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Senior Reflections — Fern Brown

I was accepted in McCormick in 2012. When I was going through the process, I thought I was applying for 2013, because I thought I had passed the deadline for 2012. The year 2012 would later become very meaningful to me because my mom died in March 2013. God allowed me and her to enjoy seminary together for a little while. She saw me finally happy, doing that which God called me to do.

When I was accepted into McCormick Theological Seminary, I was told by several people, McCormick is unlike any other seminary. So I thought, okay, how do I prepare for that considering this would be the first seminary I will have attended? How should I “get ready” for McCormick? I quit my job of 15 years to go to Seminary. While some would say this is a second career, I like to see it like I am finally doing that which God called me to do.

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I had “tunnel vision” when I started McCormick, my plan was to: go to class, do the homework, and graduate. I had no idea what I was in for. My journey through school has taken me to Israel, where I learned, up close and personal, the issues at hand and I was Blessed to have seen some amazing excavations. I went to the 221st OGA meeting in Detroit where I learned about the heart and brains of the Presbytery, I went to the Racial Ethnic New Seminarian Conference in St. Simon Island, Georgia where I met some amazing people and received vital information.

I have ministered in dance in Worship, which was so incredible. I’ve never danced outside of church, let alone in a school.

When I lost my mom and sister in the same year, I was surrounded by some amazing caring people. I was supported by all of my professors who would check in with me to see how I was doing, and to remind me they were praying for me. I was not use to so much love.

When I started McCormick, with tunnel vision, my eyes were set on becoming a Hospice Chaplain. Things changed. I started preaching and started feeling divided between Chaplaincy and Parish Ministry. But because of the Bible classes, and the J-Term class, “Preaching as a Celebration” I took in January 2016, I received confirmation that preaching is what I was called to do.

Was there a course that was especially meaningful? There was more than one, but the first one I must mention is the one I took at LSTC called, “Caring for the Dying and Bereaved” with Professor Kadi Billman. WHAT AN AMAZING CLASS THAT WAS. I just knew that after taking that class I was headed straight for chaplaincy. Professor Billman brought in doctors and military chaplains to speak to us. One of the projects we had to do was to write our Obituary which was pretty amazing.

A class I had to take was Hebrew, the adjunct Professor Paula Hiebert was simply amazing.  She discovered early how I learned things, and made accommodations for me. She and Dr. Hiebert were the ones who took the group to Israel, and they were an amazing couple to learn from. A moment in the trip I will always remember is that we were at the Church of the Nativity. I was praying and I felt a hand on my shoulder. I didn’t have to look up to know who it was, but when I did, I was write it was Paula Hiebert  giving me comfort.

I entered McCormick with very little knowledge of the Bible and little knowledge of all of the resources available to me. I am leaving with a plethora of knowledge and resources. I am excited to begin my library. Because of the Theological and Bible classes, I have a better understanding of how others see God, and how others Worship.

I did not know what to expect when I entered McCormick, other than going to class and make sure I met all of the graduation requirements. As I prepare to graduate, I look back to see all of the people who have impacted my life, from professors to staff, to classmates. I have been blessed to be in the midst of such GREATNESS. Now it’s time for the next part of my journey.

Fern Brown is a senior at McCormick Theological Seminary. She is currently under care at the Chicago Presbytery, seeking Ordination for a Parish Ministry.  Fern is a member and on staff at Pullman Presbyterian Church.