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.


Jun 18 2010

Candler and the Care of Creation

More and more religious people and congregations are returning to the importance of caring for God’s creation as part of responsible living. Did you know there are over 1000 references in the Bible to the Creation, but only 490 references to heaven?! Candler as a theology school, training and forming religious scholars, ministers, and leaders, has taken many steps to live more responsibly and in better harmony with the earth over which humanity has been given stewardship (Genesis 1:26).

From l., Candler Creation Keepers President Jason Myers, Emory Sustainability's Ciannat Howett, and Anthropology professor Dr. Peggy Barlett

Theology Garden

Created in April 2010 next to the second floor entrance of the Candler School of Theology, Emory’s eighth educational garden is a product of the collaborative efforts of the Candler Creation Keepers and the Office of Sustainability Initiates. The 100%  organic garden contains several herbs, such as basil, sage, oregano, thyme and rosemary, as well as a large variety of foods, including blackberries, blueberries, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, beets, peas, squashes, eggplants, and several types of leaf vegetables.

Candler Creation Keepers

On of the newest student groups at Candler is the Candler Creation Keepers. The group has raised funds for and oversaw the construction and planting of the Theology Garden. The group tends the garden – picking weeds, fertilizing, and harvesting the herbs and veggies – while educating fellow students on food and the theological importance of creation stewardship. The Creation Keepers also helped with several Earth Week activities in April of this year, including promoting composting among Theology students, faculty, and staff.

Our LEED Building

Candler’s main building, shared with Emory’s Center for Ethics, is a state of the art, five-story environmentally friendly classroom and office space.  Like all new buildings that Emory builds, Candler’s building reached LEED certification (at the Silver level). Emory’s 17 buildings on campus with LEED designation save energy and water, feature improved air quality, are sited appropriately – such as in areas with public transportation, and are constructed using a percentage of recycled, local or rapidly renewable building materials.

Make a Pledge Today! Emory has developed a Personal Sustainability Pledge, addressing personal behaviors related to energy, sustainable food, water conservation, green space, commuting, recycling, and other sustainability issues when at Emory and at home. The pledge is very sophisticated, calculating exactly what the carbon impact of your current sustainable practices is – how many cars are you keeping off the road, how many acres of forest and gallons of gasoline you are conserving – and what impact your pledged actions will have in the future. Take the pledge right now!


Jun 11 2010

Emory & the Environment

In case you hadn’t heard, Emory has a well-established program in green building — currently having one of the largest inventories by square footage of LEED-certified green buildings among campuses in America.  We have 13 LEED Silver or Gold buildings—including the Theology/Ethics Building—and counting.

Here are some of Emory’s Green Highlights—check back next week for more on the Greening of Emory, including Candler’s initiatives and what you can do at home, at school, and in your places of worship!

Emory Awards and Highlights

Bike Emory. Emory, Fuji Bikes, and Bicycle South bike shop have teamed up to provide all of Emory access to discounted bikes, on-campus bike repairs, free bike-share program, and more.

Food. Buy Local-Emory does! Emory has set a goal of providing 75 percent local or sustainably grown food in the hospitals and cafeterias by 2015. Organic Market Boxes are USDA certified fruits and veggies coming in three sizes—order yours online and pick up on campus the next week! Additionally, the Educational Gardens around campus—including the Theology Garden, shown here on the Sustainability Map—aim to provide fresh food and herbs to the community and get people reconnected to dirt, and water, and sunshine, and real food!

Recycling and Composting. Emory sent off it’s 3900 graduates this year with its first Zero Waste Commencement celebration. Emory diverted over 1900 pounds plastic bottles, aluminum cans, food waste, and compostable plates and service to recycling or composting bins. Speaking for the compostable and recyclable materials, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gave the keynote address, said, “I’ll be back…as healthy garden soil and recycled goods” (not really). More and more of Candler’s events are Zero Waste, and we even have our own compost bin!

Emory Academics. At last count, Emory was teaching 129 courses with a sustainability-related curriculum in disciplines across the campus, such as medicine, law, ethics, theology, anthropology, spanish, philosophy, journalism, and English. 34 of 43 Emory departments had at least one course related to sustainability–that’s 79%! Emory College already has majors and minors in Environmental Science and will soon have  a Sustainability minor.

