The following message and call to conversation was written by the Rev. April G. Johnson, Minister of Reconciliation, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):
By Julie Richardson
“We’re going to Mrs. Jackson’s house for lunch,” my dad said to my younger sister and me, “and I expect you to be on your best behavior.”
“Um…okay,” was our rather reluctant reply. We’d been residents of Winder, Georgia, for less than a year, uprooted from our happy life in South Texas so our dad could take the position of senior minister of First Christian Church in Winder, and neither my sister or I were really happy or comfortable with the situation yet.
The occasion required Sunday-best clothing (as defined in the Deep South), and our best efforts at manners, not all that hard considering we’d had several years practice being preachers’ kids.
Annie Jackson’s house sat on a main street through small-town Winder, red brick, with white trim and pillars gracing the front porch. There were hardwood floors and a big fireplace and we ate at a formal dining room table.
I remember like it was yesterday and not 25-plus years ago, the first course of that meal at Mrs. Jackson’s: tomato aspic. This odd, and I soon determined disgusting, gelatinous mold of tomato…and maybe meat broth…and spices I couldn’t name. It was cold, and served on a small plate on a leaf of lettuce, and as it was set down in front of me, I remember thinking, “No. Way.”
Of course, “Yes. Way,” because even politely declining wasn’t an option. And somehow my sister and I, we managed.
Years later, I learned that Annie Jackson, and her already-by-then deceased husband Theo, were tremendous financial supporters of both our local Disciples congregation and the wider church. It seems that as a young girl, Annie Jackson had earned extra money for her family by cleaning the church building they lived next to–a Disciples church.
When I showed up as a first-year student at LTS in the fall of 1997, the then-Vice President greeted me with, “Oh yes, you’re from Mrs. Jackson’s church.”
Annie Jackson was also a tremendous supporter of Lexington Theological Seminary, so much so that at her death in the late 1990’s, she left a portion of her estate to the Seminary.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Winder, a long time since I’ve been a student at LTS, and a long time since Annie Jackson died. And so I’d forgotten all this until a few weeks ago. And then, while reviewing past gifts to LTS, I came across “Annie Jackson.” My very first thought was, “Oh! The tomato aspic!”
She’s been on my mind ever since, her memory this thing I’ve tried to capture as I think about how and why individuals and alumni and congregations give to this Seminary; her gift to LTS this thing I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for.
Miss Annie, she made me eat tomato aspic, and I’ll never forget it. But she also, through tremendous generosity, has made it possible for many of us to follow a call to ministry via a theological education at Lexington Theological Seminary.
May we all, each in our own way and within our own means, find ourselves capable of such generosity.
Stephanie Paulsell, the daughter of former LTS President Bill Paulsell, writes about the impact of one of her father’s sermons and the mystery of God in the Faith Matters blog on Christian Century:
There’s a long list of pastors—men and women—who helped form and nurture and encourage what they saw as a call to ministry beginning to emerge in my life and work. I feel so very fortunate that this is true, especially when I remember that I have colleagues who were discouraged at every turn, and for whom the journey has not been so affirming or life-giving.
John, Dale, Jim, Mary Beth, Bill, Jorge, Michael, Larry Paul, Gary, Linda, Sharon, Russ, Mark—these are the names I celebrate most, though there are certainly more, when I think of the ones that have most made me into the pastor I am today. I speak and write their names with prayerful gratitude.
And I plan to honor them with an extra gift to Lexington Theological Seminary this month—October, the Month of Ministry. And I’d like to invite you to do the same—with your own list of names. Who are the pastors who helped make you a pastor? Who are the men and women clergy who helped you see, “Yes, I am called. Yes, I will go?”
You may give online, via mailed check or via phone—all options are secure, and we welcome your gift no matter the size.
I am grateful for these ones who guided me along the journey, and I am, this Month of the Ministry, grateful for all of you, sisters and brothers in profession and faith. Blessings upon your work and your lives. Know that you are remembered and appreciated by your alma mater.
– Julie Richardson, M.Div.
Preparing Pastoral Leaders for 21st Century Churches
How many students are there at LTS?
Most recent annual headcount is 135, with students hailing from 29 states
Is the Seminary financially healthy?
Yes. The Board of Trustees adopted financial equilibrium and growth as one of four strategic imperatives. This means the Seminary is committed to sound fiscal policies and management to maintain the financial strength of the Seminary’s assets.
How is the new building being received?
Very well by faculty, staff, students and alumni alike—we welcome you for a tour!
How many full-time faculty are there at LTS?
What sorts of classes are being taught at LTS?
What you would expect to see at a graduate theological institution, with a congregationally-centered approach—preaching, worship design, pastoral care, church history, theology, etc.
Are students ever on campus?
Students are on campus for intensive courses in January and June.
What does LTS offer the wider community?
- Lay School of Theology, church leadership webinars, the Library What new things are happening at LTS?
- Conversations on Stewardship and Finance, Ministry Life Choices Initiative (read more about both at www.lextheo.edu)
How can I best support LTS?
You can be an informed advocate. You can refer students. You can support us financially.
