Reflections from Seminary Students

The Church as the future of seminary education – a reflection on Seattle Pacific Seminary

November 7th, 2011 § 0 Comments

Over on my blog – I recently spent some time reflecting on a recent spate of posts in the media and blogosphere trying to get at the so-called “Future of Seminary Education”.  The web portal Patheos.com has sponsored a large online symposium addressing the question that continues to grow.

As a seminary graduate myself, faculty member at a few seminaries mentioned in the discussions as well as the Associate Dean at Seattle Pacific Seminary, I have been following the discussion but must admit that I am left scratching my head a bit with what I am seeing as the conclusions and predictions.  Here are some thoughts to add to the discussion.

For starters, given that the changing face of Christianity is certainly not white and male, reviewing just the faces of the key discussion leaders offers up a pretty ethnically and economically homogeneous group to write reflections on what they see as the future… given that they themselves are not the future in a majority sense. » Read the rest of this entry «

LESSONS FOR THE PULPIT – LEVI’S “LEGACY” AD by Heather Juul

October 10th, 2011 § 0 Comments

If you spent anytime inside this summer going to see a movie or looking at the fall previews on Hulu, you likely saw Levi’s Go Forth commercial entitled “Legacy“.  The ad is a bit controversial.  Glenn Beck accused “Legacy” of “glorifying revolution” thus leading to a boycott of the jeans by Beck and his followers. Due to the riots in London this August, the commercial was band in Britain because it contains scenes of protest.  The images of the commercial rotate between 20-somethings at the beach, kissing, dancing in and out of concerts, walking down crowded city streets or standing up to riot police.  The youth are portrayed as making their world better, by enjoying life and standing up for what they believe in. They just happen to be doing so in a pair of 501s. » Read the rest of this entry «

WORSHIP WEDNESDAY – TAIZE SINGING

October 5th, 2011 § 6 Comments

This is the first of our bi-weekly posts on worship. Every other Wednesday, expect to find both new and old ideas on worship practices, worship services, and philosophy and theology of worship.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Taizé community in France, an ecumenical, eponymous effort founded in 1940 in the village of Taizé, you may be in for a treat. First harboring refugees during World War II, it gradually evolved into an international monastic community that worships together, prays together, and is quite concerned about simplicity, peace and justice. Over 100,000 people make pilgrimages to Taizé each year. » Read the rest of this entry «

On Community

March 16th, 2011 § 0 Comments

Although apartments stack seemingly endlessly upon each other as urban density exponentially increases, life in the city can feel solitary. When your neighbors sign a one-year lease, is it worth taking the time to get to know them? Without intentionality, no readily apparent reason emerges for beginning a relationship with an apartment neighbor. Homeowners can dialogue with neighbors over fences, mowed lawns, and neighborhood softball tournaments. We apartment dwellers, on the other hand, don’t rely on our urban neighbors for sustenance, entertainment, or help. Instead, we drive to a store.

Photo by Peter Morgan

The American marketplace has replaced the American neighbor.

Outside the congested cities resides community life. In smaller areas, people lean on others to survive; they know each other’s business and the sense of self is defined more by the group than by the individual. This group is not a gathering of like-minded individuals around a hobby or passing fad; it is people helping people no matter the circumstances.

In Week 7 of Winter Quarter’s Lectio, Dr. David Nienhuis discusses the sermon on community in Matthew 18:

“Christian community is not a social club or a center for ‘worshiptainment,’ but a training ground for the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a place people go in order to submit to the training of a loving Coach who embraces us as we are and then uses our fellow community members to reshape us into the kind of people he calls us to be.”

Is your church experience more a gathering for a hobby or a necessity for the subsistence of yourself and others?

Mentor Meetings

April 20th, 2010 § 1 Comment

An interesting aspect of the SOT graduate program is its mentor programs. Students are split into groups of two and assigned to a mentor who meets with them once a month during the school year. My particular mentor is Mike Neelley who works in pastoral support and discipleship at Tierra Nueva in the Skagit Valley. Labeled ‘The People’s Seminary’, Tierra Nueva shares the liberating news of Jesus Christ with farmworkers and immigrants in the Skagit Valley.

As my mentor, Mike tells me experiences that he has had in ministry; we carry a dialogue concerning the complex theological issues presented in class with the hope of finding their practical applications in ministry. In addition, my fellow student (who also share the same mentor) and I have the opportunity to experience Mike’s ministry first-hand. I have been particularly moved by our times of prayer as we seek God and hope to find direction as we all continue down our paths of ministry.

It has also been a blessing to meet some of Mike’s friends at Tierra Nueva. The last time we visited, we met a young man who has struggled with drug use throughout his life. While in prison, he met Jesus and has been forever changed by the encounter. Even though trials and temptations litter this man’s path, his deep and abiding love for Jesus Christ is something that I wish to someday have. I considered it an honor to share the room and worship with him. From soaking prayer at New Earth Refuge – the faculty retreat facility – to participating in worship with Tierra Nueva, I am able to understand how theology is applied within a particular context.

-Donovan Richards

The mentor with which I was connected through the graduate program was Reverend James Kearny who is the lead pastor at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church. I, honestly, was skeptical that I would be able to connect with an “assigned” mentor, being that the meeting was more required than organic. But, the truth is, that James is exactly who I have needed to help me contextualize my education in light of the church, as well as drawing out the particular spiritual gifts that the Spirit is exemplifying through me. It has been such a gift to meet with James once a month, be able to voice theological and spiritual struggles that I am having, have him convey wisdom and even some of his own hardships of his own for my and Josh’s (another student who James mentors) benefit. It has truly been a blessing to me to have a mentor assigned to me based on my desire to pursue pastoral ministry after SPU; the program really did intentionally strive to make this partnership what it has now become: a benefit and a blessing to both mentor and mentee.

– Raoul Perez

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