While I had just come back to faith and was starting to grow in my home church, First Baptist Church Murfreesboro, I had never envisioned going to seminary. In need of spiritual growth and understanding, everything pointed me in that direction; however, our family is a single income family with four children. My job was crucial and I could not see how I could possibly attend seminary.
Just when I thought that there was no hope, I was surprised by a flyer about a seminary that would be housed in my church. I found out that classes would be done in intensives on Friday night and Saturday and that the tuition was subsidized through the generosity of grants. I finally got it all together and started my seminary journey at Central Baptist Theological Seminary - Tennessee.
This format allowed me to complete my degree without missing any work or taking too much time away from my family. At the same time, I was able to develop an understanding of how to apply the skills from seminary to my sense of calling as a marketplace minister and allowed me to find ways to execute this ministry. After completion of seminary, my home church ordained me and blessed me in this calling.
I am extremely grateful for Central for the work it has done in my life by providing a thought provoking broad theological education.
Internships for a Healthy Church
Create Students Choose Internships with Health of the Church in Mind
Create scholars who started in 2011 are in the process of completing some intriguing internships. They are required to complete 120 hours of service as a part of their program of study, and have a good bit of freedom in determining what they will do. This class has been extraordinarily adventurous in the internship projects they’ve selected.
Three became intrigued with the work of ABC International Ministry Peace and Justice Consultant Dr. Dan Buttry, who had accompanied them on their immersion experience in Myanmar. They chose to reconnect and learn more about peace and reconciliation from him.
- Alyssa Bennett Smith and Chris Miller travelled to Kenya in September to participate in the Training for Conflict Transformation Trainers – part of the ongoing peace-building effort which began as a class project for recent Central graduate Wilson Gathungu, a native Kenyan. Each will be designing a similar training experience for their respective ministry communities. Alyssa observed, “Intentional Christian Community is a lifestyle in which community members often have to deal with interpersonal conflict, from the smallest of issues regarding who is responsible for household chores, to larger concerns like discerning the mission and goals of the community, yet many of these communities do not have access to resources like those I will gain through my training with Dan. My goal is to bridge that gap and ultimately help communities both locally in Kansas City and elsewhere to learn alternate skills and methods for conflict transformation in an effort to find what works best for their community dynamic.”
- Sean McCormack traveled to Detroit in mid-July for a week in the Buttrys’ home. He focused primarily on interfaith relationships between Christians and Muslims and conflict mediation and resolution. He also will complete his internship by teaching about his discoveries in these important areas. Said Sean, “While I was in Detroit, I took part in the observance of the Ramadan fast. I also attended lectures from Imam Sayed Jawad Qazwini, met Steve Elturck who is the head of ANCHOR ministries, did several workshops with Dan on conflict transformation, broke the Ramadan fast with members of the Islamic community on multiple occasions, and met numerous leaders in the Islamic community there. I hope to become a military chaplain and use what I’ve learned to build relationships with Muslim leaders in conflict areas and encourage a positive working relationship between them and the U.S. Military.”
Jay Thornton explored peace and justice issues in a different manner. As part of his internship, he studied, prepared, and participated in a Northern Ireland Peace and Justice Mission this summer, where he engaged both Celtic Spirituality and the work at healing following the bitter conflicts in that country. He followed this up by leading a small group series at Journey Community Church, the church which meets on Central’s Shawnee campus.
Three of the students centered their internships in churches where they participate and/or give leadership.
- Andy Schreiner is engaging in a number of activities, also at Journey Community Church, to enhance the church’s missional outreach.
- Jake Taylor expanded the work he was doing at Maywood Baptist Church in Independence and gained broader pastoral experience even as he enriched the life of the church doing so. His experiences ranged from conducting funerals and doing hospital visitation to delicate administrative tasks, such as leading a church through change and community networking for needed social change.
“I interned under Bob Spradling, the senior pastor at Maywood Baptist Church in Independence, MO. Maywood has formed incredible connections with the local rehab community, the school district, local businesses, and local government, and I learned a lot as I shadowed Pastor Bob and began doing some networking of my own.” said Jake.
- Chaunia Patrick, in her home church of Second Baptist Church of Kansas City, Missouri, designed and led a project to improve the destiny of marginalized and oppressed individuals in the Urban Core of Kansas City, MO (in and around the 39th street corridor). They called this the “Miracle on 39th St”! Chaunia reported, “My internship addresses two important realities that people of faith hold in tension: 1, the active role as influencer and advocate for community matters and economic investment AND 2, the call from God to witness and act as a powerful force for social justice and the common good. In its role as hub, the church is demonstrating the core characteristics shared by healthy congregations which include constructive conflict management, adaptation to change, authentic community, ministry that reaches out as well as in, good communication, a balance between clergy authority and lay leadership, and clarity of identity and mission.”
“What a privilege to serve as guide this great group of students in ministry growth and discovery of new ways to be healthy church on mission well into the 21st century,” said Dr. Richard P. Olson, Central’s Distinguished Professor of Pastoral Theology, who is teaching the internship class they are a part of this fall.