Jun 28 2011

Being Church in the City

This summer 14 Candler students are serving in ministry through Candler Advantage, a paid summer internship in conjunction with Candler’s Contextual Education Program.  Over the course of the summer many of these students will be sharing their experiences here on the blog.

I am incredibly grateful that Candler has provided the time and resources to allow me to delve much deeper into parish ministry this summer. So far, the summer has been challenging, inspiring, HOT, and yes, even fun.

I am serving at Birmingham First United Methodist Church in Alabama. First Church is a fairly large church situated at the heart of downtown Birmingham. Like all institutions in Birmingham it carries both a noble and broken history. Today, however, the church leads the city in many ways with its dynamic vision to create an engaging, authentic experience of worship, discipleship and service. It truly is an open place for all to worship, grow and serve.

My personal project this summer is, broadly, to explore what it means to be Church in an urban setting with a diverse, yet dominantly suburban membership. The congregation represents different income levels, locations, education systems, political views, theological views, races, and sexual orientations. The driving question for me has been, “How can this type of church build community both amongst its diverse congregation and with its particular context?”

My work on this has begun with building relationships with members so that we may, as a community, fruitfully explore how First Church responds/should respond to the realities of homelessness, working poverty, and transportation and food access in our immediate context. The church is currently testing a “Listen-Learn-Serve” model, which provides education, discussion, and chances to serve in each of these areas of need in our community. This model is going well, but there is a desire amongst some of the congregation to engage the whole congregation about these issues and to move to a more sustained relationship model. I am working this summer to envision what that might look like for First Church.

The strongest relationship that the church has with its surrounding communities has been initiated by the youth. The Community Church Without Walls is a United Methodist congregation in Birmingham’s West End, a neighborhood with the highest crime/violent crime rates in the state. The youth from the two churches for the past two years have done mission work together, gone on retreats together, and visit each other’s church and homes. I am working primarily with adult ministries this summer, and not directly with the youth. However, my husband is the pastor of Community Church Without Walls and our home is in West End. Thus, my personal life is intimately bound to this relationship between the youth of the two churches. I think the adults have a lot to learn from these amazing kids on what “Church” is.

Check out this clip to get a better idea of how the youth are leading both churches in answering the call to do and be church in Birmingham.

(Note: it is sad that the appeal of the story is its racial categorization, but perhaps this evidences some of the brokenness that still remains in Birmingham: http://www2.alabamas13.com/news/2011/jun/21/teens-help-recovery-effort-ar-2008012/)

- Mary Page Wilson-Lyons

Mary Page, a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College, is a rising 3rd year MDiv student at Candler and a member of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.


Jun 24 2011

Healing from Tragedy

This summer 14 Candler students are serving in ministry through Candler Advantage, a paid summer internship in conjunction with Candler’s Contextual Education Program.  Over the course of the summer many of these students will be sharing their experiences here on the blog.

On April 27 of this year I sat in the living room of my third story, Decatur apartment and wondered where I would go if a tornado hit. I am sure many can recall that day, and the events of the night are etched into my mind. While I was safe in Atlanta, I knew that my home church community of Apison, Tennessee, was being ravaged by the spring storms. I had no idea the extent of the damage until the pastor of Apison UMC began to post updates on congregation members. He wrote things like, I have heard from the Smith, Jones, and Thompson families; Gene and Roxie are still missing; the two homes in front of Mark are no longer there. This news feed ran through the evening. He sent me a message telling me to pray for the community and that it was hit badly by the storms. I did not know the extent of the damage. When I saw that Atlanta’s Fox 5 was sending a news truck to Ringgold, Georgia (Apison and Ringgold are neighbors separated by only a state line on the map), I knew that things must be bad.

During the following days I heard it described as a war zone. I saw pictures and everyone cried that the pictures do not accurately capture the magnitude of the devastation. My heart grieved for the church family that is sponsoring and praying for me during my seminary education. The emotions were crazy; I felt lonely, guilty, and angry for not being with the people I loved. Disasters are disasters when they hit cities, but when they hit home disasters have faces, disasters have breath, disasters have names, and disasters have feelings. Still it is hard to describe how I actually felt while I watched my church family dig through trauma.