Make a Pledge Today! Emory has developed a Personal Sustainability Pledge, addressing personal behaviors related to energy, sustainable food, water conservation, green space, commuting, recycling, and other sustainability issues when at Emory and at home. The pledge is very sophisticated, calculating exactly what the carbon impact of your current sustainable practices is – how many cars are you keeping off the road, how many acres of forest and gallons of gasoline you are conserving – and what impact your pledged actions will have in the future. Take the pledge right now!

Check back next week for more about what Candler is doing to be sustainable, plus even more ways for you to get involved. Care of the Creation is all of our God-given responsibility (Genesis 2:15) – so let’s get to it!


Apr 16 2010

Candler Iron(wo)Man

LauraBeth Jones is a first year MDiv student from Philadelphia, PA. She graduated in 2008 from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Religious Studies. Her favorite things to study at Candler are religious education and Hebrew Bible.  She is currently on track for ordination in the United Methodist Church as a deacon. She hopes to pursue ministry with youth geared towards social justice in the future.


Nov 25 2009

Freedom and Salvation

PrisonCD.0827

The Voices of Hope choir; photo used by permission of Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

The Service:

Metro State 1

Candler Professor of Church Music and Worship James Abbington accompanies the choir

The chapel service this past Tuesday was packed. I had to climb through three sections to find a seat. The Voices of Hope women’s gospel choir was singing, and I knew they would draw a crowd. I had a lot of office work to do, but they are a choir that you do not miss. I’ve heard them sing three times now and I’ve been blown away and reduced to tears every time. I have had to collect myself in my pew when they’re done, so I’m not overwhelmed after the service. The power is palpable, carrying out of the chapel, feet tapping, voices humming and singing, smiles everywhere. I left the service alone, back to the office; the choir left escorted by armed guards back to prison.

The Choir:

You see, the Voices of Hope is part of the gospel choir ministry of Rev. Susan Bishop, chaplain at the Metro State Women’s Prison in Atlanta. Metro State is a notoriously violent maximum security prison; in 2004, Diane Sawyer from ABC News spent a day and night in the prison as part of an exposé on the culture and violence in women’s prisons. Rev. Bishop, an ordained Baptist pastor and Candler graduate (’75) formed the choir as part of her ministry in 1992. She is a “godmother and mentor” to many of the women at Metro State. The traveling choir numbered 18; the in-house choir counts roughly 35 members among its ranks.

The Prison:Candler has a  long-standing relationship with Metro State. The prison serves as one of the Contextual Education sites in which Master of Divinity students serve during their first year at Candler. First-year students serve in ministry setting outside of church settings—settings like hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters. Students primarily counsel inmates one on one, assisting with worship, facilitate groups, and help with bible study. One Candler student remarked that “Chaplain Bishop is one of the most inspirational, loving, caring, and outstanding ministers you will likely ever meet.”

The Ministry:

Don and Emily Saliers

Don and Emily Saliers

While the choir members repeatedly thanked those of us in the congregation for allowing them to sing, we were all very clearly the ones who had been blessed. The choir is an embodiment of the Christian notions of salvation, grace and redemption. Bishop said, “God has work for us to do, no matter who you are, no matter where you are.” It seems doubtful that many of the women, upon being incarcerated, could imagine being used by God for such acts of beauty and hope. And yet that is exactly what the choir is—a living message of hope.

The Voice of Hope also have a new CD out—a first for a Georgia prison choir. Emily Saliers (above right, with her dad) of the Grammy Award duo The Indigo Girls, helped finance the CD project and has sung with the choir on a regular basis for the past several years. Saliers has deep Emory connections. She graduated from Emory College with a BA in English in 1985 and her father, Don, taught worship and theology at Candler until 2007. They co-authored A Song to Sing, a Life to Live in 2004, about the intersecting strands of music and theology in their lives. Bishop said the recording has given the participants a sense of accomplishment and offered them an opportunity to give back to the community. Proceeds from the sale of the CD go toward a program that brings children to visit their mothers at the prison.

To buy the CD, go to: http://www.cccgeorgia.org/cd/index.html


Check out the Voices of Hope singing “Not Forgotten” from earlier this summer in Atlanta.