It has been a while since my last post, mostly resulting from the busy summers required of students between their first and second years of MDiv study (Master of Divinity). After their first year, students in the ELCA candidacy process to become a Lutheran pastor are required to complete a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, commonly known as CPE. Most of these programs take place in hospital settings, though others are available in nursing homes, homeless shelters and a variety of other settings all across the country. It is a challenging but rewarding time in which students are able to gain hands on ministry experience, often times in some fairly difficult situations.
Students completing their second and third years of seminary moved either away from campus to start their internship year or moved back onto campus after having completed their internship year over the summer, as well. Some of these internship years start and finish in June, many others in July and a few in August. For them, the summer marks a time of moving into their year of ministry experience in a church or back onto campus having gotten a taste of working as a pastor.
All in all, summer is a time for ministry here at Wartburg. It is a time to go out with the blessing of God on our lives and return to reflect on how God has moved in our ministry experiences. It is refreshing to increase the wealth of ministry experiences that we, as a community of Christ, can draw on every year in our class discussions as well as in the papers and projects that we create in order to articulate how God is moving in the church and in our lives. The seminary does not find God in isolation but reaches out every year across the country and the world both to share the good news of Christ with those we encounter and to encounter Christ in those whom we meet elsewhere in the world. And then, afterwards, we return to Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.
Today, Friday, is the last day of our first week of school, entitled "Prolog Week". Prolog week is actually a separate 1 credit course from the rest of the semester. It serves as a week long intensive in which students and faculty explore various topics of importance to the campus community, the church, the world and preparation for ministry. The Prolog Week courses are different depending on the year of study that a student is in. Prolog Week for Juniors (first year students) is designed to orient students to issues in the church and in the community of Dubuque. They do field work out in the city of Dubuque in which they are required to interview residents in order to learn about issues that Dubuque faces as well as see the strengths that it has. Students in their Middler year (second year) study various approaches to textual criticism and scriptural interpretation. The course provides a good framework for beginning Middler studies of the Hebrew language and the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament). Senior students are those who have just come back from their internship year. For them, prolog week is a time of group reflection upon their experience and integration of their internship ministry with their presence back on campus.
All in all, it was a good week and it is even better to be back. The campus community at Wartburg Seminary is once again united as a whole, which we will experience this evening at our all campus community Prolog Week Picnic. Students and families will be able to dine and fellowship together as we meet new students, reunite with old friends and share Christ with one another. We look forward to it every year and, this year especially, as we have the added treat of a performance by the Haitian dance troupe from St. Joseph's, a ministry community to which we send our students for J-term experiences. It will be a good night which we wish we could share with everyone and which confirms the sentiment we all feel- it is good to be at Wartburg.