Academic excellence and relevance
Financial equilibrium and growth
Sustaining pastors in ministry
Cultivating a quality place to work and study
(LTS Strategic Imperatives)
Theology on the Border: The United States and Mexico led by Dr. Emily Askew January 30-February 5, 2015
Registration/Deposit deadline: December 15, 2014
Anticipated Cost*: $1500 (includes airfare to Tucson, AZ)
*See student budget breakdown below, which includes tuition for an intensive course
Please join me as we explore what immigration means first hand when we spend seven days on the US/Mexico border at Tucson/Nogales. On this intensive trip you will hear the stories of migration from those who are in the process of crossing or have been deported back, listen to faithful leaders discuss their work with migrants on both sides of the border, walk dirt migrant trails winding through dangerous desert vegetation , experience mass deportation hearings in Federal Court, interview public defenders, dance with migrant children, experience the bitter cold of the desert in winter, sleep on cement floors in migrant shelters, and push yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually in ways you never thought possible. In short you will experience for yourself the complex and painful story of what some refer to as “our national wound”, the US/Mexico border. –Dr. Emily Askew
When I signed up to go to the border I was not sure what to expect. Of course I had read the news and followed the various issues surrounding the border and immigration, but all of that did little to prepare me for what it actually meant to experience it all first hand. I feel a bit at a loss for words when it comes to describing my week living the issues. It is hard to put into words what it feels like to hold “holy trash” or walk the same paths that others have walked in desperation, hoping for a future different from the one they have walked so far to leave behind. I held the hands of young children in Mexico and wondered what my life would have been like had I been born somewhere other than small town America. –Sarah, LTS student and previous trip participant
LTS Student Intensive Course Budget Breakdown
Tuition: $980.00 ($500 if student is DOC/UCC receiving the denominational scholarship)
Transportation: $750.00 Books & Fees: $750.00 Food Incidentals: $250.00
Est. Student Budget: $2,980.00
“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” wrote the psalmist (Psalm 27:13, NRSV). The words are both celebration and thanksgiving, and they speak as only scripture can to the transformation the Seminary is living into these days.
Today I offer them as a testament to what has been in this last year, and to what will continue to be, for Lexington Theological Seminary. We have seen the goodness of the Lord:
• in 13 graduates of the new curriculum and program this past June.
• in the legacy gifts of Seminary friends and alumni that will bolster our endowment so that we can look even further ahead.
• in faculty committed to innovative teaching and the pastoral identity formation of our students.
• in 135 students who are heeding a call to ministry via Lexington Theological Seminary from across 28 states.
• through grants from the Lilly Foundation and the Pension Fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) that will assist us in helping sustain and support our graduates post-seminary in their ministries.
• through a new and improved D. Min. program.
There is much to celebrate. That makes it all the more important that we continue to have a healthy Ministerial Education Fund (MEF), the Seminary’s annual fund that directly funds students and faculty.
Please join us in this Land of the Living as we share the goodness we’ve seen here. We hope you’ll make plans now for your gift to MEF this year. We look forward to hearing from you.
DR. CHARISSE L. GILLETT
Three Lexington Theological Seminary students have been selected as 2014 Magee Fellows to the Kentucky Council of Churches October 24-25 assembly on Restorative Justice.
- Pamela Pettyjohn, who is scheduled to complete the Certificate of Pastoral Studies program at Lexington Theological Seminary in September, and begin the M.Div. program at LTS in October. She currently serves as an Associate Minister at First Christian Church in Louisville (Disciples of Christ). Her past involvement in refugee ministries and current work with community ministry and prison/re-entry ministry inform her interest in ecumenism and justice.
- LaVeeshia Pryor, an M.Div. student at Lexington Theological Seminary. Community Holy Week worship services have been an ecumenical inspiration for her. She wants to learn how restorative justice practices help local communities and what role churches can play in that.
- Joseph Pusateri, an M.Div student at Lexington Theological Seminary and pastors Simpsonville Christian Church where he collaborates closely with Baptist and Methodist congregations. He brings a special passion for social justice and prison ministry and looks forward to exploring the philosophy of restorative justice more deeply.
Lexington Theological Seminary is an accredited graduate theological institution of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Consistent with the Disciples’ historic commitment to Christian unity, the Seminary is intentionally ecumenical with students, faculty, staff and trustees of various denominations. The Seminary has been preparing leaders for the church since 1865. For more information, visit www.lextheo.edu.
LTS M.Div. student Joey Pusateri is letting his light shine brightly.
He entered the program at LTS with a strong sense of calling – to what or why he didn’t know.
Since then, he has become part of a prison ministry, and from there, the pastor of Simpsonville Christian Church.
He recently was honored as a 2014 Magee Fellow by the Kentucky Council of Churches. As a fellowship recipient, he will attend the KCC Assembly on Restorative Justice Oct. 24-25.
Pusateri is also one of three pastors – one, Pusateri, Disciples of Christ; one Baptist; and one United Methodist – who came together to found the Salt and Light Festival, which occurred in their community of Simpsonville, Ky., in August.
In a feature story by the Sentinel-News, http://www.sentinelnews.com/content/festival-unity, Pusateri spoke of the importance of unity.
“It shows that while there are reasonable differences between our three congregations – we come from different traditions and histories – what’s most important is enough to keep us bound together, and we are glad to be able to do that in a public way,” he told the newspaper. “This event is meant to let the people know that we are here and listening, and eager to respond to the needs of God’s children as the hands and feet of Christ. I think it shows that we are more interested in what unites us than what divides us.”
Read more of Joey’s story of his calling here: http://www.lextheo.edu/2011/01/extreme-experience-for-lts-student/
Ainslie is a Murray State University alumnus with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. Additionally, she is experienced in the fields of business and finance.