Yesterday I went and had the opportunity to sit in on a Systematic Theology II course (taught by Dr. Greg Love) as well as a chapel service at San Francisco Theological Seminary (Pasadena campus). I was able to meet the community there and chat with some of the faculty about their program and the possibility of myself attending there. The class discussion was on a typical subject; Pelagius vs. Augustine on Sin and humanity. The discussion was informative, I learned quite a bit for having already studied the subject (thankfully, Dr. Okholm at APU over-prepared me for graduate study) and the professor, Dr. Greg Love, was clear and didn't waste a sentence. I really enjoyed the discussion and was impressed with the academic atmosphere of the class.
At lunch I had the pleasure of getting a feel for the community there, the most refreshing aspect of which was just that--it was indeed a community. These are not just academic colleagues, the people there really took interest in one another and they knew each other. Their shared meal was like a family meal even though they all came from different backgrounds and it was a blessing to be a part of it even for a day. The chapel service was simply a continuation of this communal experience. They shared in worship not as classmates but as a faith-community, It was a very traditional service and I appreciated that.
Though I had expected to talk merely to a representative counselor, I actually got to talk to and share my questions with the Associate Dean of Admissions. I was able to be honest about my hesitations as well as my praise for their program and I received some great information. I've never dealt with such a flexible institution. They really do try to meet the needs of their individual students (it helps that they have under 60 students in their program).
My largest concern is that I don't want to be the "token evangelical" there. My appreciation for the questions being asked within evangelicalism (including those of the Emerging church) and my interest in blending contemporary/evangelical worship with liturgy would no doubt be somewhat unique for that community and I would like to fit-in regardless of that. I received some reassurance in my discussion but I will still need to work that out a bit more. Will my experience at SFTS, indeed even my consideration of ordination in the UCC, be compatible with my more "evangelical" and "emerging" mindset and Ecclesiology? I'm still not sure.
Overall I was blessed by my day at SFTS. I was not only impressed by the academic atmosphere but I was frankly surprised by the depth of the community's care for one another. It's a truly powerful group and the program is uniquely attractive because of that.