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Meet a Student | The 'CURE' for your Vocation

Category: Meet a Student

Happy Unusually Warm Thursday!

Last December, a few members of the McCormick community were invited to sit and have a chat with Different Drummers, a web-based program produced by CBS here in Chicago.

Lets have a look: Click to view (link opens in a new window!)

Melva Lowry, Angela Ryo (whom you might remember from a post last September), and Dean of Students Christine Vogel talk about what specialized ministry is and why it’s important. McCormick has a long tradition of preparing students for all aspects of ministry, including parish and specialized. Through McCormick’s unique degree programs, which include Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Discipleship Development and Master of Arts in Urban Ministry, students gain the tools necessary to become successful in anything and everything God is calling them to do!

See you next week!

Good Morning McFriends!

Chicago received its first dusting of snow overnight and McCormick gets its first post by its new blogger – ME!

For my first blog I’ve decided to introduce you to a friendly face seen around campus – Yeon-Ik Park. I first met Yeon-Ik in August, as we were both taking the summer Greek intensive. Our class only had 8 students in it, and we formed a bond really quickly (that tends to happen in a class you go to twice a day, every day, for three weeks! – Prospective students, take note – the Summer Intensive is the way to go when it comes to languages if you can make it).  He’s finishing up his degree this semester, but will be in Chicago for a little while longer. He’ll be sorely missed by our community but we wish him the best of luck in his future.

Yeon Ik and his family spending a vacation in Atlanta at the World of Coca-Cola

Wes: Tell us your name and where you’re from:

Yeon-Ik: I am Yeon-Ik Park. Yeon-Ik (連翼) comes from Chinese – Yeon means ‘connect or inherit’ and Ik means ‘wing or flutter’. Namely, it means to work connecting with someone through helping and preservation. I came from South Korea.

W: Tell us a little about yourself – What did you do before coming to McCormick? What was your dream job growing up?

Y: I was born on Je-ju island, the grandest and most beautiful island in Korea. It is like Korea’s Hawaii. I am the youngest son among three children of my parents. I was raised with strong influences of Christian heritage inherited from my grand-parents. I had learned the model of God’s stewardship from my father who has been a lay person and served the church as a faithful steward. I applied to a seminary and had made up my mind to become a minister in order to practice the life.

After I graduated from the graduate school of theology at Hanshin University, I had worked on the editorial staff at the Institute of Theological Studies of the Presbyterian Church of Republic of Korea (my denomination). I have also worked as an assistant pastor in a Korean Church, Yedarm Presbyterian Church, before coming here.

W: Yeon-Ik, you’ve told me that you have also been a Chinese food delivery driver (in Korea food is delivered via motorcycles!) and a body guard in the military, how were those experiences?

Y: I was in the army from 1999 to 2001 stationed at the Army’s headquarters in Daejeon, South Korea. I served as a body guard for generals, which was fun because when we had motorcades we would be able to drive really fast. After getting out of the army it was difficult for me to break the habit of following people really closely in my car. After the army I needed extra money in order to pay tuition for seminary, so for three months I delivered food in Daejeon. In my culture, life moves really fast (빨리빨리) and people expect their food really quickly, so I had to get the food to a person’s home in less than 5 minutes!

W: Tell us about your family – Who are they and how do they like living in Chicago?

Y: I have four family members. They are – a cute and pretty daughter named Sol-Saem, who is 4 years old and going to pre-school at Ray school; a vigorous 23 month old son named In-Bum, and a lovely wife named Yoon-Jung, who worked as a social worker in a facility for people with disabilities. They like living in Chicago except a little bit about the cold weather.

W: What do you miss most about Korea? What do you like most about living in Chicago?

Y: I miss my family, the church and congregations where I worked and I miss Korea’s scenery of seas and mountains.

What I like about living in Chicago and the US is the fresh air and wider view, which is better than Korea. Korea is really densely populated and the buildings are really close together, so I’m happy to be in a place that is more wide open. Chicago is kind of like the town that I grew up in on Jeju Island, so I like that. I also like experiencing diverse cultures and people.

W: What do you do for fun?

Y: Sometimes my family and I watch Korean television programs to quench our stress and to get away from English. At times, I have fun extra times baking breads, like Korean pancakes with sugar and peanuts or steamed bread with adzuki beans or diverse muffins or pizza, and so on. After I baked the breads, I shared with my neighborhood.

W: I have been a happy recipient of the Korean pancakes and I can attest to the fact that they are absolutely delicious!

Why did you come to McCormick?

