In September 2010, soon after I graduated from Westminster Seminary California (WSC), I received a call to serve as minister of Word and Sacrament at Calvary United Reformed Church in Loveland, CO. I cannot fathom undertaking this calling without the education, training, and relationships received while at WSC.
My seminary education remains integral to my service to Christ’s church. During my time in seminary, Professor Joel Kim described a WSC education as “drinking from a fire hose.” However, he added, “When you reflect back upon your WSC education, you will be amazed at how much you absorbed and the resources (tools) you have for on-going ministry and study.”
This has been my experience. Since being called to the pastorate, not a week has gone by without reference to class notes, lectures, or conversations. Not a week has gone by in which knowledge and skill in the original languages of God’s Word was not called upon. In addition, my relationships with my classmates, professors, and WSC staff have continued. Not a week has gone by without calling or writing someone who has offered support, prayer, encouragement, advice, or friendship.
I did not attend seminary until I was 40 years old. I had been working in Detroit (MI) in the automotive industry for 15 years, being established in that community with my wife, extended family, and career. During those years I had an ever growing desire to learn more about God’s Word in general and the doctrines of grace in particular. I had a hunger to hear and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believed that I was being called to pursue the ministry. If I was going leave a good career, move with my wife across the country, leave family, and incur the cost of an education, I wanted to ensure it was the best available.
WSC was my first choice. I appreciated the unanimity of the entire faculty and staff regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of justification. I wanted to study at a place where this doctrine would be championed and articulated without apology or compromise. I wanted to study at a seminary that was proud of and committed to the Reformed creeds and confessions. I wanted to study at a seminary that was dedicated to fostering academic and pastoral excellence (pastor-scholars). In every area my expectations were exceeded.
I am amazed, in retrospect, at the breadth and depth of my WSC training across a spectrum of disciplines. I recall sitting in President Godfrey’s church history class during my first semester, in which I realized the paucity of my understanding of history. Dr. Godfrey challenged me not to think of a “Golden Age” of the church and encouraged me to recognize God’s faithfulness to his promises through every age. I now have a hunger to know more about the ebb and flow of church history. Candidly, my language classes were difficult but necessary. Ultimately these languages classes were rewarding and are now indispensible as a minister of God’s Word. I am grateful that WSC maintains high standards, and I am grateful that my language professors instructed me with patience.
Finally, several class lectures which provided architectonic shifts in the way in which I understand God, his Word, his covenants, his salvation, his kingdom, his church, and his means of grace. I recall, for example, Dr. Baugh’s lectures regarding the “Kingdom of God,” which were life-altering.
Certainly no seminary can prepare students for every possible contingency, and even in my short time as a shepherd of Christ’s flock in Loveland I have found myself repeatedly on my knees seeking wisdom and wondering what to do. However, even this utter dependency upon God was inculcated at seminary. My professors modeled this dependency of leaders (of all Christians) to be humble and teachable, bowing before our great God and King who will equip us with everything that we need to accomplish the tasks he has called us to. I cannot imagine my life nor my calling better served or better prepared by another seminary faculty or staff. I thank God for WSC. May her service to the church, world, and academy thrive and flourish.