Recently, Central Seminary Grant Officer, the Rev. Dr. Angie Jackson, reflected on the joy of working with Central students:
Working with students – whether through grant programs, as a ministry mentor, or in the classroom – is one of my greatest joys. I love witnessing their unfolding vocations and ministries as they matriculate through seminary and emerge as increasingly thoughtful, confident leaders. For some, ministry preparation is about self-discovery and personal readiness to lead. For others, seminary training is about biblical knowledge, theological frameworks, and spiritual readiness to lead. For still others, theological education is about skills, capacities, or confidence and practical readiness to lead. Every student’s journey to readiness is uniquely theirs.
Tonya Ellis is one of the students with whom Jackson has worked. Ellis is a second-year student in Central’s Women in Leadership Initiative. Here is some of her story:
I’ve been in ministry since 2006. In 2019 I founded and now pastor a faith-based, non-profit organization that focuses on providing care to people with severe and persistent mental health challenges. We provide mental health counseling, pastoral care, and addiction recovery support for people in need. Our organization is recognized by the State of Tennessee as a Certified Recovery Congregation through the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and substance Abuse Services/Faith-Based initiatives. Our model emphasizes an integrated care of clinical and faith-based treatment.
Central Seminary has played an integral role in helping me to develop the leadership skills, competency, and education needed to embark on this endeavor. As a recipient of Central’s Economic Challenge Facing Future Ministers Initiative Sponsored by the Lilly Endowment, Inc, I was able to use those resources to enhance the level of care provided to those in need. During this time of COVID-19 we have transitioned our model of care to include tele-health services, web-based appointments, and socially distanced interactions.
My long-term goal is to become a licensed Clinical Pastoral Therapist after graduation. The faculty at Central continue to provide me with prayer, support, and mentoring along my journey! I could not ask for more from the Women’s Leadership Initiative and the entire Central Seminary faculty. Through the generous WLI scholarship, I am able to pursue my call to serve and am ready to lead.
Jackson is proud of students like Tonya. She believes Central creates the space for Tonya’s journey to readiness to develop:
Central Seminary provides the kinds of spaces in which persons can explore, grow, and experiment while pursuing their vocational dreams and individual purposes, as unique as they are. All of our school’s programs and courses are infused with innovative approaches to ministry and delivered in a digitally connected environment. Innovation and technology give our students a distinct advantage in today’s ministry world, and they are leading their organizations with confidence and creativity even in the midst of a global pandemic. They are integrating tradition and technology into their leadership now, and we are proud.