Y: After conversations with McCormick alumni, I came to consider as McCormick the school which could offer me both pastoral and theological disciplines for further ministry. I thought that it would be a great honour for me to be a part of this esteemed school as a student. I knew of the excellent educational system for the foreign students, and that I might encounter other students gathered from all around the continent and even the world in the Cross-Cultural campus that is McCormick. I came here, because I expected that I would expand both the experimental and epistemological horizon of my study.

W: What has your experience been like at McCormick, both as an international student and a cultural minority?

Y: I have experienced multiculturalism in diverse worship services, being able to interact with people of cultures, and I have been able to introduce the Korean culture to other people. Although I thought my English ability was insufficient, I was still interested in sharing my culture with McCormick community. Moreover, I felt that the community has made an effort to understand my culture.

W: What has been your favorite class at McCormick? Why?

Y: I have been taking the Greek class from last summer to now. It has been one of my favorite classes because it is taken by only a few students (8 people), and so I am easily able to share materials of this class. To study a 3rd language, which is classical, is not easy for me as I’m still trying on my 2nd language, nevertheless, I have an interest in studying and working hard in order to acquire not only Greek but also the English language.

W: What’s your favorite food?

Y: My favorite food is anything make with flour. Especially, I like breads. Of course, I also like Korean foods. So, I, sometimes, would make some breads and cookies. I learned many methods of baking breads and cookies through books and websites. Probably, unless I take a job in ministry, I will become a baker. (hahahaha)

W: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?

Y: I think that Ministers/Pastors should go anywhere God calls. So, if some church or congregation calls me, I will go anywhere. So then, I haven’t decided on a place to go. However, I am convinced that God will call me as soon as I finish my courses.

I’ll be bringing you the blog once a week starting in the spring, so until then, Have a Happy Christmas and a  Wonderful New Year!

Thoughts from the first year…

Starting seminary is hard work.  At the end of my first semester at McCormick, I think I can safely say that continuing is even harder.  Fantastically harder.

Let me explain…

I’m not really new to higher education, or church even …. but this level of theological exploration was not exactly something I could have prepared myself for.

Back in August, I figured I pretty much had this whole seminary thing under control.  I had talked to former students, read other seminarians’ blogs, and recited the expected prayers …. I’ve been through the college and grad-school game before, so how different could it be?  Sure, I would be tested and tried … but God led me here, right?  I got this.

Sitting in the pew of churches back in August, and even September — I found myself picking out messages of encouragement from the sermons and using them to affirm my calling to be in seminary.  I was definitely on the right track.

Or so I thought….

…and then assignments were due.  Now, I was expecting to write papers and do research … I really was.  But I wasn’t expecting the emotional tie I would have with these papers, lectures, and tests.  No longer was I waiting until the last possible minute to form complicated answers to simple questions [which is no small feat for a self-proclaimed hard-core procrastinator].  No longer were the papers I was writing strictly for a letter grade —- and no longer was the studying being done because a professor was forcing me to learn something that wasn’t relevant.

Not only were the assignments completely relevant to my eventual career and life — they were about me.  They were me.  They were about God.  They were about faith and belief.  These assignments suddenly had the potential to rock me, roll me, and transform me whether I was ready or not.

Bible and history lectures were absorbed by my hungry spirit.  Baptism and communion papers were written through my poured-out heart.  Hebrew language tests were taken with hope of understanding antiquity.  Events were attended with an open-mind [and even a bit of timidness] only to fall completely in love with the people standing for a cause and scrambling to figure out my contributing part.

Something happened.  Something broke.  Something transformed.

…it was my spirit.

My spirit has been broken down and transformed into something else.  Something other.  Something beyond myself.  These days, when I sit in the church pew, I’m not picking out messages concerning my own affirmation and personal call.  Rather, I’m sitting on the edge of my seat yearning to hear God’s message for God’s people.  I’m seeking challenge and living with mystery.

This seminary business has been quite a doozy so far.  I hope it continues…

Stephanie Levan is a first year student at McCormick who can be found baking pumpkin goods, taking Spanish lessons at midnight, or searching for her perpetually misplaced apartment key.  She also loves watching Hebrew Aleph-Bet videos on YouTube and enjoys long elevator rides with her friends.  She blogs at Stepanana’s Stumbles (stepanana.wordpress.com) and you can always catch her on twitter: @stepanana.

Reflections from the third year…

When I started seminary, I was terrified. There was nothing comforting about moving to Chicago from Atlanta, leaving my friends and family behind, and moving my dogs and I into a tiny apartment with a new zip code, complete with snow. A lot of tears were shed getting here, and a lot more have been shed getting to the end. But it’s all been worth it.

When you get here, it gets hard.

Really hard.

