Monday, September 14, 2009

And they're off!

Today is the first day of classes of the new seminary year…and so far it’s been oddly peaceful. After being home for 4 months (living on a semi-busy road with airplanes zooming over our roof) I’d forgotten how quiet it can be up here on campus. My first class isn’t until 6 pm so I’ve eased into the day by sleeping late and going for a walk around the lake.

I had a busy weekend - driving back up to Boston on Thursday, participating in new student orientation events on Friday and Saturday, and attending Worship at my Field Ed church on Sunday. But so far this semester is shaping up to be a lot less hectic then my previous two, at least academically.

I’m taking 3 classes instead of 4 because of my 15-hour-a-week Field Ed obligation, and after looking at the syllabuses the workload is much lighter than most of my previous classes. My “History of American Religion” class doesn’t even have a reading assignment until the 3rd class, and each of my three classes has only 3 or 4 papers/projects which are well spaced out over the semester – As opposed to last semester when it seemed like I had a paper due every week in addition to writing sermons for preaching class and doing group projects for my Worship class. And thankfully, the main text for my New Testament class is the same one I used in my undergrad New Testament class so I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll be sailing into waters that I’ve already charted, thus easing the work-load/stress-factor even more. I do have an additional 1-½ hour Field Ed ‘small group’ class that meets every week in conjunction with my Educational Ministry class. It will require some writing but it will mainly be listening and discussion.

I expect things to get hectic soon enough once I get into the swing of Field Ed, but even my Field Ed church is taking its time getting up to speed.
I know quite a few students here on campus who’ve already started at their Field Ed sites, even participating in Worship this past Sunday, while mine is having difficulty getting their Teaching Parish Committee together to have our initial meeting. We’re tentatively scheduled to meet next Sunday, but the Field Ed Supervisor, who also happens to be the Pastor, still has a “new supervisor” education requirement to fulfill before he we can have our first one-on-one meeting. And until I meet with him and get an idea as to how open he is to my participating in some of the things that I’d like to participate in (pastoral care/counseling, weddings/baptisms/funerals) and get a feel for how often he’ll let me preach, I can’t really work on my “Learning Agreement” with the Teaching Parish Committee. The Learning Agreement is what spells out exactly what tasks I’ll be performing and how many hours a week I’ll be doing them.

He did tell me yesterday that he’s going on vacation in 2 weeks and he wants me to fill-in as liturgist (a member of the congregation is preaching). At this church the Pastor performs all the liturgical duties (Welcome, Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession, Offertory) in addition to the Pastoral Prayer, Lord’s Prayer and Benediction, and a lay reader does the scripture reading. So I suppose this will be my first official duty as a Field Ed student. Of course while he was telling me this what was running through my head was: “What pastor goes on vacation 2-weeks into the new church year? Isn’t that what summer is for?”

Oh well, I suppose I should be grateful that I have the opportunity to ease into this new school year, and not feel like I’m being pulled in six different directions right from the get go. Now, I’m going to enjoy the rest of this beautiful afternoon and plant myself in an Adirondack chair on the quad and read. Something deep and theological….like a Star Trek novel.