented.

Feb 6 2009

Friends and Community at Candler

This week’s guest blogger is Allie Rosner (pictured above). Allie is a third-year MDiv student at Candler and will graduate in 93 days. Originally from Vienna, Virginia, Allie is a Certified Candidate for ordination as an Elder in the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Her favorite classes at Candler have been all things Hebrew Bible-related.

It’s about three weeks into my last semester at Candler, which means I’m starting to panic just a little about the future. I am planning on being commissioned towards ordination in 2010 and am applying to various jobs this spring working with homeless people, since I’d like to incorporate that into my future ministry. Leaving Candler is going to be tough, though. I really don’t know what I’m going to do without my friends.

In undergrad it took me a semester or so to find my niche, so when I moved to Atlanta three years ago I braced myself for a few months of awkward friendlessness. And in the two weeks or so between moving and orientation, it seemed like that might indeed be the case. I went so stir-crazy in my apartment that at one point I practically begged my third-year roommate to let me come to her church and help the staff clean out the youth room. I signed up for the Spiritual Life retreat the day before orientation started, and to be honest, I was a lot less concerned about spiritual life than I was about just talking to people who weren’t on instant messenger. Well, at the end of the day I happened to stumble upon a group of girls headed out for ice cream. Sometimes if you stand around looking awkward enough, you can get yourself invited to things.

So I got myself invited to ice cream. The next day, day one of orientation, I met a guy filling out bubble sheets and ran into him later when he was looking for a lunch buddy. (Sometimes, if you stand around looking awkward enough, you’ll find someone looking for a lunch buddy.) The circle has grown a lot since then—but as it turns out, the girls from the ice cream trip and the guy from the bubble sheet table are some of my best friends to this day.

I don’t know exactly what it is about Candler that made me feel so much a part of a community so easily. I know that the people here are awesome, the kind of people who are irreverent enough to stay sane and still make you feel good about the future of the church. I know I can walk into Brooks Commons at practically any time and see people I know. I know that Candler’s just the right size to make me feel at home but not get bored.

And I know that when I leave here it will be with memories of potluck holiday dinners, country line dancing outings, ghost tours at Stone Mountain, birthday parties, weekly breakfast dates, days at Six Flags, and of course some of the best times we had just hanging out.

Right before this semester started, Kathy got married. She’s my former roommate and one of the ice cream girls, by the way. A group of us roadtripped down to Ft. Lauderdale for the wedding. We left at midnight Friday and drove through the night. Well, Meg (pictured without her eyes on the road, left) drove through the night. The rest of us provided moral support by singing cheesy music and passing around the car snacks. We really hoped to see some alligators as we headed south—but the only ones we saw were dead and stuffed at some of Florida’s classier rest stops. We arrived in time for a few precious hours of sleep before the wedding (which was beautiful!)

Emily and Steve left the next day, but Meg, Lauren, Beth and I drove up to Orlando for an optimistically-early graduation celebration in Disney World. It was the perfect way to spend the last few days before the semester started—playing with the toys in the shops in downtown Disney, getting to meet the cast of the Lion King show, needlessly freaking out about the Tower of Terror, and a whole day from open to close in the Magic Kingdom.

There was one really horrendous ride at Disney World. If you’ve ever been on Stitch’s Great Escape in Tomorrowland you know what I mean. You sit in a circular room and they harness you in, and the ride looks like it should be some spinning gravitron-like adventure. But instead, Stitch “escapes” from the center of the room and you feel him jumping on your shoulders and actually smell him digesting his chili-dog lunch. We walked out of that room silently, half confused and half disgusted. And then we started laughing at just what a terrible idea it was and laughed for hours straight. I think it’s friends you share those random things with who are the forever kind.