Hello there! My name is Erik Masci and I’m the new Director of Recruiting and Marketing for the Graduate School of Theology at ACU. Essentially, it’s my job to communicate who we (the GST) are and help potential students discern whether or not we would be a good fit for them. As I settle into this position it seems important that I introduce myself since I’ll be managing a lot of the GST communication through platforms like this (blog).
Unfortunately, I’ve always found introducing myself to be a little challenging. It might be because I tend to feel some pressure to give the “right” information. Maybe it’s because I don’t know what the “right” information would even be. Or, maybe it’s just because I’m nervous to make a good first impression.
Maybe I shouldn’t think about it too much.
Instead my gracious colleague and friend, Karissa Herchenroeder, has agreed to “interview” me. Here are the questions she asked, and my answers to them. Enjoy,
- Let’s start with some basics, shall we? Where did you grow up? How awesome is your wife? Do you have any pets? What’s your educational background?
I was born in Thousand Oaks, California, and raised in Aurora, Colorado where I lived most of my life. My wife, Krista, is a superhuman. Thank you for asking. She is one of the most dedicated and compassionate people I know. We have two dogs.
I have a B.A. in Christian Ministry and an M.Div. from ACU. I’ve also completed my first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education with Baylor Scott & White Health in Fort Worth and Grapevine, Texas.
- How would you describe the spiritual or religious background of your childhood and adolescence?
Short answer: Eclectic Christianity… mostly. I was born and baptized Roman Catholic but we did not attend Mass often (especially once we made the move to Colorado). I was never confirmed. I grew up with a sense of agnosticism (God was sort of whatever we wanted him to be). Eventually, I committed to the faith in a semi-charismatic mega-church in Aurora when I was a teenager. The Churches of Christ adopted me a few years after I came to ACU for the first time.
- How did you find your way to ACU? [or if it would flow better, something like, What was it like transitioning to ACU and landing in the Church of Christ?
I took a year off after high school to discern my call to ministry (also, all my friends were younger than me and hadn’t graduated yet). ACU was one of the few schools that offered Political Science and Ministry at the same place and was within my academic achievement range. Also, against most people’s judgment, I really wanted to go somewhere away from home (“Oh my goodness! Why would you want to move away from Colorado!? It’s so beautiful there!” Yes, it’s beautiful. I miss the tap water. It was, essentially, like having cold, clear spring water whenever you wanted. Moving away was still a good call). I didn’t end up doing poli-sci, but it was a nice thought.
- Tell us about some ministry contexts in which you’ve gotten to serve.
Most of my experience and professional training as a minister is in health care chaplaincy and pastoral care. I worked for Hendrick Hospice Care for years as a PRN (as needed) chaplain, and in hospitals in Abilene and the Dallas/Fort Worth area. If that work is foreign to you (the reader) or is something you’re interested in hearing more about, I’m always ready to talk about those experiences. I’m also a university minister at Minter Lane Church of Christ and have experience doing youth ministry and a little preaching.
- Let’s say you have a random day off with nothing you have to do. How would you spend the day?
I wish I could say I would read or write something (I do like both of those things) but, to avoid sounding more cultured than I am, if friends are equally available I’m 100% playing Dungeons and Dragons (are we far away enough from the Satanic panic for me to say that?)
- What is one of the most valuable lessons you learned during your time studying at ACU?
I would say that, among the many things they taught me, the GST taught me how to consider other points of view charitably, seriously, and without fear. It is immeasurably valuable to be able to not only disagree with someone civilly, but to be able to understand the nuanced ways in which we come to believe what we do. I recently had a conversation about how I have found myself defending people I ideologically oppose, not because I agree with them, but because I don’t want them to be misrepresented in their beliefs. Being able to meaningfully articulate a position that isn’t your own is an incredible gift.
- Tell us a funny story involving you and some of your GST friends or professors.
Toward the end of my M.Div. I was taking a class with Dr. Jeff Childers. He invited the students over for dinner one night during the semester. It’s important to note that Dr. Childers may be one of the biggest Lord of the Rings fans in the world and he has a prop replica of Glamdring hanging on his wall. It was later into the evening when one of us finally had the courage to ask if he ever took the sword out of the wall casing. Dr. Childers did not get the first word out before many of us began to narrate impossibly embarrassing scenarios of Dr. Childers, distinguished church historian and Syriac scholar, sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to pretend he was Gandalf, sword in hand.
Dr. Childers, good sport that he is, took the sword off the wall and let us all examine it. He dealt out an impressive amount of trivia to boot.
- What is something you’re enjoying about your snazzy new job in the GST?
I think theological education (especially at the graduate level) is incredibly important. So far I am enjoying exploring what it means to try and live out this belief as a reality. It has been rewarding to interact with students who are discerning their vocation and to advocate for this kind of education. The church has the most important job in the world and I think benefits from us living into a faith seeking understanding. I’ve been incredibly lucky to be a part of a group of people whom I trust not only with theological education but also spiritual formation.
All of that to say, now that you know me a little better, I’m excited to get to know you. If you’re interested, shoot me an email or come on by. I’d love to chat.
Erik Masci, M.Div. (’18)