Jan 21 2011

Not in Kansas Anymore

Students from all over the world converge at Candler. Each individual brings unique perspectives, passions, and gifts, and Candler offers students boundless opportunities to engage in conversations that generate a passion for further exploration of God’s multi-faceted creation.  When I joined the Candler community it became apparent right away that my theological education would be contextualized by a larger world view; an opportunity with which this small town Kansan was eager to engage.

After arriving at Candler I immediately answered the call to be a conversation partner.  Conversation partners are native English speakers who volunteer to meet with international students once a week.  I was paired with a Korean student who wanted to gain proficiency with his English.  Getting to know Wang has been a highlight of my seminary experience.  Learning about his family, his culture, and how he experiences God has been meaningful and humbling.  It has been meaningful in the sense that he has given me new perspectives into God as a father, a husband, and as a foreigner.  Humbling in the sense that he is very intelligent and has bravely chosen to study theology in English; a difficult enough undertaking in one’s own language.  It is a wonderful gift to me to help him learn to articulate his ideas about life and God in ways that I have never imagined.

One-on-one interactions are not the only way I have interacted with people different than me.  As a class representative on the Candler Coordinating Council, our student governing body, I get to meet with other student leaders on a regular basis to discuss the ways in which we utilize our student funding for programs.  The council also encourages collaboration between organizations and offers several opportunities a year to discuss, in open forum, issues of cultural competency that help our community grow together.

I have also been involved in cross cultural dialog through classes that are cross-listed with other schools at Emory.  Classes with Business, Law, Nursing, and Public Health students have given me the opportunity to hear about issues in the world from a different academic perspective and also to talk about the church in a way that many people often do not experience; one as an active agent for justice.  One of the most fun and intense of the interdisciplinary opportunities available to Candler students is the opportunity to compete in the Global Health Institutes Case competition.  Interdisciplinary teams are formed, given a global health issue and then over a few days analyze, produce, and present a viable solution to the issue.  Not only did I make many friends from other schools, but the lens through which I see issues now incorporates little pieces of their law, health, and entrepreneurial perspectives.

Candler has offered me an authentic world-view-expanding experience. Through individual relationships, participation in Candler student organizations and doing interdisciplinary work, it is clear that I am not in Kansas anymore.  I am looking forward to taking this experience back home so that I can offer a theological lens with a broader world view to the communities I serve.

-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, is a Candler Conversation Partner, and is a member of the Candler Singers.


Jan 18 2011

Mindfulness

This stained glass window appears in the entrance of Spurgeon’s College in London. The words Et Teneo Et Teneor mean I hold, and am held. I first saw it in 2006 when I was visiting England and Scotland. It’s a beautiful statement about our state as people of faith. While we are mindful of our need for compassion and guidance, so Christ already has been mindful of us.

At a recent CAYA (Come As You Are) worship service, the casual worship atmosphere offered by Decatur First United Methodist Church, the offertory song was titled Less Like Scars. Originally recorded by Sara Groves, this song is an emotional outpouring about what it means to hold and to be held. The words of the chorus express:

And I feel you here
And you’re picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation
But you are able
And in your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars and more like
Character

Powerful and remarkable words. Forever faithful and able - two descriptors for Jesus the Christ. To be mindful of Christ means to have felt sustained, lifted up, protected, safe, and empowered. The actions of Christ are not reflected in the scars from being nailed to the cross. The actions of Christ are reflected in his character. To me, character means how you are mindful. How do your actions and words reflect your character? All of these things originate within the deep recesses of our brains, where the intricate patterns of the network of our brains flash and ignite our thoughts and imagination. For most of us, these deep recesses cause us to think more about ourselves. This is human nature. This is the natural way of how we think. So, my question now is, how was Christ mindful? He thought of serving everyone except himself – he was the least of his worries.