The only thing that gave me solace was that I knew that as soon as the semester was out I would be traveling back home to work in a neighboring church. This summer I am interning through the Candler Advantage program at Ooltewah United Methodist Church, which is in a community neighboring Apison. Through my position at Ooltewah, I have been blessed to be part of the relief efforts that will continue for the foreseeable future in the Apison community. In the midst of this tragedy I have seen strangers become friends and neighbors become heroes. People from as far away as New York and California have come to Apison to give of their time, talent, and energy.

While I am not working at Apison UMC, I am very blessed to be a part of a recovery and healing in my home community. The stories of everyday miracles are endless, from a dad and son lifting an unmovable safe off a trapped family to a church whose annual budget is barely $100,000 distributing over $20,000 in aid within five weeks of the tornado. God is at work, and I am so amazed that I have been graced with the unexpected opportunity to see the face of grace. Each week I ride my bicycle through the community. During my first ride, I cried; Saturday I smiled the smile of foundations being poured and Sheetrock being hung.

When I applied for the Candler Advantage program I thought that I knew what my summer was going to look like. April 27th changed all of that, but because of support of Candler I am engaged in life altering and world shaking ministry. The grace of humanity that I am witnessing through this disaster is shaping my ministry and giving life to my theological education. This experience is recreating me into a new person. Thanks be to God.

-Will Conner

Will is a rising third year MDiv student at Candler and a member of the  Holston Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.


Apr 15 2011

The Seminary Experience

With two weeks to go, my time as a first-year seminarian is almost complete. Like every other academic year, the exams and papers have whirled by and the summer welcomes my return. But this year has been different, and it deserves some reflection.

When I applied to seminary, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but hoped that my role as a minister and person of faith would be clarified simply by applying – as though seminary would be some kind of all-knowing crystal ball. What a funny thought.

At the time, I was living in France, teaching English to French students and traveling to new locales every other week. The two years prior had been spent in coastal Mississippi, teaching 9th-12th graders History, Government/Economics, and Geography and coaching Track and Cross Country. On top of teaching, I had spent two summers in South Bend, IN participating in an intensive summer-long graduate program. By the end of May 2009, I was exhausted and in need of sleep and self-care. France had become not just an opportunity for adventure, but also a respite from the exhaustion that comes with teaching in the United States.

After four months of relaxation, I became restless. Sure the 12-hour work week was nice, and I loved each of the bakeries lining our small community’s streets, but I needed a challenge. So I applied to seminary.

When August rolled around, I couldn’t contain myself. Eager to meet my classmates, and even more excited to dive into my studies, I began Contextual Education at Metro State Prison as an intern prison chaplain four hours a week, I enrolled in classes, and  immediately connected with people in my advising group. Life was perfect.

It wasn’t until October that I started panicking. In the middle of writing a paper for Old Testament, my knees started to buckle. “What am I doing here? I don’t even like this stuff!” “Ugh, I hate writing this paper. I mean, I’m not even going to be ordained!” When my boyfriend looked at me and said, “You don’t really seem to be enjoying what you’re learning,” I thought “Oh, crap. I think you might be right.”

After that, I started to look for an exit plan. I made a pros and cons list. I talked to my sister, my mom, and my cousin. I cried to my boyfriend. I prayed, sort of.

Gritting my teeth, I entered January term with uncertainty. Not only was I uncomfortable, but I felt strange. I’d always been the person to say, “Grow where you’re planted,” and here I was trying my hardest to avoid my commitment to seminary. I was scared about what others might think, worried about what it would mean if I left, and mad that I had made a poor decision. Most of my questions ended with the question all of us ask as some point or another, “Do you even know who you are?”

My existential crisis did not end with one decisive event. Instead, it morphed into a process of discovery in which I started to examine more closely the elements of seminary that had made me most uncomfortable. What I realized is that I had been sitting in an Old Testament classroom discussing the significance of the three worlds of biblical interpretation, redaction theory, and exegesis, but I didn’t have the faintest clue what any of those things meant. I had spent every Friday working in the lock-down ward of a women’s prison, speaking to women through a rectangular flap in the door and feeling exhausted by and disenchanted with our justice system. I had absorbed myself in research about the American sex industry and the ways in which pastors can help care for all persons involved in such forms of entertainment. I missed teaching so badly, that I blamed seminary for robbing me of my gifts and talents. And lastly, I struggled to establish for myself a place in which I could foster my artistic side and produce creative projects. It seemed that I had become so overwhelmed that I couldn’t see the proverbial forest through the trees.

