When I thought about being in Appalachia for 2 weeks, all kinds of images flowed through my mind. I had a particular economic group, social class, and geographic location in mind. My time has been spent primarily in Garrett County, MD. The more people I met, the more similar they seemed to myself.
One of my professors always challenges us to go deeper than the obvious, to "look under the rug." Part of this took place last night and today as those of us who spent January term here met togethe rin Morgantown, WV, at WVU with campus pastor Matt Riegel, Dr. Gil Waldkoenig (professor at Gettysburg Seminary), and Bishop Ralph Dunkin (bishop of the WV/Western MD Synod of the ELCA). One of the things I discovered was that parts of the Southern Tier of my own New York State, are technically part of Appalachia, including Jamestown, the birthplace of Lucille Ball. Hmm...that certainly caught my attention.
There are those places however, which do typify what I had originally imagined. For…
This morning we went to a nursing home to do the Lutheran service for the residents. It felt like shades of CPE at Bethany Village where I was this past summer. It was wonderful, but at the same time, I have realized that however much I may love the idea of chaplaincy, I desire even more so to be in the parish administering the sacraments, preaching, and loving and visiting the people. In essence, I can have the best of both worlds. Whether chaplaincy or pastorate, it's all about loving the people the Lord sends you to. It was a bit of an epiphany for me.
Later in the day, I attended a church council meeting with the pastor. It was very small and the people work so hard. There were times though when I could not help but think of the vestry meetings from the PBS show "Vicar of Dibley." The pastor is familiar with the show and agreed that the meetings can get like that. Please see the clip below and you'll have a better understanding.
A passage of scripture that has become so real to me in the days since the earthquake that has caused such devastation to Haiti is from James 4.
There were some seminarians from the Wartburg and Trinity seminaries of the ELCA in Haiti during the earthquake. One student, Ben Larson, lost his life in the quake. He was a senior, already approved to go into ministry following graduation, and he had a family.
We often take for granted the time we have on this earth. I am a second year seminarian spending my January term in Garrett County, MD. Ben was spending his January term in Haiti.
I anticipate returning safely to my husband and friends at Gettysburg Seminary to begin the Spring semester. I'm sure Ben anticipated returning to Wartburg for Spring semester, which would have been his last. He was looking toward graduation and first call. As one pastor said this morning, the church has lost a future pastor.
The passage from James warns us to not assume what tomorrow will bring. We do not …