Greeting McCormick community! If you’re a middler or a senior here, then you know all too well, going to Min 404/405. It’s the class you take in conjunction to your field educational studies here at McCormick. I took the class last year, along with my work at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Evanston, IL. Now, this class gets a bad rap some days. Take it from someone who finished it last school year. Here’s what really happens…
Second year (or whenever you take the class), you’re not only taking classes and possibly working a part-time job (or maybe even full-time), and then you might even have a family to take care of as well; now let’s tack on 12-15 hours per week at whatever church or organization that you’re working with for your experiential education. It’s rough. There’s a lot to do. But that’s not what gets people. What gets them is simply going to class (well, atleast for many). You’re out there doing this hands-on learning, and let’s be honest, sometimes, seminary feels like it is a regurgitation of your feelings. I, for one, am not a fan of this. But my past life as a facilitator for groups in the outdoors and with experimental education tells me that we all need this “regurgitation” time. It’s a time for processing everything. There’s a lot going on in your life at the moment. And you need to talk about it, you need to think about it and compare battle wounds with other students. It’s pretty important.
While you’re out there saving the world at your field site, it feels stagnant to sit in a classroom. You know you have a paper to write for Reformed Traditions for Ken Sawyer and Anna Case-Winters. You have a Greek test just around the corner, and you have a sermon to write for your preaching class with Brad. But here’s the truth, even though you might not enjoy it while you’re there, you’ll appreciate it once you’re really out there.
So, I sat down for a chat with Joanne and Nannette. They are the ones who make all this happen. Well, them and a few others. The class consists of small groups; Joann serves as one of the leaders, and then there are 4 more:
Rev. Dr. Ozzie Smith with Covenant UCC in Indiana
Rev. Dr. Linda Wygant with Graceseeds Ministry
Rev. Patrick Daymond with Sixth-Grace Presbyterian Church in Chicago
Rev. David Watkins Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church
So ladies, tell us your names and job titles.
(Reverend Dr.) Joanne Lindstrom, the Jean & Frank Mohr Director of Experiential Education & Field Studies and Associate Professor of Ministry
Reverend Nannette E. Banks
Why do you do what you do? (your jobs, that is)
Joanne: I have often said that “I have the best job in the joint!” I get to see/share/experience student transformation and growth in extraordinary ways…..from the first sermon jitters to a sense of confidence in preaching; from the fear of the first hospital visit to seeing oneself called to hospital chaplaincy or hospice care. I get to see how a student’s call is deepened through testing and experience. It is an absolute joy to watch students “come into their own”. And sometimes the transformation is so great that I can see a physical change – in the way the student walks and talks. What better “job” than to see God working in people’s lives!
Nanette: I am excited to journey with students who are actively discerning their current and future impact on the church and broader community. I am always stoked when students integrate their creative expressions (poetry, painting, dancing) and theology which reflects and embodied ministry.
All students studying for a Master’s of Divinity have to do field studies. In your opinions, what is the importance of doing field site work?
Joanne: Field Studies allows students the opportunity to test out classroom learning and theory in a living, breathing ministry context with real people. It also allows students the opportunity to observe Christian leaders, pastors, institutional directors and to learn from the best! It provides mentors and colleagues who often remain connected to students for years to come – a “wisdom circle” to use the language of Dr. Braxton.
Nanette: It was in the midst of my field studies experience at Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministry when I realized that I am called to “The Church” not a particular church context. As I explained to the supervisors during this years’ training students’ minds will be blown and God’s providence expanded to encompass all.
We all know that MIN 404/405 does not have the reputation for being the most enticing class. From what I hear there are many nicknames for it. What should people really know about it? Why do you do it? (teach it and offer it is, that is)
Joanne: What do you mean MIN 404/405 doesn’t have a reputation for being the most enticing class?????? And I have heard no nicknames for it – so what do you call it – inquiring minds want to know – smile. My experience is that folks do not appreciate MIN 404/405 until they are in ministry for a couple of years. Then folks come back and tell me “Oh, I get it now. I wish that had paid better attention. I wish that I had taken advantage of the experience.” I think the “doing” of ministry is ever so much more exciting to students than engaging in the “being” – the journey into self-awareness. As Paul Tillich says,” The pain of looking into one’s own depth is too intense for most people. They would rather return to the shaken and devastated surface of their former lives and thoughts.” However, once you are fully immersed in ministry you find out that you must delve into your own depths in order to touch the lives of those you have been called to serve.
Tell us something about yourselves.
Joanne: I have a purple bike that I love to ride along the lake shore. I’m a gym rat – work out at least three times a week and usually more. I fondly call my weight trainer either ‘the trainer from hell’ or “Arron the Terrible” and my pilates trainer I call “his (Arron’s) Evil Twin”. I have god children in Hawaii and Ghana and try to get to each place at least once a year. Fortunately my newest love, 7 month old Jaden, called Bliz because he was born during the blizzard, just lives a few blocks away.
Nanette: I am a 2009 graduate of McCormick having won the Martin D. Kneeland Sermon Delivery Award. I hold a Masters of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and I love to write. I am an ordained Elder in the non-denominational church, now pursuing ordination in the United Church of Christ and currently worshiping at Covenant United Church of Christ with Pastor Ozzie Smith.
So, what else do you two lovely ladies do outside of McCormick?
Joanne: I am the Associate Minister at the First Baptist Church where I do general ministry stuff, am overseeing the ordination process (which includes major theological papers) of two sisters in ministry (they were not happy to find out that one of my MIN 404/405 nicknames was “The Hammer”) and serve as spiritual advisor to the young adults. I serve as a speech coach for a couple folks and have 2 Dmin in preaching advisees. Geez, this is a lot of ministry stuff – I need to get a life. Oh, yeah, taking dance lessons from one of the ladies in my church – no, not liturgical dance.
Nanette: Besides sample new restaurant cuisines, write/teach poetry, and preach I serve as a Coordinator/Planning Team for the Chautauqua Institute New Clergy Program.
What is one piece of advice, concerning field sites and MIN 404/405, that you would give to first year students or to students who are thinking about coming to McCormick?
Joanne: Chicago is an incredible place to do ministry – all sorts of ministry sites and opportunities. Don’t wait until the last minute to check things out. Come talk to Nannette or me with your ideas, concerns, questions. We love finding just the right place for you!
Nanette: Be open, be prepared, be transformed and be a transformer!
Thanks for the interview ladies!
Below, you’ll find a list of all the current field sites.
Bay View United Methodist Church (Milwaukee)
Until next time! Peace!