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May | 2011 | The 'CURE' for your Vocation

Archive for May, 2011

Finals, Frank, and Feast of Fools

Greetings on this wonderful Monday afternoon! As you can see, we’re well on our way to being finished. So we’re just going to give you a wrap up of everything that’s happened in the last few days and is still happening.

First, there are finals. Now, I come from the Southeast. Prayer in school is a pretty normal thing there, and there are some who don’t want it. But it’s like my mother says, “So long as there are tests in school, there will be prayer in schools.” And she’s pretty right. But have you ever watched a seminary student pray about a final? It’s not just prayer; it’s a full-on lament. Think Psalms-ish. Atleast that’s how some of us were feeling before our Greek Exegesis 2 final this morning. But all is said and done, test taken, and we’re not feeling too bad about it.

The seniors have already taken their finals for the last time (they take them early to ensure graduation), but the rest of us first year and second years have to take them this week. It’s one of the times that I am sure places like Starbucks see a spike in plain, black coffee sales. I have come to prefer the instant coffee they sell, I can make it at home and not wait in line… Praise God for instant coffee.

Some of our students still have a final or two left, some are just finishing up their papers, others are resting after working so hard, some are packing to leave for the summer and others are getting ready for graduation, which comes with its own set of stresses. It’s a time of transition. The juniors have finished their first year (it’s a weird and realy great feeling!), and the middlers are now seniors (not for yours truly, I still have a final on Wednesday), and for the seniors, it’s time to get out into the world. Big steps here folks. Big steps.

Speaking of big steps, we’ve also just named our new President who will follow Rev. Dr. Cynthia Campbell as our next president. Rev. Dr. Frank Yamada will be our newest president! We’re pretty stoked here about it, you can read the article here on the McCormick page, or you can read about it from the Presbyterian Outlook (the editor mis-spelled our name…). The announcement was made on Friday afternoon at a worship service held by the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees. We’re grateful for the hard work they’ve put in and the faithfulness that they have had in this process.

Frank was an internal candidate, already serving us as an associate professor of Hebrew Bible and as the director for the Center for Asian American Ministries. He will take office as the new president on July 1, 2011.

Lastly, Feast of Fools. We can’t tell you much about it. You have to experience it for yourself. It’s a student session sponsored event, just before finals week begins every year, and when I tell you we laugh, we laugh hard. My face hurt when I was done and my mascara had run pretty bad after laughing so hard I cried. Like I said, I can’t say too much about it, but I can tell you this much: Ed Bird is crazy and Jeff Kline should never be given loose change.

Well friends, that is it. We’re done here until mid August. Make sure to check us back out this Fall, where we’ll be bringing you new students, updates, new pets and families and just general merriment from the McCormick Community.

Until August!

Peace ~ Shelley D.

Hello everyone. Well, we’ve been experiencing some technical difficulties here at the McBlog. We posted this yesterday, and it just wouldn’t work. So, we’re trying it again. Please note, this entree covers the conversation that we held with PCUSA General Assembly Moderator, Cindy Bolbach. Please make sure you’re paying attention to the editor notes. We don’t use a lot of quotes here, but there are a few. Please enjoy and we hope that you don’t have any further problems!

Greetings everyone. As we’re wrapping it up here at McCormick, the Moderator of the 219th General Assembly of the PCUSA, Cindy Bolbach, was here today to pay us a visit and answer some questions. With many changes taking place in the PCUSA, such as the voting of 10a and the proposed FOG possibly ready to pass, a handful of students showed up to ask the moderator questions and hear her thoughts on some of the things happening right now.

Moderator of the 219th PCUSA General Assembly, Cynthia Bolbach

With an intimate number of McCormick students in attendance, Moderator Bolbach opened with a brief introduction about herself. A native Lutheran, Cindy became a Presbyterian later in life after moving to Washington, D.C. A former lawyer, Cindy was on the committee for the FOG ( Form of Government) at the General Assembly as one of the co-moderators. As the only ordained elder in a candidate pool of 5 other ordained pastors, Cindy choose to run for moderator to help raise awareness as to just exactly what FOG was. Her and the rest of the committee had spent 4 years working on it and sad to say, most people weren’t aware of it and weren’t paying it much attention. As something that was important to Cindy, she decided that she could help raise awareness of the FOG by running. From what I’ve heard previously, part of the reason for her winning the vote came from her candor and good-natured humor, which she gladly shared with the students of McCormick.