When I awoke to this realization, I was able to see seminary for what it is: a place in which human beings come to learn, grow, and be challenged in the name of God. It’s not about earning a formal degree or a collar so that you can become a minister in a church someday. If it is, you’ll probably burn out pretty quickly. It’s not about having all your ducks in the row. If it is, you’re in for a messy surprise (see: Job). It’s not about loving every single service experience, every single lecture, or even every book of the Bible. If it is, you are a better person than me. It’s not about being holier than thou or about power. If it is, we’ve lost Christ in the midst of it all. And, it’s not about always being comfortable, always knowing what it means to be a minister, or always liking what you’re doing. If it is, no one would last. Instead, it’s about journeying alongside other creatures of God who seek to discover new ways of conceiving of the Divine, communing with the cosmos, and living into the fullness of Life. We seminarians do this not because we think we have the answers or because talking to others about God is easy or even always natural, but because we know that our lives are sustained and enriched by union with the Most Gracious.

If you’re contemplating seminary, I’d encourage you to pursue the journey. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. If you’re a current student, I appreciate your presence, thank you for your endurance, and admire you for your voice. If you’re a graduate of seminary, I pray that the three years you spent at Candler continue to challenge you and inspire you for the rest of your ministry on this earth.

I have no doubt Candler was the right choice for me, even if there are days I wish it were otherwise. Not only has it shaken me, but it has also grounded me and changed me for the better. And, when all is said and done, there is not much more I could ask for in a seminary.

Amen.

- Jacqueline Jeffcoat

Jacqueline is a 1st year MDiv student from Fort Worth, Texas and a Student Ambassador.


Mar 25 2011

The Worship that Surrounds Us

It is no small thing to ascend the stairs behind a pulpit.

When I walk up those two maroon-carpeted steps at my contextual education church, Haygood Memorial UMC, I shake with something other than nerves. If I quake for any reason, it is for the fear of God–the good kind–and my vast unworthiness to approach such a lectern and stand before the people of God . Yet it is my calling to be there all the same. Taking the pulpit is a privilege of the highest regard–what an amazing thing to be called upon to do–truly a sacred task.

My voice was one thing that did not waver or falter (even as I question my decision to wear heels on those steps!). The first thing I did as liturgist at Haygood was read an opening collect taken from the Hebrew Bible. There is a power and an authority that flows from the thousands of years of tradition in those words, a power to which I am privileged to lend my voice–in this time, in this language, in this context, for these people. Hear, O Israel! Shema, Y’Israel! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad.

It was the Shema that I was asked to read. The beauty of these words nearly brought me to tears when we sang it in Hebrew at the Shabbat service I attended as a part of Beth Corrie’s world religions course. This is the text that is at the core of the Jewish faith, the text, too, that Christian children know from  Vacation Bible School songs, the text that has initiated in me the practice of writing reminders of God’s love for me on my inner wrists, the text that led me to hang the cross I received from my church upon graduating high school on the upper door frame in my room–a living reminder of the faith I carry whether I’m in my room or without.

It is no small thing to read these words. And as I did, I was reminded of the first time I ever read Scripture in church. As part of my sixth grade confirmation class, we each were required to read in big church, and though I didn’t know really anything of its context at the time, I still remember that my text as sixth grade liturgist was Isaiah 6. It is poignant now, to think of reading this famous call narrative, not knowing then of the call I myself would come to answer when I came to Candler. And like Isaiah, still even today as I approach the pulpit, I feel the truth of the words, “Woe to me, I am a woman of unclean lips!”

Yet we know God’s M.O. in these call narratives: the prophet complains, but God offers reassurance. Eventually we might get it, God–we will never be worthy of the tasks you call us to do. But still you want us. You cleanse our lips and put words in our mouths.

While these experience of Sunday morning worship with Con-Ed II have been such concentrated little bursts of ministerial formation, I was reminded today, too, that the awesome thing about the kingdom of God is that it is everywhere among us. I can have church while I’m listening to Ingrid Michaelson in my car, because she sings the words that are otherwise trapped in my soul. I can have church while I’m sitting with one of my best friends outside at Starbucks, and we’re talking about our frustrations with ourselves and with the church and with seminary. We say that maybe it’s okay if she decides to someday walk away from the faith of her upbringing, that faith that was once so sure but now seems distant–it’s okay because it’s a part of the journey. And as we say those things, God is so tangibly near to us that I can taste it in the air (and I pray that she, too, will feel God again, soon, close enough to taste and feel and sense). And there we are, having church, just being friends and loving one another.