It may not seem like a new concept, but it is. It’s a concept that gets communicated, but we never truly live it out. One of the most important parts of the Christian faith is our genuine concern for the other. We are commanded to love God and to love our neighbor. To love is to be mindful. Although I grew up a Christian, I was never in church (outside of Vacation Bible School as a young child). I did not truly dedicate my life to Christ until I was 17, at the same time I was baptized. It was a remarkable moment in my life. I say that because of a group of friends that were mindful of me. If it was not for their persistence in telling me about their faith journeys and struggles, the community and support they found in a church family, and the personal transformation they had experienced, I would have never found myself. Because Christ was mindful of us, we can discover who we truly are. Because my friends were mindful of me, and were acting as the hands and feet of Christ, not only did I find myself, but I found Christ. He did not rise and conquer the grave for just any reason or to prove his identity. Christ rose for us. Christ conquered the grave so that we might have life. Christ was, quite simply, being mindful of us.

At Candler, I have found an atmosphere that is mindful of the other. Whether it is participating in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Service Project with Emory University and local communities, holding a chili cook-off fundraiser to raise money for the ongoing Haiti relief efforts, being in conversation about issues facing the future of the church with people of different perspective, or helping create a community garden for a local congregation, Candler illustrates how vital it is to be in service to one another. Through the opportunities that Candler offers, both in and out of the classroom, I have been able to recall the moment that I found myself – and build on it.

Candler has helped me to dig deeper – offering me the possibility and freedom to identify my own voice and celebrate my own path of spiritual growth. Over the last three years at Candler I have realized it is okay to be journeying into the unknown, following all the twists and turns. After all, it is our journey that gives us experience and our experiences that shape who we are and what we are to do in this life. I am grateful that Candler has not only shown me how to be truly mindful of the other, but along the way finding myself.

-Mark Batten

Mark is currently the Coordinator of Admissions Services at Candler. He is also pursuing a Master of Divinity part-time. His areas of interest include liturgical formation, the spiritual disciplines, and creation care. Away from the office and class, Mark enjoys kayaking and piloting the latest tech gadgets.


Jan 7 2011

Both/And at Candler

Seminaries really are different from each other.  It’s important to get some sense of the culture of a school before attending.  As a United Methodist student at Candler many years ago, I was impressed with its willingness to struggle with the consequences of opening its M.Div. program to a mere handful of us women students (we’re talking the early 70’s here!) and to listen to us as we challenged some sacred traditions and assumptions about theological education and ministry during that time of change in our church.

Today, Candler is, of course, very different!  While some seminaries are still struggling with the very idea of accepting women as students, Candler discovered a long time ago, in its very identity as a United Methodist school, the theological and practical foundations for its openness to different denominations, cultures, and people.

Candler is unique in its commitment to claim, value, and be held accountable in its relationship to our parent denomination, The United Methodist Church, and at the same time, strongly emphasize its commitment to ecumenicity in its programming, courses, faculty, and students.  Methodists at Candler learn BOTH what it means to be distinctively Methodist AND a member of the greater Body of Christ, the universal Church.

This was the brilliance of the Wesleyan revival.  John Wesley addressed his message to those who were either formally or informally excluded from the Church of England – especially, the poor, women, and people of color.  He encountered, debated, and communed with leaders from other traditions.  Lay speakers and formerly Anglican clergy traveled to places far beyond England to advance the revival.  Wesley linked vital piety with social outreach, local with global outreach, poor with rich, his “both/and” list goes on and on.

This is just one example of how Candler is a “both/and” place!  While a Methodist at Candler, one is also in relationship and dialogue with others who reflect the “real” world in which we are called to serve.

And this “both/and” characteristic of our community extends deeply into the fibers of our woven life together.  It helps us discover the weaknesses and ever-increasing uselessness of dichotomies that are used in the “real” world to divide us, dichotomies like “liberal or conservative” and “straight or gay” and “evangelical or ‘not’” and “US or global”.

And, it opens us up to the possibilities of reframing our conversations, reimagining our communities in new ways, and giving us the tools to offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people otherwise unreached, isolated, or harmed by society and the Church.

-Dr. Anne Burkholder

Dr. Burkholder serves as the Associate Dean of Methodist Studies and Professor in the Practice of Ecclesiology and Church Leadership at Candler and is an ordained elder in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.  She helps Candler students through multiple stages of the UMC candidacy process, serves as a liaison to annual conferences and general agencies, and oversees the Course of Study, a non-degree training program for UM pastors who do not seek ordination. Her current research interests include Pastoral Ethics, Women in Religious Leadership and Administration, and United Methodist Polity.


