Friends, I just started my second year of seminary, but this year is nothing like the last. Last year, everything was new, exciting, and somewhat daunting. This year, everything is new in a different way, exciting in a different way, and even more daunting.
What’s different? First of all, most M.Div. students work at an internship, a supervised ministry placement, during the “middler” year. Last spring, we interviewed at three different sites and ranked them in order of preference, and then we were matched with a site. I was matched with my first choice, Trinity Episcopal Church in Hartford, Connecticut. I love Trinity Hartford. It’s large, diverse, urban, welcoming, and attuned to the needs of people inside and outside of the Church. I will be a seminarian intern there, participating in worship, preaching, participating in hands-on prayer for the sick, attending vestry meetings, and assisting the fellowship group for people in their 20s and 30s. I also am helping the rector work with community leaders to host a huge meal and Eucharist service for the homeless in December, my pet passion. To my great delight, I have also been invited to my supervising priest’s interfaith activities with the Abrahamic Partnership at Hartford Seminary–my other pet passion.
I have now learned that I’m going to officiate at sung Evensong, too. Gulp. (For you non-Episcopalians, “Evensong” is sung Evening Prayer, and the officiant does a lot of “plainsong” chanting. Think the monastic chanting scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”) It’s one thing to officiate at Evensong in a chapel with about 11 other fellow students. It’s ANOTHER thing to do it at a big, fancy church with Gothic columns, a huge choir, an organist with an ISM degree, a lot more worshippers, and my aging alto voice. Santa Maria!
Also new: This year, I am one of five chapel ministers for the Berkeley Divinity School, the Episcopal seminary at Yale. (Remember, I’m really attending two seminaries, and sometimes it feels that way.) We are responsible for planning and facilitating seven services per week: Morning Prayer every week morning, Monday night Evensong, and the Wednesday night Eucharist. It’s a LOT harder than it looks, and it’s very time-consuming. It’s also more fun than I thought it would be. We have a lot of leeway in designing liturgy for Wednesday nights, and I am helping to design a very traditional service for Feast of the Holy Cross, a Spanish-English bilingual service, and a contemporary/casual Franciscan Eucharist complete with liturgical art for Francistide.
“Aren’t you taking any classes, Janine?” Yes, in my spare time…. My friends know that I am a theology junkie, and my course choices reflect that. I am taking these babies:
- Anglican History and Theology I with Christopher Beeley (required for Episcopal M.Divs. and necessary for passing the General Ordination Exams my senior year)
- Doctrines of God with David Kelsey (including feminist and postcolonial voices–at last!)
- Systematic Theology I with Miroslav Volf (we’re reading Barth, Rahner, Volf and Tanner)
- Principles and Practices of Preaching with Nora Tubbs Tisdale and Tom Troeger
- Supervised Ministry Practicum (a discussion group and feedback mechanism for our internships)
My teaching job with American River College continues, though I am teaching a lot less now due to my internship (which is a job in itself). I’m teaching one 8-week online course and one 16-week online course, and as always, I enjoy the teaching. I do miss teaching face-to-face, though, especially my British Literature class. My heart will ache when we discuss the poems of Donne, Herbert and Milton in my Anglican History and Theology class.
And finally, I also am returning to Yale-New Haven Hospital as a chaplain, working there for about two 16-hour shifts a month to minister to the sick and the dying and their families. I just worked my first shift there last night as a pastoral associate, and it was a far lighter evening than I am used to with only two trauma calls and a few lovely visits with religious patients who wanted someone to visit and pray with them. One never knows what one is going to encounter as a chaplain.
Speaking of unpredictability, I’m still waiting for details on that Saudi Arabia trip….