Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My D.Min. cohort

My Drew D.Min. cohort is a great group of people. There are seven of us-- Sangchun, Candace, Mark, Dale, Chuck, Dennis, and me.

Sangchun is a pastor of a Methodist Church in DaeJeon, South Korea. He’s a smiling, quiet, serious presence in our group, both when we’re online and when we’re face to face. (Until about the fourth day on campus, none of us had ever seen Sangchun in anything but a suit and tie, even when he was signing on to a web chat at what was four in the morning his time.) Being at Drew for the month has been hard on him. He misses Korean food, for example. Aside from pizza, he really hasn’t found much that he likes, though he’s tried one kind of (largely vegetarian) food after another when we’ve eaten at different places. He’s not fond of movies—he sees them as largely a waste of time—but when the preaching class was required to see one and our group picked Ratatouille, he cheerfully went along and watched it . I’m always impressed by how he’s able to follow any of what we’re doing when it’s in both a foreign language and a foreign culture. He says that he can do that because he lived in England for six years, but still…

Candace is a Methodist pastor trying to plant a new church called Daybreak in northwest Las Vegas. (
This is her second church plant and it’s clear once you’ve talked with her a bit that she misses her previous congregation, Song of Life Church in Phoenix, Arizona. She has a great understanding of the dynamics of various trends and movements in mainline Protestant churches these days and seems to enjoy meeting new people, so I can understand why the Georgia Methodists were willing to fund her doing a church plant in Nevada. Candace is out-going, left handed, and says what’s on her mind. One of her new experiences this summer was seeing fireflies when we did the Cajun cookout.
In July of 2006, Mark became the pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Las Vegas (, a congregation that sounds like quite a challenge. Mark and Candace both describe him as a creature of habit. He’s very friendly and loves to laugh. He’s got not only a tech background (having worked as a computer consultant before ordination) but he’s a musician, playing both banjo and guitar. Candace and Mark have three daughters in their twenties, one of whom is a pastor, one a grad student, and one an attorney.

Dale is the youngest in our group and is a pastor in the United Church of Canada. He currently serves two Anglo congregations in the Quebec area, but in October he’s moving to a new church, St. Stephen’s-on-the-Hill, in a Toronto suburb. ( ) His wife has just gotten ordained and will also be serving a congregation in the same area. They’ve got a 10-year-old daughter who is currently visiting her grandparents in Nova Scotia. Dale must read a lot; whenever Cass, the Christian Futuring prof, brought up a book in class, whether it was science fiction, business, politics, or theology, it was Dale and me who had read it. He’s also recently taken up acting, playing the part of a pastor in a recent Canadian film and also in a Canadian T.V. series that’s just begun to be released (and which he hopes will do well-enough that he can do some more bit parts in it). He loves golf, movies, and gaming (which he assures us is the Canadian expression not for gambling but for computer games). When we had a little bit of free time between classes and dinner it wasn’t uncommon to find Dale either heading to the gym or back to his dorm room to play Halo or CounterStrike. He’s just gotten a new laptop with Vista on it, so we all spent a lot of time admiring all the bells and whistles of programs and options that came with it (and I spent a lot of time trying not to be jealous).

Chuck pastors Friendship AME Church in Clinton, South Carolina ( He’s got a warm quietness about him and is clearly a real family man. He and I spent a lot of time commiserating about what it’s like living with teenage daughters, since Chuck has a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old. Before serving as a minister, Chuck was in the Army for twenty-one years and his “knight” personality was clearly strengthened through that experience. He describes himself as a homebody and was clearly counting the days before he’d be able to be back with his wife and daughters.

Dennis serves as minister to the United Presbyterian Church in Slatington, PA, a church that is the result of a merger of two former churches in the town and that still seems to feel some of that pre-merger separateness. Prior to United Pres he’d been in congregations in Ohio and Indiana and had also served for a good number of years as a pastoral counselor. Dennis plays guitar in a church band that plays for the contemporary worship service each week and hates Welsh hymn sings (and the food that comes with them)! He’s got a creative mind and a great grasp of biblical stories and their application to modern and postmodern cultures. And he’s got a book –Healing Death: Finding Wholeness When a Cure is No Longer Possible--coming out in October.

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