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.”

Shepherds

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!”

Nativity

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.


Nov 26 2010

The Gift of Uncertainty

Quentin SamuelsI participated in an interesting conversation with a prospective student a couple of weeks ago and, to my surprise, I gave some advice about the application and discernment process that I would not have given him two years ago when I first began this journey through Candler.  He wrestled with oft-noted questions concerning such topics as  whether this was the right “time” for going to seminary, what he would do with his degree upon completion of the Masters of Divinity Program, and what it means for God to place a specific call on his life different from people closely connected to him.  My advice to him was to embrace his uncertainty as a gift.  A divine one at that.  I challenged him to not view his uncertainty as a hindrance, but rather grounds for liberation.

Uncertainty during a process such as applying to divinity school is truly a gift from God and it took me two and half years at Candler to reach this epiphany.  Now, I know at this point, it is hard for some people to comprehend how uncertainty could be accepted as a gift.  Well, I thought back to when I was applying for Candler.  I questioned every aspect of the process.  I knew that from the point that I enrolled into the MDiv program at Candler my life would be forever changed.  But it was this feeling of uncertainty that provided access to a type of faith that I never knew existed within me.

First, uncertainty allowed me to be receptive to options for my life that I may have never considered, but ones that God had arranged for me.  Sometimes we can be so rigid in how we believe that we can serve in ministry that we impede our own ability to hear God speak to us in novel ways about our calling.  Secondly, my faith was totally dependent upon God’s direction during this process.  Uncertainty served as a gift by pulling me closer to God in previously unimaginable ways.  The process was both scary and exhilarating at the same time.  And surrounding it all was God’s grace working within me to provide peace and around me to open doors.

Furthermore, in thinking about uncertainty as a gift, my mind immediately turns towards one of my favorite Biblical prophets, Jeremiah.  His uncertainty in his call as a prophet could have stifled what God had in store for him.  But in turn, his uncertainty actually performed an alternate function in his life.  It pushed him to ask God specific questions about the worthiness of his call: questions that he might not have considered had he not experienced doubt.  What I feel has been the best aspect of this spiritual conundrum is that when we are uncertain, quite often we find ourselves asking important questions about our future, decisions, and calling that we might occasionally overlook if we are sure about what we are supposed to do and where we are supposed to go.  In many cases, it is through our questions that we unlock answers to this divine mystery that we call life.

So if you happen to be in a discernment process during this season, or hopefully applying to one of the programs at Candler, accept and embrace uncertainty as a gift.  It can work in your favor in amazing ways.  Uncertainty doesn’t have to be something taboo or a sign that you don’t have every aspect of your life sorted out.  Conversely, uncertainty coupled with the grace of God’s guidance, should be understood as avenues for God to lead you towards your destiny.

-Quentin Samuels

Quentin is a third year MDiv student from Washington, DC and a Student Ambassador.  He is also President of Candler’s Black Student Caucus and an active member of the Candler Baptist Community.


Nov 19 2010

Finding Strength in Intentional Moments

As we near the end of what is for some of us our first semester in seminary and for others the first semester of their second or last year, I sense a great level of stress and burn out from a number of my colleagues. Whereas many began this journey excited, eager to fulfill their call to be at Candler, and confident in their ability to think and write critically, many are now doubting their competence and are trying to cope with the fact that they may not be receiving the grades in which they are use to receiving. Have we become so consumed with academics, meeting our own high expectations, making A’s, and passing exams at the expense of our well being that we have forgotten the very thing that we should be critically attentive to on this journey? “Self.”

I along with several of my colleagues have been privileged to take Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling with a master practitioner and constructivist Dr. Gregory Ellison. This class has played an integral part in rejuvenating my personal faith, regenerating hope, and transforming my spiritual life. One of the most powerful components of this course is the contemplative journey that we embark upon as a class to become more self-aware and reflective as caregivers who consciously give care to self and others.  As we go on pilgrimage with individuals that we know and many of whom we are getting to know while engaging readings surrounding theories and practices of care in pastoral care and related disciplines, students are challenged to not only develop models of care for the unacknowledged groups in which we will serve in ministry, but to begin to be attentive to their own voice and establish for themselves healthy practices of self-care.

