Once I decided that I wanted to acquire a dual degree M.Div/MSW my next step was to determine which seminary I'd go too. The School of Social Work was a given, so no searching there. But the seminary was a concern for me, and to get at what that was all about I need to fill in a few pieces of my past.
When I was 15 my family and I were living in Ft. Worth, Texas. A freshman in high school, the year was 1971-72, a time of great transition in this country. It also became a time of great transition in my life. For one thing, my family decided to leave the church. Being the prodigy of pioneers who risked life and limb to travel west for their faith, this was a big deal. But at the time it didn't seem that way. It just seemed like the right thing to do, given who my immediate family had become.
As a result, I wandered for the next 16 years without a church. I still continued to believe in God and I still talked to God all the time. But I was quite convinced that being a Christian was not for me. My experience of Christians, from my childhood church, had led me to think that "they" were all narrow minded people who knew a very small, narrow, God. And to me my experience of God was clearly something other than that. Over time, after exploring a variety of religions and new age spirituality, I came to the conclusion that I was Christian. I mean, I was baptized and celebrated Christmas and Easter, with the same intentionality as a person of faith, not just as secular holidays. So. I had to admit - I was Christian. Now the task was to find a Christian church that I could live with, and one that could live with me.
At about that same time I got engaged to the man who is now my husband. He and I went on a search for a church to marry us. He, being a divorced Roman Catholic, did not want to go through the process for an annulment. To make a long story a little shorter, we ended up at a UCC church, one I had gone to for friends weddings. They were very cool at this church, very. The male pastor I went there for was unavailable for our wedding date. But they had a woman pastor, would she do? D and I thought she would do just fine. We ended up having 6 months of intense pre-marital counseling with her. And she, although a UCC pastor, was raised in the Episcopal Church. She is the one who directed us to TEC. It took D and I a few years after the wedding to decide to go to church. But within a year after our daughter was born we began attending the near by Episcopal Church.
My journey, from our first Sunday at that church to pondering seminary, took almost 5 years. Not much time for some who was a newbie to organized church life, and for one who intended to represent the church in the world...deep inside I knew that I did not want to go to just any seminary. I wanted to go to the local Episcopal Seminary. But, when I inquired with the registrar about a dual degree M.Div. MSW I was flatly told, "No." Which left me with a dilemma...