Dec 31 2010

Partners in Education: Pitts Theology Library

Happy New Year’s from Candler School of Theology!  As you are making your New Year’s Resolutions, you might want to think about the many ways Pitts Theology Library can help make your 2011 successful.

How can a library impact your theological education?  Theological education engages with the past and present, with contemporary issues as well as the thought of the ages.  We at Pitts Theology Library would like to encourage you to consider the ways that a library serves your educational and vocational goals:

Pitts CirculationWhile in Pitts Theology Library, one of the largest theological libraries in North America, you can access over 560,000 items.  You also have access to the more than 3.4 million items held by all of the Emory University Libraries.  Hundreds of online databases and thousands of electronic resources are available to you on and off campus.

During the semesters, you can learn tips for effectively using these resources by attending 50-minute Wednesday Workshops during the lunch hour (and we provide lunch, too!) Topics include: using BibleWorks software; resources for exegetical research; locating and using images; and highlights from our special collections.

Contact a reference librarian by phone, email, chat, or stop by our desks to ask questions and get a jump start on your research projects.  Online Research Guides are always available when you are ready to embark on your research.

Durham Reading RoomTwo credit-bearing courses are designed to help you build useful skills: Technology for Ministry focuses on theological reflection and practical skills regarding the use of technologies in ministry, while Research Practices provides guided practice with the stages of research, allowing you to take an assigned project in another course or a topic of interest and apply the principles and practices considered in class.

As you consider Candler for your theological education, please think of the library staff as your partners in education—we delight in your learning, and want to help you engage with the rich resources here throughout your Candler education and beyond!  As a Candler graduate, you will have access to the Candler Alumni Portal, which includes the full-text article database ATLAS for Alumni as well as a selection of useful online resources.  Library staff also can help you determine the best options for obtaining theological materials wherever your post-Candler years may lead you.  Please let us know how we can help.

-Tracy N. Powell

Tracy is the Head of Public Services and Periodicals Librarian at Pitts Theology Library; she is always willing to help library visitors and regularly hosts workshops and teaches classes for Candler students.

Dec 24 2010

Walk in the Light

Luke 2:8-11
2:8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 2:9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 2:11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”


Classes at Candler School of Theology recently ended for the semester. Finals are over, grades are in, and students and faculty have emptied the hallways for now. We have worshiped together during this Advent season as a community with expectant hearts.

It is always interesting to read the story of the birth of Christ, especially in Luke’s account. This year I am struck by images of light and the request from the angel that the shepherds not be afraid. Equally attention-grabbing is the setting of the story – shepherds living and working in the fields, a census to further support Rome’s war, and God coming into this world as a helpless newborn who was laid in a feeding trough. This was not at first glance a splendid night.

Imagine an ordinary day. Darkness abounds amid our humanity. Life is hard. And all of a sudden there is so much light that instead of happiness to be have light in our lives, we are scared out of our minds. This was the kind of night in which God became incarnate.

And so it is the case today. Christmas is not always a glowing moment of joy and peace for so many. Rather, it is a time of profound loneliness and sadness. There appears to be nothing but darkness – broken relationships, unemployment, underemployment, aloneness, uncertainty about our calling, and the like. But yet, this time it is about the light that is shone all around us – even amid the perceived darkness (The darkness is showered with brilliance as the people who wait in darkness see a great light – Isa 9:2). We get a glimmer of it, but yet we may be afraid to walk in that light and to respond to the angel’s beckoning, “do not be afraid!”


One of my favorite hymns is Walk in the light. I recall one of my very first Christmas Eve’s as a new Christian. It was at a candlelight service that a friend insisted I attend. It was there that the song spoke to me and encouraged me to pay attention to the gift of light, no matter how big or small. It was that night that I allowed myself to be privy to the Glory that shone all around me and in that moment I was no longer afraid. The lyrics are simply:

Walk in the light,beautiful light,
come where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright.
Oh shine all around us by day and by night,
Jesus is, Jesus is the light of the world;

This Christmas, let us embrace the light as it comes. It may come in the face of another, or the kindness of a stranger, or even the words of a hymn that penetrates our hearts in new ways. No matter how it comes, step into it. Receive it. Walk in it. For the gift that is greater than all others is the coming of the One who is the Light now and forever – Jesus Christ.

