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Meet a Student | The 'CURE' for your Vocation

Category: Meet a Student


Ethics Professor Reggie Williams led us in worship this week entitled, “Jesus Began to Weep.” The choir offered many powerful hymns, and Scripture was read by guest artist, Peterson Toscano. Peterson went through the story of Lazarus’ resurrection and Jesus’ weeping from the Gospel of John by asking us all to assume the positions of those involved. We attempted to be downcast like Lazarus’ family at his death and hopeful like Mary as she saw Jesus on his way. It was a unique and intimate way to “read” through the familiar Scripture to prepare us for Reggie’s words for the day.

Reggie then discussed the ways Jesus’ radical empathy pervades the “deaths” we see in our daily lives.

We partook of the Eucharist, presided by Rev. Youngil Jin, around a map of the world. Our hearts are heavy here at McCormick as we prayer for the people of Boston. At the same time, we recognize the acts of violence throughout our world everyday. For our ending prayer, we all approached the table and placed a gem on an area of the map where, like Boston, we wanted resurrection from the death of the world. Worship was a healing, reflective, and resurrecting experience.
Community meal followed in the LSTC refectory.

Study Breaks!

We at McCormick are pretty busy – we’re in classes, some of us work full or part time, some of us have families, and then there’s church. We work hard. But we also play hard. Once a week we set time aside to forget about all the stress of our daily lives to come together for a time of fellowship and fun - Study Breaks.

Study Breaks are put on by Residence Life, but they’re not just for residents. Even the Board of Trustees comes and hangs out when they’re in town. Study Break is a time for us all to get together and have fun. Each week has a different theme – in the middle of winter, when we were all so very tired of the cold, we had a beach party, we recently had a St. Patrick’s Day party, etc. We have lots of food, soft drinks and beer. Sometimes we play video games, sometimes we have dance parties, sometimes we watch movies, and sometimes we just relax with one another.

St. Patrick's Day Fun

More St. Patrick's Day Fun!

“The Road Back” – Wednesday Worship Recap

Senior Lora Burge led us in a creative worship this week entitled, “The Road Back.” Filled with songs in both English and Spanish the worship modeled Lora’s creative interpretation of this familiar Lucan text. She broke down the story (popularly known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son) with poetically personal interpretations of the older brother’s, the younger brother’s, the Father’s, and Lora’s individual “roads back.” Lora challenged us to keep going on the road, whether we identify with the runaway younger brother or the immovable older brother. We ended worship by uniting the prayers of our own “struggles on the road to Jerusalem” with ribbons near the communion table.

Senior Lora Burge, Photo courtesy of Sergio Centeno

Greetings friends! After a rejuvenating Thanksgiving break, the CURE is back! This week I wanted to bring you Thanksgiving reflections, and happened to read the blog of one of my great friends here at McCormick, Tyler Orem. He wrote exactly what I was hoping for, and so with his permission, we’re re-blogging his original post.  Tyler is in his second year and is completing a dual MDiv and MSW. He’s also one of McCormick’s great deacons! Enjoy his post!

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Before Thanksgiving I had the usual weekly joy of spending Wednesday evening with the middle schoolers of Knox Presbyterian Church, Naperville. We had recently completed a rather dull study by Tim Keller, so I had the freedom to make a stand-alone Thanksgiving lesson. The challenge was how to move beyond the annual “What are you thankful for?” discussion into something that might actually carry some meaning. Thinking about what should be soul-crushing irony in celebrating the cooperation and mutuality between First Nation peoples and European settlers, I decided to have a discussion about how we as relatively new people on the land have given thanks to those who were here before us.

I had my Charlie Brown clip all set up and was prepared to get up on my soapbox to rail against the systemic evils that resulted in the founding of our country and permeate society to this day. In short, I was ready to use my bully pulpit as the middle school leader to teach 600 years of oppression, destruction, and genocide in 20 minutes to a group of pre-teens excited about getting a short break from school.

