Archive for September 2009

Summer reflections from a busy seminarian…

September 29, 2009

“More than anything this summer, I was gifted with a deeper understanding of holiness such as I have never experienced before. Meeting someone as they are about to go into surgery, or as they are lying in a hospital bed dying of cancer is a remarkable event in itself. But the fact that these people would also honor me with their story and share prayer with me is a privilege beyond what I can articulate. God is surely present in all things, and one way in which we can experience God most directly is through coming to a place where we can share our true selves with one another.”

~ Michelle Meech, CDSP 3rd year MDiv Student

Michelle MeechBefore I get into the details, I am pleased to report that I took full advantage of alternative transportation options this summer.  Starting with my trip to Olympia from Berkeley on the train, to the award-winning bus system of Olympia, to the paved multi-use trails on which I biked to and from the hospital and then back on the train for my return trip to CDSP… I was rarely in a car all summer.  On goes the effort to reduce my carbon footprint!  Although, there was one plane trip… to Philadelphia.

In early June, the Episcopal Preaching Foundation sponsored the Preaching Excellence Program at Villanova University outside of Philadelphia. There were eight students representing CDSP who braved the hot, humid weather of the East Coast to join with other Episcopal seminarians from across the country for a week of fellowship and learning.  The Beatitudes was the passage of choice and I heard so many wonderful sermons from my fellow students that listening to eight to ten sermons in a day really was a joy (although a bit draining). We were even given the gift of a rather powerful thunderstorm one night – not a big deal for people who live in other parts of the country but for those of us on the West Coast, it was a rare treat.

After leaving Philadelphia, I jumped right into CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at Providence St. Peter Hospital in beautiful Olympia, WA. This was my first unit of CPE and while there are many adjectives that could describe my experience, I will simply say that it was profound. I knew that a great deal of the success of a CPE program rests on the skill of the supervisor and I was not disappointed with mine. Beverly Hartz is compassionate, intuitive and bold in her approach with her students and is creative with the structure of the program. In addition, being a part of the Palliative Care team gave me an opportunity to learn more about and be with and advocate for people who cope with difficult and debilitating health issues.

More than anything this summer, I was gifted with a deeper understanding of holiness such as I have never experienced before.  Meeting someone as they are about to go into surgery, or as they are lying in a hospital bed dying of cancer is a remarkable event in itself.  But that these people would also honor me with their story and share prayer with me is a privilege beyond what I can articulate. God is surely present in all things and one way in which we can experience God most directly is through coming to a place where we can share our true selves with one another.

While it was a full summer with little down time, this past summer was also the most formative three months of my life. I give great thanks to God for all and I look forward to my final year at CDSP.

New baby, new book, new business!

September 11, 2009

This summer involved many new things in my life. As I finished my first sabbatical, my second child, Miriam, was born. Ending a period of time away from the regular demands of teaching and committee work was restorative. To have Miri (as we

Miriam Joslyn-Siemiatkoski

Miriam Joslyn-Siemiatkoski

call her at home) enter the life of my family at the end of that time was a special blessing. Now some four months later Miri is growing before my eyes. I have learned a lesson from my kids that applies to life in a community like CDSP: we are always in a state of change yet we also retain something special that makes us, whether a person or a community, who we are.

During my sabbatical I also put the finishing touches on my first book, Christian Memories of the Maccabean Martyrs. Writing a book is an arduous process. Even when you are done with actually writing and re-writing many drafts, you still are not done when the book is sent off to the publisher. There then is the whole process of dealing with copy editor’s comments, arranging the compilation of the index, and dealing with the many moving pieces of launching a book. The entire process was new for me. While I already have half a dozen ideas for more books, I certainly will not undertake my next major writing project lightly.

I had one other important new experience this summer – attending General Convention. I went to Anaheim to participate in the annual board meeting of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church in my capacity as the book review editor of Anglican and Episcopal History. Along with Jane Shaw of Oxford University, I delivered an address to the society on the future of the study and teaching of Anglican history. (Our joint address will appear in the December 2009 issue of AEH.) While in Anaheim I was able to observe the deliberations of General Convention and stroll the exhibit hall. I also kept tabs on all the doings of our new liturgy professor Ruth Meyers while she did tremendous work on the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music and for the Chicago Consultation. Elizabeth Drescher, the director of the Center for Anglican Learning & Leadership, also did a presentation on the use of social media in the communities of faith. My time at General Convention also gave me time to have conversation with prospective students at CDSP. To be at General Convention, even for a few days, is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. Nonetheless, I was completely taken with the bustle and business going on all around. It made me wonder how I could somehow be of service during this triennial process.

New baby, new book, new business – my sabbatical and summer has indeed been a rich time. And now, on to the new semester, new students, and new studies!

~ Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, Assistant Professor of Church History

Welcome to the CDSP Community Online!

September 11, 2009

Anglican Insights is the online extension of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) seminary community. Those of you who know us already know that CDSP is an Episcopal seminary that has been educating leaders in ministry in the Berkeley Hills on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay since 1893. Throughout the academic year, we’ll be sharing posts from students, faculty, staff members, and alums on life in our diverse community and on our thinking about critical issues in ministry as they engage pressing issues in the wider world. Check here regularly for fresh thinking from our community in both written and video formats.

CDSP Berkeley Campus Walkway

CDSP Berkeley Campus Walkway

Our hope is that current students in our residential seminary program, our widely distributed alums, members of our global online learning community, and the many donors who help to sustain theological education and formation at CDSP will visit our community blog to catch up with old friends, see what’s new at CDSP, and share their own insights on current issues in the Church and the world. We’re also hoping that those less familiar with the CDSP community will join in the conversation. If you are a prospective student, for instance, you will have the opportunity to see CDSP residential faculty in action through periodic classroom videos and interviews. You’ll also get snippets from online continuing education courses offered through the Center for Anglican Learning and Leadership (CALL). You’ll get to share in the insights of current students as they connect classroom learning to the practice of ministry in all kinds of amazing ways. And, you’ll meet CDSP alums who are actively responding to the changing needs of the church and the world in a range of parish and non-traditional ministries.

We invite you to visit us often at Anglican Insights, and to share your thoughts on the ideas, images, and experiences you find here. Welcome!