You do pour out who you are and what you believe, but in doing that, in mulling over your own beliefs and the beliefs of your classmates, you become affirmed and strengthened in your own beliefs. Some might change, but you have reason for changing them and you have reason (that you are now aware of) for having them in the first place. While my first semester was life-shaking and also life-affirming, I can safely say that I’m just as terrified now as I was then.

Confusing? It should be.

Seminary isn’t about becoming Super-pastor, it’s not about knowing it all, it’s not even about making sure you can recite the Bible back and forth; it’s about knowing your growing edges, your gifts, and becoming realistic about them and how you can use them, stretch them and help them to develop in whatever your setting may be. It’s realizing that you know nothing at all aside from your faith.

And that’s okay.

Working in the Department of Admissions is a lot of fun. And it’s exciting to see new students, glassy-eyed, as they search out their call. Some come into seminary, confident that they have it all figured out. I pray for those people a little more than others. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound fair. But those are the ones who are in for the most shock, and the most amazing transformations. That isn’t to say that everyone isn’t in for some major life transformations while you’re in seminary, they just look different.

For everyone.

Just like we are all created good, in God’s image; we are all different. We all experience the world in different ways with our cultures, our past experiences and our various shades of rose-colored classes.

So, as I finish my last year of seminary, I look back on the Iron Chef competitions, the Halloween parties, the Advent Celebrations, the Session and Deacons meetings, the apple orchard outings, the time in prayer, the football games in the park, the time playing in the snow, the times crying through Hebrew as Ted Hiebert convinced me I actually did understand verbs, the papers written at 4am when my mind would not shut off, and the satisfaction of passing Greek… and I would do it all over again. (Well, okay, only if I had to… passing Greek and Hebrew once is enough for one lifetime.)

Now, it’s almost time to leave my seminary bubble. I will miss it. I will miss my neighbors and their silly children, I will miss study breaks, I will miss Christine Vogel’s office with candies, Jimmy’s, but I will go out being prepared and terrified for the real world that I have been prepared for with love and compassion. There have been hurt feelings along the way, hugs and laughter, and it was all worth it. Every stinkin’ moment of it.

Shelley Donaldson is a senior at McCormick. She’s currently juggling CPE, classes, and working. When not reading or hanging out at Rush University Hospital, she’s watching re-runs of Fringe, learning to re-make her favorite southern foods, trying to figure out her new smart phone, and make the perfect cup of chicory coffee. You can read her blog: thetravellingtheologian.wordpress.com or on twitter: @scdonaldson

Greetings again my fellow furry, and non-furry friends alike! Today I’m excited to introduce you to my upstairs neighbor, Maddie. She stopped on our porch for a chat through the back door and I caught up with her and how she’s doing.

Tell us your name and what breed are you?

My name is Madeline. You can call me Maddie (it’s shorter). I am mostly yellow lab with a little something else thrown in. Mom likes to say that I am part lab and part crazy. :-) Don’t let that fool you.  I just really love life and get excited about things easily!

Who are your humans?

I only have one human right now, Kellie Griffin. I would be happy to adopt more!

How did you come to get your humans?

Kellie adopted me from the Cedar Valley Humane Society in Cedar Rapids, IA in August 2010.  The family I was living with before just dumped me and wandered around for a long time.  I didn’t have to stay at the humane society for very long though since mom came to get me. :-)

How do you like the living arrangements?

I love the living arrangements. Our apartment is nice and roomy.  There is plenty of space for me to play with my toys.

What’s your favorite place in the apartment?

That’s a tough one. I have a few places that I really love. The first one is on mom’s bed.  I could easily take up the whole thing, but mom won’t let me. I also really like sleeping on mom’s old comforter when it is on top of my dog bed. I spread it out across the living, and it’s great! I can see just about everything without ever having to get up.  Those new chairs are pretty good too.

What are your favorite treats?

Anything with cheese is fantastic! I also like Milkbones, Greenies, Pupcorn, and peanut butter.

How many toys do you have in the apartment and which ones are your favorite?

I have a bunch of toys (somewhere around here), but I can be pretty picky about my toys.  Only really play with about 4 of them.  My all-time favorite toy is a stuffed yellow ducky with a squeaker in his belly.  Squeaker toys are the very best!!! I can be kind of rough on the ducky though.  He’s got holes in his beak, belly, and feet.  I like taking out all his stuffing, but mom always puts it back in.   I think it’s about time for a new ducky! I also really like my Kong filled with peanut butter, my loofa dog (also missing his stuffing and full of holes), and my rope toy.

Favorite way to pass the time?

