Nov 23 2007

Thanksgiving at Candler

While I was a “Recruiter on the Road” last week, one of the pinnacle events of the fall semester at Candler School of Theology, Emory University was happening during my absence. Certainly, I was not expecting the Candler community to plan events around my schedule, but I was saddened to miss the annual Thanksgiving Dinner, nonetheless. It is all that I have been hearing about from friends around campus, and everyone turned out this year for this special evening of dining and fellowship. For well over ten years, the Office of Student Programming (OSP) at Candler has sponsored and hosted a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to students, faculty, staff, and families of Candler as a gift to the community.

Cynthia Meyer, Assistant Dean of Students, along with her staff of students, yearly transform Brooks Commons, the gathering grounds of the Candler student body for study, meals, and hanging out, into a warm, homey atmosphere that would make Martha Stewart proud. This year’s menu included favorite dishes such as turkey, gravy, stuffing/dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrot soufflé, macaroni and cheese, and dinner rolls. What more could a starving student want with just weeks left in the semester until final examinations? Well, if you had any room left after going back for seconds and thirds, there is always dessert. This year’s Thanksgiving dinner ended in sweetness with sliced treats like pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and red velvet cake, which I hear was the hit of the dessert table.

There is such a great turnout and excitement behind this event that they had to offer three seating throughout the late afternoon and evening to accommodate the number of guests at dinner. In reflecting on the event, Cynthia Meyer said, “The annual Thanksgiving Dinner has developed into a great tradition of feasting and sharing. Gathering together like a huge extended family reminds us of the importance of community. The dinner also prompts us to give thanks here at Candler for the gifts of one another and our shared experiences of learning, worshipping and growing together.”

Upon entering the newly decorated space and scanning Brooks Commons in search of friends to sit near, you see clusters of faculty and staff sitting among students. This is a setting of much dialog and celebration. In fact, Dr. Steven J. Kraftchick, Director of General & Advanced Programs and Associate Professor of the Practice of New Testament Interpretation was spotted eating with all the first year Master of Theological Studies (MTS) students. Dr. Kraftchick is the MTS Advisor, and because the first year MTS students had a colloquy, which is a fancy Latin word for discussion group, with the professor immediately following the first dinner seating, the group decided to attend the meal together before class began. Continuing to pan the room, you can see the staff of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid eating merrily together, as well as Dean Jan Love greeting students as she munches on her plate of food.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Candler is one of my favorite events of the school year because it invites our entire community to take a break around the table together over a shared meal. Kim Jackson, Master of Divinity (MDiv) Middler said of the dinner, “I had an absolutely wonderful time. The food was great, and it was a welcomed break from all the studying that I’ve been doing as we near the end of the semester.” As this academic season comes to a close, there is much haste and excitement heading into final examinations and the winter break from classes. In this brief exercise of pause and fellowship, we are invited to give thanks, serve one another, and feast at the banquet that has been prepared for us. Sounds a lot like communion, doesn’t it? And for me, it is a sacred moment.

Where have you experienced sacred moments in your everyday life?

What are you thankful for?

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish or meal to eat?

We would love to host you next year at Candler’s Thanksgiving Dinner, and for you to become a part of this vibrant community. 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 my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology Group at

Nov 16 2007

Recruiter on the Road

As the academic days change from midterms to finals, my responsibilities continue to grow and develop in my Internship with the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Over the past week, I have made two trips on behalf of Candler, joining the ranks as a “Recruiter on the Road.” I attended a Seminary Fair at Furman University in South Carolina, with twelve other seminaries present, as well as Texas Wesleyan University and TCU, both in Fort Worth, Texas, where I shared in a meal and conversation with current students.

This was my first experience to represent Candler solo to prospective students and future seminarians. Some of us may have been student ambassadors, tour guides, or student hosts during college, but being a Recruiter on the Road comes with new challenges and responsibilities. Luckily, Candler’s main Recruiter on the Road, Jena Black, gave me some pointers to remembering key facts about Candler when doing a presentation or when I may only have three or four minutes to tell people about all the amazing things Candler has to offer. For example, Jena uses a trick to remember the aspects of our new Master of Divinity (MDiv) curriculum, which we launched this fall.

Candler’s curriculum is like the USDA Food Pyramid. We offer a solid base of core classes that will nourish and sustain you in all your ministry endeavors. As you move higher on the food pyramid you find practical ministry classes as well as our Contextual Education program, which work hand in hand to provide you with tools you need to fully engage in your ministry sites from the very beginning. With our concentrations, which you might think of as a minor, you move higher on the food pyramid, as you gain expertise in a particular area of theological and ministerial interest, such as Theology and Ethics; Congregation, Society, and Personality; and Theology and the Arts. And finally, at the top of our food pyramid analogy are electives and free credits. You certainly don’t have to wait until your final year to take electives, for they are available sparingly beginning even your first semester. The electives will add some sweetness and round out your education as Candler, just as fats, oils, and sweets do at the top of the food pyramid. Another reminder trick that Jena uses for helping remember information is the analogy that the United Methodist Candidacy Process is like Dating, but you will have to ask her specifically to explain that one to you.

As I traveled northeast and westward this past week, I found that Candler is truly everywhere I go. I certainly took pieces of Candler with me, from a Candler School of Theology tablecloth to pins and stickers bearing our name and logo. However, what I discovered on both of these journeys is that Candler is already represented well beyond the four walls of the seminary, beyond the borders of Emory University, beyond the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia. Candler School of Theology is met in the face of Reverend Keith Ray 91T one of the campus ministers at Furman University, who hosted a seminary fair at Furman. Keith and I reminisced about professors and classes at Candler during lunch, and it turns out that Dr. Don Saliers, who before retiring in May, 2007, was the William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship and Director of the Master of Sacred Music Program for many years at Candler, baptized both of Keith’s children.

Candler is represented through two of the Texas Wesleyan University Religion Department faculty members, Dr. Jesse Sowell 63T and Dr. Ronald Ballard 60T, who each received a Master of Divinity from Candler before pursuing PhDs. Candler is met in the eager questioning and discernment of one of the prospective students I had the honor of sharing a meal with at TCU. His inquiries, soul searching, and passion for dialog and new discoveries are what makes Candler such a fantastic community to live, serve, learn, and grow in. Most of us who work in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid are Candler graduates, so every time we host visitors to campus, recruit on the road, and answer phone calls and emails, we are sharing our own personal piece of the Candler experience with all of you. Candler has meant so much to us, that we have decided to share this community with others through our vocation and ministry.

Candler has Recruiters on the Road all the time, and I invite you to check out our schedule to see if we will be in your area in the coming months. In addition, we would love to host you here on campus, and you can schedule a visit online at our site as well. I would like to have the opportunity to further explain our Food Pyramid or Dating analogies to you, so please email us at to continue this conversation. You can also contact us by calling 404.727.6326 or check us out online at In addition, look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology), and the Candler School of Theology Group at

Lane Cotton Winn

Candler School of Theology

Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Intern