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 www.candler.emory.edu, or email the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 www.facebook.com.