For over a month, school has been beginning. From kindergarten to college, from preschool to grad school, students are returning. In spite of the world’s tragedies, the disruptions of weather, fires, and a global pandemic, learners of all ages are heading to school. Many seminaries are again deciding on virtual options, either partially or fully. Yet they are opening their literal and/or virtual doors to new students. Many seminaries are beginning this week.
For me, it is a time to teach again — online. Last week, however, I traveled to NYC for orientation at Union Theological Seminary. It was good to see new and familiar faces. And I enjoyed walks around the block with students before we spend the next three months on zoom.
When someone asks me about my own time in seminary and CPE, I often say that my formation came in the “crucible of conflict.” This weekend during worship, my pastor Rev. April Baker helped me think about how this season of life is so clearly one of lament. It helped me realize that current seminarians and divinity students will have their ministry formation and a “crucible of lament.”
On Friday I went live on Facebook and Twitter. I took a few minutes to talk about going back to school — for myself and for seminarians. Here’s a short video with my responses to questions about seminary as a learner and teacher.
What does it mean to start something new in the season of uncertainty and chaos? First, it can mean that momentum keeps certain institutions and structures alive even when their usefulness may be in question. More positively, it can means that the church and world need leaders. We need people who are ready to be a spiritual and prophetic presence to people of faith.
I wonder what words of wisdom you were taking with you into this crucible of lament? What advice would you give to someone starting seminary this fall? Share your words of wisdom and tag us. We would love to hear from you!
Heading to seminary?
What words of wisdom are you taking along?
In this season of uncertainty, take the words of Dr. @emtownes with you.
"With our all-too-human unpredictability, #lament can serve as an anchor to help us find our bearings on how to live as people of faith."
— Three Minute Ministry Mentor (@3MinuteMin) September 5, 2021
This week we heard from Rev. Rachel Twigg in Canada. Rachel is a priest, spiritual director, and retreat guide, as well as a teacher, preacher, and writer. When she and I talked this week, she shared some powerful and wonderful things about reading Pastoral Imagination.* Here’s what she sent in a follow-up email:
Oftentimes when I read a book about a subject like pastoral imagination I need to do the extra work of translating the words on the page to my own personal experiences. Pastoral Imagination: Bringing the Practice of Ministry to Life was so refreshing to read because it didn’t require any translation. Issues like white supremacy and patriarchy are named and addressed, and over and over again I felt seen in the examples and stories described in the book. After reading the book I feel seen, supported, and equipped to continue to deepen my practice of pastoral ministry.
We also want to encourage you to check out Rev. Twigg’s workshop “Dear God: What a Year! What Do I Do Now?” This gathering to share in the gifts of the Examen is coming online in October and November.
After reading the book I feel seen, supported, and equipped
to continue to deepen my practice
of pastoral ministry.