My favorite activities kind of depend on the time of year.  They all revolve around being outside though.  In the summer, I absolutely adore going swimming in Grandma & Grandpa’s pool.  Grandpa even built me a special ramp with floaties so I can get in and out more easily.  I could swim all day if they would let me! I always love going on walks, especially when there are squirrels out. I just love chasing squirrels.  In the winter, I like to play in the snow.  Last year when the blizzard came through Iowa, I had lots of fun pulling mom through the waist high snow banks.  I had a blast!!!

Any words of wisdom you want to share with everyone?

I am an incredibly friendly dog when it comes to being around humans.  However, I get pretty scared when I am around other dogs (of any size). I do best when I can just be people and not other pets.  I had kind of a rough life before I came to live with Kellie, and I am still trying to move past that.  Otherwise, I think I am a great pooch. I would love to meet all of you!!!

Well, there you have it. Another McCormick Pet, settling into her new home here in Chicago! Until next time!

Peace and PAWS!


Greetings Readers!

I know, it’s a Monday. And you’re asking, “Why is the CURE posting on a Monday?’ Well, I have an answer for you Tomorrow, we’re hosting our very first virtual seminary tour of McCormick. Well, actually, all of the 10 major PCUSA seminaries are doing it as well.

Here’s the thing. As technology enhances, we have to enhance with it. I remember getting our first computer at my house as a kid and it was that big hunk of machine with the blinking green light. Then we evolved; we got better computers and games like Oregon Trail. Let’s be honest, if you went to school in the early 90′s, you died of typhoid or scarlet fever, atleast once. And as difficult as it seems, we’ve progressed yet again. We find ourselves with smart phones where we can check our e-mail, watch TV, and find an online date, all from our pocket-sized phones. Could you have imagined doing that on your old Zach Morris phone? Nope. You couldn’t. But now, you can. So, here are some basics about this virtual tour.

If you, or anyone you know is thinking about seminary, this is a great way to check it out and even chat with folks like me: all from the comfort of your own home office, studio, car, wherever you have something that resembles a computer! Maybe it will even work on your smart phone!

Also, at McCormick, we like to save trees. They are our friends. (No, I’m not some tree-hugger but I do realize the simple fact that without trees you and I would be unable to breathe.) So, we designed this super-sleek invitation, all online. So first, before reading any further, check it out, here. Once you’ve finished reading, come back!

Next, you register. That would be here. And don’t forget to come back yet again!

Ok, here’s the cool part. Once you’ve read the invitation and registered, on October 4th (tomorrow!), you’ll enter into the portal. Once there, it will look like you’re going down a hall with booths. Similar to a college fair, but with a twist (that is, you can wear your pajamas if you want!). You’ll see banners for each school and you simply click on the banner of the school you want information on. In each “booth,” you’ll be able to text chat with people like me, other students, as well as our awesome Recruitment and Admissions Director, Rev. JC Cadwallader and our Associate of Admissions and Recruitment, Jamie Wasowski.

Each seminary will also be hosting an hour where they will do a live video chat. McCormick’s live video chat will be from 12pm-1pm EST (11am-12pm Central). So not only can you chat online with us, we’ll even let you see our bright and shining faces. Mine might not be so bright and shining depending on whether or not I’ve had my coffee…

“Well, what else is there?” you ask. There will also be online brochures as well as other information and social media sites so you can learn more about each school you’re interested in.

What are you waiting for?! Click the links, get registered and ask us some questions! We like the tough ones.

That’s all for now! Until we meet again on Wednesday!

Peace~ Shelley D.

Good morning McReaders! Today’s entree comes to us from one of my friends and classmates, EunJoo Ryo, or as many of you at McCormick know her, as Angela. Angela is a second year student here; she walks the halls with a bright smile and typically with coffee in hand. Recently, I was in class with Angela and I heard a part of her story. We all have stories, and once I heard only a little of Angela’s, I knew you all should hear it and a bit more, and she was gracious enough to share it with all of you.

Listening to her story makes me think of the song, “City of Immigrants,” by one of my absolute favorite artists, Steve Earl. It’s a song about all of us: immigrants from somewhere else (unless you of course are a Native American). Even the latest translation of the Bible, the Common English Bible, uses the word immigrant in its translations because it is such a relevant word. This word is one that touches everyone in some way. We all came from somewhere else. I came from immigrants from the southern most part of Sweden searching for land to farm as well as French and Scottish peasants attempting to escape religious persecution. We all have a story of how we got to where we are, and here is Angela’s story. I hope you enjoy.

So, tell us your name, what year you are, and which degree you are working on.

