November 15, 2011
Author’s Note: Journeys are strange. You hardly ever end up where you thought you would, and you definitely never get there in the manner that you conceived. That has been as true for me as it was for Jonah the morning he woke up to take a leisurely cruise to Tarshish. Over the next few weeks I will be writing a series of blog posts exploring how I came to and through seminary. It’s a strange tale with no straight lines. But it’s my story, and it is the path that the Lord has led our family down. It’s not idyllic. I hope that encourages you. Also, in case you just joined the conversation, Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 can be found here.
God works in mysterious ways. In the case of how I ended up at Gordon-Conwell, he worked for my good in a way that I could not see in spite of my focus in a different direction. So how did I end up at Gordon-Conwell? To quote Prince Herbert from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “Well, I’ll tell you.” (cue music)
After taking my first seven courses through Fuller, my job in Colorado transferred me to a small golf community in North Carolina. It was a long move for our family, but one that we were excited to make. In the midst of having three children, sometimes it is difficult to keep all of the details of life at the forefront of one’s mind. Thus, it was a short while after arriving in North Carolina that I realized that the nearest Fuller campus was in Colorado Springs – a mere 1700 miles away. My pay level was prohibitive to flights back and forth, so I began searching for a new school.
Now, at this point in the story I have to explain that those of us from Colorado are a bit different. We like to wear sandals and shorts. A lot. We also don’t dress up much. However, people in North Carolina do.
Thus, as I started searching for seminaries within 150 miles of my home I became a bit disconcerted that everyone – everyone! – on the website of each school that I looked at was wearing a suit. I didn’t have anything against suits, it was just that, as someone who worked with high school kids at the time, I preferred casual clothing in the groups with which I spent my time.
And then I found it shining in the night – more beautiful than William Shatner’s spoken version of “Rocket Man”: the Gordon-Conwell Charlotte Campus website. There were lots of smiling faces and no three-piece suits. I was intrigued. So, I called down, scheduled a campus visit and the rest, as they say, is history.
I wish that I could write that I chose Gordon-Conwell because of its wonderful and inquisitive student body (which it has), its academically challenging atmosphere (it is), and its excellent faculty members (they are), but I did not. I chose Gordon-Conwell because of the fashion choices of those on their website.
Addendum: The irony in this story is that the Lord used such a frivolous way to make a decision in order to show me my love for the academic world. Within a few years I would discover my love for studying and begin to pursue a career in academia, all of which required that I be at such an academically rigorous school. However, that story is for a later post. Next time I will talk a bit about my time with the wonderful people at GCTS-Charlotte.
Brian has an M.Div. (2010) from Gordon-Conwell’s Charlotte campus, a Th.M. (2011) in Historical Theology from the South Hamilton campus, and is currently strengthening his language skills while in the MACH program. He hopes to matriculate into a doctoral program in August 2012 that will allow him to continue in his study of the thought of Augustine of Hippo. He has a wonderful wife, three great children, and spent ten years in ministry to teenagers, primarily with Young Life International.
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