As some of you know I recently applied to the Pacific School of Religion’s Doctor of Ministry Program to begin in the spring of ’07. Well clearly someone is either on some logic-stunting narcotic or the extra communion bread I slipped the admissions officer worked, because lo and behold, they accepted me and I am going back to school in the Spring.
The Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) is a 3 year professional doctorate program meaning that I will still work full-time while I take classes and do research and the dissertation is to be focused on one’s ministry context. My project focus will be "The Mainline Response to the Urban Creative Class" and my context will be San Francisco and Mission Bay Community Church.
And while I do intend to contribute to the larger body of work concerning the church and its future in the urban context my main motivators are:
- to get those cool chevrons on my Geneva Gown AKA Black Robe, which I never wear,
- I want to beat my mother to the degree, she’s lying if she says she doesn’t want to be first,
- and just once, I want to answer yes when someone says, "Is there a doctor in the house?"
I joke to keep myself from crying 😉 More accurately, as I reflect upon this journey on which I am about to embark, I am surprisingly excited, petrified and humbled at the thought of beginning the program.
EXCITED: Could it be? Might I be onto something?
Deep down, I think most pastors feel like we are flying by the seat of our proverbial pants when it comes to ministry. The day-to-day mechanics of DOING ministry often take precedent over striving to BE ministers. Then try to do the day-to-day and think big picture about a congregation, a denomination or a community and forget about it. Heck, if I am going to work that hard, at least let me get paid 😉 Then there are those moments when one feels like God is leading and more often than not, you have made good decisions, weathered storms, fought off frustration and in the midst of it all, found joy in one’s calling. That is where I am at this moment. So often in too many contexts, my passion to understand, serve and pastor the types of people who come to MBCC has been misunderstood or even dismissed. The idea that this particular worldview/perspective/demographic [See my project justification.] deserves to be heard and valued is for the most part ignored by mainline denominations, when I believe that it is this very group of people who offer the most hope to the future of mainline churches in whatever manifestation that will be. The fact that this school has acknowledged that this is a worthwhile area of study, well I am going to oh so subtly pat myself on the back . . . okay that’s enough . . . on to why this scares the living bajesus out of me.
PETRIFIED: Not a PhD, but still school
For those that don’t know a D.Min. is kind of a PhD Lite or McPhD if you prefer. And that is fine with me because I have no need, desire or ability to learn German, Latin, French and stay in school far way too long. Plus my vocabulary of 3+ syllable words is extremely limited AND "The Institution" won’t let you defend your dissertation using clips from Friends, no matter how profound Rachel may be. But, still I must fraternize with the PhD types . . . the D.Min. program at PSR is different than other schools because the D.Min. students don’t take courses together. In other programs you can slack as one body of slackers. Not here. At PSR they admit less than 10 D.Min. students a year and we are left to fend for ourselves in terms of classwork, the only requirement is that all the courses be doctoral level courses. Yes, you figured it out, I may not be as smart as those PhD students, but I will be taking classes with them. Woohoo! I have heard that the PhD folks really respect the D.Min. folks because we are working in engaged in praxis (ooh aah) but as soon as they stat mocking me in Latin, I’m outta there.
HUMBLING – What would my Grandfather think?
It is hard to believe that my mother once picked tomatoes in the fields of Stockton and all my grandparents immigrated from their home countries, the Chow’s from China and the Reyes’ from the Philippines just 60 years ago. Not to be cheesy, but there is something moving about going from an immigrant peasant/village context to a generation with multiple graduate degrees. And while my Chinese side will be proud [Great post by my cousin, Trina.] I think most about my grandfather Esteban (Steve) De Los Reyes, who was one of the founding members of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Stockton. The Presbyterian church was the one to take in and care for farm workers during the strikes in the late 30’s providing dignity to these proud families when the country would not. Out of this experience they formed a church and a community that at its core is about caring for the "other" and transforming the community. My church has always been proud of me as one of their own going into the ministry and there is always the place in my spirit that knows at the core of my being that what I do is not just about me, but about the many aunties and uncles who paved the way. My grandpa and grandma Reyes would be proud . . . I miss them.
So there you have it, back to school . . . pretty humbling for me, exciting and petrifying but humbling nonetheless. Overall though, can’t wait to get started. If you want more reading or an easy excuse not to go back to more productive activities you can also read my Project Justification and Personal Statement, but only if you have absolutely have NOTHING else to do.
Finally . . . the biggest questions for me still remains, will I make any friends? I wonder . . ."Does PSR have a fraternity?" I can see it now, a
crazy night of theologizing about the plight of the urban creative class leads to Rev. Tank run naked down the
street towards KFC, "Come on, we’re all going streaking." (Old School Reference)