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Our students share stories of their Seminary journey…
Valerie H. Holly, MDiv Graduate 2014
Having obtained an MSW degree in 1986, I had a sense (at least I thought I did!) of the study and work habits necessary to complete the MDiv program. However a lot changed between 1986 and 2011; the biggest change was the technology. I thank God that the NYTS leadership was astute enough to provide computer training and on-going assistance for students like me. The MDiv program required me to become more familiar with the technology- which I was able to do with the help of staff and students.
The MDiv program at NYTS has been one of ongoing enjoyable learning. Since I am in ministry, I had openness and an excitement towards my classes. The professors were sound theologically and experientially. They are not only academics, they are also preachers, chaplains, and most are pastors. Thus, these individuals have an understanding of ministry from the books and from the “front line”; they have been in the trenches; they have put their teachings to the test; they know what it means to work with people from all walks of life. Therefore their life experiences in ministry allowed for invaluable insights in the classroom. I also appreciated the spiritual component of prayer and devotions before each class. These classroom customs spoke to my heart and informed me of the importance that NYTS placed on invoking God’s spiritual principles in the classroom and whenever we were studying.
NYTS has taught me the importance of having a sound theological foundation to the preached word.
Valerie is the 2014 recipient of the President’s Award.
Steven V. Jones, MDiv Graduate 2014
I never saw myself as a preacher. I did not think that God would use me in that capacity. I saw myself as a teacher of Sunday school or a leader of ministries in the church; but, never as a proclaimer of the Gospel. I however, was extremely interested in learning more about the Bible. I knew in my heart there was more to learn; I just had to be directed to the right place. As such, I listened to my wife and friend and took one class over the summer and I was sucked in. I could not play around the periphery; NYTS had drawn me into its womb for a 4 year gestation period. And, in the NYTS womb I received theological nutrients that brought sustenance for life and growth.
I began to grow by attending the classes that pushed me beyond anything I could have imagined. I began to not only be challenged intellectually; but, also challenged spiritually. Was the faith I was holding on to so hard really what I needed to hold onto? Was there a faith that God had specifically for me? In the classes I began to experience unexpected growth in the friendships with my peers and my professors. I actually grew in feeling more confident to express my understanding of God’s revelation. This growth occurred inside and outside of the classroom.
What will I do with this growth? I am simply to honor God, my family and NYTS in my future endeavors. First, I will honestly and earnestly approach ministry with a thought of the other. I will serve the people because the “People’s needs are Holy.” I will seek ways to give back and not just financially to NYTS. I will walk in the assurance that I am NYTS.
Steven is the 2014 recipient of the Keith A. Russell Preaching Award.
Eun Joo Park, Current MDiv Student
As a woman in my country, I planned to study theology but I could not really decide or commit to it. For a long time I engaged in Christian Education studies at a theological seminary and even worked at several institutions of education and churches. When I came to New York, suddenly God led and changed my way. In this new land I felt like I could access the kind of study that I only imagined. I thank God that I am studying in the Master of Divinity program at NYTS. Among many reasons, here I have grasped a theology which relates to global cultures and the human condition. I think this theology demonstrates how God loves the world and his people.
I often wondered why God led to me this new land, but I realize that the theological education I am receiving here is preparing me for the important tasks as I pursue a ministry that is concerned and cares for the oppressed.
Eun Joo is a second year MDiv Student. She is from Korea.
Kweku Sam Kwofie, Current MDiv Student
New York Theological Seminary is a blessing from God. I was afforded the opportunity to participate in the Seminary’s work-study program alongside my academic endeavors. I received this as a privilege and it allowed me to create more intimate relationships with students and faculty members. Being in close proximity to brilliant minds and being surrounded by dynamic ministers in Christ, created an atmosphere of challenge and provided the necessary depth required for God’s personal calling on my life to be supported and strengthened. NYTS is a good fit for the spirited academic. The five boroughs of New York truly become one’s campus.
Sam is a first year MDiv student who did work study
for the Office of Academic Affairs this semester.
Theo Harris, MPS Graduate 2008
There is no monetary value I can place on my New York Theological Seminary education. My Masters of Professional Studies degree was earned under the most difficult conditions imaginable – behind the maximum security walls of Sing-Sing Correctional Facility. Yet, I would not trade that experience for anything in the world, because it has given me insight into not only myself, and my beliefs, but also an insight into and a profound respect for the beliefs of others. This insight serves me well in my current position as Reentry Outreach Coordinator for The Interfaith Center of New York. Yes, I am truly honored to say that I am a graduate of New York Theological Seminary’s “North”
NYTS is celebrating its 32nd year of the MPS program at Sing Sing.
Marilyn Ava Jolley, MDiv Graduate 2011
To Dr. Dale Irvin: Thank you and the entire New York Theological Team for your kindness, love and encouragement while I was at New York Theological Seminary. This institution has given me the tools I need to do ministry effectively. You helped me to see the direction God was leading me. You encouraged me to drum for Justice, Jesus, and Peace. I am now an ordained Minister of First Baptist Church Of Crown Heights. God has blessed me with a ministry. This ministry is the Djembe Drum Ministry, which comprises of close to fifty children, drumming for Justice, Jesus and Peace. This ministry has played for many organizations. This year we played for the Supreme Court in Brooklyn, New York. We are drumming in nursing homes, parks, and in the Crown Heights community. For the year 2015 we hope to take our message to the schools in New York: “Take up the drums not the Gun.” This ministry is growing. I thank God for leading me to this wonderful institution, New York Theological Seminary… a place where I learned the true meaning of ministry.
Rev. Jolley was ordained on November 2, 2014.