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Habemus Papam

On March 13, the Roman Catholic Church elected a new leader: Pope Francis. Seeing him come onto the balcony felt like a dream: could there really be an Argentinean Jesuit as Pope?! He was not one of the buzzed about contenders (he was not European or from the curia).

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By: Annie Selak March 18, 2013


A Clergyman Writes Comics

One of my basic theological assumptions is that we are essentially creative. In fact, when I read the first chapter of Genesis and hear of a god who makes human beings in the divine likeness, I simply imagine a Creator who creates fellow creators…

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By: Rev. Wesley Sun February 22, 2013


God is Hungry

“For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” –Matthew 25:35-40, NIV

God is hungry and waiting to be fed. This hunger is reflected each day in the faces of children standing in long soup kitchen lines and in the panicked voices of desperate fathers searching for a way to put food on the table for their families. Each day their numbers grow as God waits to be fed, the text of Matthew 25 resounding in repetition. When God’s creatures are hungry, God is hungry. Through the living witness of my work I have come to believe that our God is one who laments with us and feels the depths of our pain.

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By: Jennifer Bailey January 22, 2013


Circles of Friendship

“You want to be a preacher? Oh my God, what would make you want to do something crazy like that?” I didn’t expect that reaction this previous summer from a new acquaintance at a young professional’s mixer. As a college senior, whenever meeting someone, the conversation will inevitably turn to what my plans are after college. When I respond that I feel called to preach, there is always a mixed reaction. However, I had never seen preaching as a calling that was crazy. For a while I felt the loneliness of being a young adult responding to the call to not just serve in ministry in some aspect but instead preach.

After three days at the National Festival of Young Preachers, my calling to preach has been re-affirmed. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived in Atlanta. Would I be adequately prepared to preach?

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By: Brandon Harris January 10, 2013


Toward Interreligious Leadership Formation

“Are you the chaplain?” A slightly bemused expression played across my face, given I was standing there wearing a clerical collar. “Yes, I am.” “Hi, my name is Trevor. I’m a freshman communications major from Minnesota. I’m Methodist, I’m gay, and I want to be a pastor.” When I finally managed to pick my jaw up off the floor I replied, “You’re hired.” Thus began my second week as the new University Chaplain for Community Life at Boston University, and thus began the Marsh Associate program at Marsh Chapel.

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By: Br.  A. Whitney LC Lawrence December 20, 2012


Easier Said than Silent

As an active preacher, words come easily to me…perhaps too easily. Often, in moments of levity, I playfully retreat into the familiar cadence and sonorous tone that I adopt in my homiletic practice, transforming a casual conversation into a ‘whooping’ session. It is all in good fun, delighting in the beautiful cultural expressions that add a depth of emotion and musicality to pulpit rhetoric. Those are times when I delight in the beauty of a well-delivered word for its own sake. Those are times in which the sound of my own voice is selfishly, albeit jokingly, loud and insistent. Give a preacher a platform, and (s)he will more likely than not have more than enough words to fill it..

As I write this morning, awash in the unending waves of a 24-hour news cycle, it seems as if words are in surplus..

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By: Kyle Brooks December 17, 2012


A Personal Reflection on the FTE Consultation at AAR/SBL

Getting up at 3:30 a.m. to get the airport by 4:30 a.m. is never fun. But it was for a Fund for Theological Education (FTE) Alumni consultation meeting; so I felt alright about compromising my sleeping hours. The FTE Alumni consultation was held at Chicago Temple-United Methodist Church at 9a.m on Friday November 16, 2012. It was a pre-AAR meeting to see how FTE should precede in the future as they won’t be accepting applications for fellowships that would be awarded in the 2013-2014 academic year.

Matthew Williams who is the Director of FTE’s fellowship programs recently stated that “FTE is putting a hold on fellowship programs to undergo a strategic assessment and planning process for the future of
the organization…

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By: Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim December 07, 2012


What’s Next

I wrote you earlier this fall regarding FTE’s strategic planning and one-year review of the Fellowships programs, with the exception of the Volunteers Exploring Vocation (VEV) Fellowship. As we prepare for the season of Advent, I am grateful for the great work FTE has done through 2012 with young leaders, and anticipate the next steps FTE will take in 2013 as we discern how the organization might best support and cultivate diverse young people to be faithful, wise and courageous leaders for the church and the academy.

This discernment period invites us to engage in conversations – lots of conversations. FTE will spend time next year talking to partners doing complementary work, faculty of theological institutions, church leaders and FTE Alumni, like you, and others…

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By: Stephen Lewis November 29, 2012


The Future of the Doctoral Programs

Recently we announced that FTE is putting a hold on fellowship programs to undergo a strategic assessment and planning process for the future of the organization. Thus, the doctoral programs will not accept new applications for fellowships during the 2012-2013 academic year. This is a bold and unprecedented move for FTE. These programs have been a vital source of support for underrepresented communities in the academy. There is much at stake in this decision for people of color. We don’t take this lightly.

