Dec 26 2008

Being Baptist at Candler

Our guest blogger this week is Michael Hunt (right), a third-year Master of Divinity student at Candler. An ordained Baptist minister, Michael is a Graduate Assistant Chaplain in the Emory Office of Religious Life, a Worship Coordinator with Candler’s Office of Worship, a member of the Candler Singers, and Candler’s Representative to the Emory Graduate Senate.

Coming to Candler as a Baptist, I knew that I would be surrounded by Wesley and all his peeps. But as I told the First Years during their orientation, it is indeed possible and enjoyable to be at Candler and be Baptist! In fact, I think Baptist students actually have the best of both worlds as they are able to participate in United Methodist events and also have our own Baptist Studies Program and events.

Most weeks in the semester you will find “the Baptist and friends” gathered at Everybody’s Pizza right off Emory’s campus, where local Baptist pastors come and break bread with us. They share what they learned from seminary and how it has or has not helped them now in their churches. These gatherings are normally in conjunction with the Baptist classes taught by faculty member Rev. David Key. We ask the pastors to share with us their favorite Baptist historical event or person, and in the spring they may talk to us about the theology of their churches and their favorite Baptist theologians.

Speaking of faculty, I must also say that we have great Baptist professors who teach a variety of courses. The Baptist faculty members are professors Noel Erskine, Andrea White, David Key, James Abbington, and Jennie Knight. They are all extremely approachable, knowledgeable, and supportive of all their students. They are willing to give of their time and resources to get to know us. They attended and participated in our Baptist Hymn Singing (which I must say was a great worship experience), and they also participated in a forum for students about what it means to them to be Baptist. They shared their own individual testimonies on why they are Baptist and remain Baptist even at a UM school.

Speaking of hymn singing, as I stated before, we had our first ever “Baptist Hymn Singing” where we highlighted different Baptist hymn-writers as well as songs from our Baptist tradition and heritage. This was lead by myself and Dr. James Abbington. We had a wonderful time of worship and can’t wait to do it again next semester. I am also very excited because Baptist will be well represented in Candler’s Worship next semester. We will have several Baptist ministers including gospel music legend Dr. Margaret Douroux. This spring we will also host Dr. Harry Eskew who is Professor Emeritus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he taught Music History and Hymnology and was Music Librarian, and remains an active scholar in hymnology and shape-note singing. Our students and the entire Candler community are in for a treat!

Speaking of students, the state of Baptist at Candler is strong. We have students participating in the Candler Coordinating Council, serving on and leading worship planning teams, actively involved in all levels of student organizations. Baptists at Candler serve churches and communities in a variety of leadership roles in addition to excelling academically!

So all and all, being a Baptist at Candler has its rewards and challenges. I have come to make great friends with many Candler colleagues, Baptist and otherwise. And I have also developed relationships with faculty who truly care about me and my journey of faith at Candler. As I prepare for graduation in May, I want to say thanks to all those who have been instrumental in keeping Baptist faith alive at Candler!

Aug 29 2008

Here we go!

From Brad Schweers:

Candler School of Theology has just wrapped up New Student Orientation week for our 174 incoming Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Theolgical Studies (MTS), Master of Theology (ThM), and Doctor of Theology (ThD) students. We are completely moved into our new home at 1531 Dickey Drive. The Theology and Ethics building is a five-story, LEED-certified green building with fantastic natural light, spacious offices and classrooms, and all of the latest technology. The Theology building is over twice the size of the old Bishops Hall, and yet uses less electrical power! Woohoo!!!

Here are some highlights of the week:

Students checked in for pre-orientation, taking care of IDs and parking passes, configuring laptops, and tidying up financial aid matters. Some thoughts and themes heard as people anticipate starting seminary include: excited, anxious and excited, wondering how classes are going to be after being out of school for ten years, nervous, happy to be in Atlanta, looking forward to classes starting, and not feeling ready for the summer to be over.

ThM and MTS students spent Tuesday around campus, meeting with Dr. Steve Kraftchick and their advisors, touring the Candler and Emory campuses and libraries, and finished up with night swimming and dinner at Drs. Medi Volpe and Lewis Ayres‘ house. No doubt St. Augustine was on the menu.

MDiv students were on campus for orientation. Chapel service was led by Rev. Dr. Joel LeMon, Asstistant Professor of Old Testament. The Scripture text was from Psalm 119–a 176-verse acrostic poem and the longest chapter in the Bible–and Dr. Lemon had the entire chapel chanting the Hebrew alphabet from Aleph to Tav while exploring the He verses (33-40) which emphasize God’s movement in our lives. (A side note: I sat in the west balcony of Cannon Chapel, where I have sat many times before, but for the first time noticed the similarities between Paul Rudolph‘s square design (see right, view from the west balcony) and the design of the Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Unity Temple (below, view from east balcony) in Oak Park, IL. Both have wonderful natural light filling the worship spaces from above, seating in-the-round, long vertical elements, and a great square pillar of space in the center. Wright’s Temple is more symetrical, orderly, and rectilinear while Rudolph’s Chapel is flowing, raw, and spiraling–both are great and unique spaces.

MDiv students heard about the new curriculum from Dr. Gail O’Day and other faculty members. Worship was led by Rev. Dr. Teresa Fry Brown. Her sermon was about newness–the theme for Candler these days!!–and new Candler Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture Andrea White lent her musical talents on the violin. Students met their advisors and visited their Contextual Education I sites.

Books are being bought in the bookstore and online, classes are being added and dropped, and, most importantly, new student get-togther parties have been planned on Facebook for the Labor Day weekend.

Here we go!