TO SERVE WITH LOVE
GODIS THAT YOU CALLING?
WESLEY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY DIGITAL CONNECTION | FALL 2022
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of Theological Studies
M I S S I O N - D R I V E N . F O R W A R D - T H I N K I N G . G L O B A L L Y E N G A G E D .
The Shell Ceremony
A time to reflect and remember
Student Spotlight: Na Na Jeon
Combining law and theology to help people in God's name
Celebrating Twenty-plus Years of Service with Love
Alumni Spotlight: Elliott T. Jones
Empowering people through dance
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O N T E N T
F E A T U R E S
The Wesley Theological Seminary digital connection covers the news and views of students, faculty, and alumni.
By Rev Dr Beth Ludlum, Rev Dr Chip Aldridge, and Melvin Bogard
D E P A R T M E N T S
4 Director's Note
Words from the Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications
5 Student Life
A view into the ministry and teachings of Wesley's professors Life after graduation
22 Life in Pictures
A photo gallery of the Wesley community
23 Give to the Wesley Fund
Stories and interviews of Wesley community Support the future of Wesley Theological Seminary
To Serve with Love is published by the Office of Marketing and Communications
President David McAllister-Wilson
Editor Melvin Bogard
On the cover: Hyemin Na, Assistant Professor of Worship, Media and Culture and Chapel Elder, and Ruth Jackson, M Div Student
Contributors: Rev Dr W Antoni Sinkfield, Rev Dr Beth Ludlum, Rev Dr Chip Aldridge, Anna Lackey
Contributing photographers: Lisa Helfert, Melvin Bogard, Elliott Jones
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Wesley Theological Seminary is a learning community that welcomes you with open arms. It is a forward-thinking community rich in diversity that respects cultural and theological differences. It is within these rooted values that I am excited to join Wesley as the Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications.
I see our passionate leader, President David McAllister-Wilson, as missiondriven and dedicated to ensuring that Wesley thrives. I also see a commitment to teaching students, rooted in the Christian tradition and grounded in God's mercy and justice, to think innovatively in their approach to leadership in the church, the community, and globally. For these and other reasons, I'm excited to share the beauty I see daily on campus.
Welcome to the digital connection into the heart and spirit of Wesley
Theological Seminary, Washington, DC! To Serve with Love covers students, faculty, and alums' stories and views. This edition celebrates two outstanding professors, Dr. Kyunglim Shin Lee and Dr. Beverly Mitchell, each serving over 20 years at Wesley. Dr. W. Antoni Sinkfield talks candidly with two students about their decision to attend seminary and the challenges young church leaders face. Students share how they see God is using their voice and talents to do His Will, the impact an alum is making in the community through dance, and more.
If you are a prospective student, I hope the stories pique your interest and give you great insight into why Wesley may be the right choice. If you are a current student and an alum and for all the others doing God's work at Wesley, continue to serve with love.
Peace and Blessings, Melvin Bogard
Melvin Bogard, MA Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications
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THE SHELL CEREMONY
By Rev. Dr. Beth Ludlum, Rev. Dr. Chip Aldridge, and Melvin Bogard
The "Shell Ceremony," as it has come to be known, began in 2002 when The Rev. Dr. Chip Aldridge, director of admissions, and The Rev. Dr. Shelby Haggray, associate dean for community life, decided to start the two-day orientation with a service for students, faculty, and staff to remember their baptism and lift gratitude for the saints who have gotten them this far.
The Rev. JaNice Parks, director of enrollment, shares, "It's a sacred space of wrestling, confirmation, surrendering, and affirmation for the incoming students. It's a time to remember that God continues to call us into the partnership of ministry."
For 20 years, this ceremony has been part of opening worship for new seminarians arriving at Wesley's fall orientation to start a master's degree program, grounding them in God's initial call on their lives. The centerpiece of the service has been a large shell, brought to campus by Dr. Larry Stookey after his sabbatical in New Zealand.
Each year, participants are invited to interact with water in the shell and to take a small shell to keep with them, through seminary and beyond, as a reminder of God's claim and promise. "I have students and alums come to me years later and say they remember what I said to them as I spoke into their lives and gave them the shell, and they still have it. They keep it where they can see it to remind them of God's Call," said Parks.
