Mar 7 2008

Methodist Madness

While many Candler School of Theology students go “church shopping” when school starts each fall to find a church home and worshipping congregation in the Atlanta area, many of our United Methodist students have the opportunity to go “conference shopping” in the spring. With such a diverse student body from across the globe, it makes sense that church bodies would want to “recruit” candidates for ministry here at Candler, and in turn, it is only natural that students would also like to size up the options for ministry from across the Church.

The Candler Office of Student Programming coordinates visits for tons of United Methodist Annual Conferences each year, but this time of year in particular, early spring, is our heavy meet-and-greet season. From Mississippi to Kansas and from Oregon or Idaho to North Carolina, The United Methodist Church is well represented on the Candler campus this semester. Between the start of 2008 and commencement in May, over ten conferences will send representatives from their Board of Ordained Ministry or Cabinet (I’ve even sited a bishop or two!) to both visit with Candler students from their conference and to talk with current students who may be interested in doing ministry in their region.

There are certainly plenty of students at Candler that are committed to be ordained or provide lay leadership to a specific conference, diocese, district, congregation, or community, but others are still looking for that perfect fit. In fact, during my first year at Candler, one of my classmates, who shall remain nameless, signed up for every single United Methodist Conference visit, particularly when the conference was offering a free meal to its student and inquiring candidates. Without fail, he attended every drop-in, meet-and-greet, dinner party, information session, and Q&A time for conferences ranging from the Pacific Northwest to Florida. He networked, ate, and made friends with students and conference officials from conferences in every United Methodist jurisdiction. That, my friends, is the connectional church at work!

It turns out that March is also a high season for prospective students to visit seminaries and schools of theology as well. So between the Boards of Ordained Ministry and the prospective students, you never know who you will run into at chapel or in class. Earlier this week we hosted 20 finalists for the Woodruff Fellowship, Candler’s most prestigious and generous scholarship award. The following day after they left, we had several individual visitors come to campus to learn more about Candler School of Theology. What I naturally deduce from all these visitors to campus is that Candler is either the center of the universe or the coolest place ever to study theology. In my optimism, I like to believe both, but I invite you to make a visit here so you can be the judge. World revolves around us or coolest learning environment ever?

With weeks still left in March, it’s hard to know how many visitors we’ll host to campus in the coming days, but I hope you are one of them. We have two admitted student visit days coming up later this semester, but we welcome prospective student visitors just about every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Candler is an amazing community of students, faculty, staff and the occasional Bishop, and we would love for you to make us a permanent home for study and reflection in one of our degree programs. If you would like more information about Candler, please visit our website, email us at, or call us at 404.727.6326. Look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology), and you are welcome to join the Candler School of Theology Facebook group.

Feb 1 2008

State of the School

Every January, the president of the Candler Coordinating Council (C3) and the dean of Candler School of Theology give a “State of the School” address, which is a time when they discuss the ministry and work the seminary, our student body, and plans for the upcoming year and future of the school. With Dean Jan Love celebrating her first anniversary as dean of Candler School of Theology, a new building in the works, an active student body full of exciting ministry, outreach, and service experiences, and a zealous faculty producing publications by the dozens this year, there was quite a bit to share and celebrate at this year’s address. Bridget Cabrera, the C3 President, offers her vision of the state of Candler in this week’s blog.

Candler School of Theology is in a time of transition. Last year we installed a new dean, started a new curriculum, and broke ground for a new building. Yes, we are in a time of transition.

Candler students are also in a time of transition. I remember my transition to Candler. It was a difficult one. I was a music education major in college so words like exegesis, hermeneutics, and eschatology were new to me. I didn’t know what my professors were talking about. The seemingly endless amount of reading and the quality of writing that was expected of me was also something I was not used to. I will admit my first year was a little overwhelming, and I was a little scared about this transition.

I am sure that others have had similar experiences or fears during their first year of seminary. At times, the life of a seminary student seems like a juggling act. As students, we all transitioned into this place, but that is not where it stops. We continue to grow and change and transition into new understandings and new relationships everyday.

Once I got accustomed to the language and the pace of Candler, I began to get more involved in the community. I started to sing in the Candler Singers, one of our choirs at Candler and began participating in various student organizations. The more I got involved in the life of Candler, the more I grew to love and appreciate this community. And when I talk about the Candler community it extends not only to the students, but also to the faculty and staff as well. We are all a part of this together and we are all transitioning together.

As the Candler Coordinating Council (C3) President, I have had the privilege to see and be involved with a lot of things that most students are not aware of. I see everyday how blessed we students are to be here at Candler. Candler is a seminary that includes students in their committees and wants to hear their voice. In fact, we are included in faculty searches, by having a student representative on the search committee. When faculty candidates are interviewed, students are invited to listen to their lecture, attend a meet-and-greet, and submit comments about the candidates to the search committee. The C3 president also attends the faculty meetings to represent student interests, and there were students were on the curriculum committee that brought us our current curriculum. As you can see, Candler includes your voice and values what you have to say.