Emily Dickinson has a poem that talks about the worship that happens everywhere, all around us. Some might use such a poem as an excuse to not come to Sunday morning worship–a trend that is becoming all too real in our society. I think we need to be in church on Sunday mornings, worshiping God corporately and coming before God’s presence with a bit of fear and trembling every now and again. But it is good, too, to see the God-force all around us. It is a reminder that yes, the pulpit is a sacred space of intoning the words of God before the gathered assembly, but (as any good Methodist will tell you) the world is our parish, and the words we say and the God we meet in our everyday moments, with each breath in and out, with those words we also can preach.

What is it, then, that I am saying?

-Whitney Pierce

Whitney is a 2nd year MDiv student from North Carolina and a regular contributor to the Beatitudes Society blog.


Jan 26 2011

Kevin Murriel on Candler Advantage

New for 2011, each week we will feature a member of the Candler family sharing one of their stories by video.  Our first post is from Kevin Murriel:

Kevin is a third year MDiv student from Mississippi and active in many aspects of the Candler community.


Oct 15 2010

Transformative Listening

Listening is not as easy as you think. It requires more of you than you might realize. Consider those times in class, at work, or evenings with your family when you are told a story. Do you daze off, thinking about what you want for dinner? Do you focus less on the content of the conversation and more on the mole on his cheek? Do you act like a Bobble-head figurine, nodding without hearing the words of your friend? Even I, a self-proclaimed “good listener,” have the tendency to do such things. So when Dr. Bounds mentioned we would be learning how to listen in class, I knew it meant a change of character.

Grouped together according to our site placements, Tuesday afternoon’s Church and Community Ministries course was in desperate need of a change of character. I say this not as an affront against the class; rather, I say this knowing that our course, our site placements, and our Contextual Education experiences demand it.

Located at the Gateway Center for the homeless and Metro State Prison for Women, twenty-two of us moonlight as chaplain interns every week. Entering spaces charged with stories of poverty, violence, and social exclusion, we are asked to put our lives on hold and listen to our fellow brothers and sisters. Listening in this environment requires us to be authentic, acknowledging our biases, trigger points, and the social power we wield as educated seminarians. If we don’t do this – if we place authenticity on the backburner – we risk failing to establish genuine relationships, the sort that have the potential for actual transformation.

For this reason, along with many others, Dr. Bounds knew that lessons on listening would change our approach to Contextual Education. And, I might argue, our entire approach to seminary. Her emphasis to become engaged listeners was much more than just a practice in mental cognition. It was a call to empathetically enter into someone else’s life. This meant actively listening to a female inmate or client who had recently lost a loved one, been victimized by another, or just needed an open ear. It meant holding back our comments, opinions, and advice until a relationship had been established. And it meant recognizing that our role was to befriend and serve, not control.

When class ended, I remember feeling stronger. I recall thinking how important it is to be present in all of my relationships, to interact with intention, and to give each individual the empathetic ear they deserve.

Whether we are at Metro, at Gateway, or in the middle of Old Testament, our relationships can be transformed by the way we listen. By evaluating our intentions and tendencies we are less likely to monopolize conversations, forget important details, or give disingenuous advice. We also free the individual to explore her heart in a non-restrictive way, which may then lead her to open up and let someone in. This letting in not only transforms the individual but leads to the deeply authentic and rich relationships our world needs today.

So take the time to listen. Evaluate your tendencies. Be engaged. And empathetically enter into the life of another with heartfelt compassion.

- Jacqueline Jeffcoat

Jacqueline is a 1st year MDiv student from Fort Worth, Texas and a Student Ambassador.


Sep 24 2010

Spiritual Gifts: Knitting for Our Neighbors

I firmly believe that utilizing our spiritual gifts in an effort to give back to our community is of utmost importance.  My favorite aspect of Candler’s coursework is Contextual Education (ConEd).  Through ConEd I, every Candler student is given an opportunity to explore his or her spiritual gifts during their weekly hours on site in a church, hospital, foster home, or outreach community setting.  One of Candler’s professors took it a step further with her spiritual gifts and began a knitting group called Project Warmth: Crafting a Better World.

Dr. Karen Scheib, Director of the Women, Theology and Ministries Program, recognized knitting and crocheting Balls of Yarnas some of her spiritual gifts, and she chose to use these gifts in an effort to further help those in our ConEd I communities.  To that goal, she created Project Warmth and invited everyone to be involved. She began by purchasing loads of yarn and multiple sets of knitting needles.  Dr. Scheib was excited to share her gift and teach all of us how to knit so that we could give back to the communities in which we had become so entrenched and attached.

