Seminary Summary – Semester 4

I thought it would be good to keep a record of my seminary journey so that I could look back and see an overview of what God has done in me through this time. Also, I share because I know others might be wondering what it’s like being in seminary or attending Truett so here’s an overview of my fourth semester, Spring 2022. This Semester started the 2nd week of January 2022 and ended early May. This was the semester I packed* my schedule with the most classes (6) worth 15 credits and finished up my school year of volunteer ministry service leading the student led/staff supported organization as Team Leader (President) of Truett Women In Ministry (TWIM). (*Note: I wrote ‘packed’ for a reason! See the prayer requests section for more.)

Read on or watch the short summary video below for highlights: praises, classes taken, and prayer requests as I look ahead to the next semester. I am pursuing a Masters of Divinity (MDiv) degree with a Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship (87 credits) along with the 2-year Spiritual Direction Training Program from George W Truett Theological Seminary embedded under Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Other blogs about my Seminary experience can be found here.

In this very short video you can see:

  • Community has framed my time in Seminary.
  • This season of life was packed full for me.
  • Several photos from the fourth semester.

Thanking God – A Few Praises for this (fourth) Semester

I tried to keep ‘Seminary stuff’ separate in these specific blog posts but my life is all intertwined as I attend school for theological training and formation. This semester especially, my personal life affected my studies and so you’ll see a few outside circumstances that influenced my praises and prayers during this time. I certainly cannot name ALL THE THINGS that happened from January – May that God has done and that I have done this semester, but here are some significant things I’d like to remember and that may encourage you in your journey- whatever that is!

  • ‘Mentoring Pastor’ – God brought Pastor Amos of Park Lake Drive Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, into my life. Initially I rejected his offer to help me until I realized that without my doing, God set before me what I needed in the form of a non-traditional minister and encourager. This relationship caused me to remember again that God knows the desires of our heart and really does work things out in his own timing. I met with Pastor Amos almost weekly during this semester to simply ask questions about pastoring and real-life ministry.
  • Home Search – We put in offers for 3 homes in multiple cities (Lorena, Waco, Temple) but checked out, visited and considered LOTS more that were snatched away too quickly for us to bid. It came to the point that my husband and I both realized that our plans after his retirement were not going to work. There was so much loss and grief endured during this time of actively looking for a home (almost 2 months) as hopes for a home, schools, church, and community to be in one city were dashed bit by bit. There were several people whom I thank God for that helped me at critical times during this season by simply listening. They probably don’t even realize the weight they helped me unburden by their presence and prayers for me and my family during that time. May God bless each of you as you have blessed me. Gratefully, we indeed closed on our home in late April and planned to move later in May once our kids finished the school year.
  • Job position – Applied for first big ministry position (Associate Pastor of a thriving multi-racial, multi-generational church) in April 2022. I didn’t get selected for the job, but for me, simply applying and all of the internal wrestling and preparation of my resume and cover letter was a huge milestone for me. This experience showed me how much I have grown in being willing to put myself out there because I recognized the value I could bring to the team.
  • Conferences attendedTruett Pastor’s Conference Jan 27-28th, Family Systems and Ministry Conference with Dr. Creech 4-5th Feb, Do we want to be healed? Racism in the white church conference 17-19 Feb, IFGathering2022 live in Dallas 4-5th March, Bee & Clover Prairie Farm homestay with the Creech’s March 6-12th May.
  • “Ready to Rise” online small-group book discussion met every other week and spanned 2 countries. This had nothing to do with seminary, but because I appreciate conversation and empowering others, I made time to create this group opportunity for a few women. It was beautiful and life-giving for each of us. Our online gatherings ran from the end of Jan through late May.
  • Spiritual Direction practice – Started meeting with others online to practice providing Spiritual Direction.
  • Truett Women In Ministry (TWIM) Team Leader planned and coordinated monthly in-person devotionals and guest speakers, weekly equipping and encouraging opportunities both in-person and online via private GroupMe platform, and continued presence of TWIM for the Truett and Baylor community. It was a full school year of service and I am proud to have served alongside several student and staff team leaders. A record of our 2021-2022 TWIM Year In Review report is kept here.
  • Preaching – Preached twice a month at 5 different churches on Sunday (except March- none and April – only once) from January – May 2022. All sermons are listed here.

