On Wednesday, July 5, while my friends Kathryn and Sharon visited, another seminary friend, Pam, came for lunch. I wish I could convey in words the energy created in my home as we visited with each other. It was palpable and filled me with gratitude for these women and for the opportunities we have experienced in our lives.
I met Sharon and Kathryn in 1975 when we all began our sojourn with United Theological Seminary here in Dayton, Ohio. They graduated in 1978, a year before I did. Pam came to United later and had never met Sharon. Because Kathryn stayed in the area for a couple of years and I worked at the seminary for six years following my graduation, we had both met Pam.
So we began our visit by sharing how our lives had unfolded during the past thirty-nine years. And then we began to reminisce about our experiences at United — foundational moments for each of us.
Chapters 7 and 9 of my memoir, A Long Awakening to Grace*, recount how I was encouraged to enroll in United and some of my experiences while I was there.
Sharon, Kathryn, Pam, and I were among the first wave of women attending seminary in large numbers and we brought our curious minds and passionate hearts to our studies and the relationships we formed. We found our professors excited about the depth and breadth of the thinking of women students as well as our enthusiasm for our studies. Because women being called to ministry was a boundary breaking experience, we came with fresh perspectives.
We were unaware at the time how refreshing our presence proved to be for the faculty. One professor in particular had a reputation for being tough. But we didn’t experience him that way. He just loved quality work and expressed gratitude for women students giving it to him. He rewarded our efforts generously.
“Whoever believes in the good in people, draws forth the good in people.” ~Jean Paul
All of us experienced being mentored and encouraged by faculty members to pursue the paths we were drawn to follow after graduation. The four of us looked back with awe at our professor’s generosity. We are all grateful to have attended United during this pivotal time in her history … a time when the faculty created a curriculum and an environment that drew out the best in those of us hungering to experience and live in alignment with the heart of Christianity.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” ~Luke 10:27
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” ~John 15:12
*A Long Awakening to Grace is slated for publication the end of August 2017.