*Please note, these answers are paraphrasing and are written from my own perspective as I understood them. I’m just relaying what I heard and honestly, my own thoughts. I hope you enjoy!

Some of the students wanted to know, what exactly does a moderator do besides stand in front of the GA and help run things? As the moderator, she tries to get the word out about what’s happening and answer questions, so to speak. She visits with different Presbyteries, visits seminary students and churches, and is a positive presence in a changing church. She admitted, no one actually tells you what to do; there isn’t a moderator book of order. Since FOG is being talked about in Presbyteries all over the United States, she can help shed some light onto just what FOG is and help clear up the gray areas and the misunderstandings; such as the terms “leading elder” and “teaching elder.” Cindy wants to help guide churches through the process of understanding this possible change.

What about 10a? If it passes, when will it take effect? If 10a passes (and it’s so close!), then it will take effect either July 7th or July 10th, whenever General Assembly closed for 2010.

Can you tell us more about the FOG and your own take on it? Well, apparently Form of Government has been in existence since 1983 and has been amended more than 300 times. Whew! One thing that the proposed FOG is going to require is trust, which is something that those within our denomination just don’t have right now with each other. Let’s be honest my friends, the PCUSA can be divided when it wants to be. As of right now, only 3 more Presbyteries need to vote yes for it to take effect. And atleast 2 Presbyteries are voting as we speak, so by the time I post this, it could have almost or actually passed!

What is the most exciting thing in the PCUSA that you have seen in your travels? “The number of really good young pastors.”

Now before I (your blog editor-in-chief) go on, let me explain something. These Presbytery meetings are where all the folks from the churches, elders, deacons, ministers, etc. get together and make decisions and have conversations about once a month, for their regional group of churches. For example, I’m from the Greater Atlanta Presbytery, which is made up of about 100 churches in and around the city of Atlanta, GA. They meet monthly to vote and make general all-around decisions for the body of churches in that area. What happens is, in many of these meetings, you don’t see a whole lot of young lay-people (elders and such).

Why? Well, we asked Cindy about that. Part of the reason is that it doesn’t make much sense to have a Presbytery meeting on a Tuesday at 10am. Churches aren’t made up people who can just take the middle of a work day in the middle of their work weeks, they are made up of lots of people from all brackets, so those lay-people who are working just can’t get to those meetings and help be in those discussions and make those decisions when the Presbytery meetings are in the middle of their work day. They have careers they are trying to establish, and in today’s economy, people can’t afford to miss work to go to a Presbytery meeting.

This is sad but true in the PCUSA, all over. Why, well, it means that accommodations aren’t being made for those who need to be there. (But that’s my own personal rant that we can see to later… back to Cindy now.)

Some of the more interesting things that we talked about had to do with changes for the church and the ever-hot-topic, ordination. At McCormick, we’re inclusive. You gather from that what you will. We believe all people are called to God’s ministry in all different ways, and our job for our students is to support, love, nourish, allow for growth, to challenge, and to equip all people called by God in the priesthood of all believers, to do that ministry and to do it well. Moderator Bolbach spoke to this issue when asked about ordaining gay, lesbian, etc. individuals to the church in areas like elders and ministers, her answer: “How can you say this [ordination of gays and lesbians] is against God’s will?”

How do you see seminaries connecting to the General Assembly and the PCUSA governing bodies? “Before I became moderator, I never set foot on a seminary campus, so I don’t know a whole lot about seminaries. What I do know is that… for pastors, self-confidence gets ingrained at the seminary level.”

Moderator Bolbach sees the role of seminaries to train potential pastors “to know who they are and to be confident in who they are.” These new and potential pastors shouldn’t be taught to be dictators, but to share responsibilities of a church and to help churches flourish and spread the love of God.

On a denominational level, what does the PCUSA think of the declining numbers? “I think sometimes we worry too much about membership numbers.”

