Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's Official

Two weeks ago I graduated from PTS, receiving my MA in theology. Few formal accolades came with it, but my family showed up to cheer me on. That was the most important thing to me: having a time to celebrate a note some closure to a wonderfully formative time in my life.

The graduation ceremonies reminded my of several of the good reasons I chose to do graduate work at PTS. First, one of the best things about hanging out with Presbyterians is getting to march to accompanying bagpipes. We processed to the same haunting music that accompanies the funerals of public servants -- police, fire fighters, etc. -- a new, but awe-inspiring experience for this Mennonite.

Second, and more importantly, graduation reminded me that I chose PTS because I knew it would push me to encounter, converse with, love and bang heads with people who think and believe differently from myself. One of my core personal values is to continuously seek to engage relationships with Others, in hopes of better understanding and finding common ground (this seems to be ever-important in a world too often characterized by violence and division). PTS has been a good place to seek such common ground. The multiplicity of kinds of people there can be described in various ways. I valued African-American classmates who share my passion for life in Pittsburgh. My Mennonite presumptions were challenged by Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, Baptists and Episcopalians, to name a few. And hopefully I learned something about working to overcome the every-present liberal/conservative divides that seem to dominate all facets of American life.

The past three years certainly have not always been easy. But they have been rewarding, and I am eternally grateful to the community of friends and colleagues I have gotten to know at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.


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