Quilt SquaresLast year, Dr. Scheib was the faculty advisor for my ConEd I group which served at the United Methodist Children’s Home.  For this particular ConEd site, we planned to make a patchwork lap blanket to give to them.  Each of the students in my group helped knit different colored squares that Dr. Scheib finalized by crocheting together into a blanket.  She had many ideas for other sites such as hats and scarves for homeless adults and baby blankets and mittens for underprivileged children.

God makes each individual uniquely different and blesses us with a variety of spiritual gifts; I can safely say that knitting is not mine.  What was supposed to be my square wound up looking like some unnamed shape!  While I certainly believe that more practice would have helped, I was never able to relax for fear of messing something up!  I have no doubt that through the years of ministry that I have ahead of me there will be many more “false starts.”  But I believe that I will be guided to my appropriate niche each and every time if I remain patient and steadfast in my relationship with the Lord.

For many of my classmates, however, knitting actually became a spiritual discipline and served as a form of self-care – a skill which is really stressed at Candler.  Despite all of the reading, papers, and extracurricular activities, all of us must find the time to take care of ourselves.  Taking time out of our day for knitting gave us time for reflection and meditation amidst our chaotic schedules.  Dr. Scheib explained that we were doing something for ourselves by knitting, but also doing something for others by giving to charity.  The dual purpose of this project helped and continues to help all of those involved.  I believe that all of us have gifts that can be shared with the community at large, and I admire Dr. Scheib for sharing hers with not only the Candler community but also with those in need throughout the greater-Atlanta area.

- Mia Northington

Mia is a 2nd Year MDiv student from Tennessee and a Student Ambassador.


Mar 15 2008

Concentrate on Concentrations

Though classes are not in session this week because it is spring break at Candler School of Theology, surprisingly, I’ve been thinking a lot about academics. While I thoroughly enjoyed—even loved—my classes, faculty interactions, assignments and studies during my time at Candler from 2004-2007, I think I would have really excelled and delighted in the new Master of Divinity curriculum that Candler launched this school year. If only my discernment and decision to attend seminary had happened a few years later! As I mentioned before, I have very few complaints about my own experience as a Candler student, but the interactive nature of the curriculum through Contextual Education, introductory Arts of Ministry classes, advising groups, reflection colloquies, and a plethora of Concentrations to choose from certainly sounds appealing to me, one who already is and has a “Master of Divinity.”

There is a strong interdisiplinary foundation to the degree program, which offers a core curriculum that is nurtured and grounded in Christian texts, traditions, theology and practices. All the elements of the curriculum foster courageous leadership and compassionate inquiry in the practices of ministry and theological reflection. If that doesn’t sound cool enough, this new curriculum allows each student to choose a Concentration that I like to think of and compare to a minor. Just like the Minor Prophets from Hebrew scripture, you will graduate as a Minor of Leadership in Church and Community (or something else from the list of concentrations), not to mention a Master of Divinity. This choose-your-own-adventure style of study allows students to develop their interests and passions through focused study in a particular area by engaging with other students and faculty with the same interests.

The following are Candler’s concentrations:
Formation and Witness
Leadership in Church and Community
Religion, Health and Science
Religion and Race
Scripture and Interpretation
Society and Personality
Theology and the Arts
Theology and Ethics
Traditions of the Church
Women and Religion


Just like many of us, I’m sure that before you reached the end of the list, there were at least one or two concentrations that sparked your interest, peaked your imagination, or made you run for your bookshelf in remembrance of a favorite author or writing. And though I can’t give you the full description of each and every concentration in this one little blog post (check with the Candler registrar’s office to read the Concentration Handbook), take my word for it, these classes are going to rock your world.

How do concentrations work, you might ask? Well, each concentration requires 12-15 hours of classes to complete, and each Master of Divinity student is required to complete a concentration in order to graduate. There is a handy-dandy Concentration Handbook that students have and will be made available online soon, which outlines the courses offered for each concentration. Because of the integrative nature of learning here, it is very likely that classes can overlap and count for various concentrations, so you could be sharing a classroom with students in the Religion and Race concentration as well as Society and Personality. Though not required, if you are so energized by the learning process here at Candler, you can complete more than one concentration during your degree program. This works well for someone with diverse passions and interests or for one who is trying to diversify one’s resume!

