The mission and goals section of McCormick Theological Seminary’s wepage says that the school is “…a community of learning and teaching, challenged by the Holy Spirit and grounded in God’s transforming love for the world in Jesus Christ. We are committed to institutional life, scholarship and ministry that are ecumenical, urban and cross-cultural.” Sounds pretty good! And it played a large role in why I chose McCormick as the place to study a Doctorate in Ministry.
The words above crossed my mind when I recently crossed the border into the U.S. to travel to Chicago for study. At the border I was asked why I was travelling to Chi Town. I politely (I am Canadian after all) replied that I was doing some continuing education. This was not enough information for the people at Homeland Security. The next question was, what are you studying? “I am doing a Doctorate in Ministry.” This created a whole new level of confusion. “Do you have papers to study in America?” To which I replied, “No it is not required.” To which she replied, “Pull up to the officer over there.” This man said, “Take you money, and your keys, and leave all electronics in the vehicle!” When I was in secondary I was asked by the border services agent, “what benefit will you receive from this course of study?” Hmmmm! Good question. Very utilitarian question when it comes to education. How was I to answer? “I’ll be smarter….?”
Upon further reflection and having been set free by the protective arms of Homeland Security, I wandered back in my mind to the first time I read the mission statement from above. Key words for me were, ‘scholarship, ministry, ecumenical, urban, cross-cultural.’
I have enjoyed the ecumenical and cross-cultural nature of the time I spend at McCormick. I have also benefitted greatly from the time and effort that goes into the course work before and after each trip I make to McCormick. According to McCormick, “The Doctor of Ministry encourages academically rigorous, cross-cultural, and ecumenical inquiry as it nurtures the gifts of women and men for faithful Christian ministry. Core values of McCormick’s program include learning based on context and practice, serious theological reflection, engagement across cultures and traditions, and personal and congregational or organizational transformation.” It is life-giving, to say the least, to see the parish become engaged in theological reflection around, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, liturgy, and so much more. Each and every time we engage in reflection and dialogue we are journeying closer to God. It has been an enriching and rewarding experience being at McCormick. The ‘benefit’ is ongoing. I will not need to wait till I complete this course of study to decide how I will benefit from it – being engaged in the acts of study, debate, research, and theological reflection that is beyond ecumenical and best defined as cross-cultural is an ongoing and invaluable benefit.
I shall be better prepared to answer that question the next time I am interviewed by Homeland Security.