So I've graduated finally. I'm 27 & I now have my Bachelor's degree. I'm glad to have it, and glad I got it from Manchester (though it could have been from another school and I would have been just as happy about finishing). I majored in Religion and minored in English. At Manchester, you pretty much have to focus on western Christianity, and it's great for that, but pretty weak for anything else. What I appreciate the most about Manchester (besides the top-notch religion profs--one of them studied at Oxford) is the community that seems pervasive there--not only because it's small, not only because its Brethren and you can spend four years there with out hardly interacting much with anyone whose not Brethren (that's not completely true, but we are everywhere at Manchester), but also it's present in the local Church if the Brethren. The church isn't perfect by any means, but here and there, bonds are strong enough that they have been around for twenty years or more and are likely to stay there forever. Those of you who know what I'm talking about, the local Joyfield Farm is one of the best places in the world, and is one of the main reasons that it's so hard to leave North Manchester in a month for Richmond, IN.
The local church has licensed me to the ministry, which means I'm "in training" even though I've hardly done anything along the traditional lines of ministry. I'm not really into being a pastor, having grown up a PK, but I feel that the church has called me, so I should at least check it out to see if it's right for me. If I rule it out it should be because I tried it first. If the church wants me to consider it, then I'll take it seriously. That's my philosophy of call; I'm not a big fan of self-called ministers, although there are some people who maybe should be called but never are for various reasons, but how does one know alone what their vocation is? I think it takes a community to figure it out. And that's why I'm going ahead with studying ministry at seminary starting in August. One bonus is that the Brethren seminary is on the campus of a Quaker seminary that has a focus called Writing as Ministry, and the two schools have cross registration, so I can take creative writing classes at the Master's level, and try out other forms of ministry as well--traditional and nontraditional. Maybe none of it will pan out. I don't know what the future holds, and I'm okay with that, even though there are folks around me who seem less okay with that uncertainty.
What I've discussed most recently with my wife Karen is moving back to North Manchester some day and living on Joyfield Farm, along with the four other families who are living by downscaling their lives. Right now I'm working a job in the archives at Manchester finishing up a project for the month of June. Then we'll move in July. I start a 2-week intensive writing class at seminary in August. We'll see where that takes me.