Welcome to the Spring Semester!
We begin Spring 2014 with a little unexpected drama: a snowstorm that has socked in the East Coast with mounds of snow and bone-chilling temperatures. All our plans for important faculty meetings and best-laid plans at the start of the semester have been swept aside, and we bow with respect to the ‘new thing’ that Nature has wrought. So, we scrape windshields and shovel driveways, working hard to free ourselves from winter’s grasp. But just as importantly, we take it all in: appreciating the beauty and majesty of winter’s glistening, shimmering wonderland. We are engaged in a fundamental ambiguity: the transformed landscape is a marvel to contemplatively behold, but yet we struggle mightily to make our way through it.
Thus it is as well with theological education and the preparation for ministry. Our immersion into seminary is also fundamentally ambiguous. The subject matter – God and our life in God – is indeed wondrous and truly awe-inspiring. The holy mystery of the divine life is best engaged in worship as praise, thanksgiving, and humble silence.
But because the divine life is in fact so wholly Other, because God’s thoughts and ways are not our own, and because we are so alienated from our spiritual nature, our encounter with the Divine Mystery is always a struggle. When angels of light come near us, as with Jacob, we need to wrestle. If we do not let go, if we do not give in, or as Paul says – if we run the race with perseverance, we will be blessed and forever changed by the blessing we receive. So transformed, we will become a greater blessing to others. Our worship of God will then become even more true and holy: we will manifest the divine life in personal and social holiness.
My word to you, and to us all, is simple but also ambiguous: give yourself to the struggle and bask in the blessing. The greater our effort, the more we will be transformed, and the greater the blessing will be for ourselves and everyone.
So, as the semester begins, dive in deeply. Struggle mightily: Seek and ye shall find; knock and it will open. But also, appreciate and contemplate the great mystery of your life in God. Accept and embrace the blessing that you are, just as you wait actively for the blessing to come.
Wesley Theological Seminary is honored by several new faculty joining us.
The first to mention has been teaching here for a semester already: Rev. Dr. Douglas D. Tzan. Doug teaches half-time in history, and he mentors UMC ordination candidates. His MDiv is from Iliff School of Theology (Denver, CO), and his PhD is from Boston University. He ministers at St. Paul’s UMC in Sykesville, MD. The Rev. Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, Jr., is joining the Wesley faculty as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Homiletics. He is the senior servant of the 3,500 -member historic Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. The author of seven books, Hicks is a prolific writer, and is widely published in religious periodicals. His books include: On Jordan's Stormy Banks , My Soul’s Been Anchored  and Preaching Through A Storm [1987, 12th printing]. His MDiv and DMin are from Colgate Rochester Divinity School; in 1999, he earned a Master of Business Administration from the George Washington University.
In addition to his duties as interim co-director of Wesley’s National Capital Semester for Seminarians for 2014-16, Mike McCurry joins the Wesley faculty as Distinguished Professor of Public Theology. Mike McCurry is known in Washington as the former White House press secretary to President Bill Clinton from 1995 to 1998. He also served as spokesman for the Department of State from 1993 to 1995. McCurry joined the board of governors of Wesley Theological Seminary in 2000 and completed his Master of Arts degree in May 2013.
The Rev. Dr. James P. Wind, former President of the Alban Institute, will direct a new research project at Wesley funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. This will be a three-year study of large congregations to identify ways to develop the leadership-education resources and strategies required to help future large-church leaders. He will join the Wesley faculty as Visiting Distinguished Professor.
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