Within the first 3 minutes I realized that my method was madness. This is a bright group of kids, and they were getting the intellectual gist of it. But my ambitious lecturing was obviously not having the desired meaningfulness. So, I quickly switched to the Charlie Brown Mayflower clip in which the Pilgrims learn agriculture from horrifyingly caricatured “Indians” and then sit down to feast. My goal was to point out how the characters were portrayed and how the tables for feasting were segregated.

Then one of my students raised a hand and said, “It’s like the Native Americans have to sit at the kids’ table.”

With that single observation, every person in the room got it. The sixth-grader gave infinitely more meaning to the lesson than anything I was going to teach. Kids have been relegated to the lesser table all of their lives and have a keen awareness of what it means to be pushed to the side, ignored, and patronized. The analogy for First Nation peoples is surely incomplete and too mild, but it works perfectly to help middle schoolers feel and understand.

My ongoing prayer is that we ever seek to make the table for feasting open and abundant, that there might be enough room at the mesa for all to sit together and share their lives.

In reflecting on this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my expanding family whose love never ceases to amaze me, for the adventures being lived by my brother and cousins, for friends who regularly join my family, and for middle schoolers who speaker and understand with a profundity beyond me.

Grazie, Naa-ni, Arigatou, and Again I Say, “Thank You.”

Today we continue on our in depth look at relationships and how life is affected by being in seminary. A large portion of our students, both commuter and residential, have families. As such, people with spouses and children face a unique set of circumstances while studying to fulfill God’s call on their lives. I’m no expert on the subject, so I’ve asked two fellow class mates to share their perspectives – Jeff Courter and Ken Crews. Jeff and Ken are both second year students- I have asked them to share because they have had experiences living on and off campus, being full and part time, having a spouse also in school, etc. I feel like their two stories help to show what it’s really like for folks with families to study at McCormick.

First up is Jeff:

Living in the residential building with my wife and children has been interesting, to say the least, especially now that my wife is also going to school.  Five students in one family – someone please stop the madness!  Books and papers are everywhere.  We don’t have family meals – we graze, like sheep.  We have become a small band of hunter-gatherers, foraging in the refrigerator in search of nourishment to keep us alive, stopping at exotic stores like Aldi’s or Save-A-Lot to stock up on food to be consumed without having to be cooked.  We have acquired a taste for raw produce.

How does this lifestyle affect my seminary studies?  My apartment life has become a lab experiment in communal tribal living…this living arrangement is intentional and happenstance at the same time.  We live in a mixture of organization and chaos…It is not painless, and we have each seen more challenges in our lives than we have ever undergone until now.  Negotiating conflicting schedules, adjusting to using public transportation instead of driving in suburbia, now being connected more by school breaks on the calendar than by family events – this year has added new stresses to our family life.  Yet each one of us looks forward to a brighter future, each of us anticipating doing what we love to do in new careers.  After all, that’s the promise and premise of education – to enable and equip us to fully engage in a vocation, in the fullest sense John Calvin used that term.

For me personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed living with and among colleagues and peers.  I get to discuss things that most Americans avoid – spiritual issues!  It’s a little like being part of an underground culture, without the persecution and oppression (thank God for that!).  For me, the community of faith is essential.  It’s what we are called to build.  It’s the embodiment of the Kingdom of God in our world.  It’s why I came here, and what I long to help develop and create.

This has been an exciting time for me.  I have learned from women and men who have great learning, who have devoted much of their lives to research and are handing that experience down to us -  not only on subjects like theology, history and languages, but also essential knowledge about practicing spirituality and self-care, and understanding human relationships in pastoral ministry.  McCormick’s instructors are some of the most interesting and caring people I have ever met.