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T H E S H E L L C E R E M O N Y
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"Saying yes to God’s call is something each person does individually."
GODIS THAT YOU CALLING?
EVERYONE HAS A UNIQUE CALLING OR VOCATION
Whether you're an ordained pastor, health care professional, or community leader, God calls us to use our gifts and talents in Christlike ways daily. Everyone has a unique calling or vocation. Take a moment and listen to Wesley's students Leslie Krauland, Allison Schwarz, and Titus Bryant, and read Na Na Jeon's interview sharing how they see God is using their voice and talents to do His Will and the positive impact Wesley has made on their spiritual growth and pathway. We hope these words will help you explore and discern how God might be calling you.
Lesley Krauland 2:26 Allison Schwarz 1:56 Titus Bryant 1:50
By Melvin Bogard
NA NA JEON
Master of Divinity candidate (Dec 2022)
Hometown: South Korea
I love the zeal and passion I see in my fellow seminarians and our shared love for God and His creation
MB: What led you to seminary?
NJ: Both of my parents are pastors in Korea. I always wanted to help them in their ministry by doing God's work. I assumed God would call me to ministry later in my life, but God had a different plan, and I entered seminary right after graduating from law school and taking the bar exam.
MB: How did you learn about Wesley, and when did you know it was the right fit for you?
NJ: I was a law student at the George Washington University Law School, and pastors in Korea recommended Wesley when I looked into seminaries. I visited while I was still a law student, loved the environment, and felt comfort and warmth in my heart—so I decided to apply immediately.
MB: How do you plan to be engaged in ministry or service after graduation?
NJ: I'm still trying to discern God's plan after graduation. I pray I will be His faithful servant in spreading the gospel worldwide. I also plan to utilize my international background and education in different fields to help minister to youth/young adults.
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N A N A J E O N
NA NA JEON
MB: What do you hope to achieve with your ministry for your community, family/friends, and yourself?
NJ: I became a lawyer to help people in God's name. That is what I hope to achieve with my ministry to the community. But, I also want to be someone who lives out God's love in her daily life—radiating God's love and care for all. I pray that my life will be a witness to God's love for the world and that my family and friends witness God's love lived out through His faithful servant. I've already received countless blessings from God, and I hope and pray that I will spend my life expressing my gratitude and love for God by being His faithful servant. I feel great joy in serving God through serving the church and His people. So, I hope and pray I can do so for the rest of my life.
MB: How are you currently serving (In the community, on campus, church, job)?
NJ: I serve in the music ministry at my church as a violist in the church orchestra, leading the congregation in worship each Sunday. I also serve God and His people by individually ministering to whomever God enables me to encounter, especially my friends who have become distant from God.
MB: What is it like to learn and study at Wesley with individuals who worship differently from you?
NJ: I loved it when I joined the school. I love my fellow seminaries and how we all love and talk about the same God from various backgrounds! It has opened my eyes, ears, and mind to converse with a greater audience when sharing the Gospel. I know and am grateful that I have become a better servant through such individuals.
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NA NA JEON
MB: What do you like most about Wesley?
NJ: The loving community it is, and how we are an army of God's servants, all wishing and hoping for the best in God's creation. I love the zeal and passion I see in my fellow seminarians and our shared love for God and His creation.
MB: Tell me one thing most people don't know about you.
NJ: A fun fact about me is the latest blessing God has granted me. As I said, I pray to glorify God with every opportunity He blesses me. In January 2022, God enabled me to be a chapter author of an International Business Book by Springer, titled: International Business in the New Asia-Pacific: Strategies, Opportunities, and Threats. The chapter was a product of research I had begun over a decade ago, updated in the last few years. The best part was that I got to be a published author affiliated with Wesley Theological Seminary, amongst other international business scholars! Praise be to God!
MB: what advice would you give someone who wants to attend seminary and Wesley?
NJ: I applaud you for taking the big step in answering God's call. Sometimes you may be overwhelmed with questions, but when you are grounded in God's love and the Scripture, your faith will only become stronger and unshakable!
