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December | 2010 | The 'CURE' for your Vocation

Archive for December, 2010

Some End of the Year Stuff…

Greetings again everyone. I pray that this finds you well in whatever life is bringing to your table. Today, we have 2 things to talk to you about. 1. the Beatitudes Society and 2. the Spiritual life at McCormick.

First, I want to introduce you to the Beatitudes Society. They are a progressive Christian group that does a lot of amazing things! They are holding summer fellowships and applications are due soon! Check them out! I’ve posted on my own blog, the Traveling Theologian (there is a link on the menu above this to my site) about my own time as a Beatitudes Fellow in Atlanta working for the Youth Theological Initiative, you can find a link to that blog on the menu bar above. Or, you can check out the Beatitudes Society Fellowships above on the menu bar. If you have questions, please let me know! I’m happy to sit over coffee or e-mail with you.

Recently, we’ve heard a great deal at our Student Session meetings that seem to concern the spiritual life of students at McCormick. This includes everything from prayer services to Wednesday night worships. While we are a seminary known for being active in the community and in the world, we also know it is important to focus on the personal, spiritual side of things too.

I am sure you all read the blog posting from Michele Edwards on worship. But before we go much farther I want to introduce you all to Martin B. Copenhaver. He’s a pastor in the UCC church and we went to Yale Divinity School. There is a chapter in a book he co-authored entitled, This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, about his prayer life while at Yale. I think it’s pretty applicable here. Read on…

One evening during my first week as a student at Yale Divinity School there was a knock on my door. Sitting at my desk, I tossed the words, “Come in!” over my shoulder. The door opened and there stood a student from down the hall. He and I already had a few glancing conversations, over a meal or two and while brushing our teen in the communal bathroom. I remember liking him, even though he had a brilliant smile and a mane of windswept hair that, once I learned he was from California, made him a bit suspect. He introduced himself as “Toph,” which didn’t help much, either. I was from New York, so perhaps I can be forgiven for assuming that the next thing I would learn is that he went to college on a beach volley-ball scholarship.

Toph asked, “Am I disturbing you? We could talk later.” I replied, “No, this is a fine time.” I stayed at my desk and he remained in the doorway. He started with something of a Jimmy Stewart stammer: “I was, you know, just wondering if you might be, well, interested, or could be interested – perhaps – in having a prayer group.” I did not respond immediately, so he continued, “That is, if that might be something you would be interested in doing. Or not.”

“Uh-oh,” I thought. “Here it is.” I did not know this fellow and I had my own stereotypes of the sort of person who would issue such an invitation. That reaction was part of a larger concern. I did not yet know any of my fellow students very well and I wondered how I was going to fit in…

…Now here was this fellow I didn’t really know, asking me to join a prayer group… One reservation that I probably did not express at the time was that I did not know how to pray…

I asked Toph what we would do exactly. He said, “Well, I’m not sure. We can decide that. But I could tell you what we did in our prayer groups at Williams.”

What ended up happening in this story is that their prayer group was started, by students who wanted a prayer group. And it lasted them through all 4 years in seminary at Yale and they even continued on with it after seminary.

Now, I suggest reading this entire book, cause it’s good. But what I also want to point out here is that the young man, Toph, in this story took on the initiative of seeing to his spiritual well-being in some way. Now, this didn’t cover all of his spiritual well-being, by any means. But what it did do was gather students together, in their time and by their guidance, and it enabled them to share, grow, learn and continue on with their practice after seminary was over.

As one of the Co-Moderators of the Deacons, I completely understand that students need spiritual nourishment. We all do! It’s so important. We can get so stuck in our own heads in any seminary. And let’s be honest, it can be hard. We are a seminary different from many other ones. We’re an urban seminary. We have a larger number of commuter students than a lot of others. That’s what makes us so interesting, we’re a community made up of hundreds of other communities simply because of our students. In turn, that can make it hard to meet the needs of so many different people.