In 1997, GA committed to having 10% racial ethnic membership by 2010. Well folks, we didn’t come close to making that mark. Just because our numbers used to be greater doesn’t mean that we were proclaiming the Gospel any better in the past, in fact, we’re better at it now that we were. I mean c’mon. For many years the most segregated times in our country, racially and culturally speaking, were on Sunday mornings. The question Moderator Bolbach raised for the changing church was: “How do we make a structure to allow the resources to be used as efficiently as possible?” In short, we have what it takes to proclaim the Word of God and show God’s love, but how can we do it and make it work and in an effective manner?

So friends, that’s about it. We’ll end it on this last question for Moderator Bolbach:

What is your biggest joy/concern in all of this?

Concern: That she might lose the moderator cross she wears around her neck. Apparently it was forged on the floor of General Assembly many years ago, and is passed down from moderator to moderator each GA. (Honestly, it sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings, if you ask me. And not in an evil way, but it does sound cool as a pop-culture reference.)

Joy: While touring the House of Hope Church in the twin cities, Cindy headed into where to organist was practicing. They were able to make some requests for hymns and then the Organist played Widor Tocatta No. 5 from complete memory… pretty sweet if you ask me.

Well, my dear readers, this is it for now. Stay tuned. Tomorrow we will be announcing on the blog the new President of McCormick!

Until then, Peace my brothers and sisters!

Shelley D.


Good afternoon everyone!Well, we’re getting to the end of our 2010-2011 school year here at McCormick. We wanted to make sure and leave you with helpful information for the summer… just a little snack to tide you over as you begin your summer plans. Today, we want to make sure that all you newbies for the Fall 2011 and all of our prospectives have a good idea just as to what the Association of Theological Schools is and what it can do for you as a student here in the Chicago-land area. Thursday will be our last post, sally. It will have lots of information regarding what you should expect from us this summer if you are beginning in the Fall and also talk about summer options while you’re in seminary. So stay tuned!

Today we wanted to make you aware of a little program called the ACTS program. McCormick is one of several schools that participates in the Association of Chicago Theological Schools. What does this mean? It means that here in Chicago we have the second-largest collection of theological resources and research in the world. Second only to the Vatican. I know what you’re thinking, “no way.” Yes way. Let me explain.

First, these are the schools that make up the ACTS group:

Catholic Theological Union, right here in Hyde Park

Chicago Theological Seminary, also here in Hyde Park

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, located next to Northwestern University in Evanston, IL

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, in Hyde Park

McCormick Theological Seminary, here in Hyde Park

Meadville Lombard Theological School, in Hyde Park

North Park Theological Seminary, in downtown

Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lombard, IL

Seabury Western Theological Seminary, in Evanston, IL

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, located in Deerfield, IL

University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, in Mundelein, IL

What this means for McCormick is that we’re part of a vast network of seminaries here in Illinois and it helps to keep us connected with each other and also allows for some amazing dialog between students and staff of different denominational backgrounds. What this means for the students of these schools, is that 1) we can cross register at any one of these seminaries to take a class there. So, say that you want a history class on Art and Architecture of the Church in Italy, AND you want to go there as a travel seminar. Well, we don’t offer that here at McCormick, but Catholic Theological Seminary, just a few blocks away on Cornell Street does! So, you can go take it there and get a history credit here! The cost for all the schools is the same, (with the exception of Chicago Theological Seminary, but it’s still really close!), so money isn’t a problem, and the cross registration is really easy.

2) What this also means for students is that we have access to all the libraries. So, if you need to work on a paper and you want to use the Reginstein Library located on the University of Chicago campus, you can! The Chicago Theological School is associated with the U of Chicago, so you can use the library there. Or, if you’re hanging around Evanston, you can check out Garrett-Evangelical! Now, some of the seminaries might be a little farther, but you can still have them available to you. It’s a little spread out, but it works!

Here at McCormick the rule is, you can take classes with other seminaries in ACTS in any semester you are here except in your first and last semesters. Other than that, it’s fair game! There are some pretty great opportunities and students are encouraged if they want a travel seminar, or a specialty class with a specific theologian in the Chicago-land area, to check out the website. You can see all the classes offered on the ACTS website.

Peace ~ Shelley D.

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