A Moment for Mission
“For Zion’s sake I won’t keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I won’t sit still until her righteousness shines out like a light, and her salvation blazes like a torch.” —Isaiah 62:1, CEB
Although communities of all kinds have had to experiment with building connections online since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, students at Claremont [California] School of Theology began honing these skills even earlier.
In February, Bryant Burkhart of Philadelphia created an unofficial online space for students to chat, relax and stay connected. Communication consisting of text, live video and video chats, photos and GIFs expressing support, spirituality and silliness. Students share encouragement as well as jokes, nerd out on their favorite theologians and offer prayers and blessings.
The students also pay close attention to their own journeys. “It’s been really interesting to notice how we’ve grown as a class,” Burkhart noted. Coaching new students through courses, textbooks and assignments has been a rewarding experience for Katherine “Kate” Kilroy of Marysville, Washington, who said, “It’s a way of getting to love on your past self.”
Although this online community began as a way for one hybrid cohort to connect with and support one another, they have no interest in sealing their virtual doors. They envision the group as a space for any interested CST students.
“I’m grateful when we get to add voices to our group,” said Erin Tyler of Fort Collins, Colorado. “I’m grateful that everyone is able to share their different gifts.”
Supported by the Ministerial Education Fund , Claremont School of Theology and other University Senate–approved seminaries prepare visionary leaders like Burkhart, Kilroy and Tyler to serve The United Methodist Church.
—Adapted from “Hybrid Students Form Unique Online Community,” Claremont School of Theology website, September 29, 2020
Loving God, even in trying times, remind us never to keep silent or sit still. May we shine like a light beckoning the world to your saving grace. In your name, we pray. Amen.
Keith Nation holds a graduate degree in engineering from the University of Ohio , and he has spent much of his life in that vocation. However, a call to church ministry kept nudging him. He went to seminary for a year. Wrestling with whether to continue seminary or enroll in a United Methodist Course of Study program, he recalled, “a God thing happened.”
When his daughter received a full scholarship from Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee, Nation realized he could take Appalachian Local Pastors School (ALPS) classes there.
Today, Nation serves three Tennessee congregations—Poplar Grove, Springville; Bakers Chapel, Big Sandy; and Pleasant Hill, Mansfield.
“Ministry,” he said, “is something done out of a sense of calling and joy. More than a hobby, it is a time-consuming joy that not only meets the needs of local churches but also gives back to my desire to serve in ministry.”
Your support of the Ministerial Education Fund provides scholarships for ALPS-MTH participants like Nation. Thank you!
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, retired from UMCom