aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

By request

A copy of my newsletter column for January, 2015.

The Wordsmith’s Forge
Art Collins

January, 2015. Forty years ago this month, Deanne and I packed up all our meager possessions in our old ‘64 Dodge Dart and a U-Haul wagon and moved to Wilmore, Kentucky, so I could begin classes at Asbury Theological Seminary. I was barely 21 years old, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

We had been married for just over a year. I had hurried up and finished my Bachelor’s degree a semester early so I could enter seminary mid-year. I was in a tearing hurry. I’ve mostly been in a hurry my whole life, I guess. Goal-driven. Wanting to make something happen. Eager to make a difference.

In many ways, it’s amazing that I was ever admitted to the clergy. It wasn’t that I was so young; most preachers entering the ministry were of an age with me back then. It was that I was so ill-prepared.

I had virtually no experience of the church as an adult layperson. For that matter, I had just about zero experience of the church as a youth. Nobody had ever discipled me. I hadn’t ever done church camp or confirmation class. I passed the seminary’s dreaded Bible Content Exam on the basis of one course in Bible as Literature I had taken my last semester as an undergraduate. People just assumed that you knew your stuff and had a regular prayer life and all the rest of it, or else why were you here? All I knew was that I had been called, so here I was.

I had never led anything or anyone before, other than being an Assistant Scoutmaster or a Chapter Chief in the Order of the Arrow. I drew on my Scouting experience a lot. I didn’t know the way things were traditionally done. Nor did I know anything about theological movements and differences. I figured seminary was seminary, and everybody in the church’s leadership believed all the right stuff. (What an innocent I was.)

Some people who are plunked down in the middle of a hothouse environment like Asbury either immediately become passionate devotees of the Way We’re Supposed to Do It, or they become passionate rebels against it. I was mostly baffled by the evangelical sub-culture. In some ways, I’m still baffled by it; even while I agree with their theology, what evangelicals think is groovy often fails to move me.

I made a lot of mistakes. I learned everything backwards. I still am far too unorganized in my inner life. But I have kept at it. And I’m still in a hurry. Still trying to make something happen. After forty years, I can laugh at how ill-prepared I was. And I give thanks to God for sustaining me along the way. I did not give up or burn out or lose my faith, as I have seen happen to others.

All of which means, I get to start another year preaching the Gospel and teaching the Faith and pastoring Ellettsville First United Methodist Church. Which is a privilege and a joy. To God be the glory!

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.