Sunday, November 07, 2010

Former Students, Future Friends, Fantastic Life

Several months ago I gathered with my colleagues from the School of Theology and Ministry at SNU to meet with the class, on a weekend retreat - "Introduction to Ministry."  The class, taught by one of my colleagues and offered every Fall to incoming students (freshmen and transfers) is an orientation to what it means to think about and be a minister in the various capacities that constitute Christian Service and discerning one's vocation in ministry.

On retreat we have a Q&A session when the students get to ask anything.  At the end, my colleague asked us if there was anything supplementary that we would like to share.  Looking out at a group of some 40 (or so) students in all their unique diversity and with all their special gifts and talents I said something like this, "Some of my best friends in life - and the people I most routinely converse with on Facebook or through other social networks are former students.  I look forward to the fact that in the next decade - some of you will go on to church ministry, academic pursuits or various world regions - and you will become my best friends."

I note that because I'm at DUKE in Durham, N.C. as I send this post.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to be with Megan Pardue and her husband Keith - and we spent a great full day together - eating pizza, going to the beach - sharing our lives together in ministry thoughts, family conversations, jokes, travel, and just "nothing."  In fact, I joked with Keith throughout the day that he kept trying to make our conversation have a telos and we didn't need one!  We had a GREAT day!  See the pics here!!  I could not be more proud of who Megan & Keith are - for their contributions, for their conversation, for the way they think about being Christian in vibrant and meaningful ways!

Though I was not with him yesterday or today - as he's out of town - I am right now co-writing a paper with another former student - who is also at DUKE, Logan Kruck.  He and I will present our paper together in the Spring at the Wesleyan Theological Society meeting.  What a thrill to be working in harmony and synchronicity with former students who have competence and skill!

And today, I'll worship with a friend from my shared and collaborative work through Duke's Faith and Leadership Program - Herbert Reynolds Davis.  Then, I'll share coffee with a  mentor in my own life - my former teacher - W. Stephen Gunter.  He taught me many things when I served as his Graduate Assistant many years ago - and I continue to learn from him as he, many years ago - transitioned from being "just my teacher" to becoming *also* my friend.  And, he remains someone I learn from and glean from.

And, I anticipate wrapping up the day with dinner or dessert with Amber Gingerich Crispell - who was a "child" when I was a Children's Pastor in Colorado Springs.  She and her family - and her extended family - were key members - witnesses and workers! - in the church where I served.  Amber and her husband, who I have yet to meet, Dave - are finishing their program of study here at DUKE where he will complete his M.Div this academic year.  Amber's cousin, Kevin, also a former "child" when I was Children's Pastor in Colorado Springs - was a student at SNU - and lived with us off and on in between and before and after semesters on occasion. 

My life is filled with key relationships of meaning - that give me vitality, hope - from former students - and from my own former student days!

What a blessing to see the hope and possibility of former students who become future friends - as meaningful relationships are developed, and shared friendship is extended in open and hospitable ways!

And, what an absolute thrill to be a participant with others - these particular and specific others - as we attempt to do our best - together - to reflect and embody the life of God's Kingdom!

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