Seminary should be a time in which we begin to foster and nurture a rich life in which we can draw strength. Self-awareness and self-care is critical to how pastors and leaders best serve others. One puts themselves and others at risk when self-care is not a priority. In carrying out our preoccupations whether in ministry, studying, or other work, we can divert our attention to the point where there is literally no time for the essential experience of being attentive to self. Yet, the truth is that in order to flourish in our studies, ministry, and other endeavors, we must make time for the experience of centering down and caring for self.

The journey of a Seminarian does not solely involve thinking critically and theologically, wrestling with difficult texts, and developing and critiquing arguments, its also involves one’s intentionality to create moments where they participate in leisure activities and develop spiritual disciplines that will empower them for the tasks above.

For those who are in Dr. Ellison’s course, we know that we are on the last part of our journey where we are returning home, which is symbolic for returning back to familiar places and familiar material, but looking at it with a different perspective. Some of us return home with a profound appreciation for some of the things and people that we left behind on the journey. As I return home for the holidays, I would like to share some of the wisdom that I received while on pilgrimage in this course. Hopefully this will help the rest of my fellow colleagues endure the race until the end of the semester.

  • Our greatest glory is not in ever falling, but in rising every time we fall. (Confucius)
  • It is one thing to be informed about the things that heal you, but it is another thing to give yourself liberally or freely to them.
  • Vocation is a response that a person makes with his or her total self to the address of God and to the calling to partnership. (Katherine Turpin)
  • While ability is important, ones willingness and capacity to be tenacious is what helps them to succeed.
  • So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap a harvest time, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9)

Remember to care for yourself!!!

-Ashley Thomas

Ashley is a first year MDiv student from Atlanta and a Student Ambassador.


Oct 8 2010

Pray Without Ceasing

Dalan VanterpoolI try my best to pay attention in class. Really, I do.  The challenge is how to juggle listening to the professor, while the voices in my head are discussing other matters.  Before you call me crazy, think about the voice(s) you hear occasionally.  It could be the Holy Spirit, or the beans from last night, as Prof. L.T. Johnson jokingly remarked one day.  I believe we all wrestle with similar challenges in our Christian walk.  How can we focus on God’s voice, when there are so many other meetings, people, problems and parties talking to us?  It’ is tempting to think that either God needs to speak up or we need to tell this other stuff to quiet down.

But perhaps there is another alternative, where we train our minds to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  For many of us it is both impractical and impossible to really spend all day reciting The Lord’s Prayer, reading from the Book of Common Prayer and saying our freestyle compositions.  Honestly, I would fall asleep from boredom shortly.  But consider this:  We can find other creative ways to usher our minds into contemplating God, by thinking about how words all around us point to an amazing God.

Earlier this semester Dr. Barbara Day-Miller (BDM, affectionately) led us through a workshop/class called Writing Liturgical Texts, where we explored forms and techniques for writing different public prayers.  Naturally, the emphasis fell on words, what they mean, and how they mean.  Interestingly, our class on prayers started by looking at hymns.  Great hymn writers paint profound images of God using both atypical and familiar words in new groupings that force us to consider God afresh.

By looking at words in hymns, poems, psalms, prayers, songs and even cooking recipes we can see God again, for the first time!  This is one way we can pray without ceasing.  This wide-eyed creative lens lets us move beyond Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, to imagining God as a storm who hides a calm cradle at the center of a chaos, or a flashlight that pierces darkness and illumines our paths.  During BDM’s class I realized that our prayer writing techniques could be expanded to a wider spiritual practice, where we pray without ceasing.  This is the magic of Candler: enabling students to learn beyond what’s being taught!

- Dalan Vanterpool

Dalan is a 2nd Year MDiv student from the British Virgin Islands and a Student Ambassador.  He is a regular accompanist for worship at Candler.