Where I’m Going, And Why…

One week ago, I received my official offer of admission from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  Today, completely ignoring the fact that there is no mail service due to it being President’s Day, I returned a signed acceptance of my admission along with a deposit.  As I’ve mentioned before, seminary admission and candidacy entrance are parallel processes.  Candidacy is much more intensive, but seminary relies on candidacy, technically, any admissions decision I received from LTSG will be provisional, waiting on a positive entrance decision from the candidacy committee.

One thing that is important to note is that for seminary, it’s fairly common to only apply to one school.  This stems from the understanding that seminary is a calling, not merely a decision made on a whim.  For the ELCA seminaries, and many others, it’s not a matter of competing for a certain number of spots in any given class, it’s moreso showing that you have taken the effort to prepare yourself for theological study.

Having decided on attending seminary at Gettysburg, I wanted to take the time to discuss some of the things that I think affected that decision and helped me find LTSG to be a good fit.  The list is is no particular order, just what came to mind as I was writing.

  • Family – Family has always been extremely important to me growing up.  While I tend to be pretty independent, being close to people I care about is a pretty big strength. Gettysburg is around 3 hours from my parent’s house, and just an hour from where my brother, sister-in-law and two nieces live.
  • Location – Gettysburg, PA is an awesome little town.  I can’t even count the number of times I made my parents take me there growing up to see the battlefield and town.  There’s just something really cool about how it is so historically significant but still such a bustling place.  Furthermore, anything they don’t have in Gettysburg is as easy as a drive to half a dozen much larger cities nearby.
  • Lutheran Context – While Lutherans the world over can find commonality in our faith, there’s still a pretty decent amount of variety.  It’s kinda like this: if you’re comparing law schools, typically it’s ultimately best to select one in the state you hope to some day practice.  Me going to Pacific Lutheran Seminary in Berkeley, CA would be kinda silly considering that I’ve been born and raised a Lutheran in Pennsylvania and hope to at least stay somewhere within this region.
  • Personal References – I know a pretty decent number of Pastors and current seminarians, and have been able to hear first-hand about the Lutheran seminaries in Gettysburg, Philadelphia and Chicago as well as Trinity (in Columbus, OH) and Southern (in Columbia, SC).  I made it a point to talk to people I respect about their choices in deciding on a seminary.  No one said anything bad about any of the seminaries, but the good things I heard about Gettysburg certainly served to reinforce my own thoughts.
  • Hipstoric – LTSG’s associate director of admissions Julie Stecker used this word on twitter a few weeks ago to describe LTSG’s vibe.  Both the town and seminary are historic, but also hip and innovative.
  • Volunteer Opportunities – A while back, I detailed my involvement with emergency services throughout the last 4-5 years of my life, and my interest long before actually getting involved.  It certainly didn’t hurt my decision toward LTSG that it is the only seminary served by a volunteer fire department (along with volunteer EMS), giving me the opportunity to find some time to volunteer during my education.
  • Lack of Distractions – Standing on Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg is quiet.  While several of the things listed above may serve as distractions to some extent, I still believe that Gettysburg is a good place for me to focus on my studies during seminary.

And the most important reason:

It just feels right.  Many of the reasons above are somewhat superficial.  Several of them are things that you could probably find at ANY seminary.  Alone, none of these reasons are really sufficient enough to be a well-formed argument suggesting LTSG over any other seminary.  Even together, the logic isn’t entirely solid.  That’s where the pathos comes into play with emotional appeal.  I spent a lot of time praying about my decision, and something about the time I’ve spent AT Gettysburg, the time I’ve spent THINKING about Gettysburg and the time I’ve spent THINKING about being AT Gettysburg just feels right.

Up next:

  • I’ll be doing my initial interview with Pastor David Gleason, a member of my candidacy committee next Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
  • Also, I should receive notification about my financial aid award from LTSG sometime between now and the end of the month, which will give me a good idea of where I stand as far as what I need to do to finance my education.

Thank you everyone who has shown support up until this point.  It means the world to me.


Posted on February 20, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. That last reason is what sold me on Trinity. Thankfully, it happened on my first visit, which also happened to be the first day of Orientation (I highly discourage my method of sight-unseen application and acceptance). But after that first day, I got home and thought, “Yes–this is where I need to be.” I’ve never looked back since.

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