The work of the Candler Coordinating Council lies in what the name implies. It leads and supports the Candler community by facilitating the coordination between student organizations and programs and it also gives voice to the student body. Many of you have attended meetings of student organizations or attended a student sponsored event. So far this year Candler students have co-sponsored Habitat Houses; sustained relationships and been in ministry with groups such as Common Ground, an HIV/AIDS outreach center; advocated for the rights of children; educated each other on LGBT issues and concerns; played flag football with other seminaries; and have also found the time to support each other and do our school work. Our community has helped fund new lights for the intramural sports field; the remodeling of the graduate student lounge in the Dobbs University Center; and supported the university wide newspaper, which provides free copies of the New York Times, USA Today, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The Emory Student Government Association (SGA), along with the other nine graduate divisions, are making positive steps to ensure that our voice is heard. And that was only last semester!

Yes, we at Candler are in transition. We students have our hopes and our fears about the various transitions in our community and in our personal lives. The great thing about all of this is that we are not alone. We have, as Dr. Luther Smith, professor of church and community, preached in Cannon Chapel for MLK day and that Daniel Ogle blogged about last week, a whole cloud of witnesses. As we look forward to this semester and the coming year, let us all work together to continue this work for our beloved community that we call Candler.

Bridget Cabrera is from Enterprise, AL. She graduated in 2005 from The University of Alabama with a B.S. in Music Education. She is a member of the North Alabama Conference and is seeking ordination as an elder in the United Methodist Church.

If you are interested in learning more about Candler School of Theology to see first hand all these exciting opportunities Bridget mentioned, makes plans to visit campus, meet with an admissions advisor, attend chapel and a class, and have lunch with current students. For more information about Candler School of Theology, visit our website at, or email the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at In addition, you can call us at 404.727.6326, or learn more about the admissions process at Candler by clicking here. Look for our Admissions Office Intern’s profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology Group at

Jan 2 2008

Incarnation of Community

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Shelly Hart 02T is our Guest Blogger this week, and offers both a former student as well as a financial aid perspective to life and learning here at Candler. Shelly began working in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid as a Candler student and after graduating continues to work here, now as Associate Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. A native of Oklahoma, she and her husband Mark, along with their son Conner, two cats and a dog, call Atlanta home and are active members of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Grant Park.

A dozen years ago at Christmastime, I was fervently writing my seminary applications. Candler School of Theology, Emory University, which I only knew on paper, was my first choice among the four or five United Methodist schools I was considering. I was looking for a school that would challenge me academically and stretch me personally, spiritually, and socially. Most of all, I wanted to go to seminary in a place that would take seriously the joining of mind and heart, classroom learning and hands on practical experience. I wanted a place to call home for the next three years of my life that would prepare me for the rest of my life. I’d seen the gorgeous Emory campus on a road trip through Atlanta a few years before and I’d read the Candler catalog front to back. On paper, Candler looked like “the one”, but my experience with selecting my undergraduate school told me that you have to spend a bit of time experiencing a place before you can really know if it fits you.

A few months later, I came to Candler in person for a visit. The incarnation of Candler was, for me, even better than the theoretical Candler I knew from reading about it. Students were warm and encouraging. Faculty asked me questions that made me feel like they were genuinely interested in me and in the students they taught (and these were people who had authored some of my undergraduate text books!). The staff directed me to the places and people who would help me find the answers to my personal questions about Candler and about seminary in general. The other prospective students I met were delightful people of all ages, denominations, and backgrounds, and I knew that I would be blessed indeed if they were with me on my seminary journey. Finally, the more I heard about Candler’s focus on integrating practical learning and experience with academic excellence, the more I knew that I had found the place for me.

Candler did not disappoint me. From the day I arrived, I was surrounded by a community of teachers and learners who welcomed me and pushed me to grow. My thirst for hands on learning was fed by my experience in a community agency during my first year, in local church settings, and in classes on urban ministry, women in ministry, pastoral care, and more throughout my time at Candler. My professors were excellent scholars and teachers in their fields. Outside the classroom, I experienced worship and community life that enriched my experience at the time and that continue to inform my life.

Now, over ten years since I came to Candler for my own new student orientation, I am pleased to be part of the team that assists prospective students in moving from that Christmas break filled with application writing to matriculation at Candler School of Theology. The main focus of my own work is to help students find the funding resources needed to make their Candler education affordable. I benefited from these resources when I was a student and now I am able to help others find the opportunities for scholarships, grants, and work that, in partnership with churches, family resources, and others, will pay for a Candler education. I look forward to getting to know you as you plan for funding your future.

If you are considering Candler, I hope you will plan a visit to campus. At this time of year when we celebrate the incarnation of God in Christ, begin planning a spring visit to the schools you are considering. Your seminary education should take place in an incarnation of community that will enfold and welcome you as well as engage and challenge you. Candler was that place for me. If you think it may be that place for you as well, I hope you will come and join us and find out for yourself how rewarding this part of your journey can be.

Please contact us in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at, call us at 404.727.6326, bookmark our website on your computer for further exploration about the seminary. Candler is also on Facebook, and we would love for you to join the Candler School of Theology Group at