Seminary to Service: What Helps, Hinders

The idea goes something like this.

A small congregation, in need of a new pastor, looks at new seminary graduates -- a pastor seeking a first call would be just fine with them.

A student, eager to dive into ministry, is delighted with the idea too.

The congregation needs a pastor; the pastor needs a job.

A match is made.

Everybody's happy.

Except here's the problem: a lot of the time, it doesn't work like that at all.

People familiar with the system say there are multiple, serious problems with the path that students take during and after seminary -- problems that are often frustrating for students and churches alike.

Some students don't move into the inquirer and candidacy process quickly enough, or don't pass their ordination examinations, so when they graduate they're not ready to take a call to a church.

More than a few people go to seminary, but don't want to go into parish ministry, or don't want to serve the kinds of churches that have the most vacancies -- small congregations in rural areas or little towns.

Earning hope

These are cynical times, and this is supposed to be a season of hope.

We have the president of the United States flying off in fierce secrecy at Thanksgiving to greet the American troops in Iraq — an unabashedly Hollywood patriotic moment — followed almost immediately by more deaths of more soldiers far from home.

History, Mystery and the Christmas Story

Wise men from afar, angel visitors to shepherds in the night, a child cradled in a manger — through what lens shall these stories be viewed? Are they to be placed in the same mental file with "The Legends of King Arthur" or are they events with names and places that occurred in human history? Are they viewed as fact or fiction?

Christmas: When OK can be better than perfect

"Make them stop! Make them stop!" That's my younger daughter's advice to the people in our town who fired up their Christmas lights and decorations, even put up their trees, well before Thanksgiving.

"Don't they know they're rushing the season?" my older daughter asked.

Call for special session has numbers, but timing is not right say some

Note — Since this story was posted on Oct. 21, we have received an e-mail from Alex Metherell, whom we attempted to reach last week but did not receive a reply. His response is as follows:

"Your report gives the impression that we have the 50 signatures needed to call the special meeting of the 214th General Assembly. In fact, we have 25 signatures (13 elders and 12 ministers) representing 19 presbyteries and 11 synods. All of these came from the e-mailing I made to about 70 commissioners. We still need to get another 12 elder commissioners and 13 minister commissioners. I have now sent out via regular mail a call to all 554 commissioners," wrote Metherell.

Post-9/11 spiritual revival may be lagging, but people are reviewing their priorities

It’s been a distressing, violent year since hijacked planes plunged into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The months since then have brought a whole crop of pain around the world — suicide bombings in the Middle East, retaliation in Palestinian villages, war in Afghanistan, Hindus and Muslims attacking one another in India, a Russian plane filled with children falling from the sky, to name just a few. And, in the United States, economic news so bad that almost everyone knows someone who’s lost a job.