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The church influenced culture, politics, and morality. However, trust in the institutions has declined. With every new generation, a sprout of promising and energetic Christian leaders emerge with the aspiration of building a spiritual foundation rooted and grounded in God’s Word. Podcast host, The Rev. Dr. W. Antoni Sinkfield, the associate dean of community life, talks with second-year Master of Divinity student Costa Cristovao and firstyear Master of Divinity student Simon Lee about their decisions to attend Wesley, expectations of seminary, the challenges church leaders face, their approach to ministry, and more.
Equipping the next generation of FAITH LEADERS
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C o s t a C r i s t o v a o S i m o n L e e 14:00 10:28
20+CELEBRATING YEARS OF SERVICE
By Anna Lackey
Over the past 20 years, there has been plenty of change at Wesley, but among the most important fixtures of Wesley for these past two decades have been some of its faculty and staff who have faithfully and lovingly served the community. Many employees have generously shared their time and talents and contributed to Wesley's rich milieu as a place of theological education, spiritual formation, and a welcoming community. This semester, I spoke with two of our faculty who have served for more than 20 years, Dr. Kyunglim Shin Lee and Dr. Beverley Mitchell. Each had a unique story about what brought them to Wesley and how they’ve become part of the spiritual fabric that makes Wesley the incomparable seminary it is. Both, however, had a similar insight—Wesley is a unique place to work because of the relationships built with students and colleagues, making it a place one can truly serve with love.
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September 2022, after 24 years of teaching systematic theology and history, Dr. Beverly E. Mitchell was installed as the C.C Goen and Douglas R. Chandler Church History Chair and honored at a lunch in which former students and colleagues spoke about the impact of Mitchell’s pedagogy and mentorship. The installation service offered an opportunity to reflect on a rich and varied career at Wesley and in theological education.
When Mitchell came to Washington from Philadelphia, it wasn’t to study or teach theology but to continue a career in the Department of Agriculture. But while enjoying a successful career as a civil servant, she discerned a call to “full-time Christian service.” While unsure exactly what shape that service would take, enrolling in a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree at Wesley was the first step.
Leaving one career to pursue this call took great faith, and the transition was made with both trepidation and excitement. Wesley was a place of exposure to new ideas and profound theological reflection. Even while experiencing the spiritual growing pains of seminary education. Mitchell quickly found a deep interest in systematic theology and church history and began a Ph.D. in theology after completing an MTS degree. She began to pursue a Ph.D. at Boston College but kept in close touch with Wesley's faculty throughout earning her doctorate. When an opening in historical theology was announced in 1998, she found the perfect opportunity to combine her interests in systematic theology and church history. She began teaching history and systematics at Wesley a year before earning her doctorate in 1999.
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The real gift is the opportunity to journey with other people
Mitchell's faculty position allowed her to further her scholarship and interests, engage in relationships with local institutions such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and especially develop the relational style of teaching that is so appreciated by former and current students, providing correction, encouragement, and care that many have found instrumental to their spiritual development and formation.
Over two decades of teaching, change has been a constant presence, on campus and off. Student demographics have shifted, developments have been made in church history and systematic theology, and teaching modalities have moved to emphasize online and virtual learning. But throughout her career, she always enjoyed the support of her colleagues, the warmth and richness of the Wesley community, and the privilege of accompanying students on their theological journeys. Installation service and honorary lunch were a fitting way to acknowledge and celebrate her service for the last 24 years. Still, the real gift, Mitchell said, "Is the opportunity to journey with other people, an opportunity Wesley has provided in abundance." LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE | 17:45
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is a seminary chosen to change the world
After 31 years of service, Vice President for International Relations, Dr. Kyunglim Shin Lee, is one of Wesley’s longest-serving employees and one of its busiest. When we spoke, Shin Lee was preparing to depart for a multi-country visit to East Africa on one of the many international trips she takes on Wesley’s behalf. But in the middle of her preparations, she gave me a few minutes of her time to answer some questions about her decades of service at Wesley.
