Boxes Within Boxes
One of our online students wrote so beautifully about the boxes she is opening as she makes her seminary journey.
“I do not see God as controlling, angry, or vengeful anymore. I have opened that box and retrieved what I needed and left the rest as behind as I can. Like labels of any kind, they limit the potential of relationship between any two living or nonliving things.
“There was a box within my box and now it is open as well. I pray I can take with me what I need and leave behind the vernacular of a past containing any negative hermeneutics.”
What an amazing journey we are on! I salute your courage, Randa Reeves, and the courage of each one of us willing to ask difficult questions, wrestle with our embedded faiths, and forge an even deeper relationship with the Divine.
With blessings and love for this semester,
Soup for All
The experience at chapel this past Tuesday shed a different light on the ritual of communion. The Worship Practicum Class offered a Reader’s Theatre performance based on a Fred Craddock story from his book Craddock Stories, adapted by Dr. Richard Ward. If you ever wonder whether the Spirit can move in such a setting, I can tell you, “Yes it can!”
The story involved a diner offering a not-so-tasty soup to those hoping to have at least a decent meal. The presentation was not of a five-star restaurant caliber and the taste confirmed its appearance. But when one individual didn’t even have the choice of ordering the soup, only the hope of seeking a glass of water and a place to warm up, the soup was transformed into a bowl of gratefulness. And even prompted action to ensure the one without was served.
Our communion bread was served from a soup bowl. Can you imagine the shock waves that might go through our churches if we offered communion in a less than “sacred” manner? The experience of receiving communion from such a humble setting reminded me even more of the humbleness we should put on as we have the opportunity to commune with the Spirit. A stretch of the imagination, you might think? Yes, indeed.
Isn’t that what gathering together in a singular spirit is about, though? Coming together, each from our different places, in a space of humility. There are times we will gather together in our places of worship where the marginalized are not present physically, but our spirit of humility allows their presence. In our thoughts of thankfulness to the Creator, in our desire to see the plight of others, and in our work to somehow communicate to those not at the table, slowly we create space for them, too.
I’m not speaking of older days when conversion to “our” way might have been the norm in the ministry, but of an actual spiritual connection with others who do not always follow “our” way. Sometimes communion is a time to remind us to remember those not present. Connecting to one another, seeing each other with more than our eyes, is a way of Jesus. Not the only way but a very fulfilling way, and a difficult way in its view of humanity. It’s difficult to be reminded of what we take for granted, how we assume so easily someone should be able to pull themselves out of their current circumstances because our place in life has been blessed.
Sometimes our sensitivity is not for others but simply for our own learning in life. The discussions at Phillips about privilege, racism, prejudice, and injustice are meant to open our eyes in times of spiritual blindness. The learning is calling us into a communion with others who are without justice and in need of mercy. How often would you eat the distasteful soup in recognition of others having none rather than send it back for a new, better bowl?
The greater fulfillment of our work occurs when we are uncomfortable, yet all are at the table. Who are you excluding today because they might not match your idea of the sacred? Humanity needs your vision and imagination to picture something better. Here’s hoping you create better soup than me!
Three Graduates Honored for Contributions to Book
Coming Full Circle: Constructing a Native Christian Theology, published by Fortress in 2015, includes three chapters written by graduates of Phillips Seminary. On Tuesday, Feb. 23, we will celebrate their contributions to this important book in our regular chapel service at 11:30 a.m. and at a program in the Student Commons at lunchtime.
We will honor Rev. Lisa Dellinger, Rev. Glen "Chebon" Kernell, and Rev. David Wilson. Lisa, who works in our PTS library from time to time, is a doctoral student at Garrett Evangelical Seminary in Chicago. Chebon is the Executive Secretary of Native American and Indigenous Ministries at the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries. Both Lisa and Chebon are pastors in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference of the UMC. David, who was named the Phillips Distinguished Alumni in 2007, serves as the Conference Superintendent for OIMC.
Dean Nancy Pittman will preach in chapel for the Coming Full Circle celebration. PTS President Gary Peluso-Verdend will open the lunchtime program, where Dr. Mindy McGarrah Sharp, Dr. Sarah Morice Brubaker, and Dr. Ellen Blue will discuss the three authors’ chapters. Everyone is welcome to attend, and we hope you will join us.
Choose Chapel this Week!
You're invited to join us Tuesday and Friday at 11:30 a.m. for two uplifting worship services celebrating Black History Month. We will be dedicating the new set of African American Heritage hymnals that were presented to the Phillips community in memory of the lives lost at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. in Charleston.
Let's keep the positive energy generated by Remind & Renew going as we continue our efforts to work for reconciliation and celebrate diversity.
Fall Course Evaluations
Thanks to everyone who submitted course evaluations for Fall 2015 courses. We received 107 evaluations (a significant improvement over previous semesters) and as promised, three lucky people who submitted course evaluations are receiving a $50 QuikTrip gas card which they won in the first ever course evaluation sweepstakes. So please say congratulations to Matt Limback, Maggie Mossler and Karla Amburgey when you have a chance.
From the Registrar
Last Day to Drop a Course: February 13th
Inclement Weather Policy
The faculty has reviewed and updated policies concerning procedures for class in the event of inclement weather. Here’s a brief synopsis as it pertains to students:
a. A Weather Advisory will be issued when weather conditions are such that some students could experience difficulty in getting to and from campus, although the majority would be able to maintain the normal schedule. During an advisory, on-campus classes will not be canceled and the seminary will continue to operate on a normal schedule. Students unable to attend due to dangerous road conditions in their area must call or email their professor as early as possible with a minimum of two hours prior to the start of class to arrange for video or audio access. This option is now available to United Methodist students—we have received clarification from the University Senate which makes it possible for us to offer this to all students. Students who participate through video or audio access will not be counted absent.
b. On Campus Classes will be cancelled when weather conditions are such that seminary employees living in the Tulsa area and most students would be prevented from getting to the building safely.When on-campus classes are cancelled, student absences are not recorded. On these occasions, online classes will continue with their normal schedule. Because such conditions would prevent faculty and technologists from safely traveling to campus, no accommodations for distance learning will be provided when on-campus classes are canceled.
The Academic Affairs office will notify students who are enrolled in the cancelled classes by email and place announcements on the Phillips weather phone line (918-270-6467) and the Phillips website, Facebook page and Moodle page. Because the size of weather events are notoriously difficult to gauge until they are almost upon us, I will not be able to make a judgment until, at the very latest, 6 a.m. on the affected days. While we are always happy to talk to you any time, calling me, or Gina Robertson at the front desk, or Amy Clark in my office, or anyone else at the seminary before the determination is actually made, will not get you more information any quicker. When weather conditions change, the decision to keep the seminary open may be modified. Therefore, students and instructors are advised to re-check the website or the phone message before traveling to the seminary.
c. In the event of widespread power outages, either at the seminary or student’s area of residence area, individual instructors in online or videoconferenced courses will determine how to make up missed class sessions. Students should phone professors or Amy to report loss of power or internet connectivity if it affects timely submission or required assignments.
Dean Nancy Pittman