I have also met some of the most enthusiastic and committed men and women as fellow students.  My hope for both our denomination and the greater Christian Church has grown, due to seeing and hearing from my peers.  What excites me is being able to share my vision, and hear the vision of others, which are often similar to mine.  It’s like “we get it” together, seeing our responsibility to social justice, to the transforming good news of Jesus Christ, to our stewardship of God’s creation, and to a greater sharing of love and fellowship to the world.  These students are my partners in a Christian movement of transformation of our world, from what it is to what God wants it to be.  While our callings and paths may diverge after this time together, we are linked in this great endeavor, and will carry one another from this place in our hearts and memories.

This is a transitional time for all of us.  Many come to McCormick with new relationships – new families, new spouses, new children…many come here after relationships end.   We also establish new relationships while we are here!  But most of us will go forth from here to someplace else; our time together is temporary, and we understand this.

Even so, whether permanent or temporary, life is all about relationships.  People will come and go in our lives, some for longer periods of time than others, some affecting us more than others.  Some become relationships we call family, and some become our spiritual family.  McCormick is an institution devoted to helping us grow and develop our relationships with God and one another.  To me, this is the most important lesson we can ever learn.  Our relationships define us, and affect our families, our churches, our societies, and our world.  Even temporary relationships are important, and can change us permanently.  Relationships are like any other growing and living thing – they must be nourished and attended to in order to thrive.  We must be intentional in our interactions with one another, in order to make our relationships positive ones.

My family is changing, as all families do.  Two of my children are in college, and my youngest is applying for college.  My wife has returned to college. Seminary and college are each a preparatory and transitory phase in most of our lives.  My children are moving on with their lives.  My wife and I will move on from here as well when I am finished with my studies.  While this is not my last year, the day is coming when I will finish and leave McCormick.  I will likely grieve having to leave, because I love being here.  But this is a preparatory phase, not a final destination.  There is a larger objective for us outside McCormick.

I sometimes think of McCormick like a sort of cyclotron – a particle energizer which accelerates subatomic particles towards the speed of light.  The more I learn, the more I accelerate, and the more energy I absorb, it seems.  Sometimes I am anxious to burst forth and do what I came here to be equipped to do – ministry!  I love being here, but I am also ready to be sent forth, like the disciples of Jesus.  The day for me to go forth is coming quickly – life moves fast, as my family life has shown me.

Meanwhile, I am trying to make the most of every minute, every learning experience, and every relationship I have while I am here.  The more energy I absorb, the more I will take with me.

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Last, but certainly not least, is Ken:

What was I thinking when I responded to God’s call to attend seminary? The reading assignments alone can be a full-time job (thanks Ken and Bob!), not to mention actually having to attend class, write papers, try to conjure up some creative idea for a PIF project, and make time for the occasional study break! Now add two children (Owen 9, Evelyn 5), a wife (Heather, you can ask her age!), a dog (the amazingly lazy, Sasha), a part-time job, and a commute to and from Indiana everyday to the mix and you have yourself quite the adventure. While all of this creates a rather demanding time schedule, I wouldn’t trade any of it for all the riches in this world. Why? Because, I am precisely where God wants me to be. I am able to engage in deep conversation with wonderful friends in a unique community, and at the end of the day be delighted when my daughter, Evelyn, finds it comical that she and dad are both learning their letters – English for her, and Greek for me!

Be assured, this adventure is only possible because of the support of many amazing family and friends. It has meant that my wife, Heather, had to return to full-time work outside of the home because I left a well paying job to follow God’s call. She never hesitated, and has always supported me in my journey. It has required many family and friends to sacrifice time to look after our children as I pursue my studies and Heather works full-time, and it has required that my children sacrifice time with mom and dad while we’re both away from the home more. Sometimes it has even required professors and EA’s to sacrifice classroom space when my kids had to sit through class with me (thanks Paula, Katie, and Sylvia!!!).

Although attending McCormick has required quite a bit of sacrifice, it has been so much more rewarding. My family and I have grown closer to one another because of all the change in our lives, and we have all grown closer to God as we move along this path together. We are always discovering new ways in which we come together as a family, and new ways in which God is working in our lives and providing for us as we move along the journey. Our journey through seminary as a family is proof that God uses many unique people in many unique ways to accomplish the work of divine love.