Let us pray-

God of glory,
your splendor shines from a manger in Bethlehem,
where the Light of the world is humbly born
into the darkness of human night.
Open our eyes to Christ’s presence in the shadows of our world,
so that we, like him, may become beacons of your justice,
and defenders of all for whom there is no room. Amen.
Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress.

-The Rev. Shonda Jones

Rev. Jones is Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Services at Candler.  She is involved in recruitment, admissions, financial aid, and student life. In addition, Rev. Jones provides vocational guidance, financial advisement, and crisis management for students. She is an ordained elder in the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. Her areas of interest include the HIV/AIDS pandemic, anti-racism, womanist theology, ethics, culture, and studies in church and society.

All images copyright John August Swanson. They can be viewed at Candler on the second floor outside of room 252.

Dec 17 2010

An Intentional Forum for Women’s Voices

While Candler students are on Christmas break we are highlighting a number of people, places, and organizations that help to make the Candler community such a powerful place in which to prepare for a life of service to the church and the world.  This week we feature the Candler Women.

Candler Women is a student organization committed to empowering and equipping women to faithfully lead and serve global communities. Candler Women’s meetings and other events provide the opportunity for women of all backgrounds, ages and concerns to come together for fellowship and to dialogue.  Our most recent activities have included the 100 Women at Candler Luncheon and Dialogue, Candler Women Arts Exhibit, Celebrating Our Stories Book Project, Karaoke Night, Self-Care Day, Survival Tips for Seminary luncheon and the formation the Candler Women Sacred Spaces.

Candle Women won the Emory University Campus Life Outstanding Student Organization Event 2009-2010 for the 100 Women at Candler Luncheon and Dialogue   The event exceeded our expectations and create a space for food, friends, fellowship and a forum for women’s voices.  The proposition that women of all backgrounds, ages and concerns could come together with a collective voice to dialogue about call, purpose and self-care was extremely powerful. During the noon hour, CST 252 was vibrant and buzzed with excitement as we shared our stories about how we are currently discerning our call, our understanding of individual and collective purpose at Candler and how Candler Women can help in the area of self-care.

The Celebrating Our Stories book project has resulted in the publication of a collection of narratives and poetry from students, staff and professors.  The book was a collaborative project that included graphic and cover design from the talent within the Candler Women community.  The first printing sold out in a matter of days and is now in its second edition.  A copy of this initial project now resides in the Pitts Theological Library.

The next Candler Women’s Week of activities will be from Monday, March 21, 2011 through Friday, March 25, 2011 and will culminate in an overnight spiritual formation retreat.   We invite you be a part of Candler Women activities and events as we all set the stage for an encounter with the Divine and continue to strive for our most exciting and transformative year ever!

- Diana Williams

Diana is a third year MDiv Student at Candler and President of the Candler Women.

Dec 10 2010

Exploring Vocation through Youth Ministry

As a Candler student myself, I did not identify my calling as youth ministry. Indeed, my interests during my time there focus on historical theology, and this is the area of study in which I pursued my doctorate at Emory University later. Yet, I spent several summers of student years working for the Youth Theological Initiative, a program for high school students in justice-seeking theological education. This “summer job” turned out to be one of the most Jibye Talkingimportant experiences I had at Candler—spiritually, professionally and intellectually. At YTI, I had the opportunity to participate in innovative practices of religious education, learning how to engage in theological reflection with young people that enlivened their imaginations and inspired them to move out into the world to transform it. Living in an ecumenical, diverse community of fellow Candler students, Emory University PhD students, and high school students from around the country, and indeed around the world, I developed insights into the dynamics of race, gender and class, honed skills in teaching, pastoral care, worship planning, and conflict transformation, and came to understand myself better as a teacher and minister. Now that I am on faculty at Candler and serve as the director of YTI, I see how the roots of my professional and personal develop began during these experiences as a Candler student.

YTI Mentor and StudentThose who feel called to working with youth, whether in the local church, in a school or in a non-profit context, can explore this vocation at Candler easily. In addition to working with YTI, students can participate in internships in congregations and organizations in the Atlanta area that provide the space to experiment with new ways of engaging young people in transformative ministry. They can take courses in religious education and participate in research projects that draw on the voices and insights of young people directly. They can even pursue a Certificate in Religious Education with a focus in youth ministry.

