Sep 05

I am a First Year, First Semester, M.Div.

The title above is how I have introduced myself more times than I can count over the last 6207866985_ae3c3e0d05_qcouple weeks. My first challenge of Seminary has not been academic but social. All of a sudden I need to learn the names of more than fifty new classmates and professors. All of whom are wonderfully fascinating people from all walks of life and all parts of the world. I likened it to walking into a new congregation and having to learn the names of everyone as they walk out the door and shake your hand and say goodbye on a Sunday morning. Unlike that scenario we are all on a level playing field here. No one knows anyone’s name and if I were being introduced to a new congregation they would all know my name. We are also all new here, just like the freshman on campus, but decidedly older, we don’t know where the library is yet, we are inept when it comes to putting in the combination to get our mail, and we are all here to learn how to serve God in the best way we can.
Not only do we all come from all around the country and the world, we come from all different denominations and faiths. Not everyone here is Christian, some are Jews and some are Muslims. Among the Christians on campus there are more faith traditions and denominations than I could list here. Drew is an intentionally diverse community with students of every race, gender, age, faith, and sexual orientation. Inclusive language is required in all written work and expected whenever anyone is speaking. It is a wonderful cocoon of diversity located within a relatively diverse community itself. Madison, and the surrounding communities that I have traveled to in my short two weeks here, seem to be much more diverse than the community I have come from in Upstate New York.
I have yet to encounter an unfriendly face and everyone seems to completely understand when I forget or haven’t learned their name. In the middle of the day in the middle of the week there is chapel. A wonderful re-energizing respite that just makes each day special. In addition to chapel there is seminary choir, a treat I had given up at home but am looking forward to here on campus.
Classes have been wonderful so far, as we students relish the first week of classes full of learning names, learning computer programs and, going over syllabi. The ease of week one will quickly fade as this week we all get down to work. As we all settle in and begin life over as students, some for the first time in over thirty years and some who only finished their undergrad degree a few weeks ago, we will go forward to achieve our goals, whatever they may be.

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    • Edna R on September 6, 2012 at 12:12 am
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    You heartfelt paper on entering seminary resurfaced for me a lot of memories I had embedded in my mind. I completely understand how you feel as I, though retired from 18 years of ministry following seminary, I recall going to a strange place to study with likeminded individuals and knowing absolutely no one, found it a daunting task to learn names and make new friends. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Dear Edna,
      Thank you so much for your kind thoughts, I don’t know if I ever thanked you and I have had quite a few changes in my life since this was first published and it is wonderful to revisit something and remember occasionally.
      Be Well and Blessed!

    • miran541 on September 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm
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    Thanks for posting an update — I was thinking of you as I sent out the invitations for Anna’s Group this morning. We will miss you , and I will be glad to pass on the good news of your acceptance. Blessings on your journey!

  1. My husband is the senior pastor at Lake Edge United Church of Christ in Madison, on Buckeye Road (not to be confused with Lake Edge Lutheran, same street!). Please come to our 11 am service if you have time; it’s praise and worship and I sing with the band. Come up front and introduce yourself. We love to hear faith journeys, especially from other denominations. Isn’t Madison the BEST? Call me and I’ll meet you for coffee on State Street or wherever you want. Roger Green sent me here. I have a poetry blog which occasionally deals with faith, as well as women’s rights, being an ally of the LGBT community, health care, jazz, and other stuff! Peace, Amy

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