I’ve attempted to write this blog several times over the course of several days. Each time it has been struggle to say exactly what is on my heart, and I’ve found myself more speechless than contemplative, which often provides difficulty in attempting to blog.
Tomorrow ends a four-year journey that began in North Carolina, took a detour through Virginia, and is now settled in the heart of the Bluegrass in Kentucky. After four years and 99 hours of classes, I will be called a Master of Divinity, which is really an unfortunate degree title. You cannot master a theological topic, but you can only hope to come to some basic understanding that you receive a nice little piece of paper, a warm handshake, and a nice little debt certificate. Perhaps a better title would be Student of Divinity, because I think that is more about who we are as Christians, and as leaders in the church. We are students.
It will be a day of celebration. I have my purple and pink tie ready to be worn, in lieu of not being able to wear a feather boa as a joke. My family is all here, and some more are on their way. And, tonight, I can’t help but be thankful and humbled by all who have gone before me, who have helped me, and walked with me to this point in my life. Graduation and moving forward in my calling as a pastor in the United Methodist Church would not be possible without the many saints who have taken an interest in my life and been a part of this journey.
Saints like my friends at Christ United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, N.C. Though many have moved on and started different journeys, it is at this church where I felt alive in Christ once again after some difficult years. It was at that church where I first heard the call that I had ignored for so long. It’s where I got my feet wet, made some mistakes, and started to get an education in what ministry would look like. So many had a hand in who I am and were part of my life in those days. They know who they are, and to them, and the entire church, I say thank you.
I wouldn’t be here without the love and support of my best friend, my wife Abbi. We met in a classroom during a time that I had hit rock bottom in my seminary career, and almost decided to quit all together. She has been my biggest supporter, my strength, my proofreader, and my friend through this journey. Without her, I would likely be somewhere else today. And to her, I say thank you.
To my family who have been behind me since I started to wrestle with this calling. I know it is difficult not fully understanding all this life means, but I appreciate and have appreciated your support through these years. My family has been some of my biggest supporters, and to have most of them here is a big blessing. So, thank you for being there for me.
To my church family here in Kentucky at First United Methodist Church – Andover Campus, I say thank you as well. I am humbled by your support and encouragement to both myself and Abbi these past two years. We had no idea what to expect when we came to Andover, but what we have found was a home, a family, and support. When I walk across the stage tomorrow, I recognize that I am not walking alone, but I carry your love and support with me, and for that I am eternally grateful.
To my friends on campus, both those who have graduated, are graduating, and will graduate some day, thank you. Thank you for laughing with me, for working with me, for talking with me, and encouraging me. These four years have not been the easiest, and I thank you for your support and encouragement.
To my professors, I say thank you for giving me a deeper understanding and appreciation for my call. You have challenged me to be a theologian, to embrace who God has called me to be, and to live it out in the fullest. Everyone says they have the best faculty, but I think at Asbury we have the most caring and supportive faculty, and for that I say thank you.
To anyone I have missed, I thank you for being along for the ride as well.
Tomorrow we celebrate!