Pastor Antoine Lee of Central Christian Church in Kansas City was eager to complete seminary, but work, family – and cost – made a Master of Divinity degree program seem unobtainable, until Rev. Debra Sermons, Central's Director of Recruitment, told him about the create program and the thoughtful planning that goes into each individual's schedule.
The create program is fully scholarshiped, schedules are designed for busy people, and classes are offered in Kansas City's urban core. “It was like they met all my needs before knowing my personal situation!” says Antoine. “I express sincere gratitude for everyone who was involved in making it possible for me to continue my education. Thank you!”
Central Students EMERGE in Orlando
Why would ten Central students and three seminary administrators want to head to Orlando in January? To attend EMERGE, of course! (You weren’t thinking Disneyworld, were you?) President Molly T. Marshall will be the speaker for the Tuesday morning plenary session and will lead a workshop on being spiritually formed that afternoon. Director of Recruitment Debra Sermons and Director of Seminary Relations Robin Sandbothe will also participate in this orientation to American Baptist life, along with the ten students who are already involved in ministry in American Baptist churches or who are exploring that possibility.
American Baptist Churches USA makes a considerable investment to bring seminarians and new ABC pastors together for orientation to this part of the Baptist family. Leaders of the various arms of the denomination are present: the Office of the General Secretary, International Ministries, American Baptist Home Mission Society, Ministers Council, Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board, Regional Executive Ministers Council, Women in Ministry, and Associated Ministry Organizations.
The EMERGE conference can be seen as an exercise in cultivating pastoral imagination, a term popularized by Craig Dykstra, formerly of Lilly Endowment. While one may have sensed a calling to ministry, becoming a pastoral leader involves a process of seeing oneself in a new way. There are many horizons for ministry, and gathering with other seminary students, seasoned leaders, and standard-bearers for American Baptist life can inspire new perspectives.
Pastoral imagination consists of “a set of sensibilities, virtues, and skills that characteristically belongs to good pastors.” Much of this capacity is nurtured by significant, meaning-filled relationships. Central students will deepen their “thick ties” to one another and encounter students from other institutions, potentially life-long friends. (Some have even met a future spouse!) It will be time well spent, besides a bit of respite from these colder climes!
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