After going to seminary nearly 8 years ago, dropping out after a year, and then returning 5 years later, I have now graduated with my Masters of Divinity from the Newbigin House of Studies program at Western Theological Seminary. (Sorry for all those links.)
I was also proud and humbled to have been voted by the faculty to receive the Stanley A. Rock award in Pastoral Care and Counseling, “for outstanding work in pastoral care and counseling courses and formation for ministry assignments”.
So what now? Well, first I have to finish my last six weeks of classes before actually getting my actual degree. Then I will need to finish my requirements for ordination as a minister in the Reformed Church in America. After that? I’m still figuring it out.
I’ll still be in Philadelphia. I won’t be looking for a ministerial job outside my own church. I’ll continue my job in social work while other opportunities work themselves out. I still hope to do Ph.D. work in the future, but I’m taking a breather for the immediate moment.
In some ways, then, nothing is changing. In so many more meaningful ways, however, so much is changing. I graduated from high school and college without feeling fundamentally different in any way on the other side of those degrees. This feel different, though. I feel a weight on me, a deep joy over the work and opportunities that lie ahead, and a new phase of “adultness”.
(Yes, I acknowledge my use of the word “adultness” undercuts my point.)
I’m looking forward to reading what I choose (any suggestions? I am especially in need of reading some non-religious books), and getting back to blogging here. Thank you to my family, church, friends, and mentors for loving and supporting me well. I look forward to returning the love. A special shout-out goes to those closest to me back in college, for shepherding me into this endeavor when my life was heading towards other places.
On one last note, I would say that if you yourself are interested in seminary, and especially if you are looking for a distance program you can do while you work, I cannot suggest more highly my (now) alma mater. Having experienced a few different types of seminary education, I can say that the Newbigin House of Studies is incredible, effective, formative, and sets the standard for the future of seminary education.