Fall 2007 and a summary of the past 2 weeks
I asked him if I could have it both ways... study at seminary and leave the option open for secular doctoral work once I get to the other side of my master's education. He laughed and said "sure sure, if you want to be in school for the next 6-7 years". He gave some very wise advice and a couple of phone numbers of people I have yet contacted to get further wisdom. He told me that no matter which direction I decide that I should "run it into the ground" and go after it.
I then had lunch with a good buddy who's on staff at my home church. We usually have lunch about every 2-3 months, so I don't know how surprised he was. He was very encouraging and reassured me that many don't know exactly what direction they're headed when they entered seminary. He encouraged me to look at divinity schools as opposed to 'stand-alone seminaries' for more options in classes to round out my education. Besides, he said, most churches don't understand the difference (nothing too major) and just want to see the "M.Div" by your name.
My wife and I then took off on our grandparent's trip, and when we visited her grandfather in Shelby, NC, we expressed interest in maybe walking around the Divinity School at Gardner-Webb University just a few miles away in tiny Boiling Springs. He informed my wife that her 2nd cousin worked there, and before I knew it, I had a parking spot reserved for me and an appointment with the director of admissions for the Divinity School. Cool.
That meeting went okay - not as great as we thought it would, just because the guy, who was very nice, seemed distracted. Once I mentioned my job as webmaster, he ranted about their school's webmaster for about 10 minutes. I ended the meeting by thanking him for his help and we walked out. As we were about to walk out of the building, he caught us and told us the dean was over in the next room at a reception and he wanted us to meet him.
Dr. Chuck Bugg was incredibly nice. He interuppted his conversation and sat down with us for about 10 minutes and asked me what I was looking to do and where I thought I was going in life. He recognized my wife because he just moved down there from BTSR last year, so we bonded a little on our Richmond background. My wife's ears perked when he said they offered certification in pastoral counseling, something my wife wants, but didn't quite know how to get. He told her that she could finish at BTSR next spring and then just take a few classes there and be set.
Dr. Bugg offered the best argument for divinity school versus seminary. As a divinity school is usually attached to a larger university, "cross pollenization" between disciplines can occur. In Gardner-Webb's case, they offer a dual degree program with a Master of Divinity and a M.A. in Religion. Very cool.
Overall I liked the school - I liked the direction it's heading, I liked the smallness of it and of the surrounding area... I liked the fact that Kristen has a grandfather and two sets of aunts and uncles nearby. I like the fact that it's only one state away, and ultimately I like the fact that the program seems to offer me a lot of options, which comes in handy as I'm not exactly sure where I'm heading. One thing that concerns me is name-recognition.... I didn't know the school existed until a couple years ago. However, that's not a deal breaker for me.
As for Truett :) my sister wants to be there next Spring. I have an aunt and uncle down the road in Austin... the price is right for the school, the program looks to be good (not sure if it's good for me yet or not), but I'm not wild at all about moving my wife and I out there. I'm almost in a "been there done that" when I was in Oklahoma for 2 years. I know something like that shouldn't stop me from what I have to do, but at the same time a move to North Carolina would be a lot easier on everyone involved than a move to Texas.
One other thing that concerns me about North Carolina is the direction of the state convention... I really don't want to start school and then re-fight the "conservative trustee versus the not-conservative enough professor" battles that blemish the history of the six SBC seminaries...
Anyways... who knows where I'll be. The good news is that I have some time because I'm tied to Richmond for another 14 months. Stay tuned... :)