May God bless and keep you all, and your families (whatever shape they take!)….

So there we have it! If you have questions pertaining to your family, don’t be afraid to ask the friendly Admissions office workers, or even our dean of Students.

We’re not done with this series yet, so keep checking back for more students responding to what it’s been like for them and their relationships while in seminary!

Peace and Blessings,

Wes

McCormick has been preparing women and men for ministry for well over 150 years, and today on the CURE you’ll get an insiders look at what life is like when you leave the classroom and get into the ministry God has called you to! I’ve asked two recent McCormick grads to share  about their lives after seminary and how McCormick helped shape them to live into their calls. Sharing is 2012 M.Div graduate TC Anderson who works as the director of Youth Ministry at at the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights and 2012 MTS Graduate Ryan Wallace, an organizer for the Civic Action network.

Up first is TC Anderson-

Did McCormick prepare me for my ministry? Yee…. Nnnn…. nes! It’s a complicated answer, so allow me to try and flush it out. First, I’m working in youth ministry because that’s where I’m called. I knew that going into seminary and it hasn’t changed. McCormick is very much focused on ministry from the pulpit. This does not mean that there aren’t classes or even professors geared towards other areas of ministry, just that the majority of what I was learning was for ministry from the pulpit. That being said, I think that McCormick did exactly what I needed McCormick to do to prepare me for my ministry going forward. I needed something to deepen my own faith, I needed something to expand my understanding of my religion, I needed something to connect me with other Theologians who both agree and disagree with me so that I could stay in contact with them when I needed to talk about this ministry. McCormick did all these things. Having worked in ministry for 7 years before going to McCormick I didn’t need a class to tell me what to expect in that ministry field. I have found that books and lessons can only take you so far in that respect anyway. Hardly ever does a problem happen exactly like one of your case studies. The only real way to prepare us for the ministry is to strengthen our faith, give us a support net, and increase the amount of knowledge we have about our beliefs, the rest is experiential. So I guess my answer, now that I’ve flushed it out more, is yes. McCormick did exactly what I needed to be done to prepare me for this crazy, unexpected, difficult, fulfilling thing called ministry. Thank you McCormick!

TC's ministry in Action!

And finally, Ryan Wallace –

I began in the MDiv program at McCormick in the fall of 2010, just a couple of months after formally initiating my ordination process in the Chicago Presbytery. I had sensed a call to congregational ministry from a very young age, but I entered McCormick with a genuine uncertainty about my future. I never felt reason to question my call to ministry, per se. It’s just that, as I grew older, the world got bigger and so did my notion of what “ministry” might mean.

And then, McCormick pried open my world more yet. Fellow students, professors, and classes challenged me to think about myself, my ministry, and the Church in new ways. I learned the difference between charity and justice. I reckoned with my identity as a straight white American male from a well-to-do suburb. And I came to the somewhat difficult realization that I don’t need to be Rev. Ryan Wallace to do God’s work in my community.

In February, I reclassified my degree from MDiv to Master of Theological Studies. And though I’m still in prayerful conversation about my ordination, I’m still not sure what, if any, formal leadership position I may one day hold in the Presbyterian Church. Nevertheless, I am quite confident that I am called to the ministry I’m now doing.

Today, I am a congregational organizer with the Civic Action Network at the Community Renewal Society, a 130 year-old Chicago organization that addresses racism and poverty through community organizing. Our network is comprised of some eighty-odd churches across the Chicago metropolitan area. I am the organizer for our member churches in Lake County and suburban Cook County. Ultimately, my goal is to develop leaders in those congregations who can mobilize its members to act as a force for change. Each year, we listen to the people in our churches to understand the issues they face in their communities, and together we build campaigns to create positive change. We fight for jobs for ex-offenders, housing for those without it, adequate funding for all our children’s schools, and gun control in our communities among other issues.

