Friday, March 6, 2009

What a Wild and Amazing Couple of Days!

Yesterday I went to Harvard Divinity School for a seminar/panel presentation on religious responses to intimate partner violence. The speakers included a Rabbi, an Imam, and several ministers including one who operates an interfaith Safehaven program. It was an interesting seminar, and I found it valuable to commit some time to this topic, especially in anticipation of a "Safe Congregations" meeting I will be attending next Wednesday in the church I serve.

After the program, I thanked the speakers I could catch, and in particular the two women who appeared to have organized the seminar (I took an incorrect exit thus was late and missed introductions, so don't know for sure). I let them know that I am both a religious professional and a prospective divinity school student. Little did I know that I was chatting with the Dean of Students from Andover-Newton Theological School. She promptly gave me the proper hints to clue me in, and then encouraged me to come check out the school. She took my email so we could schedule a time to chat, about another topic but also about the school. And she told me there was an open house the following day (today) at Andover-Newton, which she urged me to attend.

I decided to go ahead and go check it out, and I am glad I did. It was a very worthwhile and satisfying day.

The school was beautiful, especially their new chapel. But what really impressed me was the absolute warmth and hospitality of everyone from the president of the school to the student employees who took part in the day. I was greeted immediately and with such gracious hospitality (the kind we all strive to express in our churches), and it wasn't long before the Dean spotted me and with a warm smile and hug drew me into the crowd. Shortly she introduced me to another member of the staff with: "This is who I emailed you all about yesterday evening." Wow! Throughout the day, whenever I talked to faculty and staff, they would say, "I am so glad you came today." I truly was blown away by the welcome.

There were several other things that struck me during the day:

1. This school was not only the first theological school in the country, but also the first graduate school of any type in the country! Its tradition has truly shaped the mold for theological education as it is known today. It has a very rich history from which to draw, but it also seems incredibly well-positioned as a forward-thinking, cutting-edge institution. They have just totally restructured their curriculum because they are well aware of the reality that the 21st minister is working in a totally different One of the themes of the day was

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