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By: Matthew Wesley Williams November 15, 2012


Climate Change is a Social Justice Issue

The idiom, “Put your money where your mouth is,” is often trotted out to take to task hypocrites and those among us who appear to say one thing and do another – or allow our saying to stand in entirely for our doing. The expression is a close cousin of “Put up or shut up” and “Money talks, [insert crass expression] walks,” and they are all meant to use money, that buyer of goods and root of all evil, as a fair marker of our ethics – if we claim to support a cause, surely we will invest in it, and if we think…

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By: Jason Myers November 09, 2012


Listening to Your Life

Just one week ago former volunteers from Tucson, AZ to San Francisco, CA to Dublin, CA joined together at Mercy Center, a Sisters of Mercy convent and retreat center located in lovely Burlingame, California. Fifteen former volunteers, including the leadership team of five local young adults, as well as Volunteers Exploring Vocation staff Jim Ellison and Martha Wright, came together for the 2012 “Volunteers Exploring Vocation” West Coast Retreat.

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By: Emily Czarnik-Neimeyer October 29, 2012


Supporting Young Black Women in Ministry

If there is one thing that I know, it is that I have been blessed with people and communities who have supported my ministerial and academic endeavors. This support has motivated to continue pursuing my calling to preach and teach. As time as transpired, I’ve met countless young adults who have not had these types of support systems. Without the blessings of likeminded peers and mentors, many young adults have been left to figure things out for themselves. On one hand, this has clarified the resilience and the creativity with which many young adults are living into our vocations. On the other, it has clarified the void into which affirming words have yet to be spoken to the next generation of leaders.

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By: Neichelle R. Guidry Jones October 22, 2012


Looking Forward

In 2014, FTE will celebrate its 60th anniversary. In a time of great economic uncertainty and significant shifts in theological education and the broader church, this anniversary represents an important milestone in the life of our organization. During the last six decades, FTE has given approximately 7,000 fellowships to young adults who now represent some of the most important religious voices in North America and leaders within denominational bodies, congregations and theological institutions.

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By: Stephen Lewis September 05, 2012


Seeking an America as Generous and Welcoming as a Sikh Gurdwara

As a pastor, my Sunday mornings are spent in one of God’s gathering places. Currently, you will find me in a big, gothic Presbyterian sanctuary built in 1914, but the houses of worship where I have spent my Sundays vary and differ. What they all have in common, however, is a feeling of being safe and held, both by God and the community.

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By: Joann Haejong Lee August 15, 2012


Divine Creativity & Human Curiosity

At the opening of Evening Prayer, as I often pray it, come these words: invoking ancient astronomy they catapult our spirits into the depths of the galaxy even now when our knowledge of the heavens is more vast than ever, as the machineries of imagination have been realized in satellites, probes, & rovers. Our eyes turn toward the inky blackness of outer space as our hearts and minds wonder if our bodies can sustain a renewed attempt at exploring its mystery again.

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By: Josh Hale August 10, 2012


The Sikh

In light of the deaths of six devout Sikhs, gathered for worship in the sanctity of their gurdwara when they were brutally murdered on Sunday in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, this story from the days immediately following 9/11 has taken on new meaning for me. These latest victims are not alone. Hate crimes against Muslims and those imagined to be Muslim rose 1,600% after 9/11. The number of devout, peace-loving, non-violent people who have been profiled, beaten, stabbed and shot over the past decade have been legion. But this time the whole country was watching.

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By: Courtney Cowart August 08, 2012


The Beloved Community

As day two of the FTE Conference comes to a close I find myself spiritually exhausted. If you’ve ever preached a sermon you know what I am talking about. Spiritual exhaustion is that moment when you have given or received your limit of spiritual food for the day. I mean we all get “full” when we eat right? It’s the same concept. Currently I am suffering from a severe case of spiritual “fullness.”

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By: Austin Rinehart July 05, 2012


Whiskey Ads, Wise Women, and Wonder

It was not until this week that I learned how many Jack Daniel’s ads there are in the Nashville airport or how many people wear cowboy boots here. I had never been in Nashville before Tuesday, when I got here for the Fund for Theological Education‘s 2012 Leaders in Ministry conference (I was lucky enough to be nominated and accepted to come here as an Undergraduate Fellow). The conference, convened at the lovely Scarritt-Bennett Center (with a Gothic chapel and a cafeteria that serves up fried green tomatoes and grits), has gathered together a diverse group of young Americans interested in careers in religion.

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By: Abigail Clauhs July 02, 2012


Jesus was human.  And he rocked at it.

I am currently at the FTE Leaders in Ministry Conference in Nashville. It has been quite the colorful rainbow of experiences complete with all the related emotions. My fellows have taught me so much. Not just about themselves and their own faiths. But also about myself. And my faith. We closed out our “round table” group discussions tonight. In my own group, one of the gentlemen did the closing prayer. I am so grateful that when we have prayed here during this conference, we all seem to do it in the same language. We all seem to use the universal language of…

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By: Raven Rowe June 26, 2012


And Our Calling Is Sure

This is a poem that was written to inaugurate our sacred space in the chapel on the final morning of the 2012 FTE Leaders in the Academy Conference. It is, in so many ways, a distillation of the ineffable love shared and multiplied in those moments, a manifested ‘yes’ to the calling that resides just above our heads in the realm of the spiritual. I offer these words as homage to the boldness and brilliance of the staff, faculty, and fellows of FTE. I am humbled and blessed to be among them, then and now. Amen and Ashé.

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By: Kyle Brooks June 14, 2012

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