Saturday, July 26, 2008

What's Coming Up

There's a few questions I get asked by everyone I talk to about seminary. "Where are you going to be?" "How long will you be in seminary?" "What classes are you taking?" So, to satisfy everyone's curiosity, I'll answer all those questions here.

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (LTSG) is, unsurprisingly, located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Those who are familiar with their Civil War history will recall that the battle of Gettysburg was fought over three days, July 1-3, 1863. A few names and phrases will probably jump to mind—the 20th Maine, Little Round Top, Devil's Den, Pickett's charge, Cemetery Hill, and Seminary Ridge. It's that last one that's particularly interesting. There was a seminary overlooking the little town of Gettysburg, and the ridge on which it is located is known as Seminary Ridge. It was first occupied by the Union army as a lookout tower; then it was taken by the Confederates, who used it for the same purpose. That seminary is still there today. The original building with the now-famous cupola is still there, although it is now an historical museum. All around that building the seminary has grown up, right on the battlefield. LTSG is well aware of its rich history; their motto is, "Bearing witness at the crossroads of history and hope."

More specifically, my husband Steve and I (it still sounds strange to say that, six weeks later) will be living in a one-bedroom apartment on the seminary campus. We'll be just a few hundred feet away from our classes, chapel, and the refectory, and we're right across the street from the YWCA. We're very excited for our new place, small though it may be. We'll have our own kitchen!

As for the second question, the Master of Divinity program for ordination in the Lutheran church takes four years. (Four years for a master's! All my friends will have Ph.Ds by then.) The structure of the M.Div. program is actually very appealing to me—we'll take two years of classes at LTSG, then go on internship for a full year, and then return to the seminary for the fourth year. This will give us a chance to really prepare ourselves for ministry; after our internship, we'll have the opportunity to fill in the gaps in our education, with a better understanding of what we need to know. During our coursework, we'll also be doing different hands-on work, from teaching parish to CPE (clinical pastoral education, undertaken in a hospital). By the time we're out of seminary, we should have a real grounding both in the academic and the practical aspects of ministry.

Now for the part I'm really excited about: classes! Both Steve and I are enrolled in the seminary (this has been a bit confusing for some people, so I'll clear it up right now; we're both studying for ordination), and we'll be taking many of the same classes, at least at first, as we fill our requirements. This fall, I've signed up for Biblical Hebrew, Introduction to the Old Testament, The Early Church and its Creeds, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Integrative Seminar I, and Practicum in Worship Music. Biblical Hebrew is one of the two possibilities to fulfill the biblical language requirement—the other is Greek, of course. Greek is actually required for all seminary students, but since Steve and I have both done three semesters of very intensive Greek courses, we are exempt from that requirement. This gives us the opportunity to study Hebrew instead, which I'm very excited about. Introduction to the Old Testament is just what it sounds like; students are required to take introductory courses for both the Old and New Testaments, and we're starting at the beginning. The Early Church and its Creeds is a class I'm taking without Steve; it should be interesting to study the history surrounding the church councils and the writing of the creeds. Introduction to Systematic Theology is another required course; I don't know what to expect from this one, but I decided to take it this semester so that I can take a course I'm really interested in next semester. In the spring, they are offering (or at least, probably offering) a theology course called "Theological Thematics: Faith, Hope, Love: The Unity of the Theological Virtues". Those who know me from St. John's will know that I wrote my Senior Essay on Paul's letter to the Romans, and the theological virtues were the central focus of my paper (as they must be, if one wants to write about Paul). I can't wait to take this course, and I'll be very disappointed if they decide not to offer it in the spring. Integrative Seminar is something that all students are required to take each of the three years of classes. The course description will explain it better than I could: "This course is concurrently related to the Teaching Parish field education requirement (M.A.M.S. and M.Div.) and therefore extends over two semesters... This seminar focuses on the congregation and has as its purpose to build an effective pastoral understanding of the congregation as simultaneously social system and people of God." Another class about which I'm in the dark, but I'll let you know how it turns out. The last course, Practicum in Worship Music, doesn't really count as a class; students who sing in the seminary choir get a small course credit. Steve will be taking a course on youth and family ministry in place of my Early Church and its Creeds course.

So that's what I'm looking forward to. Classes start after Labor Day, and I'll let you know what they're like once they've gotten going!

No comments: