A visit to Candler School of Theology set Ann Lister (MDiv ’10) on a path that changed her life. “I felt like I was where I was supposed to be,” she says. Although she originally had no intention of attending seminary, the experience was so powerful she soon became a Candler student— and began answering a call to the ministry.
As an airline worker in her 50s, Lister had moved to Atlanta from Texas with her Baptist-minister husband. She was attending Spelman College through a program for older women when an alumna of the program invited her to visit Candler.
Despite initially feeling at home on campus, as a black woman, Lister says, she hesitated to speak up when talk about race arose. That changed in a class on church and community leadership devoted to a race workshop.
Lister found herself talking. A lot. So did a white man in her class. They said things that made each other uncomfortable, even angry. Still, they communicated long after the session was over. Eventually they became good friends and shared meals together with their spouses.
Inspired by that experience, Lister became part of Emory’s Transforming Community Project, a university-wide effort to embrace racial, ethnic, gender, class and international diversity. For a semester, Lister met in regular two-hour sessions with other participants. “That was intense,” she says.
As a result of the conversations, racial understanding became her passion. After graduating in May, 2010, Lister returned to Texas where she is developing a ministry with her husband that hosts workshops on Christian spirituality and focusing on Christ’s command to love your neighbor, whoever that may be.