Monday, August 29, 2005

My story: Starting seminary

While I was still a student at Montreat College, I spent my last year involved in a fairly serious relationship. Although the relationship had some ups and downs, and we were concerned about how we'd handle the long distance relationship when I was no longer a student at the college, I turned down an acceptance to Princeton Seminary so that I might attend a seminary closer to the college (still a few hours away in South Carolina) and be able to see my girlfriend from time to time.

Within a few months, the relationship was over, and I was probably the most depressed I've ever been in my life. On top of that, other aspects of my stay there turned downhill pretty quickly. The seminary was in the middle of nowhere, and I had to drive about 45 minutes just to make it to the town where I was able to find a fairly low-paying job at K-B toys. My roommate, also a Montreat graduate, decided that he needed to go to a different seminary after only one semester, leaving me to pay the rent on our little house by myself. Truth be told, the seminary was far too conservative for my tastes even at the time (certainly more so than Montreat ever was!). Long story short, by Christmastime, only about 4 months after having moved to South Carolina, I moved back to my parents' home in Kentucky to reconsider my call.

While there, I attended classes at a seminary affiliated with the PC(USA). This helped me to maintain my education while I was still in a state of flux. I never intended to stay at that seminary. If Montreat and my first seminary could be considered too conservative for my tastes, the seminary in Kentucky was too liberal. In fact, I've often described it as a kind of "closed-minded liberalism," fully aware that this may seem to be a contradiction in terms. Basically, if one didn't agree with the professors there, it was difficult to find a place to explore one's own views without being treated badly. I particularly remember one lunchtime conversation with a professor (not one I actually was taking a class from) who staged a walk-out in protest of an issue she felt the PC(USA) was on the wrong side of. She used quite a lot of language that I feel was very inappropriate. It isn't that I think swearing is "un-Christian," per se, but I did feel that it was inappropriate language for a professor at a seminary.

Anyway, although I was granted a full tuition scholarship at this seminary simply for having taken Greek while I was in college, I immediately reapplied to Princeton. Unlike my first application, I found it much harder to get a response this time around. I did make several phone calls, and after several months got word that there was not enough housing for new students that year. I've always considered this fairly odd, since my acceptance to the school should not have anything to do with whether or not I find on-campus housing. During the summer, I came with my family on vacation to visit my grandparents in Southern California. They introduced me to some friends of theirs who had mentored the president of Princeton Seminary in his youth, and they encouraged me to write him a letter doing some name-dropping. I did so, and soon got a very nice letter from the president assuring me that he would check with the admissions department. However, I heard nothing new on the matter that summer. My grandparents also encouraged me to consider a seminary only a few hours from where they lived, but as it was not directly affiliated with the PC(USA), I did not take these recommendations very seriously.

As August came around, I began to accept that I may need to attend another semester at the seminary I was currently at in Kentucky. I eventually stumbled upon the results of a survey while surfing the Internet. From this survey, I discovered that more PC(USA) ministers had graduated from the seminary my grandparents had suggested than from any other non-PC(USA) seminary in the US. In fact, I later discovered that this seminary graduates more PC(USA) ministers than a lot of PC(USA) seminaries! I asked my grandmother to pick up some information on the school for me, expecting to enroll that January. She e-mailed me the next day to let me know that she had spoken to her minister, a PC(USA) graduate from the same institution, who called up the seminary while she was talking with him. The seminary was already sending me late application materials for the Fall Quarter!

Three weeks later, I drove from Kentucky to Southern California. I arrived three days before classes started without having arranged housing (I commuted from my grandparents at first), financial aid, or even having met with my advisor or having been properly accepted for enrollment! Although I missed the first meeting of my first class (in order to meet with my advisor), I was able to secure an apartment that week, and financial aid came later that quarter, retroactive to my enrollment. I was finally able to complete my MDiv three years ago, and I still work at this seminary as staff. About four years ago, I met the woman who is now my wife (we celebrate our 2nd anniversary tomorrow!), who is working on her MDiv in hopes of beginning her PhD next year. My time here has truly been life changing.

But that's a story for another time....

1 comment:

  1. God works in mysterious ways, doesn't He? :) Miss you, though...

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...