Posts Tagged ‘Graduate School’

Alumni Spotlight- Nathan Pickard

0 Commentsby   |  12.14.17  |  ACU, Alumni, Church, Evangelism, Ministry, Mission, Professors, Students, Theology

Meet GST Alum, Nathan Pickard!

Nathan lives in Newmarket, Ontario with his wife Katie and two boys, Caleb and Eli. He enjoys spending his time playing hockey with the kids. He also has a love for the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. He received a Master of Divinity and a Doctorate of Ministry from ACU. Most recently, he wrote a small book called Praying for the Neighborhood and also contributed a chapter to the book called Along the Way which was edited by Ron Bruner and Dana Pemberton. He also writes for our GST Blog.

 

1) Where are you currently working & what is your role?

I am the minister at Newmarket Church of Christ (a small city 40 minutes north of Toronto). I have been serving this congregation for just over 13 years. 

2) Do you feel like the GST prepared you for your current role? If so, how?

GST prepared me by asking ecclesiological and missiological questions that no one asked me to answer before. They also helped develop my theology of church and mission. This training has allowed me to serve a congregation that is multi-cultural and also on the cutting edge of living within a very a post-Christendom culture.

Interacting with faculty on a regular basis also helped me develop a love for communities of faith. Seeing my professors love the church (when its easy to grow dissatisfied) has helped me become a minister who cares deeply about longevity with a congregation. GST also prepared me by being a place where I could develop friendships; friendships that help sustain my theological interests and work.

I remember eating breakfast with Dr. James Thompson one morning and asking him why there isn’t a lot of “text” classes. Thompson responded with words similar to, “It’s important to teach you how to read Scripture rather than specifically teach you certain texts. If you can learn how to read Scripture you can read the texts with your community of faith.” What Thompson said can easily be translated to other areas of study. GST helped me learn what it means to be a student of theology, ethnography, eccelesiology, etc., and because of this, GST has given me the tools to think deeply about the life of the church.

3) What is something you are currently most excited about in your ministry?

I’m excited about our work in the neighborhood. We have a community garden, summer camp, neighborhood meals, street BBQ’s. We’ve recently partnered with the Town so that a bike trail and a neighborhood parkette could be built as part of the Town’s development. I’m also really excited about conversations where we as a community of faith are exploring the development of a hospitality house where we will invite individuals to live inside the neighborhood and help connect church and neighborhood in deeper ways, while also building upon the work we’ve been engaged in over the years. This conversation is one of the most significant conversations we have undertaken. I look forward to continuing this conversation. (See Nathan’s blog about working in his neighborhood here

4) Tell us about a GST professor or two that inspired you. Feel free to use a story, or just explain why and how they impacted your life.

There were two professors that inspired me. First was Dr. Tim Sensing. I was Tim’s Graduate Assistant and so had to spend a lot of time with him. His stories of church and family, his quiet demeanor, steadfastness and friendship helped shaped me into who I am today. The second was Dr. Mark Love. It was Mark’s class on evangelism that helped me see the kingdom of God in new ways. It was also Mark who introduced me to the missio Dei and as a result, has shaped my eccelesiology and way of ministry.

Discovering My Vocation: The Fanning of the Flames

by   |  09.05.17  |  ACU, Ancient Languages, Bible, CSART, College of Biblical Studies, Students, Theology

Recently I was browsing my TimeHop (which, for those who are blissfully unaware, is a cell phone app that mercilessly displays your unfiltered social media posts from today’s date in years past) when I came across a Tweet from four years ago that read something like this: “Is it weird that I’m actually really excited to learn Greek???” If I could talk to this four-years-in-the-past Ryne, I’d tell him that although it is quite weird for you to have shared such an arbitrary thought with the entire Internet, you will be delighted to know that your desire to learn Greek is not weird at all but will in fact be quite fruitful.

That naïve version of me couldn’t have really understood how rewarding the study of this ancient language would be. Indeed, only now in retrospect am I able to fathom the many doors that were opened to me through my study of Greek (and, eventually, other ancient languages) at ACU.

At the outset of my undergrad time at ACU I had only a vague sense of vocation. Something to do with the Bible, something to do with ministry. I was sure that the arc of my career would involve these two aspects, but I had no clearer direction than that.

The story of how my vocational understanding eventually crystallized is long and multifaceted, but for the purposes of this post, you only need to know the primary catalyst and the new ministerial yearning that it sparked within me. The catalyst was Greek; the yearning was for a ministry conducted not in a church building, but in a classroom.

The long and short of it was that I absolutely loved learning Greek. Before college, I had no particular interest in language learning, but Greek opened my eyes not only to a new skillset that I possessed, but also to new doorways through which to study the biblical text that I held so dear. My first taste of Greek was sort of like a baby’s first bite of chocolate cake at their first birthday party—I wasn’t quite sure what this new thing was, but I was absolutely sure that I wanted more.

Luckily for me, I happened to choose a university with a faculty that was uniquely and diversely equipped to give me more. Languages were a huge part of what brought me to the Graduate School of Theology for my master’s work. I had drank deeply from the well of Greek in undergrad and had dipped my toe in the waters of Hebrew, and the GST offered an opportunity for more of the same as well as an expansion of my linguistic horizons.

