What a joy it is to finally be on the campus of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan! You met my husband, Kwasi Kena several weeks ago so you have already heard a bit about the preparations involved in making mental and geographic transitions from a mission assignment in Ghana, West Africa, to a denominational office in the UMC to the seminary classroom here in Marion. I echo his excitement over finally being here, settling in and preparing for August classes.
I come to the chalkboard (or is it to the PowerPoint screen these days), grateful for the experiences that I pray will inform my ministry here as a professor at Wesley. In addition to prior teaching experience in several colleges and universities, I have been a pastor in churches of several sizes, urban and rural, growing and dying, white collar and blue collar. I have served on multiple-staff teams and have been the lead pastor in a multiple-church circuit. My husband and I have started a church and dealt with the myriad issues of leading people to faithful discipleship that had no prior experience with the local church. Most recently, my appointment as a denominational resource person in preaching and worship gave me an opportunity to experience, firsthand, the worship issues that 21st century pastors are facing and hear their frequently litany: I wish we had learned that in seminary…. So here we are!
In the midst of all this hopefulness and excitement, I wrote this post on the morning that we heard about the horrific midnight gunman in an Aurora, Colorado theater. I heard the news on multiple levels. The mother and grandmother in me shuddered at the thought of babies being shot in the dark, completely unaware of the dangers that lurked around them. The preacher in me wanted to rush to the stump to cry out in warning, repentance, and despair over a generation that seems bent on violence. The teacher/scholar in me has turned quickly to the “how?” question and the “what?” question. How was this possible in a country that was supposedly founded on Christian principles? And, what can we say in the seminary to a new generation of church leaders about worship – or any other core study – that will address the national moral and spiritual decay that makes such unbridled cruelty a frequent report of the evening news. Too much is at risk for a seminary degree to be learning for learning’s sake. The critical questions that I hope not to lose sight of in worship or any other subject that I am asked to teach are: “Why is this important?” And “how will what we do in the classroom, online or onsite, ultimately impact our communities in ways that glorify God?”