At McCormick, we offer lots of ways to fulfill spiritual needs. First, we have weekly worship at 4:15pm, every Wednesday in Augustana Chapel at the other end of the Quad. And every other week, after worship, we offer a free, community meal in the McCormick building. Second, we have weekly prayer services on Tuesday and Thursdays led by our Worship EA’s and by the Deacons. Those are at Noon and last about 20-30 minutes. You only stay as long as you need, want, or can. Those are on the second floor in room 241. See Christine Vogel is you would like to participate or help lead one of these. Third, we require that all graduating students must take 3 practicums. Students can choose 2 of the ones they want to take and then, the third one is a required one. It’s on the Spiritual Life of leaders that Dean Christine Vogel leads. If you don’t want to take it as a practicum, you can take it as a semester-long class. It’s amazing either way. The last one was canceled because no one signed up… Fourth, we offer Spiritual Direction here at McCormick. We even help you pay for it. Many seminaries do not offer this, but we do. All you have to do is come by Christine Vogel’s office, let her know you are interested and you’ll receive information on what to do next. (Also, all of this information I have listed here is also available on a weekly basis in the Herald student newspaper.)

This is where my suspicion as a member of the McCormick community comes in. Why didn’t you all sign up McCormick? Did it not fit your schedule? If not, then tell your Session Representative. They can get them changed. Was it not interesting? Well, tell us what you think should be in it and we can look into that. What I’m trying to say in the most pastoral and neighbor-like way, is… get ready…

There are chances for spiritual care and growth here in our community. People have different schedules and we try to accommodate those as much as possible, but, like the story above, there is some initiative that should be taken on by students. If you want something on campus, do it. When the students start something themselves, then it becomes more important and personal. Hence, the reason why we have Student Deacons that are available to fellow students.  Also, if you start something, let us know about it. Put it in the Herald (e-mail at herald@go.mccormick.edu) or send us an e-mail here at the blog (E-mail Shelley @ sdonaldson@go.mccormick.edu). We’ll feature whatever it is you are doing! Or maybe you want to write something about what you’re doing here on campus.

While I do most of the posting and editing, this is YOUR blog McCormick. People are really reading it, inside and outside of McCormick. I only write what you tell me to write (With a little of my own social commentary thrown in there too. Let’s be honest, it’s bound to happen. It’s just the part of the author.)

I hope this has been helpful all you McCormick Bloggers! Happy Advent to you and a Merry Christmas. We’re signing out here until we return in J-Term! See you then!
Peace ~ Shelley D.

Meet Sylvia Miller, Middler Session Representative!

Greetings everyone. I know that the semester is winding down at the moment, but we’re still going strong here at McCormick’s headquarters. We’re somewhere in the side of a mountain that looks like a Ram, named Herald. Just like in Austin powers. We don’t have lazer sharks, but we do have fake light saber fights in IBS. But don’t tell Melody Knowles we ever said that.

Today I want to introduce you Sylvia Miller. You already met her kitty, Lillie Bug, in one of our Confessions of Seminary Pets. Sylvia is a good friend and is also actively involved with the Vagina Monologues. Yes, we and other Hyde Park Seminaries put on the VM’s every year in our own Common Room on the first floor of McCormick. Sylvia is one of the directors this year with one Miss Abby Mohaupt from the Herald newspaper and Session! But we’ll talk more about those in February. So meet Sylvia, she’s great and I love her. You will too.


~Shelley D.

McCormick Blog: Our readers need to know, who are you?

My name is Sylvia and I am small town girl living in a lonely world.  Ok, not entirely true.  I am from a small town in the middle of nowhere, better known as Walnut Grove, Missouri but my world if far from lonely!  I attended Drury University in Springfield, Missouri where I got my BA in Religion, and Psychology and two minors; one in Women and Genders Studies the other in Global Perspectives.  After graduation my best friend and I moved to Chicago and I love it here!  Always a city girl at heart I guess.  Oh and I obviously have a soft spot for 80’s rock :)

MB: There were lots of places you could have gone, why did you come to McCormick?

As much as I love to talk about theory I love even more to put theory into practice.  McCormick gave me that opportunity.  I no longer just talk about what the church should look like but the ways to make this church a reality!

MB: Which group do you represent on Session?

I represent Acts 10:15 which is the LGBTQ advocacy group.  We are made up of both LGBTQ members of the community as well as allies.  I also represent the Women in Ministry group which is putting on the Vagina Monologues on February 11 and A Memory A Monologue A Rant and A Prayer on February 12.  They both prove to be amazing shows and all profit goes to a good cause (shameless advertising :) Um, Sylvia, we’re okay with that. Go right on ahead. We’ll even help: Hey people! Come to the Vagina Monologues in February, they are AWESOME!

MB: What are your responsibilities for your group?

In Acts 10:15 I am apart of a moderating board.  The other part of the board is made up of Tracy Nolan (second year) and Katie Anderson (third year), they are the real stars of the show.  Right now our biggest project is the Open Table discussion which is held on certain Tuesdays from 12:00 to 1:00 and discuss issues of sexuality and the church (yet another advertisement :)

In the Women in Ministry group I, along with my better half Abby Mohaupt, am responsible for putting on our production of Vagina Monologues and MMRP.

MB: What is one thing you’ve learned so far at McCormick?

Nothing is as simple as we would like to make it.  Community is hard to make but a necessity for life.  If you live in Chicago, make sure to wear shoes with fur in them.

MB: What’s one thing you’re hoping for?

World peace :) while I’m waiting for that to come about I hope to provide a safe space for people to discuss matters close to their heart.

Thanks Sylvia, we look froward to those Vagina Monologues!

Some very important questions!

Here at McCormick we get all kinds of questions. So recently, we sat down with our Director of Recruitment, Rev. JC Cadwallader to get her answers to these questions. While these are not all the answers, they are some helpful ones. If you have more, you can check us out at: http://mccormick.edu/content/masters-applicants

Once there, check out our Meet a Student section. These are our student recruitment representatives (yours truly is one of them!). Our e-mail addresses aren’t on there, but you can e-mail any of us at any time at: inquiry@go.mccormick.edu

We’re pretty much used to answering any and all questions. Trust me, nothing shocks us (ok, that’s a lie, some things do, but don’t hesitate to ask us whatever you need!). We want you to have an honest portrayal of McCormick and what its like here. It might not be the right fit for you, but it just might be! And we want to make sure you know!

Seminaries are like puppies, they might look the same or different and all have different personalities and fit different people, but they are all wonderful creations of God and they are puppies (who doesn’t like a puppy!?!). You just have to find the puppy that is right for you before you take it home and commit to walking it at night and cleaning up after it and bathing it and so on. I hope you find the following questions and answers helpful.


~Shelley D.

So, inquiring minds need to know: is the seminary conservative or liberal? I hear its a bit more liberal.

The short answer is yes…and there’s a longer answer, which explains the interesting reason for this label of “liberal.”

As a tagline, we use 4 words to describe our community and theological education experience.  They are ‘cross-cultural,’ ‘urban,’ ‘reformed’ and ‘ecumenical’ and we strive to live into the current and relevant meanings of these words. Because we do this, we have been labeled “liberal.”

We understand that God is diverse and we believe it is imperative to learn to be a leader of communities of faith in a diverse setting.  We have an anti-discrimination policy which states our intolerance of expressions of hatred, bullying or hurtfulness towards others.  We welcome all people regardless of race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, religious tradition, physical ability or economic situation and learn and worship together as a community.

We reside in an urban setting which provides a rich experience for nurturing a call into ministry.  As our Church is changing, we encourage our students to live into the call into ministry that they are called to.  We do not prescribe what ministry it is that God is calling them to. We do not shy away from conversation or conflict and seek to learn together what it means to be a part of the Beloved Community in an urban context.

