Live from Virginia Seminary

The Belltower
The Belltower

Well I’m here.  Two and a half weeks ago I began my sojourn at The Virginia Theological Seminary.  It was quite the ride to get here.  My brother Sam and I travelled for a month together, first 3 weeks in Africa (see below) then a three day trip cross country to arrive in DC.

So far VTS has been much like camp, but with intensive Hebrew classes in between camp activities.  We’ve played a great deal of ultimate frisbee.  Much to my delight, I have discovered that I DO have athletic prowess.  I simply have not been among the community of people with whom I was born to compete: namely Episcopalian Seminarians!  (I was definitely LEAST valuable player in college on the Intramural squad.)  I figure as long as people don’t realize that frisbee is my strongest team sport, and I NEVER come near a basketball, the charade will last.  We spend our nights watching baseball games, DNC speeches, belting musicals and hymns with the concert pianists or me trying to keep up with the southern boys as they have guitar and banjo jam sessions ala Woody Guthrie.

It is amazing to be in the capital.  I regularly ride by the Jefferson Monument on the Metro, or drive by in my car.  We played frisbee on the National Mall Saturday night before going to see Batman at one of the Smithsonian’s IMAX theaters, and it was amazing to be surrounded by the monuments and museums and realize that the city isn’t just for tourists and lobbyists.  People actually live here.

Frisbee on the Mall at sunset.
Frisbee on the Mall at sunset.

In other exciting news, I have been hired by St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church to coordinate their Sunday evening Spanish Language Community’s Sunday School program.  I think this will involve a lot of telling stories, playing guitar, coloring, and other excitement with small groups of kids.  I’m excited to work with The Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin in this growing community and to contribute what I can.  It is also exciting to have a reason to go into the city and be in the same neigborhood that a number of good friends from college live in (Columbia Heights.)  Having a reason to utterly escape “the hill” weekly is welcome.

Seminary is proving to be an adventure.  It was nice today to hear other seminarians reflect on “being true to yourself in the midst of a consuming community.”  Living in Community can be very defining and confining.  Being true to the person you are called to be seems to be a bit of a challenge, but an important one.  One of my biggest hesitations about Virginia Seminary was that it seems to be a “priest factory,” spitting out cookie cutter pastors.  I am excited that many of my classmates are consistently pursuing differentiation and challenge, and are excited about seeing change in the Church.  Remembering to be attentive to the unique character of our call in the midst of a society that seeks to define our identity.

Well, my mom just sent me a link to The Lion King in Hebrew…so I’ll end with that.  Blessings of Peace to all!

Published by Mike Angell

The Rev. Mike Angell is rector of The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in St. Louis.

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