“Wesley is a unique place to work,” said Shin Lee. “Wesley is a seminary chosen to change the world.” She has been an integral part of bringing Wesley’s mission out to the world and bringing the world to Wesley through international students and instructors. Her outreach has made Wesley a truly global seminary, hosting students from around the world on campus and online and whose international alums have significantly impacted the global church.
When Shin Lee began at Wesley, she was simply Ms. Kyunglim Shin Lee, a student working on completing a Doctor of Ministry while pastoring at a local church. As much as she enjoyed her time as a student and connected with the community, she was still surprised when, shortly before graduation, a fellow student and coworker recommended that she apply for an open position—dean of community life. Intending to use her application merely to gain valuable interviewing experience, she was even more surprised when she was offered the job, unaware until afterward that both one of her professors and her fellow student had written letters of recommendation to the president on her behalf.
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Shin Lee’s time as the dean of community life allowed her to build strong relationships with students and impact campus culture. But after several fruitful years in this role, she became vice president for student development and church relations. This role helped build Wesley’s relationships with local and national churches.
While Shin Lee felt at home in her work on Wesley’s campus and in Washington D.C., she was then called to work of a much broader scope. Globalization became a focus for Wesley as the world grew more interconnected. When she stepped into her role as vice president for international relations, she was tasked with helping Wesley become a truly global seminary to meet the need for theological education worldwide.
That work has involved forming partnerships with international seminaries, bringing Wesley’s name around the world, and recruiting international students. Even though her work has a global scope, Shin Lee sees the heart of her work as empowering individuals. In Wesley, she feels she has found a place that genuinely values individuals for their opinions, their futures, and their callings. Being able to see international alums return to their home countries and serve the church and their communities, often in positions of great significance, and going on to empower others the way they have been empowered by their time at Wesley, has made three decades of service at Wesley truly meaningful.
FACULTY LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE | 13:40 ToServewithLove | Fall 2022 16
A PLAN FOR YOUR PURPOSE
Bishop James R. Watson
Jeremiah 29:11 states. "For I know the plans I have for you,” 'declares the Lord,' plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Imagine, when you and I were created, the Divine Mind, the Creator of life, imprinted intentional plans for our lives. Over the course of our life journey, these plans should reveal why as individuals, we are here. These plans speak to a mission we consciously or perhaps unconsciously are aware of for our lives. A mission orchestrated to represent God’s intention for us. This mission may unfold in our chosen profession, vocation, and life experiences.
Curious question, did that profession, occupation, or life experience “choose” you, or did you choose it? And what was the impetus behind your choosing that path for your life? Some chose a career path, profession, or vocation in response to external influences (i.e., family tradition, peer pressure, lucrative external reward). Good if that was the case and you seemed happy or content along the way. But what if that path chose you? What if you were amidst one thing and discovered something else? Something that resonated deep within. Something that made you fulfilled. You felt passion and a direct connection to this something. You had that “ah-ha” moment this is where I am supposed to be! This is what I’m supposed to be doing! You have uncovered your purpose. That divine light within came through the plans that God placed in you. The divine gift or gifts that are embedded in your purpose are revealed and experienced as you move through your life journey. You find true and complete joy in how your life is unfolding. You feel blessed beyond measure. You manifest your highest good outwardly. Through divine purpose, you are a light for others to bear witness in showing up and living in their divine purpose.
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Bishop James R Watson Imani Temple, AACC Provincial Bishop Capital Region Wesley M T S ‘21
ELLIOTT TRYSHAWN JONES
Artistic Director of Just One Spirit Dance Ministry / Dancer / Choreographer
Hometown: New Brunswick, NJ
Master of Arts ‘20
By Melvin Bogard
MB: What led you to seminary?
EJ: Dance led me to seminary in 2016. At the age of 10, Claudia Gitelman introduced me to modern dance. I began my dance training with an afterschool program called Art Matters. Art Matters was a modern dance program at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to expose underprivileged youth to the art of modern dance. At 14, Michael Gary invited me to join his modern dance company, Acrodanse Theater Company. Acrodanse allowed me to meet people from different ethnic, social, economic, and religious backgrounds. My defining experience happened during Acrodanse’s annual presentation of the Gospel Gala in 2001. Gospel Gala was an evening of worship through the art of dance, and a blind man stood up during our Q&A, saying, “I could not see the performance, but I felt the spirit."
