Good morning McCormick Community! Well, we’ve introduced you to some great folks in the past, but we want you to meet even more! That’s right. McCormick is made up of so many amazing people, and everyone has a different role. Today I want to introduce you to one of my former classmates and now adjunct professor, Linda Eastwood. Linda has an amazing story and I’ve asked her to share a little about herself today. She plays an important role in our community, and you should know about it!
So, tell us your name, title, and what you do at McCormick?
I’m Linda Eastwood, and my presence at McCormick is somewhat informal, but hopefully beneficial to the seminary community! My main “title” is “Coordinator of the Colombia Accompaniment Program” (more on that later) for the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF). McCormick kindly provides me with office space and facilities to do this work. Right now, I’m also adjunct small-group leader for McCormick’s PIF (Pilgrimage in Faithfulness). That’s an experience that I treasure, not least as a way to get to know new members of McCormick’s diverse student body. I particularly love working with our international students, so I joined in with much of our Summer Language Institute this year. (In past years I’ve been paid-student help; this year I helped as informal volunteer.) I’ve also done a little volunteer teaching (in McCormick’s name) at the Reformed University in Barranquilla, Colombia on “Science and Faith”, and right now I’m slated to go back early summer 2012 to teach (at their request) an introductory Old Testament course.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What was your last job/career? And how did it all get you to where you are now?
As some of you may have subtly detected from my accent, I’m originally from England. Back in my “former life” I studied physics in England and then medical-physics (Ph.D.) in Scotland, and then worked for 25 year designing medical MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), as scientist and as manager. I’ve lived in the U.S. since 1986 when I was recruited to work in Cleveland, OH. I’m a “polymath”, so a career-change wasn’t a surprise – although seminary was (despite my strong church involvement) emphatically not in my plan. Which is why, of course, I ended up studying for M.Div. at McCormick (2006-2010), and have never looked back. (God has a great sense of humor.) I took advantage of many “cross-cultural” opportunities (J-term in Egypt, courses in the Hispanic Summer Program, semester in Korea, and semester in Colombia.) I assumed that I’d end up as pastor of a cross-cultural church. God’s sense of humor showed up again, and I was called and ordained to my (officially part-time) work with Colombia Accompaniment. So – here I am!
So, tell everyone exactly what it is you do?
In my main official role, I run – on behalf of the PC(U.S.A.) – a now 7-year old program of volunteer accompaniers going to Colombia a month at a time. At the Colombians’ request, they walk in solidarity with the Presbyterian Church of Colombia (IPC – Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia). We are a protective and supportive presence in their work of human-rights advocacy and community-rebuilding with some of the more than 5 million Colombians displaced by violence – all in the grab to concentrate ownership of land and resources. I recruit volunteers, run orientation and discernment, and send pairs to Colombia (one of each pair must be Spanish-speaking) to be a ministry of presence under the guidance of our Colombian partners. Accompaniers come back and (we hope and encourage!) tell the story and advocate for improvements in U.S. military, trade and drug policies that so drastically affect Colombian life.
How does all of this fit into the larger community of McCormick?
So what’s all this got to do with McCormick? First, McCormick has a long history of engagement with issues of social justice, and Colombia Accompaniment is one wonderful way to live out this engagement on the international level. Second, McCormick has a partnership with the Reformed University in Barranquilla. (Dean Luis Rivera visited them this last summer to formally inaugurate this already-signed agreement.) A 2008 McCormick J-term travel-seminar in Colombia was a precursor to this partnership. The presence here of Rev. Angélica Múnera Cervera as an MTS student is a piece of our partnership. What’s more, the links between McCormick and the IPC are so strong that our Colombia friends joke about the “McCormick junta!” At the IPC’s Reformed University, the president (Rev. Milciades Pua) and the heads of the school of theology (Rev. Adelaida Jiménez) and of the research department (Rev. Milton Mejia) are all McCormick alumni. The PC(U.S.A.) has two mission co-workers as long-term accompaniers in Colombia: McCormick alumni Revs. Richard Williams and Mamie Broadhurst. Many McCormick students / alums have served as accompaniers, or are preparing to do so. My predecessor running the program, Rev. Sarah Henken, now serving in Bolivia, is another McCormick alumna. And my colleague, Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo, the PPF board-member for Colombia Programs, is, of course, yet another McCormick alumna! We have, then, wonderful links on which to build an even stronger partnership between McCormick and the IPC.
What are some of the hopes that you have for your ministry?
My hope is to help the IPC live out their dreams of a just and peaceful society. They see both “Reformed” education for Colombians and also increased awareness of their situation by the outside world as critical pieces of fulfilling that dream. I’d love to see McCormick faculty, students and staff become linked ever more closely to the living out of that dream, and I’d personally love to mix teaching in Colombia with teaching (in whatever form) at McCormick to help us share our stories and learn from each other in our striving to bring the peace and justice of God’s kin-dom. And somewhere in that mix, I’m trying to fit my own study of the crossover between theology/Bible/Christian-ethics and the discipline of Peace Studies. But who knows? Remember, God has a wonderful sense of humor!
Awesome Linda! Thanks again. Check back in for the rest of our adjuncts and what they do. And you can expect a follow up from Linda, we need to know how everything is going!
Until next time my friends. Peace!