In our modern culture, I believe the Church is becoming irrelevant because we too often deliver a message about eternal salvation to a people who need and long for a message about salvation in the here and now. We, the Church, often declare our vision—full of love—for God’s kingdom on earth. But seldom do we acknowledge our latent power and set out to use it for the fulfillment of that vision. Reinhold Niebuhr said: “Power without love is tyranny, and love without power is sentimentality.” With his words in mind, let’s refuse to be the sentimental Church who dreams only of what could be or might be, and instead become the Church that plays a powerful role in the building of our communities that will be.

Thanks so much to TC and Ryan. I hope you’ve seen a little about the paths McCormick students might take after leaving seminary – but their stories are only two of the many many voices to be heard, so I encourage you to come and visit McCormick, talk to our students and faculty, speak with Alumni and see for yourself what McCormick can do for you and the ministry that God has called you to.

Our Fall Inquiry into Ministry is right around the corner – so take advantage! Register here: Fall IIM Registration

Greetings friends! After a semi-restful reading week, CURE is back! We look a bit different now, and we hope you like it.

It’s that time of the month where I give up control of the blog to my trusty side kick/pet interviewer extraordinaire, Norae, to interview the pets of McCormick – this week, Mika the cat.

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Yeah – I look cuddly don’t I? It’s just a ploy to get you close… then I’ll eat you. Mwahahahaha

Norae: Tell us your name and breed?
Mika: My name Mika, my breed is street fighting cat.

N: Street fighter, huh? Who is your human?
M: I call her Big Food Monster. Her real name is Mo or something, I don’t know, I don’t really pay attention.

N: How did you get him/her?
M: I let her live with me while my dad’s away flying planes off a boat for the Navy.

N: That sounds awfully nice of Big Food Monster. What’s your favorite place in your apartment?
M: The window, or right under the food monsters feet.

Ah, yes. The window. Where I can view my next kill.

N: Where is your favorite place outside of your apartment?
M: I’ve yet to implement my escape plan.

N: Good luck with that. What are your favorite treats?
M: Flowers

Fresh cut flowers – I like to pretend they scream as I munch on their beautiful deliciousness.

N: How about in your daily sustenance: do you prefer wet or dry food?

M: I like fancy expensive food and when the food monster buys something else I show my anger with her in unspeakable ways.

N: Um. Well. Okay, then. How many toys do you have? Which ones are your favorite?
M: I have lots of toys. I like to put them in places that will make the food monster trip over them, I also like to drowned them in my water dish so she knows how deadly I am. My favorite is the laser pointer, I almost had it last time!

N: What is your favorite way to pass time when you aren’t drowning toys?
M: Sleeping while the food monster reads, sitting where it is most inconvenient for the food monster, not having a job, judging people from the window, having staring contest with the food monster. In that order.

I must eat my food at the table with the food monster’s best china. I sometimes allow others to join me, but never the food monster.

N: What is one thing you think everyone should know about you?
M: The only human I like is the one the food monster calls “Riegel”.

N: Any last words of wisdom you want to share with everyone about youself?
M: Be afraid.

Well, um, there you have it: Mika, the really scary cat. Join me next month when I interview a cat that doesn’t make me want to cry.

- Norae, pet blogger of awesomeness

Well hello friends,

Norae Pitts-Whittington here! Wes has allowed me temporary use of the CURE blog for my very own special interviews.

This year I’ll bring you a monthly look at some of the really amazing four-legged folks at McCormick. I am usually due for my monthly spotlight on the second Friday of the month, but this interview is so great I just couldn’t wait! I got to sit down with one of the coolest dogs at McCormick – Albus Labuschagne-Rhodes!