As reformed Christians, we continually revel in and seek the presence of God in the world in which we live.  We learn the lessons of our ancestors, the lessons of our history as a people and we appreciate the ever-creating presence of God in the world today.  Here at McCormick, we seek to train leaders for a church that is still to come…not simply the church as we know or have known it.  We believe it is important to engage with who we are today as a Church and begin to look ahead to what possibilities God might have in store for us as a community of faith in the future.  Because we have this understanding of training leaders for what is to come, this ‘we’re not afraid of change but living into the bold and radical call of the gospel to love one another’ kind of approach to ministry, we are deemed “liberal.”

What is community life like at McCormick? What if I don’t fit in?

Our community is a very diverse community.  Each person here, student, staff member, faculty member is unique in their own right.  As we seek to live into the identity of a Beloved Community, it is imperative that each individual bring their whole selves to the table, not just a portion of themselves and therefore, we must make space for one another.

I would suggest not wasting your energy wondering if you’ll fit in…we’re not a square hole and you’re not a round peg.  We are a community of diverse individuals and we need you!

How many denominations are represented at McCormick? Is it only for Presbyterian Church (USA) students?

McCormick is not just for PC(USA) students.  In fact, students of the PC(USA) only make up about 40% of our student population.  For our latest incoming class, those who are first year students currently, they come from 11 different denominations ranging from Baptist to non-denominational, Seventh Day Advents to Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea.

What are the demographics like at McCormick?

For the latest incoming class, here are some statistics: (please note: this is not for total enrollment)

Total % of Total
21-24 6 11.76%
25-29 10 19.61%
30-34 8 15.69%
35-39 9 17.65%
40-44 3 5.88%
45-49 5 9.80%
50-54 4 7.84%
55-59 5 9.80%
60-64 0 0.00%
65+ 1 1.96%


Total % of Total
European American 15 29.41%
African American 14 27.45%
Non-resident Alien: Korean 12 23.53%
Hispanic/Latino/a 4 7.84%
Asian American 5 9.80%
Non-resident Alien: Other than Korean 1 1.96%
Native American 0 0.00%
Multi Racial 0 0.00%
Total % of Total
Men 24 47.06%
Women 27 52.94%

Degree Program

Total % of Total
M.Div. 31 60.78%
M.T.S. 15 29.41%
M.A.U.M. 3 5.88%
M.A.D.D. 2 3.92%

(Please not that these numbers only represent our first year class of students that entered in the Fall of 2010.)

What if I don’t want to be an ordained minister? Why would I go to seminary?

A seminary education is not just for the ordained.  It is for those interested in gaining a sound theological education.  We are called into many forms of ministry, whether it be in the form of parish ministry, social work, religious non-profit work, or community work and one can benefit greatly from a theological education.  Especially in a time in our society where importance is placed on education, it is vital that our leaders of faith communities are educated as well.

Seminary is expensive, how will I pay for it?

There are many ways in which students are able to pay for their seminary education.   Students who apply to McCormick by the March 1 deadline are automatically considered for merit scholarships.  For those who do not receive merit scholarships, students are welcome to apply for need-based tuition grants from McCormick.  There are also many scholarships available from other organizations such as denominations, local judicatory bodies and local congregations.  Our Financial Aid officer has resources available for students interested in learning more about what scholarships are out there to be applied for.  Some of our students work for an income as well as going to school and some of our students apply for student loans to cover what is not by tuition grants and scholarships.

I still want to look at other schools, why should I come to McCormick?

It is very important that one look at all the options before making a decision on a seminary to attend.  You should come to McCormick because you believe we will provide the best theological education to prepare you for your call into ministry.

I want somewhere I can get involved in. What is there at McCormick?

Well, it depends on what you want to get involved in.  If we don’t have something already, we invite you to start something for the community!