Now is the time to be studying at Candler, and we want you to be in academic study and play with us! I hope I didn’t make you “concentrate” too hard on the gory details, but we do hope you will seriously consider Candler when discerning about seminary education. For more information about Candler School of Theology, visit our website at http://www.candler.emory.edu/, or email the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at candleradmissions@emory.edu. 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 www.facebook.com.


Nov 16 2007

Recruiter on the Road

As the academic days change from midterms to finals, my responsibilities continue to grow and develop in my Internship with the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Over the past week, I have made two trips on behalf of Candler, joining the ranks as a “Recruiter on the Road.” I attended a Seminary Fair at Furman University in South Carolina, with twelve other seminaries present, as well as Texas Wesleyan University and TCU, both in Fort Worth, Texas, where I shared in a meal and conversation with current students.

This was my first experience to represent Candler solo to prospective students and future seminarians. Some of us may have been student ambassadors, tour guides, or student hosts during college, but being a Recruiter on the Road comes with new challenges and responsibilities. Luckily, Candler’s main Recruiter on the Road, Jena Black, gave me some pointers to remembering key facts about Candler when doing a presentation or when I may only have three or four minutes to tell people about all the amazing things Candler has to offer. For example, Jena uses a trick to remember the aspects of our new Master of Divinity (MDiv) curriculum, which we launched this fall.

Candler’s curriculum is like the USDA Food Pyramid. We offer a solid base of core classes that will nourish and sustain you in all your ministry endeavors. As you move higher on the food pyramid you find practical ministry classes as well as our Contextual Education program, which work hand in hand to provide you with tools you need to fully engage in your ministry sites from the very beginning. With our concentrations, which you might think of as a minor, you move higher on the food pyramid, as you gain expertise in a particular area of theological and ministerial interest, such as Theology and Ethics; Congregation, Society, and Personality; and Theology and the Arts. And finally, at the top of our food pyramid analogy are electives and free credits. You certainly don’t have to wait until your final year to take electives, for they are available sparingly beginning even your first semester. The electives will add some sweetness and round out your education as Candler, just as fats, oils, and sweets do at the top of the food pyramid. Another reminder trick that Jena uses for helping remember information is the analogy that the United Methodist Candidacy Process is like Dating, but you will have to ask her specifically to explain that one to you.

As I traveled northeast and westward this past week, I found that Candler is truly everywhere I go. I certainly took pieces of Candler with me, from a Candler School of Theology tablecloth to pins and stickers bearing our name and logo. However, what I discovered on both of these journeys is that Candler is already represented well beyond the four walls of the seminary, beyond the borders of Emory University, beyond the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia. Candler School of Theology is met in the face of Reverend Keith Ray 91T one of the campus ministers at Furman University, who hosted a seminary fair at Furman. Keith and I reminisced about professors and classes at Candler during lunch, and it turns out that Dr. Don Saliers, who before retiring in May, 2007, was the William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship and Director of the Master of Sacred Music Program for many years at Candler, baptized both of Keith’s children.

Candler is represented through two of the Texas Wesleyan University Religion Department faculty members, Dr. Jesse Sowell 63T and Dr. Ronald Ballard 60T, who each received a Master of Divinity from Candler before pursuing PhDs. Candler is met in the eager questioning and discernment of one of the prospective students I had the honor of sharing a meal with at TCU. His inquiries, soul searching, and passion for dialog and new discoveries are what makes Candler such a fantastic community to live, serve, learn, and grow in. Most of us who work in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid are Candler graduates, so every time we host visitors to campus, recruit on the road, and answer phone calls and emails, we are sharing our own personal piece of the Candler experience with all of you. Candler has meant so much to us, that we have decided to share this community with others through our vocation and ministry.

Candler has Recruiters on the Road all the time, and I invite you to check out our schedule to see if we will be in your area in the coming months. In addition, we would love to host you here on campus, and you can schedule a visit online at our site as well. I would like to have the opportunity to further explain our Food Pyramid or Dating analogies to you, so please email us at candleradmissions@emory.edu to continue this conversation. You can also contact us by calling 404.727.6326 or check us out online at www.candler.emory.edu/admissions/. In addition, look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology), and the Candler School of Theology Group at www.facebook.com.

Lane Cotton Winn

Candler School of Theology

Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Intern


Sep 28 2007

Vocational Trinity


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 candleradmissions@emory.edu, 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.

Atlanta.