I was the principal male dancer for Acrodanse for many years before I stopped dancing and relocated to Maryland. Ten years passed before I would dance again. In 2015 I auditioned and danced with Dancing by the Power Dance Company, where I met Wesley alum Dr. Josie Hoover. I danced my way to and through seminary.
If you invest and trust the process of seminary life at Wesley, you will have the tools to bear fruit
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ELLIOTT TRYSHAWN JONES
MB: How did you learn about Wesley, and when did you know it was the right fit for you?
EJ: I remember Dr. Hoover shared information about Wesley Theological Seminary with me as I shared with her about my life, my dance journey, and my goals for a dance ministry. She invited me to a Wesley open house event. After being on campus and taking a class, I felt something familiar; Wesley created the space for me to meet people from different ethnic, social, economic, and religious backgrounds.
MB: How did you decide on the Master of Arts degree?
EJ: It allowed me to tailor my focus on worship, particularly dance, and the role of dance within the church's structure, specifically the black church. The black church has always produced an environment for black bodies to be free, but there’s a thin line between dance and worship.
MB: What was your experience learning and studying with individuals who worshiped differently from you?
EJ: My experience learning and studying with individuals who worshiped differently from me was a unique growth with a multi-faceted level. I enjoy being in a space where being different is the norm. The knowledge production from Wesley's classrooms was often dynamic and generative.
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ELLIOTT TRYSHAWN JONES
MB: What did you learn about yourself through the program?
EJ: I learned many lessons, but the one that advanced me through my program was the concept of process. Everything is a process. Moreover, the process is a process, and through my seminary process, I learned that my connection with dance and movement gave me a better sense of my value toward scripture. I became more invested with dance as worship being a part of the same discussion (dance can be worship, and worship can be dance). I moved from reading scripture as static text to reading scripture as a movement in the living word. Through the advancement of my program, I began to exegete scripture to extract movement. I learned that my theology is a theology of movement rooted in liberation theology.
MB: How has your degree helped you advance your ministry goals?
EJ: The '200 Years of Returns' celebration in partnership with Colonial Williamsburg took place the weekend of Saturday, July 2nd, 2022, and marks 200 years since the first Black Americans settled in Liberia through the American Colonization Society. A project inspired by Black merchant Paul Cuffee's repatriation journey to Sierra Leone in 1815 and catalyzed by New Jersey's Robert Finley in 1822 that would result in what is arguably the earliest historical site of Black American liberation. "200 Years of Returns" is a collaboration between Burning Barriers Building Bridges (more commonly known as B4 Youth Theatre in Liberia), the Museum Theatre Department of Colonial Williamsburg (CW) in Virginia, United States, and Just One Spirit Dance Ministry with the Angles of Praise of Baltimore, Maryland. This interactive performance juxtaposes past and present "returns" to Liberia since 1822 when Black American settlers first encountered various African ethnic groups.
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ELLIOTT TRYSHAWN JONES
A team of seven dancers from Just One Spirit Dance Ministry with the Angles of Praise and five actors from B4 Youth Theatre in Liberia shared the stage with actors from CW Virginia at Hennage Auditorium in the Colonial Williamsburg Arts Museum to commemorate the "200 Years of Returns" anniversary. In December, as a continuation of '200 Years of Returns,' Just One Spirit and Angles of Praise will travel with B4 Youth Theatre and the Colonial Williamsburg theatre program to Liberia, West Africa, to celebrate '200 Years of Returns'.
MB: What was one of the best things about attending Wesley?
EJ: It's diversity.
MB: What advice would you give someone who wants to attend seminary and Wesley?
EJ: Speed bumps are a part of the process. Seminary is a space where you can and should ask all your questions to formulate more questions. At Wesley, there are many different levels of perspectives and understandings. Wesley offers something for everyone.
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Photo courtesy of Elliott T. Jones
O X N A M C H A P E L
LIFE IN PICTURES
"FOR WHERE TWO OR THREE GATHER IN MY NAME, THERE AM I WITH THEM.” MATTHEW 18:20
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