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.


Apr 18 2008

Marking the End of the Year

This has been a week speckled with services of sending forth, good byes and honoring graduates. With only one week of classes still remaining here at Candler School of Theology, the community is in a season of transition and closure. Though various student groups and classes mark the end of the year with celebrations and gatherings, I’d like to share with you four of the larger events that bring the Candler community together as the year comes to an end.

On Tuesday evening, the Women in Theology and Ministry Program sponsored a graduation dinner, as they do each year, centered on the program’s theme this year of “Women & Peacemaking.” Before Amanda Hendler-Voss 05T, Faith Communities Coordinator of WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions) and Minister of Christian Education at First Congregational UCC in Asheville, NC, and Dr. Elizabeth Corrie 96T 02G, Interim Director of Youth Theological Initiative and Lecturer in Youth Education and Peacebuilding spoke to the gathering, all the names of the graduating women were spoken aloud and those present were invited forward to accept a gift.

This year’s gift was a Peace Pole, which is an internationally recognized symbol of hope for the human family, standing vigil in silent prayer for peace on earth. Each Peace Pole bears the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in different languages. The graduates’ poles were made especially for Candler School of Theology, and the cost included a donation to the Peace Pole Project. Peace Poles have been planted in front of churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples, as well as sites of human conflict, such as the War Museum in Viet Nam and South Africa’s Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

Sacred Worth, a student group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, those questioning their sexuality, and allies, offered a Service of Sending Forth on Wednesday, which took time to recognize the open LGBTQ graduates in the Candler community. Because sexuality is such a divisive issue in many of the mainline Protestant denominations of which our students are members of, Sacred Worth intentionally honors seniors of the LGBTQ community, knowing some of their denominations may not honor and recognize them as pastors and leaders in the church. It was an intimate service in the chapel that included communion and words of affirmation. Seniors, who were willing to come forward, were given a stole in recognition of their calling. A stole was also placed on the altar and later will be donated to the Shower of Stoles Project to remember that there are many people who have to remain silent about their sexuality in order to be in the church and answer their call to ministry.

During chapel on Thursday, the community gathered for a Celebration of Gifts and Honors. The service affirmed the gifts of the Candler community and thanked those who have made contributions to our life and fellowship together this year. From our communion bread bakers and readers of scripture in worship to those part of a student organization or have helped with a Candler event, we honored each person. Students, staff, and faculty who were nominated for awards were also named in conjunction with Honor’s Day awards.

Thursday evening was the Elder’s Send Off, sponsored by the Program of Black Church Studies, in conjunction with the Black Student Caucus. The evening included dinner, creative expressions performed and shared by members of the community, and ended with a blessing of the seniors, as well as staff and faculty who are also leaving our community at the end of the academic year. Kirstyn Brown, who is graduating with her Master of Divinity in a couple of weeks describes, “The Elder’s Send Off was a night of remembrance and celebration that served as a source of motivation and encouragement as I transition from Candler. It reaffirmed the sacredness of my cultural, personal, and spiritual formation.” After graduating, Kirstyn will be teaching English with the Baltimore Teaching Residency Program in Baltimore City Public School System.

Clearly we are a community who loves to mark the seasons of life and honor times of change and transition. There will certainly be more celebrations, tears, and hugs next week, but I can’t imagine anything that could top this week’s schedule of events. Tonight is Candler’s Spring Banquet (AKA “Candler Prom”), and next week, two guest bloggers will share their experience at the banquet.

If you are interested in learning more about Candler School of Theology, check out our website. In addition, you can call us at 404.727.6326, email us at candleradmissions@emory.edu, 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.