Those who feel called to other vocations still have much to gain from the unique youth education resources at Candler, however. At YTI, for example, we are experimenting in interfaith dialogue, innovative worship, and new forms of building community that are invaluable for working with adults as well. We are learning new ways of “doing church” that will enliven the work of all congregational leaders, ordained and lay, senior pastors and youth directors, teachers and ministers.

What are you called to do? Come explore with us!

-Dr. Elizabeth Corrie

Dr. Corrie is Assistant Professor of Youth Education and Peacebuilding and Director of the Youth Theological Initiative at Candler.  Her research interests include theories and practices of nonviolent strategies for social change, the religious roots of violence and nonviolence, international peacebuilding initiatives, and character education and moral development with children and youth. She received her MDiv from Candler in 1996 and PhD from Emory University.

Dec 3 2010

Considering Context at Candler

Recently, I’ve spent some time reflecting on my experience at Candler School of Theology.  One thing that continues to stick out to me about why Candler is a great place for a seminary education is its focus on context.  This context plays itself out in the classroom but also in our city.  Atlanta is an international hub of activity – an urban epicenter – but nestled in an otherwise rural region.   Candler students discern their vocation while serving Church and secular organizations addressing issues like homelessness, immigration, and equal rights among all people.

Context is built into the academic program for most students through Contextual Education; the MDiv degree requires that first year students serve four hours a week in a social service agency and second year students serve eight hours a week in an ecclesial setting.  My first year offered the opportunity to serve at the MUST Ministries in Cobb County.  While serving at MUST I learned a great deal about ministry with those experiencing homelessness.   I remember helping one gentleman with an online job application, and he was more grateful for my help than I expected.  It wasn’t just about being one step closer to a job; it was about overcoming the injustice of getting a job with an unaccommodating application process for those who had the job skills but lacked the computer skills necessary to apply for it.  Furthermore, he told me that he would be able to sleep that night thanks to the peace that came from submitting a job application.  My heart was broken as I considered the few nights of sleep I’d lost worrying about money or finding a job.  How much more stressful it must be to want so badly to work, but not be able to.  I learned quickly to respect those who are experiencing homelessness.  Their ability to survive and cope is admirable amidst a world that often chastises rather than helping them in appropriate ways.  Fortunately, the academic side of ConEd meant that we also had weekly reflection groups to help us process these new experiences and ways of seeing the world through a theological lens. But, the transformation I experienced at MUST made contextual education much more than an academic exercise.

Context is also experienced through voluntary service: a central part of the community life at Candler.  Most student organizations and individuals are highly involved in outside programs that continue to contextualize this education.  Some organizations focus on being in service to those within our community while others focus on issues that are world-wide.  The leaders of student organizations gather every other week to make proposals and allocate student activity fund money to programs that center on justice issues.  One local work day, organized by a fellow justice minded student, offered us the opportunity to get to know each other better, learn some new skills, and to make someone’s holidays a little better by helping them have their own home to celebrate in.  Spending the day on a Habitat for Humanity build with other Candler students reminded me of the conditions of those more immediately around us.  In the past month the Social Concerns Network also raised over $3000 for Haiti.  In one event students from all of Emory were invited to participate in a chili-cook off and students who have served in Haiti presented on the organizations with which they served. The cook-off proceeds then went to support those organizations.  It was great to see so many students from other schools come out and rally around an urgent need.  In another event the community donated hundreds of shoes for a region that has no paved roads, very little electricity, and no public sanitation.  The shoes will help prevent disease and gave the community an opportunity to give to a cause in which they might not have been able to otherwise.  There are often opportunities to be involved like this for local, national, and international causes.  It gives me a lot of hope about our future as the church to work and study with people whose hand is always on the margin.

I am grateful to be in a place that generates so much energy around contextualizing our vocational discernment process.  Whether next door or on the other side of the world, there are a multitude of opportunities to be in service and to experience transformation.  I am hopeful for the future of the church in which I intend to work because of the way I see and experience the preparation Candler offers.

-Patrick McLaughlin

Patrick is a second year MDiv student from Hutchinson, KS and a Student Ambassador. In addition to his time serving the community, he serves as a class representative to the Candler Coordinating Council and is a member of the Candler Singers.