Currently, we have several student groups on campus which you are more than welcome to become involved in.  They are as such:

Acts 10:15 – A group for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer members of McCormick and their allies. This group is interested in education, advocacy and support of equal rights.

AELM – A group for Latino/a students and those interested in Spanish-speaking ministries.

Anti-Racism at McCormick (ARM) – A group for students, families and alum of McCormick to address racism.

Commuters – A group for commuting students.

Eco-Justice – A group committed to raising awareness about environmental justice issues.

Global Community – A group which supports international students at McCormick.

KASA – A group for Korean students and their families.

Peacemaking – A group dedicated to peace and justice work.

Pan-African Student Organization (PASO) – A group for students interested in working with and in African American congregations and ministries.

Women in Ministry – A group especially for women.  Most of their meetings pertain to the annual production of The Vagina Monologues in the spring semester.

We worship as a community on Wednesday afternoons.  In fact, there are many other opportunities to participate in the spiritual life of the community such as leading or participating in prayer services and serving on the Board of Deacons.

And, if administration is your spiritual gift, we also have a Student Session (functions like Student Government) which you can be elected to and serve on.

If you are interested in volunteering with a church or organization outside of McCormick, we certainly encourage that as well.

I have a family with small children. Can I still come to seminary?

Absolutely!  Children bring a wonderful perspective into the community.  As I’ve said before, our community is quite diverse and age is a factor in that as well.  We have newborns in our midst as well as kids of all ages and above and everyone benefits from the presence of children…they keep a sense of humor and play, which is more than welcome in an academic setting, believe me!

I have 2 large dogs, can I bring them with me?

As a seminary, we have 2 residence buildings.  In one of the buildings, pets are allowed.  Dogs 50 lbs and less are more than welcome.  If they are much larger, you will need to have a conversation with Diane Sinish, our Residence Life Director to negotiate with her.  Check out the Friday editions of this blog which are perspectives of seminary pets!

I am currently a pastor at a church. I don’t know if I can juggle school, my family and home life and seminary. How do students do it?

I would say that it is only by the grace of God that anyone can juggle a seminary education and life in general, much less adding further responsibilities!  And, God is good!  Many of our students already serve as pastors and juggle family, education and congregation well.  It can be done!

However, when discerning to attend seminary, it is very important to take into consideration priorities in life.  It is an academic degree that will require lots of time for coursework, reading and writing.  Be sure to be in communication with your congregation and family about time and energy.  Sacrifices will most likely have to be made…be sure to communicate well with those around you throughout the process so that the adjustments and changes will be manageable and not as overwhelming.

If you (you, who’s reading this right now) are interested in talking with someone in this situation, call the Recruitment office…we would be happy to put you in touch with a current student.

Thanks JC! These were great answers! If you would like to contact us, you can call McCormick at 773.947.6300 and simply ask to speak to a Student Recruitment Representative! We are always more than happy to help you in your discernment towards seminary and what it is God is calling you to do. Even if you don’t choose McCormick, we are all part of God’s body, and as such we are called to support each other!

Meet Michele Edwards, Co-Moderator of Student Session

Good morning again all you bloggers out there. Today, I want to introduce you to one of my dear friends, Michele Edwards. She is currently serving as our Co-Moderator of Student Session and also sits on the Board of Trustees as a student representative. She also does lots more, but you can hear about that from her. Today, Michele brings an important message to our student body, worship. I’d like to note that there are many seminaries that do not have a regular, weekly worship service. One seminary I visited told me they didn’t want to “coddle” their students but wanted them to get out there and find churches. Well, the great thing about McCormick is that not only do we offer weekly service here, we also encourage students to get involved in communities outside of the seminary. So students aren’t just going to weekly service, they are also going to Sunday services and other events in their other communities outside of McCormick. As much as we get out of the seminary to work, there is much to be done here in our community as well.

Well, that’s my soap box for the month! So take a minute to meet Michele and hear what she’s got to say!

Peace to all you bloggers out there!


Shelley D.

