Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Student Orientation at Meadville Lombard Theological School - September 2-4, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009 was the culmination of Meadville Lombard Theological School's two and a half day New Student Orientation.It was an intense experience for the students and an equally intense one for faculty, particularly the four that are involved with the Community Studies Sequence. The Community Studies Sequence is a praxis that places students in community sites in their first year. Students residing in Chicago select their top three sites from a list of approved sites that I have identified. The touchpoint or distance learners select local sites based on established criteria. A faculty led reflections process permits the students to reflect on and process their experiences and to deepen their awareness as they move through their site experiences.

This was the first year that faculty has assumed the planning and implemenatation for the Orientation. Two factors particularly impacted this transition. Number one, we had the largest incoming class in many years. We admitted 24 new students! The usual average is ten. The second factor that made this years Orientation very challenging was I was asked to do the planning and coordination. While this was not the largest event I have planned it required a level of detail and coordination that other events I have done did not require. While everything did not go off without some glitches and mess ups, overall none of the problems were earth shattering! I was just happy that the bus showed up and that all the site representatives were in place and were engaging and interesting to the students. Furthermore, I was happy that everyone else came through and the students got most of their questions answered and that information was conveyed in a timely manner with things staying on time. The students appeared to leave excited and motivated and ready to return in January!

The pictures below depict the final day which involved a day long tour of the
20th ward in Chicago. The 20th Ward includes Woodlawn and Back of the Yards communities.

I am thankful to all the faculty, staff and community folks that helped make the Orientation such a success. I dedicate this post to Rev. Neil Shadle who many years earlier set the example of living out his faith and his vision of ministry. He and his family moved into the community and started a community ministry that changed the face of ministry as it was known then. In some ways years later we are just beginning to get back to this model.

May our efforts be blessed and may these students find fulfillment on their journeys toward ministry. May faculty in particular provide the support and guidance needed to help them be the very best ministers they can be!

Amen and Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah

Joel, Executive Director of Sunshine Gospel Ministry addressing the students and faculty as we began the tour of the 20th ward.

This is the Bar-B-Q picnic planned by the student body to welcome the new students. It was held at 63rd st. Beach. There was a chill in the air as Indian summer is quickly decending on Chicago.

Picnic celebrations continue with students and faculty after a full day for incoming students and faculty.

Holy Cross Church is one of the community sites our students can select. This is a picture of the front of the church. Father Bruce Wellums is the priest in charge. He is absolutely incredible! I am personally inspired by his words and his example.

Father Bruce Wellums, in the yellow stripped shirt, is shown here addressing the students.

The students are seated at Inspiration Cafe, a program for the homeless. They are listening to staff describe the services, what they do and some of the challenges of their work.

L-R IInspiration Cafe staff, Cesarias Marsh, Intake Specialist and Frank Lowe, Director of Housing addressing students and faculty.

Students standing in Alderman's office listening to Chief of Staff, Kyla Williams describe the role of the Alderman and his staff and the involvement with his constituency.

Chief of Staff, Kyla Williams at Alderman, Willie Cochran's office addressing students and faculty.

Dr. Mark Hicks orienting students to "Livetext" program at Sunshine Gospel Ministry.I was so thankful that Joel, the Executive Director, consented to us using their computer lab. It facilitated our technology orientation.It also symbolized the collaboration that can happen when we establish partnerships.

Students eating a "bag lunch" after completing a tour of Sunshine Gospel Ministry.We first met SGM staff last year and I have cultivated a working relationship which culminated in adding them to our list of community sites.

L-R Mark Hicks and Sharon Welch, Provost and faculty member listening to Joel describe the mission, services and vision of Sunshine Gospel Ministry.

Students learning about Sunshine Gospel Ministry.

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