Albus hanging out at home, being awesome

Tell us your name and breed.
My name is Albus, which means “white” in Latin.  It would be a fitting name, since I’m a Havanese breed of Bichon and have white hair, but, actually, I’m named after the fictional wizard Albus Dumbledore (yeah, my owners are those kind of Harry Potter fans).
Who are your humans?
Dirk Labuschagne (A 2nd year M.Div student at McCormick) and Amy Rhodes.
How did you come to get them?
Dirk and Amy adopted me from the shelter PAWS in north Chicago.  My previous owners were an older couple who had to give me up for medical reasons, and Dirk and Amy played with me for less than two minutes before they decided I was theirs.  What can I say, I’m charming!
How do you like your living arrangements?
I pretty much have the run of the place.  Except for the couch.  And Dirk and Amy’s bed.  My paws make an awesome “pitter-patter” sound as I run on the hardwood floors, so I run around a lot.  Love it!
What’s your favorite place in your apartment?
You can usually find me in one of three places:
1. curled up in the corner where the couch meets the wall. Sounds kinda crazy, I know, but my brain power isn’t really up to explaining why I like that corner so much.
2. My bed next to Dirk’s desk.  It’s base when we’re playing tag, it hides my raw hides when I’m feeling especially ‘dog-like,’ and I can push it around with my nose. Great place.
3.  My crate.  It’s my den, it’s my dog cave, it’s pretty much amazing.  You can find me there, listening to NPR, when Dirk and Amy aren’t home.
Where is your favorite place outside of your apartment?
Anywhere there are other dogs.  Or Parker’s, where I get a bath, because they give me treats constantly.  Constantly.
What are your favorite treats?
Peanut butter and raw hides.  The best is when there’s peanut butter on a raw hide!
How many toys do you have? Which ones are your favorite?
I chew through basically everything, and in an impressively short amount of time, if I do say so myself.  Unfortunately, this means Dirk and Amy stopped trying to find toys that could withstand my powerful jaw and raw determination awhile ago.  Now they only trust me with two rope toys, and I can’t choose between them.
What is your favorite way to pass time?
I love to hang out with other dogs, I love to sit outside Starbucks with Amy while Dirk gets them coffee so I can listen to strangers talk about how cute I am, and I love to play hide and seek.  So far, I’m only good at seeking, but if the day comes when I figure out how to hide, watch out!  Otherwise, I sleep.  Sleep is so great.  Except when Dirk and Amy want to sleep late, then it’s not so great.
What is one thing you think everyone should know about you?
I love attention!  From dogs, from kids, from adults, from whatever – I love it.  I will be super sweet to you and shower you with kisses (whether you want them or not) when you show me attention!  If you don’t give me the attention I want, however, I will find your sock (or shoe) and carry it around it my mouth.  Just to let you know you’re not paying attention to me.  You’ve been warned.
Any words of wisdom you want to share with everyone?
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J/k, I didn’t really say that, my namesake did!  But it’s pretty true, right?  So I’ll go with that.

So that’s Albus. Pretty cool, huh? Check back in another month to meet another McCormick Furry Friend. Wes will be back on Friday with more neat stuff!

Well, McReaders, this is the last blog you’ll get from me. Wes will be taking over soon, and I’ll be done with seminary after 3 glorious years.

Thinking about the past 3 years is a bit overwhelming. As I’m leaving seminary, I’m not one of those prefect Presbyterians who passed all her ordination exams in the first try; I’m not walking out of seminary with a job in hand, ready to become ordained; I’m not in the minority. I am, once again, in the majority. I’m walking out of seminary with debt, no job, very little idea of where I am going to live, and a car that requires prayer each time to drive it down the Dan Ryan (which, given the shape it’s in, I don’t go down the Dan Ryan with it if I can help it). It’s not that I don’t have skills, I have mad skills. It’s just, there really aren’t many jobs out there. Recently, several people have asked me, “So, if you had to do it over, would you do it all again the same?”