In my first year at the GST I got involved with CSART—The Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts. I’ve spoken above about the doors that language learning at ACU has opened for me, and this has been one of the biggest. In CSART, students (undergrad and grad) have the opportunity to partner with experts in textual scholarship in the study of primary biblical and early Christian texts. The project that I’m currently on, for example, is working with a seventh century monastic text called The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

studying ancient artifacts

Ryne examining books & artifacts at the Matthew Parker Library in Cambridge.

My involvement in this project, as well as in another one during my time in undergrad, opened two very tangible doors for my academic career: two summer trips to a conference in Oxford, England. The Logos Conference is hosted by the Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative, with which CSART partners in its projects. Because of the generosity of the Green family (the owners of Hobby Lobby, who founded the Museum of the Bible and the Scholars initiative) as well as the work that CSART does, I was able to spend a couple of weeks each of the past two summers in Oxford with other students from all around the world listening to and learning from internationally renowned biblical scholars.

Those experiences in Oxford were especially formative for me, not just because of the academic interest they held for me but for the way they affirmed my sense of vocation. I’ve spent most of this post spotlighting the way language learning at ACU has opened doors for me, but now I want to turn briefly to that ministerial yearning I mentioned before. My affinity for ancient biblically related languages has not only been fruitful in scholarly opportunities, it has also instilled in me a deep appreciation and passion for the importance of these ancient languages in studying the Scriptures.

At those conferences in Oxford I was able to look around and see professional scholars engaged in an academic sort of ministry as well as many students like myself aspiring to do the same. My paradigm for ministry had been shifting and I was beginning to wonder if teaching the Bible and its languages in a higher education context could actually be considered ministry. For my whole life I had thought of ministry as something that was done in either a church building or a mission field, so this idea that it might also be done in a classroom was foreign and frankly a little difficult to wrap my head around. But it was in Oxford that I finally settled into this vision of ministry and fully accepted that my passion for the biblical text and its languages could and should be leveraged into a teaching ministry conducted in the classrooms of a university.

So now as I reflect back on that tweet from four years ago and I think about the excitement that preceded my first day of Greek class, I realize that that enthusiasm was pregnant with something much weightier than academic curiosity. It was dripping with divine purpose, and though I couldn’t see it yet, that purpose would dramatically reorient my world. It would open academic doors that I didn’t know existed, it would deepen my connection with the biblical text that I loved, and it would define the shape of my ministerial vocation.

I had a déjà vu experience a few days ago that helped put this all in perspective for me. As I walked into my last class of the week, I realized that it was next door to an old familiar room. I glanced inside at the handful of youthful faces—a few of which were fresh with the excitement of a new academic challenge. I recognized that look in their eyes. And I recognized the voice of the professor, introducing another batch of students to the wide world of New Testament Greek. I remembered fondly the first time I had sat in that room, excited for the challenge but naïve to the opportunity.

And then I walked through another door. With the voice of my first-year Greek professor still barely audible, I sat down in the midst of that old familiar anticipation. And with thankfulness for the way that spark of intrigue in Greek had been fanned into a full-fledged flame of passion for ancient languages, I pulled out my syllabus for Elementary Syriac. Another new door that will undoubtedly lead to more opportunities—academic, spiritual, and ministerial all.

The Relevance of the Bible for Life Today: Justice

by   |  03.09.10  |  Behavior, Bible, Church, Justice, Power, Theology, Wealth

What is justice? How can we be more just people, and a more just church? These questions seem acute in our time, as American Christians have access to unprecedented wealth and power while so many of our brothers and sisters sometimes lack even daily bread. As this new series of podcasts tries to show, the Bible offers a profound and eminently workable approach to changing our own lives — our attitudes, behaviors, values, and desires — so as to become more just people. I hope you enjoy this series and welcome your comments or questions.

Dr. Mark W. Hamilton
Associate Professor of Old Testament and
Associate Dean
ACU Graduate School of Theology
Abilene, TX 79699
Editor, The Transforming Word

Welcome to the ACU Graduate School of Theology Blog!

by   |  03.08.10  |  Announcements

We know it’s been a long time in coming, but we’re excited to finally launch the ACU Graduate School of Theology Blog where professors and students alike can contribute and interact around a multiplicity of fascinating and significant subjects. Of course those of you who aren’t ACUGST professors or students are most welcome to feast upon, delve into, and comment on the material you find here.

You may be asking yourself: “Who are these GST people?” Our Associate Dean, Dr. Mark Hamilton describes us thusly:

Our community of women and men comes from around the United States and many other nations across the globe. We seek to learn how to serve God and thus God’s creation with our hearts, hands, minds, and feet. Rigorous study of the Bible and the theology and history of the church, sustained and reflective engagement with the arts of ministry and the skills of leadership, committed practices of prayer and service – these are the elements we cultivate in our lives together.

Our community is firmly grounded in the life of the church. Many of us come from the churches of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, a group of Christians in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who sought to reclaim the vision of unity, holiness, and service present when Christianity began. Our school embraces that vision even as it welcomes all who seek to serve in imitation of Jesus Christ. We believe that the church needs spiritual leaders in order to be part of God’s work of bringing peace, wholeness, and purpose to the world.

We think we’ve got some pretty good ideas for ways to make this blog exciting, informative, and even transformative. So make sure you keep watching the blog for updates.

Two things soon to come — 1) Dr. Mark Hamilton shares a three part series on Justice in Isaiah, and 2) an exciting announcement about our upcoming GST Preview Day Event. See you around!