Seminaries offer theological education and prepare pastors and others for ministry. But what do they teach their students about social justice? In the September-October issue of Sojourners, eight recent and not-so-recent graduates to reflect on how their seminary education their work of social justice today. But wait, there are more seminarian insights than we could fit into the print magazine! Here are three bonus reflections.
Barn Raising by Rich Gorman
My wife Dori and I spent our seminary experience immersed in work with the urban poor in the Appalachian hills of East Tennessee. A majority of our time and energy was dedicated to reconciliation between the poor and their more materially affluent neighbors. About two years into the work, I was burned out and angry. The classroom became a refuge for me because I could freely vent about what I believed to be “the wicked ways of the wealthy.”
Over time, God made it clear that reconciliation must begin in my own mind and heart. My calling was not to mobilize the rich to engage with the poor, but to strive to understand and love both. God forced me to confront my own shameful attitudes and, as a result, he did some amazing things over the next two years.
As my heart began to be transformed, I started seeing the incredibly unhealthy attitudes of my classmates. They were reading the right books and believed the right things about social justice, but, like me, were driven by pride and arrogance. Our lives were marked more by elitism than grace. I am forever grateful for the wisdom and patience of the Emmanuel staff, who helped me to work through some vital issues in these areas.