Summary of Classes Taken – Seminary Semester 4 (Spring 2022) 15 credits

  • Spiritual Direction II – Art of Companioning. We started offering Spiritual Direction services and practicing with others each month. I learned very quickly that I needed to be mentally prepared in order to be a calming presence ready to really listen to others. I learned practically how this is different than counseling and brought these experiences to our class readings, class time, and small group discussions. Dr. Reed continued to lead this class with Ben Simpson and Professor Forlini. (Professor) Rory was our small group leader.
  • Studies Christian Spirituality: Creation Care as a Spiritual Practice. Professor Eric Howell, pastor of DaySpring Baptist Church in Waco Texas, led this class. Professor Howell shaped the way I saw creation and how we are all a part of it and deeply affected by it. At first, I had little interest and sometimes no awareness of many of the points that were made through this course, but now I see how regardless of me not thinking about this at all, the decisions I made impacted our world. It was Professor and Pastor Howell’s description of the bread and the wine in the introductory lunch that caused me to want to take this course. His passionate concern for creation and God was what I appreciated the most, but he is also a great teacher that didn’t overwhelm us with content but rather helped us dialogue and experience creation through the structure of the class. Material from articles and books along with his knowledge, group conversation, and ongoing spiritual practices (mostly outside) shaped our class.  Additionally, the week long immersion experience at the Bee and Clover Prairie Farm with the Creech’s hospitality of good food (homemade), various types of prayer/music/quiet and teaching by peers, field trips, and communion at the end of each day was beautiful and eye-opening to experience.
  • Theology of Ethics of Chaplaincy. Pastor Dr. Sahr Mbriwa introduced a lot of concepts and ideas concerning ethics that I had never thought of before. Professor brought up FIFA Soccer, the coronavirus vaccine, racial justice, Scripture, etc., to show how even Christians could hold opposing views on a topic and why. I appreciated the dialogue from the questions posed by the instructor and peers who bravely shared their perspectives with the class. Surprisingly, this class was not required for degree completion but I think it should be highly recommended for all seminarians because it can help offer reasons why we have so many different views that persons strongly hold onto. I began to understand why it’s not so simple to identify and resolve solutions to moral issues but to see and acknowledge the various layers that require thinking through and consideration with others in community to unpack, learn, and grow. I still have a lot to learn about ethics. I enjoyed learning from Professor Mbriwa because he navigates both pastorally AND academically (teaching new topics using contemporary ‘hot button’ concerns). He involved 3 different panel discussions that included a total of 7 guests which offered a great contrast in views on the topics of hospital & military chaplaincy, academic & prison ministry, and ministry through sports. I appreciated this introduction to Ethics in Chaplaincy.
  • Christian Scriptures III. This was my second class with Dr. Arterbury and it was done so much differently than the Introduction of the Christian Scriptures class during my first semester of Truett. This course explored the Gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the book of Acts. Dr. Arterbury expects much from us as seminarians to do our research and work providing Biblical references as to how we came to our conclusions regarding the meaning of the texts. At the same time, this professor consistently demonstrated great humility in the way he teaches because he always invited conversation wanting to learn from us as well, often lifting up and echoing our comments and questions in dialogue to the class. He also pointed out and acknowledged strengths he saw within us pertaining to ministry, which I appreciated. Professor Arterbury shared his understanding from Scripture by often pointing to commentaries (not his own) and other authors for references, in addition to the Scriptures, to support his perspectives. Dr. Arterbury has a reputation for, and I have personally experienced, his pastoral care for us as students. He recognizes what we have going on and assumes we are doing ministry in various ways (not just what we submit for grades). He believes that we put forth our best at the time during class. He challenges us but is also realistic regarding demands on our time and life. I appreciated the interactive way that Dr. Arterbury engages the entire class by using various techniques in calling upon and inviting everyone to share, even those that were less vocal than others.
  • Spiritual Formation III. This was our last semester journeying with the same 6 persons and group leader, Beth, since January 2021. In this semester, we worked on creating a personal ‘Rule of Life’ and offering group spiritual direction to one another. Not all of my peers knew exactly what this was and so uncovering what spiritual direction was and could be through experiencing it was beautiful to witness and a gentle reminder of how others who have no knowledge of what spiritual direction is might think about it.
  • New Testament Greek II. I switched from online to in-person learning for my second semester of Greek. This switch made a huge difference for me in my learning because of the better engagement with the Professor and the ability to hear and interact with other students in the class. Of course you have that while being in an online environment, but for me, learning a foreign language in person gave me more help through the presence of other people. I heard how some students were so great at Greek! It motivated me to get studying on my vocabulary because I realized I was lagging behind. I also appreciated the easy-going perspective and reminders about how much we know and how far we have come in our learning from Dr. Weaver. No need to make it harder than it needs to be to learn Greek!