Yes. I’d do it all over again and I would not do it differently. Here are a few reasons why:

1. I met Megan, Alex, TC, Sylvia, Tracy, Jon, Joe, Holly, Kim, Jason, Bong, Lilit, Ching Boi, Tyler, Ken, Lora, Matt, Jenny, Hannah, Amber, Molly, Han Kook, Dave, Kristi, Meredith, Kristin, Robyn, Tina, Karl, Michele, Vimary, Abby, Nathy, Nancy, Jeanine, Sergio, Kristin, Deanna, Mo, Stephanie, Melva, Kathi, Wes, Liz, Albert, Mike, Monica, Daniel, Sarah, Sarah, Katie Jo, Kate, Kirk, Jamie, Matt, Allison, Casey, Phil, Jeff, JC, Honna, Jake, Kelly, Megan, Sarah, Melvina, Delores, Kay, Sheila, Chris, Brenda, Peter, Heather, Jamie… the list is endless. This only includes the people that I could think of in 5 minutes and doesn’t include staff, professors, students from other seminaries, people in the community… Need I say more?

2. The friendly folks at the Starbucks at 55th and Woodlawn know my name.

3. I now know that Joel is an actual book in the Bible.

4. Ted Hiebert taught me Hebrew and Sarah Tanzer taught me Greek.

5. Janaan Hashim and Bob Cathey answered all my ridiculous questions and never told me to shut up. Ever.

6. I got to be Lib Caldwell’s EA.

7. If you ask nice enough, Luis will put on his Dracula cape.

8. Christine Vogel lets me cry in her office and Frank Yamada lets me cry in the halls.

9. Dr. Daniels made singing “Welcome Table” my favorite communion tradition.

10. Deb Mullen helped me accept who I was on my first day of classes.

11. Joann Lindstrom has a puppy in her office.

12. Sam Evans talks in a French accent when he’s in the office.

13. David Crawford is my friend and I know how hard he works for the seminary and the people there.

14. My classmates are fabulous dog-sitters, bird watchers, fish sitters, and plant waterers.

15. Melody Knowles taught me how to write a better paper.

16. Ted Hiebert made me re-think how I read the Bible.

17. Jennifer Ayers made me appreciate food and be thankful that I have it.

18. Ken Sawyer.

19. Ken Sawyer’s Mustache.

20. David Esterline’s wife’s cookies.

21. Knowing that Priscilla Rodriguez is always laughing at my facebook posts and understands my existential angst and will always have a hug for me.

22. Christine Vogel has a constant and steady supply of chocolate in her office.

23. No one reads the Psalms quite like Nanette Banks.

24. Dr. Frank Thomas taught me how to preach like I was on fire and then he made us go play in the snow.

25. Joann Lindstrom has my back.

26. Deb Kapp is an awesome cook at Iron Chef.

27. Monica actually smiles, you just have to know how to make her do it.

28. Natasha thinks I’ve already graduated.

29. I sort of have teacher crushes on Bob Cathey, Ted Hiebert, Lib Caldwell, Melody Knowles, and Janaan Hashim.

30. Community meals are always better food than I have in my apartment.

31. David Crawford often confuses me and Abby Mohaupt.

32. Boundaries don’t actually exist at McCormick despite Joann Lindstrom’s attempts at educating us.

33. Kimchi and Chapchae are two of my new favorite foods.

34. After being her EA, Abby Mohaupt and I now know that Lib Caldwell drinks Diet Coke at break and her Starbucks order is a grande unsweetened passion fruit iced tea.

35. I learned more about YAV’s than I ever imagined was possible.

36. I learned that Frank Yamada used to be in a band.

37. Anna Case-Winters lets me call her A.C. Dub.

38. Ken Crews can eat ungodly amounts of fast food in one sitting.

39. Deacon retreats aren’t the same without Christine Vogel present.

And last but not least…

40. The University of Chicago has a library. Thank God, or none of my work would have ever gotten done.

Well, that’s it. There are other things I could have talked about on here, but this is all I had time for, I have to finish a project for Bob Cathey. Go figure. Graduation, here I come!

Peace – Shelley D.

Good evening friends!