My name is Angela Ryo.  My legal name is EunJoo, but Angela is more of my ministry name since I started as a children’s ministry director, and not many children could pronounce my name right.  Angela seemed close enough to my Korean name, EunJoo. (If it takes me this long to tell you my name, it slightly worries me as to how long my other answers will be…) I am in my second year of the MDiv program.

Can you tell us a little about your family?

I am the youngest of five girls.  Initially, they were going to keep going until they hit jackpot (i.e. a son), but I guess they (wisely) decided that I’d be their last disappointment.  Okay, as resentful as that may have sounded, I really am not.  My parents have told us time and again how grateful they are to have five girls—that they would NEVER trade any of us in for a boy.  (Wait, did that sound pretty bitter? Ugh!  I’m just digging deeper, aren’t I?)

Now, I have a family of my own with an uber cool designer-in-training hubby and two children, Luke (9) an Love Lee(8) (I just had to tag on the last name!).  Luke is an aspiring comic book artist/shop owner and Love wants to become an artist, a vet, a horse trainer, and a gazillion other things when she grows up.

What brought you to McCormick?

My husband, David, had attended McCormick several years ago and it totally rocked my boat at the time.  Having grown up in an evangelical family and church, I considered everything David was learning from McCormick as outright heresy.  Naturally, I blamed McCormick for David’s cross over to the “dark side” (after all, he IS Luke’s father…).  However, when it came time for me to acknowledge and follow my own calling, McCormick stood out above the rest.

First, it was a PCUSA seminary (I grew up in the PCUSA church); second, I finally came to recognize the transformation in David as being absolutely remarkable (and thus embracing the good work McCormick was doing); and third, I wanted to be theologically challenged as an Evangelical Christian and yet fully affirmed and empowered as an Asian American woman in ministry (I knew McCormick could do both for me.)

So, tell us a little more about you…

Hm…where to begin? Before coming to McCormick, I had been a high school English teacher in various suburban as well as urban public schools.  I really do miss teaching.  I still get to teach ESL at my old high school during summer school which I absolutely love doing.  More than teaching itself, I think I really enjoy connecting with those crazy teenagers (God only knows why!) and uncovering their hidden potentials.  I’d like to consider myself a…potentialist?  (Hey, what do you know–I just made that one up!  Definition:  one who excavates for potentials in people.) Currently, I serve a small Korean PCUSA immigrant church in Des Plaines as an English Ministry pastor for mostly young people in their twenties.  I love it!  =)

So, a little bit more about me (that’s right!  It’s all about me!).  I came from Korea to live in Skokie, one of the northern suburbs of Chicago, when I was nine years old.  After about two years, we had overstayed our visa, and our family was out of status with no way of becoming “legal” again.  It’s funny how I can talk about this so freely now because for nearly twenty years of my life, our immigration status had been the primary source of our family’s grief and shame; it was the greatest secret that weighed heavily on my heart for so long.  It feels somewhat liberating to talk about it!  Thanks for the therapy session! =)  So, let me just ramble on a bit more, if I may (in need of further therapy, I think!).

Living as an undocumented immigrant in a rather upscale neighborhood, I felt humiliated, ashamed, and more than anything, misplaced.  Mastering the alphabet alone was a tearful experience for me.  I think it took me at least several weeks!  However, social reclusion was harder to bear than learning English.  My greatest defense was to flash big, empty smiles and just eagerly nod my head “yes”; I learned quite early that it was always better to agree than to disagree.

I became very much involved in a local Korean immigrant PCUSA church.  That was my form of escape; the church made me feel “legal,” free, hopeful.  However, two conflicting and disparate identities began to torment me.  At school, I was no different than other second-generation Korean-Americans who were fully immersed into the American culture.  But at church, I was one of the “FOB’s,” those who had freshly stepped off the boat.  Our youth group exclusively spoke Korean to the point where I would be shocked upon stepping outside of the church to discover that I was still in America! I didn’t know how to reconcile these two identities.  Do I fully and truly belong anywhere?  What does it mean to be a Korean-American?

These different cultural experiences, however, really gave me the opportunity to exist in a liminal space. Now I realize how fortunate I am to belong to this in-between place of neither here nor there, this nor that.  I enjoy this place because I believe it gives me the power and creativity to think differently.  My hyphenated identity which I had once considered a curse became one of the greatest blessings; it has empowered me to see things from different perspectives and granted me the insight to criticize and analyze both as an insider as well as an outsider.  It’s a great place to practice some of that good ol’ “prophetic imagination!”

What are you hoping to do after you graduate?