Looking ahead to Summer 2022, I want to keep these things in mind (pray for me):

  • I’m in my second year (45 credits of 87 required) of Seminary! WHOO HOOO!
  • Upcoming conferences in NC, GA, and unpacking from our move!
  • Continuing to preach and remaining open to the ways God is growing me as a minister, as a minority-race female in ministry in Central Texas.
  • I’m starting Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in June, full-time for 11 weeks!
  • Husband’s upcoming retirement.
  • I realized early on this Semester that I needed to reconsider the question, “Who am I becoming?” as my schedule was so very full. This came from Professor Howell who asked me after class if something was going on since I didn’t do the pre-reading for 2 classes in a row. Being asked that question zapped me into reality- I NEEDED to get myself together!! Also, in discussing possibly taking 18 credits this semester, an older woman overheard me talking about this and simply asked me, “Why?” That question stuck with me and caused me to later drop a class bringing it down to 15 credits. I’m so grateful I did that!! What was I thinking??? But even these 15 credits and TWIM and moving and family/personal life was a lot for me all at once. Was this the seminary experience that I was meant to have? Why am I rushing through this time of theological formation? Ultimately, I decided that I didn’t want to continue living like this and that any missed opportunities due to me deciding to ‘slow down’ maybe aren’t for me anyway. I longed for a slower pace in my life but the semester was set and could not be changed. The summer was also set and the timing seemed right to move forward – so that would be busy as well. BUT, after this time, my prayer is that I would indeed slow down! The issue is that I’m a ‘do-er’ and slowing down is hard for me. But I don’t want to miss my life by continuing to run through it.

Stay Connected

I hope and expect to keep doing these Seminary updates at least one per Semester at a minimum throughout my Master of Divinity (MDiv) journey.* I remember looking online and didn’t find anything like this when I was searching for which school to attend and to get a sense of what going to Seminary would be like. Perhaps this might be helpful for you in some way or have been following and praying for my family and I. Reach out to me however you like and if you have thoughts to share that others might benefit from reading, be sure to comment on my post.

* Note- everything shared here regarding my experience at Seminary are my own thoughts and views documented and recorded (without compensation from Truett Seminary or Baylor University) for the purpose of helping others who might wonder what going to Seminary is like. It’s also for myself to remember the steps taken throughout this journey. I have had a positive experience thus far at George W. Truett Theological Seminary and if you know me or have taken a look around my blog, you’ll see that I share about a variety of things here for the purpose of helping to equip and encourage others in their journey with God. Again, feel free to reach out to me with comments or questions or just add your thoughts here!

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