The Prairie State
After a long journey getting 2017 rolling (and traveling to New York in March only to miss services to care for Austin during his unfortunate flu-ridden weekend), I was able to take a quick mid-week drive up to Chicago, Illinois. Having been stationed at Naval Air Station Glenview in the mid-1980s, it was a look back at my past while making an honest inquiry into my future attending seminary.
I was visiting Meadville Lombard Theological School for their 25 Hours @ Meadville Lombard – Prospective Student Conference. The conference included time with current seminarians, staff, faculty, and the school president, while also enjoying the company of other prospective students from around the country.
Highlights of my visit:
Architecture: Just the modern Spertus Building itself is a reason to tour. With the views of Grant Park and Lake Michigan, one tucks themselves among the stacks of historical leather-bound books in the Wiggin Library.
Fahs Collaborative: The Fahs Collaborative is a “laboratory that brings people together to explore and create innovative ways to deepen faith through educational encounters” (a Meadville Lombard program).
Vespers: Wednesday evening service on “Covenant,” prepared and led by Meadville Lombard seminarians attending spring intensives.
President’s Dinner: Excerpt viewing of the film, “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War,” followed by open discussion with President Lee Barker, Provost Dr. Sharon Welch, and Historian/Meadville Lombard Archivist John Leeker.
Lecture: As prospective students, we were warmly welcomed into Dr. Mike Hogue’s class, “Cosmos & Ethos – Climate Justice & Theology,” joining in discussion and group thought on questions about systematic and constructive theology.
Congress Hotel: Although the weather wasn’t cooperating on the rainy Wednesday, the stay at the Congress Hotel, with direct views of Grant Park and Lake Michigan, were nonetheless amazing and inviting.
But, with all the glamour and intellect, it was the spirit of the people that brought kinship to us all in our endevour to learn about becoming Unitarian Universalist leaders through lay leadership and ministry. Atherton, a shared space with a view, brought safety, warmth, and the belonging feeling that one relishes in a place of acceptance and diversity.
— Special thanks to Jim Proctor, Officer of Recruitment, for the relentless planning and warm welcome, and to Seminarian Jon Coffee, Meadville Lombard Regional Coordinator & Interim Chaplain of Pastoral Care at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, Knoxville, Tennessee. Jon was the first to greet us and the last to hug us as we left on our separate ways.