This weekend I began an M.Div. program at Bexley Seabury Seminary in Chicago.
My path to this program has been somewhat unconventional. I’m in my mid-thirties, have a full-time day job (college professor), and three kids at home. When I finished my Ph.D. ten years ago I didn’t expect that I’d be going back to school for another master’s program (least of all one from a Protestant seminary!) ten years down the line. Yet here we are!
I was one of the few students in the program who is not (currently) on the ordination track in the Episcopal Church. When asked, I explained that I was here as part of the “discerning whether to discern” process, not as the last step as a postulant or candidate preparing to receive Holy Orders. When asked to indicate my religious affiliation on the student information form, the best match I could find was “interdenominational/multidenominational.”
My particular charisms include thinking, analyzing, and writing. When I have a question about something, my strategy is to study all I can about it until I understand it from multiple different angles and then make the best decision that I can based on all the available evidence and perspectives.
For me, then, taking seminary courses is part of my informal discernment process. It may help me discern that my personality and charisms are best suited to lay ministry and volunteer work… or perhaps the ordination track? I don’t know, but I feel like taking some courses will be helpful to me in thinking through these questions.
At the very least, I’m excited to learn more about my Christian tradition, its history, theology, and praxis. I am excited to be a part of Bexley Seabury’s mission of being a “seminary without walls” as postmodern Christianity and theology is something I am enthusiastic about. Even if I end up taking no more than a few courses, I am confident that the personal formation experience will be invaluable.