Hopefully get a job that would sufficiently feed and clothe my children.  Then again, the Holy Spirit quietly reminds me of Matthew 6:25:  “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”  If that’s the case, I guess I can hope a little.  Here goes:  Travel all over the world and preach the good news!  Okay, find a little balance between the two, you say?  I think three things I would really like to be included in my future ministry would be preaching, teaching, and counseling within the context of cultural diversity and social activism.  I am not quite sure if a job like that exists—any ideas?  I’m hoping that my MDiv degree and ordination in the PCUSA would equip me well and take me closer to the heart of my vision.

What are your favorite foods to cook? Eat?

I must admit, I don’t cook much.  I don’t think many Koreans would be proud to claim me as one of their own since I don’t even know how to make Kimchi!  I used to love baking, but alas, it was a passing phase.  I think best dishes I’ve made really came from using eclectic left-over ingredients from my refrigerator and the pantry.  When I used to room with one of my sisters in college, she would not allow us to go grocery shopping unless we completely depleted our food supply.  So, we’d be left with a little bit of kimchi, a slice of cheese, couple of eggs, and some left-over spaghetti.  Oh, and did I mention half a bottle of mustard?  The challenge would be to create a dish using ALL of those random ingredients (I hope you are not eating as you are reading this!).  Yeah…I should have just left at my first sentence, “I don’t cook much.”  On a happier note, I love to eat EVERYTHING other people cook for me (except maybe my sister who would actually make a dish using all of the above ingredients!).

What are your favorite things to do with your children?

Going to the park, taking long walks, going to the library, reading together, eating together—really, anything that engages us in some deep conversations about life and God because they say the darnedest (and sometimes wisest) things!  Besides, none of the above things cost me anything other than time and love which I have plenty to go around!  (well, maybe not the former but definitely the latter!)

I want to thank Angela for her willingness to talk openly about her story and who she is!

Well, there you have it. As the Wailin’ Jennies say, this is the sound of One Voice. One voice within the walls of McCormick. There are more, and they all have stories. They all sound different, because they are and they help make us who we are here inside the walls of 5460 and outside in the wider world. The important thing is that we offer room to tell those stories and we listen and take something away with us.

Until Friday when we’ll be bringing you more of Pigeon’s corner!


Shelley D.

Greetings from the dog bed of me, Pigeon. Well, the birds are here too and DiDi is sniffing around somewhere in the house, but that’s besides the point. I’ve got another new four-legged friend that I need you all to meet. her name is Pearl. She’s the newest owner of Megan and Alex, two of our students living here in Hyde Park. We got together over a bowl of water and hung out for a chat. Here’s what she had to say:

Tell us your name and what breed you are.

Sup dudes, I’m Pearl.  I’m a 75lb. Akita mix.

The Pearl of Chicago

Who are your humans?

Megan (I’m bigger than her) and Alex (I’m smaller than him).

How did you come to get your humans?

I was in this weird, loud place with lots of other dogs for a stupidly long time.  The place was actually not too shabby; it was called Paws Chicago or something of the sort.  My peeps picked me up from there.  It was love and belly rubs at first sight.

How do you like the living arrangements?

Our place is pretty sweet, minus the hardwood floors. Slide city.

Favorite place in the apartment?

I really dig the couch.  You can usually find the whole fam on there cuddling it up and when they’re gone I definitely sneak up for some zzzz’s.

Favorite treats?

Well, I have this weird stomach thing, so my humans make me sweet potatoes and carrots a lot of the time.  But then, sometimes I get these really rad peanut butter treats. To die for!

What do you think about being future preachers pets?

I’m stoked on it.  I like time to myself on Sunday mornings.

How many toys do you have in the apartment and which ones are your favorite?

I have quite a few, I like to keep them all organized on my bed.  There is this one, in particular, we call it Lovebug, it’s a stuffed VW Beetle, I just gnaw on it.

Favorite way to pass the time?

I am a total cuddle monster.  If I could spend all of my time cuddling with my fam I would, but when they’re not down for that, I like to spend some time with Lovebug or do perimeter checks to make sure we’re all safe.  I also enjoy taking walks to the 1400 building porch and occasionally eating rocks or a Korean bbq bone, DELISH!

Any words of wisdom you want to share with everyone?

Nah Dawg.

Well, that’s Pearl. Check back next week and you’ll be meeting two little dogs who came all the way from South Korea by way of Atlanta to get here. Talk about well traveled.

Until next time. Paws and peace,


Greetings friends. Well, we’re drawing to a close for the year. We’ll be taking a break this summer, but checking in every now and then. We might have a few surprises in store for you! Either way, we’ll start gearing up in August for our Fall 2012 semester. But before we start packing up the winter mittens and cuddleduds, I wanted to make sure that you all met Ryan Wallace. Nope, it’s not William Wallace like the movie, but I’m sure that he’s heard that one before.