Greetings Saints:

I am delighted to be a part of our blog and to take this opportunity to share with you through this forum.  I am an active member of the McCormick community and I live in the 1400 building, one of McCormick’s residences. A native of Detroit, I am a two-time communications graduate of Wayne State University, also in Detroit.

Prior to moving to Chicago, I owned a small public relations firm which specialized in media relations, event planning and print communications.  My family includes  two older sisters, two nephews and a niece.  My nephews are the only members of my family left in Detroit.  My favorite color is purple, I collect butterflies and I love visiting  museums.  On rare occasions, when I get to watch television, I watch two shows: CBS News’ Sunday Morning and Grey’s Anatomy.

I believe that if you’re committed to accomplishing a task, you must participate at 110%.  Therefore as a contributing member of this community, I am  proud to be co-moderator of Student Session ( I am serving  in this position with Ed Bird); moderator of the Pan-African Student Organization; a member of the Board of Trustees and a member of the Presidential Search Committee. I am a full-time student carrying  four courses.  Sleep is a precious commodity.

If you don’t mind, I want to use this forum to discuss our weekly worship services.  I am greatly disturbed that they are under-attended and I just don’t understand the rationale.  It seems to me that any opportunity to worship God is a good thing.  Isn’t God worthy?

After all, God has made it possible for us to have our life, our family, our friends and this faith walk at McCormick.  Have you ever considered what you would do if God took a sick day?  Participation in worship,  whether you are in the congregation or a part of the worship team provides you with invaluable opportunities to get to know your classmates.  Further there are ways to hone your skills and knowledge about the entire worship experience.  It provides invaluable experience.   And finally, worship enables you to support your classmates who  are preaching.  This is so important.  Many of us are fledging preachers and we need all the experience we can get.   There is simply nothing like looking up from that podium and seeing your friends and colleagues listening attentively.

Having said all of that, here is my request of you. During the spring semester make it a goal to attend three worship services.   I can tell you from experience that you’ll find a blessing, maybe two.

Meet Senior Board of Deacons Member, Caroline Underwood

Salutations again my friends!

Well, it’s started snowing again in Chicago this morning and boy, is it coming down! On a warmer note… Today, I want to introduce you to someone very special here at McCormick, Caroline Underwood. She’s a fellow Southerner and you might remember her name from when we interviewed her dog, Gus, in our first installment of Confessions of Seminary Pets. If you haven’t read it, go do it now before you do anything else. Otherwise, here is Caroline!

(Caroline loves a good Halloween Party)

So, who are you?

I am Caroline Underwood. I am from Birmingham, Alabama, but I also grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and spent a few years after college living in Miami, Florida (where Caroline also served as a Young Adult Volunteer). I am sort of a dual degree student. I will be finished at McCormick in January and starting my MSW (Master’s of Social Work) at Loyola in the Spring. I love karaoke, costumes, and running (most of the time). I work at the University of Chicago Lab School in their after school program. Its fun (most of the time).

Why did you come to McCormick?

I am passionate about Urban Ministry. Also, I wanted to go to a school that had a student body that was diverse in many ways. I’m a city girl. McCormick and Chicago were a perfect fit!

Which group do you represent?

The Board of Deacons

What are your responsibilities for your group?

I am the secretary and I also try to help out in other ways whenever I am needed. (Caroline is also one of the sacred keepers of the Deacon Prayer Box)

What’s one thing you’ve learned so far as a Deacon or just at McCormick in general?

I have learned that Greek and Hebrew are hard. God is good. Hugs are good (even if you aren’t a hugger). Worship is always needed. When in doubt, grab a snake and make it rain!

What’s one thing you’re hoping for?

A job where I can incorporate and after school/family ministry for an impoverished community after I finally finish school. And to one day be ordained into such a role. Also, happiness for all of my friends and family. too much sadness going around these days.

Check back soon all you bloggers out there!

Peace~ Shelley D.

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