DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

October 26, 2007

                                                           

                                      

The Best of Times

It was the best of times, it was the wor…heck, no it was ALL the best of times. The entire 4 years was the best of times.

I’m talking about my seminary years. It was the best of times. And if I am honest, these past 30 years as a minister have also been the best of times.

I got to thinking about those years this week after talking to the congregation about your “Second Mile Giving” which goes for seminary education…and in our case here at Dublin Community Church…for full-time seminarian Scott Schieber, who has been an active member for 10 years.

These seminarians don’t just fall out of the trees on our doorstep. It takes years and years to nurture someone so that they might feel the “call” to the full time Christian ministry in the United Church of Christ. Dublin Community Church has done so. Seminary is graduate school and that is in the neighborhood of $15,000 per year. Three years of  theological training. Do the math.

I clearly recall driving from Ohio to Berkeley in the Summer of 1977. It was a road trip across the continent and one that I repeated in reverse order 4 years later though by then we had a daughter and a date for ordination in my home church of Lima and a call as an Associate Minister in Wisconsin. I made $10,000 that year; had to pay my own health insurance and got all the Wisconsin bratwurst I could eat, while rooting for the Green Bay Packers.

(I should point out that I took a year’s Ministry Internship in Great Falls, Montana. I was looking for a place where I could freeze my toes in record time and I found it. Hence, the 4 years of training.)

I bought an electric typewriter at the local K-Mart near Berkeley in my first year of seminary. I remember seeing the ad in the newspaper that they would have a “blue-light” special on Saturday. I went there at 8 am when it opened and found out that the electric typewriter would be “blue-lighted” at 4:30 pm.  I had the whole day to wait. I told the saleswoman that I really needed that typewriter because I was in seminary. She had no idea what that was (this WAS Berkeley, after all) but she knew it had something to do with church-stuff and she said that if I returned just after 4 pm, she would make certain I was first in line. I went over to San Francisco to wander around and returned at 4 and got the typewriter, which I used throughout my seminary years. (Someone please explain to your kids under the age of 25, just what an electric typewriter was…)

One time while in seminary, there was a representative at the school from a credit card company who was handing out forms to apply for student credit cards. I had no credit history at that point and a student credit card seemed like a reasonable thing to have. (Someone please explain to your kids under the age of 25, just what it was like to NOT get 15 credit card applications in each day’s mail.) So I applied. I was rejected. I phoned to ask why and was told I was rejected “because I was a student.” I pointed out that the credit card application was for students and I was a student.

 

 

 

 

Silence.

“Oh, well, then, Mr. Tussing, you might qualify!” I was told.

She asked for some pertinent information including address and the college. I told her I was in seminary. She seemed to understand that distinction and when it came to the line of “married or single” she said, “Of course, you are single.” I said, no, “I’m married.”

Silence. Long silence.

“But if you are studying for the priesthood??” she asked plaintively. Clearly I was speaking with a good Catholic girl who knew the term seminary but wasn’t aware that we Protestants called our religious schools seminaries, just like the Roman Catholic Seminaries.

But, I really didn’t feel like explaining that I was Protestant and in seminary and was allowed to marry. I just said, “No, I am certainly married.”

Silence.

“OK, Father, your credit card is approved!”

She figured she had missed a few important Vatican Pronouncements over the past couple years along with missing some Sunday Masses…and she wasn’t about to argue with Rome or a student priest.

I had my credit card and she had a new (and incorrect) understanding of the priesthood. But, as I said, this was Berkeley and such things are taken with a shrug…and you move on.

Oh… and in the intervening years I studied. It was a fascinating time. Good professors and life long friends and experiences and along the way I listened for the call of Jesus and realized that for me, I heard Him in the quiet times.

I wish this for our seminarian Scott. I pray that for him the blessedness and challenge of church live will merge with his faith and he too will continue to feel the gentle pull of the ministry and the Creator. I pray that he will find the joy of leading and the amazement of being led.

My seminary tuition was nearly paid for by my home church, which had established a seminary fund for any member who entered a fully accredited Graduate level seminary in preparation for the full time ministry in the United Church of Christ. (See paragraph #5 above to remind you why I was grateful.)

Dublin Community Church does not have such a scholarship fund, though it is on the top of my list for “things that DCC must commit them selves to in the near future.” In the meantime we have the October Second Mile giving which benefits our seminarian. Be generous. It is a wonderful calling, especially if one’s home church is fully backing them in all aspects of the seminary training. Scott has felt the calling of the ministry. I hope you feel called to support his decision.

As for me, somewhere in the archives of the Vatican is the name Robert Tussing…listed as a renegade married priest in Berkeley.

Peace,   Bob