A while back, you met Layla, Ryan’s faithful companion and his sitting model for his home-made ties (see below). So, now you’ll meet Ryan. As you will read, Ryan is very serious. He doesn’t take a joke well and he doesn’t wear his home-made clothes without a good starching them first (that is after the pre-starching). For you incoming students, you’ll meet him next year and for those of you that know him already, well, you know.

Green brings out his eyes. So do small birds.

Well, Ryan, tell us a little about yourself.

I was born on the twenty-third of February in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-seven in Evanston, Illinois….though not without complication. You see, I was born with a dislocated hip. But not to worry, it has since been located! Then, nothing important happened for about 18 years…except for that time I got my head stuck between two cinder blocks underneath our back deck for like 3 hours. Then I was all growed up and I went off to college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. It was there that I was apparently infected with a slight southern twang. During college, I also spent a semester studying at la Universitat de les Illes Balears in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. I lived in a homestay with a crazy 61 year old Spanish woman named Rosa with a passion for staying out all night partying at the discotecas. I had planned to head straight to seminary after my undergrad, but instead I took a youth ministry job at First Pres. Nashville. It’s a good thing I did because I met my future wife (Amanda) not long after! We met in the most romantic of places…a dive Irish bar named McFaddens. When I decided to start my MDiv at McCormick, I asked Amanda to come with and she did! She works as a recruiter at a staffing agency downtown and pays for me to eat.

So Ryan, you bought a sewing machine that you keep in a large camping backpack (which is possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen). Tell us about your sewing endeavors…

Do you know how to sew?!? Cause I do! Well, let’s qualify that remark. I know how to sew one thing….neckties. As many of you know, I’ll be getting married in August. And I thought to myself, “What could be a better gift to my groomsmen and ushers than ties to wear on the big day?” Tie-making is going great (thanks to Lib and Abby for teaching me!), but it turns out that 15 ties is a lot to make. After I finish those ties, I plan to move onto bigger projects. So if I show up to class one day with a hideous and poorly-made shirt or pair of pants, just smile and say, “That looks really great, Ryan! Did you make that all by yourself?”

What brought you to McCormick?

Mostly its reputation as the #1 party seminary in the continental United States.

What is something that surprised you about McCormick?

The professors seem just as ready to learn as they are to teach. I love that! Not that I really have anything to teach them, but they listen to me anyway! I like that McCormick is not just a place where you come to memorize bible verses, regurgitate church doctrine, and learn that orthodox theology is the only theology. Instead, you’re encouraged to critically engage everything and, more importantly, figure out how it all fits into living the gospel.

What is one thing that has been most challenging to/for you?

Owning who I am. McCormick is a community full of cool people that I wish I could be more like. But the truth is that I’m not any of those people. I’m me. And sometimes it’s hard for me to be okay with being me. That is, white, American, male, straight, and from a wealthy family….sounds more like I should join the Young Republicans and play croquet in a white cardigan. But the great thing about McCormick is that everyone (yes, even people like me) are welcomed and accepted. And slowly but surely I am learning to accept who I am while at the same time being aware of the amazing diversity of social locations all around me.

What are some of the things you are or want to be involved in on campus? In the Chicago community?

I’ve been involved with the eco-justice group at McCormick this year as well as some other eco-justice-related projects around Chicago. I am also planning to be involved with the peacemaking group next year. I will be doing an internship at Wicker Park Grace this summer, which I’m pumped about. And next year I’ll be doing my field education at Protestants for the Common Good. As such, I’d really like to get the McCormick community involved in political advocacy and public policy reform over the next couple years.

What’s one thing that you hope for McCormick in the future?

McCormick is multicultural, which is terrific. But I hope that McCormick becomes more cross-cultural. What I mean is that I hope McCormick finds a way to be more intentional about teaching its students how understand their own social location, listen to the social locations of others, and learn to be respectful and effective communicators with one another. Oh, and I’d also love to see more opportunities for interfaith dialogue in which McCormick students hang out with students studying and practicing other faith traditions.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to folks looking at coming to McCormick or to new students just beginning?

To those who are considering coming to McCormick, visit! Come spend a couple of days in classes, stay with students, and talk to people in our community. Honestly, McCormick is not the place for everyone. If you’re not willing to listen to perspectives much different than your own and then reconsider your theology, then you probably shouldn’t come to McCormick. But for a unique experience full of people from all walks of life, McCormick is an outstanding place to be. To new students, invest in people at McCormick. Not literally of course…I don’t even know how that would work. But put yourself out there, try new things, make new friends, and be a part of the community.

What’s an interesting fact about yourself?