Today has been an incredible day at McCormick – we had the inauguration of Frank Yamada as president. All those in attendance can attest to the fact that it was an incredibly powerful service. We’ll be bringing you news on that Tuesday, so stay tuned for that.

But first!

Ryan Wallace recently went with a group of clergy, seminarians and other religious leaders to the Illinois capitol to lobby for raising the minimum wage. I asked to write this blog, and it stands as a testament to the McCormick community’s continued presence in promoting justice for all of God’s children. Written below is his account of the day and why it is an important issue to fight for:

It’s safe to say that 4:45am is earlier than I want to wake up most days. But this past Tuesday, that is precisely what time I (willfully) rolled out of bed. I had a good reason though. I was on my way to meet up with about 70 others to catch an early train down to the Capitol in Springfield to lobby for SB1565: a bill to raise Illinois’ minimum wage. After all, minimum wage workers all over the state wake up even earlier than 4:45 every morning to start preparing the breakfast and coffee we grab on our way into the office a few hours later, so maybe I owe ‘em one.

At 7am sharp, our train pulled out of Union Station. After some bagels and coffee, we got down to business. We had but a few short hours to teach crash courses in minimum wage reform and lobbying. Our train car was filled with a veritable potpourri of folks—clergy, minimum wage workers, nuns, lawyers, community organizers, lobbyists, and even an economist—but we all shared in the common goal of raising the minimum wage in our state. However, in order to pass the bill, we’d need more of an argument than, “$8.25 an hour isn’t enough to live on” (though there’s no doubt that statement is woefully true). We’d need the facts to back up our moral and democratic argument that no one who works full time should qualify for food stamps. We knew we’d need to have answers to pointed questions like: How will businesses be affected by the wage raise? Won’t raising the minimum wage cost our state jobs? How can we pass a raise in the minimum wage during an economic recession?

Fortunately, we did our reading ahead of time…

First, a recent national study comparing job growth in bordering counties with differing minimum wages has effectively proven that increases in minimum wage do not negatively affect job growth. Additionally, several other studies have demonstrated that raising the minimum wage actually saves businesses money (by reducing employee turnover and thus the cost of training new employees), generates new revenue for businesses (by increasing worker productivity), and creates a better work environment (by significantly elevating employee morale).

From an economic standpoint, there is also strong evidence that suggests we should raise the minimum wage. It’s been estimated that raising the minimum wage would generate over $2 billion in new consumer spending in Illinois over the next four years. Raising the minimum wage means putting more money in the pockets of low-income families who will turn around and spend that money every month (because they still won’t make enough to put it into savings), primarily on goods and services in their own local communities. In fact, some economists project that this new consumer spending could create as many as 20,000 new jobs in Illinois over the next four years.

If that’s not convincing, I imagine most of us would agree that minimum wage should, at the very least, grow at the same rate as our economy. However, as our economy has expanded, minimum wage has lagged behind. If minimum wage had simply kept pace with inflation over the past forty years, it would be over $10 an hour today.

While in Springfield, we collectively visited the offices of all 59 Senators and every last one of the 118 Representatives, delivering to each a scroll with the signatures of more than 200 faith leaders from around the state supporting an increase in the minimum wage. Many of us were even lucky enough to catch some of the legislators and sit down to chat about the reason for our visit to our state’s capital. We then gathered in the rotunda of the Capitol for a press conference featuring clergy, sponsoring legislators, workers, and experts, all attesting to the fact that the time is now to stand up for the lowest paid workers in our communities.

Many of us were also able to track down the legislators from our own home districts. Whether our Senators are co-sponsors or opponents of SB1565, we wanted to let them know where we as constituents stood on the issue. We hope you can join us for our next Springfield excursion, but until then…

Find your Senator, ask where she/he stands on SB1565, and let her/him know that you support SB1565 to raise the minimum wage in Illinois to $10.65/hour over the next four years.

Thanks for sharing this story with us and for standing up for minimum wage workers!

See you next week!

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