By Nathalie N. Nelson
The modern day reality of the “American Dream” unfortunately at times comes with the nightmare of mounting student loan debt, a shrinking job market, and economic turbulence. Tensions become even greater for those who walk away from the comforts of gainful employment to fulfill a higher calling within vocational ministry. Financial ambiguity, academic rigor, and the vast demand of self-sacrifice are oftentimes elements that cause anxiety.
Therefore, when I made the bold decision to apply to seminary, I was laden with both excitement and uncertainty. Excited because I finally mustered enough faith to fulfill the urgent call toward greater service for the Christian Church. Uncertain, because this act of faith demanded I leave my career, family, and the faith community that I had grown to love.
However, I was faced with the serendipitous dilemma of choice. Gammon Theological Seminary at The Interdenominational Theological Center and a second notable United Methodist seminary had accepted my application. The next step of the discernment process was to decide which institution would provide the best theological and vocational preparedness for me.
After much prayer and consideration there were five determining factors that lead me to Gammon Theological Seminary.
1. Sense of Community: I made the conscious decision to fly from New York to visit both campuses in person. I prayed that God would give me an overwhelming peace that would confirm which seminary would be best suitable for my training. The staff, students, and faculty at ITC met me, literally with open arms. The authenticity of the communal environment spoke volumes to the beliefs and practices of the seminary as a safe, loving, and close knit learning community.
2. Theological Formation: After spending six years of both undergraduate and graduate studies at predominantly white universities in New York (Adelphi University and Teachers College, Columbia University), I believed embracing a theological framework that seeks to empower not only the African American community, but to empower all persons of social, cultural, and economic disenfranchisement would better inform both my personal and vocational development.
3. Rich Legacy: After researching the history of Gammon Theological Seminary at The ITC, I became zealous to become a part of the legacy of influential African American scholars, theologians, pastors, educators, and public officials who have blazed trails, not only for the United Methodist Church, but the Church at large.
4. Academic Rigor and Prestigious Faculty: There is no institution in the world that possesses the number of African American theologians that are published, world-renowned within their disciplines, or have the academic credentials as the faculty members of The ITC. ITC is the epicenter of African American liberation theology and a major force in the biblical studies of empowerment.
5. Community Service & Activism: The grass roots partnerships with schools, the ITC food pantry, the activism of the ITC Student Christian League, and the emphasis on volunteerism within the local church are essential elements that make me a proud part of Gammon Theological Seminary at the ITC.
I strongly encourage any person that is considering serving the local or global church to complete their studies at Gammon Theological Seminary at the ITC. The experience of community, the focus on liberating and empowering persons of social, cultural, and economic disenfranchisement, the network of legacy and scholarship, along with the focus on volunteerism and activism all work together to provide meaningful vocational development.
For admissions inquiries contact Gammon Theological Seminary at (404) 581-0300 or visit our campus 653 Beckwith Street, SW, Atlanta, GA 30314. To donate to this great institution please visit www.gammon-itc.org.
Nathalie N. Nelson is Student Fellowship President at Gammon Theological Seminary at ITC and serves at Allgood Road United Methodist Church as Young Adult Ministry Director. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.