The seminary belongs to the RCA family of churches (including my own) and is in the Dutch Reformed tradition (here’s a good article on some of the differences between Dutch Reformed thought and other “flavors” of Reformed thinking).
In a couple of months, I will be having my five-year anniversary of living in Philadelphia. What brought me here from college in Richmond, Virginia was my decision to attend Westminster Theological Seminary. Eventually, for several reasons, I left the seminary (reasons that a lot of people didn’t like).
I have spent the past several years working in social services, serving in my church, and continuing to grow in how I feel I could be used by God in the ways I’m gifted. I have continued to have a passion and desire for connecting the deepest parts of Christianity to the realities of life. My desire for continued education in both theology and counseling have only grown and this is the beginning of me stepping back into this.
I look forward to doing this journey alongside all of you both in my life and on this site. I’ll conclude with one of the last questions I received on the seminary application, and my answer:
Describe the reason for your decision to enter the seminary and your present aims and aspirations for ministry.
I do not pursue seminary education because I think God is “calling me” in the sense that he is there beckoning me towards it. In other words, I don’t see seminary itself as my “calling” as if I’m not currently fulfilling what God has called me to.
Rather, I almost feel a “wind” of sorts at my back. Seminary is the codification and further equipping for the way I already live my life in the community of faith: bringing theological depth and truth (and hopefully wisdom) to bear on the human condition and questions.
It really is with a lot of trepidation that I move forward in this. There has been a lifelong affirmation by numerous and varied people that–in some sense–I’ve been set apart in a unique way to serve God’s people and the work of the Gospel. My service in church contexts has been one in which I have flourished and the people around me have seen some benefit in my leadership. I’ve had the privilege of a diversity of theological exposure that has given me a graciousness, ecumenism, and perspective on the Bible and religion such that I feel I’m quite adept at walking people through ideas with winsomeness and clarity.
And yet, I’ve seen others that could say the same and have ended up greatly harming people. And so, I’m applying to the Newbigin House as a communal act, rather than isolating myself from my community in order to fill myself with “knowledge” and “expertise” (as is, at times, the usual model of seminary).
Ultimately, my desire is to complete graduate education/training in both theology and counseling, and seek ordination in the RCA and licensure in counseling.
After this, God willing, I’d like to be a counseling pastor at my church in Philadelphia, while starting a private (or group) counseling practice. In addition to this, I would continue to write, teach, and speak.
By God’s grace, I move forward in this equipping.