Since it has been so long since I have written an update for my blog, it is probably time to do so. So here is what I have been up to lately.
Next, I registered this week for classes at graduate school. I will be taking 14 quarter hours, which differ slightly from semester hours. Our quarters are only 10 weeks long. So in other words, I am going to have my hands full and it is good that I won't be working this quarter. I will be taking biblical Greek, Old Testament (Hebrew) exegesis, pastoral care theory and a vocation discernment class. But I am WAY excited to go back into academia. Evidenced by the fact that I am totally geeking out over the fact that I need to go buy a much bigger bookshelf to hold all of the exciting text books!
A couple weeks ago I was awarded entrance into the ELCA candidacy process for Diaconal Ministry. Back in May I wrote this post on diaconal ministry. (click to follow link) Candidacy is the communal discernment process through which the candidate and their church body (in this case, the Rocky Mountain Synod) mutually explore internal (from the candidate) and external (from the greater church and others) sense of call. I wrote a couple essays, endured an intelligence test/psych evaluation and a couple interviews earlier this summer. On August 12th I had my panel interview with my candidacy sub-committee. They asked questions about my essays, sense of call, vocational goals and theological understanding. While the process is grueling, I am very appreciative of it, because it means that the people who are serving the ELCA are really qualified and called to do so. A mainline denomination such as the ELCA can only exist because of careful attention to who is called to serve and shepherd it. Mainline protestant ministers and church leaders are very well educated and informed, and this is helpful because it means that churches are not built around the "cult of personality" of a charismatic preacher, but rather, rooted in a firm understanding of theology and sociology and caring for others.
My next step is to start classes this fall and complete a unit of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) next summer in a hospital. After this year of didactic studies and the CPE residency are complete, I will write a few more essays and undergo some more interviews to progress into the Endorsement phase of candidacy. At this point, I will have to discern whether or not I am going for consecrated or ordained ministry, and my studies will follow accordingly. After that, I have a couple more years of study and internship, and finally the Approval phase. Approval tests theological competency and understanding and ability to serve and culminates in Call. I feel blessed to be supported by a wonderful candidacy committee, my congregation, my clergy mentors and a whole bunch of friends. Right now it is just one step at a time. I am working on finalizing my affiliation with an ELCA seminary (Luther in MSP) for supervision of my Lutheran formation classes and getting really excited to start classes on September 12th.