By application time for seminary, I had my heart set on attending Duke Divinity School, was highly considering Wesley Theological Seminary, and applied to Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education (now named Union Presbyterian Seminary). In thinking about each school I thought Duke would provide the academically rigorous environment that I was looking for in a master’s program. In digging deeper about each school, I believed Wesley would provide the social justice minded environment I was looking for in a program. In wrapping up my evaluations on all three schools, I thought Union would be a descent compromise, but not the place for me.
As I kept praying about where I was called to go and writing all the essays that the application process required, I began to have a change of heart. I began to question whether or not Duke would be the right place for me, especially if it was going to cost me $100,000 in tuition, books, room and board. I began to question if Union wasn’t so bad after all. They did require that their M.Div. students take both Biblical Greek and Hebrew prior to taking New and Old Testament. I began to wonder if Wesley was the right place if they didn’t require their M.Div. students to take Biblical Greek and Hebrew prior to taking Old and New Testament courses. After all this praying, wondering, and questioning, I knew where I was called to go.
I realized despite my own desire to run the other way, God was calling me to attend Union Presbyterian Seminary. I’m so glad I didn’t follow my desire to run the other way of my calling and listened, because Union was truly the right place for me. This was the academically rigorous environment I was looking for in school. This was the social justice minded group that I needed. This was the place that I needed to grow in ways I didn’t know that I could. I was reminded in this whole process of how stubborn I can be, that there is always more to the plan than I realize, and that God really wants what is best for us. I’m thankful I wasn’t stubborn, because the time I spent (and still spend) at Union and the relationships I formed nurture me today.
During my first semester of seminary I realized that getting ordained in the United Methodist Church was not for me. I spent time learning more about different denominations, visiting churches AGAIN, and finally found my new church home. By January of 2007 I began regularly attending Three Chopt Presbyterian Church (TCPC), joined in May of that year, and soon began the ordination process for the PCUSA. The summer I joined TCPC, I became the youth director there as well. In this role, I had the opportunity to professionally do what I had done as a volunteer for so long. I had the privilege of working with many great middle and high schoolers, great volunteers, and under a wonderful head of staff. Through my work at TCPC I grew a lot, was challenged in various ways, dealt with difficult people, nurtured young people through their tough and joyous times, and realized that I was doing what I was called to do.
Three years of seminary came and went very fast. During that time I made great friends, learned from excellent professors, grew a deeper love for languages (as if that was possible), and was ready for life to work in the church. By the fall after graduation, I came to the realization that I could no longer continue making my part-time work at TCPC. I -really need a full-time job to support myself, my career, and continue growing professionally. So began the process of juggling my current job, applying and interviewing for new positions, and discerning where was it I should go. By November of that year, I had to say goodbye to a group of people I loved working with, prepare for a new job, became engaged, and many decisions to make.
Check back next week for more!