I’ll give you three! 1) I have a secret obsession with History Channel, PBS, and NOVA documentaries. 2) I once took part in a cabinet fast with my roommate where we agreed not to buy any food until we finished everything in our cupboards, fridge, and freezer…it lasted 27 days. 3) I was raised by wolves.

Ryan celebrating his last exam at Vanderbilt!

Until next time!

Peace – Shelley D.

Meet McCormick Middler (and building lover), Jon Philips!

Greetings all you out there. Today,w e got to sit down with Jon Philips and pick his brain a bit. A few things to note about Jon: he loves Portlandia (IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT, YOUTUBE IT!), he’s a ginger and proud of it, and he’s also all about some peace.

So, who exactly are you?

Since being and artist and all, we decided to let Jon give us his interpretation of himself.

Hey everyone, happy April. I’m Jon Phillips, M.Div middler who enjoys cities, buildings, mountains, music, theology, RC Cola, striving for justice, and is fully rooted in a Cascadian social location. I’m also that guy who does entirely too much – including being the co-moderator of Eco-Justice, the Session representative for Peacemaking, an ally with Acts 10:15, intern at one of the coolest field sites McCormick works with, and yet I still somehow manage to pull off doing fairly well at M’Div work.

Why did you come to McCormick?

When my search for a seminary home was finally narrowed to two very good possibilities, the other being up in Canada, I visited IIM and had that feeling. You know, the one that says you’re supposed to move two time zones over and work on becoming a Sox fan. It is a feeling I’m grateful to have listened to, as I am precisely where I ought to be.

Who do you represent on Session?

I represent our Peacemaking group at McCormick. We are a loose collaborative of students here at MTS who have hearts for living into God’s justice down the street and across the globe. We assist other groups around the seminary, Hyde Park, and greater Chicago in doing acts of peacemaking. In actuality though, my representation of Peacemaking on Session is merely a front to cover for the clandestine activities I do for McCormick.

What’s your background? You know, what did you do before coming to McCormick?

My background is in architecture – I have a Master of Architecture and over seven years of experience practicing. I also served as an elder in my home congregation, and did a bit of missions and peacemaking work, some of it in Guatemala and Colombia. Perhaps the most important pieces of my background, however, involve my love for drawing and the mountains.

What is something that you’ve learned since coming here?

Never trust midwestern weather.

What’s one hope that you have?

That our seminary community will continue to grow into who we have the potential to be.

Well folks, that’s all for today. See you in the future!


Shelley D.

Meet Deanna Drake, First Year Deacon and YAV!

Greetings everyone. Today, I would like to introduce you to Deanna Drake, first year MDIV/MSSW student. Before coming to McCormick, Deanna was a YAV in Kenya (Young Adult Volunteer for you non-Presbyterians, it’s like Lutheran Volunteers for the ELCA). She has some pretty cool stories to share about her time there. You should ask her sometime.

Deanna waking up from her nap in the library.

Name? Deanna Jo Drake

Tell us a little about yourself (like where you’re from, where you went to college and what you studies, etc.) I grew up in Oswego, IL (southwest suburbs) and went to undergraduate near Cleveland at Baldwin-Wallace College. I eventually fell in love with the Religious Studies department there and ended up with a major in that with minors in Sociology and Music. After graduation, I did a couple of volunteer years: one doing non-profit work in D.C. and then last year took me to Kenya as a YAV.

What was your time like as a YAV and where were you? I lived in Meru, Kenya, which was a rural town in the more mountainous area. It was awesome! I taught English, CRE (Christian Religious Education), and Creative Arts to 4th-6th graders at a primary school there. I grew a lot and learned a lot about hospitality, community, relationship building….and a little bit of Kiswahili.

Why did you pick McCormick?: I chose McCormick because of its strong commitment to cross-culturalism and diversity. As an added bonus, it’s in my favorite city in the whole wide world.

What’s one thing that has surprised you about it here.: It’s surprised me how much I’ve stood to gain from being in this diverse community. The learning is as much from people that have different beliefs and backgrounds as it is from professors (who are also (not surprisingly) AWESOME.

What’s one thing you hope for here at McCormick? I’d like to see spring! Get going on that, God. But for real, I want to see people getting outside for various recreational activities planned for warmer weather. Two words: whiffle. ball. Or is that one word?

Any advice for prospective and new students to McCormick?: Just jump in. And don’t freak out. The hardest part is generally the initial yes. And when you’re here, you can rest assured there’s a strong community of fellow seekers as well.

When not in class, you can find Deanna practicing her Little mermaid routine on the rocks along Lake Michigan.

Until next time everyone!

Shelley D.

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