“I Am NYTS” Student Stories – Catherine Jordan-Latham, MDiv Graduate 2017
Catherine Jordan-Latham, MDiv Graduate 2017
In August of 2011 I entered the Master of Divinity program at NYTS. I had just graduated from college in May and had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I had just begun discerning a call to ministry but didn’t know where it would lead. I decided to enter seminary, and found that NYTS would allow me to work full time and take classes. The plan when I started at NYTS was to aim to finish the program in 3 or 4 years, and hopefully have a clear idea of where God was calling me to go at the end of it. What’s that saying? Humans plan, God laughs…
As I write this I am preparing to graduate this coming May. It has taken me 6 years to get to this point and honestly, I can barely remember the woman who began this journey in 2011. I’ve held five different jobs in the corporate and non-profit world, I moved from my beloved Brooklyn to New Jersey, I began my ordination process in the United Methodist Church, I got married, and I began my first appointment as a licensed local pastor. To say that nothing changed during my time at NYTS would be a lie!
At 22, I was the youngest by a few years in that incoming class. As a United Methodist, I was a denominational minority. Yet I knew in my first class that I was supposed to be there. That first year was a journey; I was working my first full-time job, I was taking 10 or 12 credits, and I had a church job on the weekends. There was enough going on to push me to a breaking point, but I survived. By the end of the first year I started considering the process for ordination as an Elder in Full Connection in the United Methodist Church, which led to becoming a member at a church in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.
Yet till that point I had still tried to control what was happening in this journey of ministry. In the fall of 2013 I decided to change how I approached my seminary experience. By this point I had finished most of my core classes and was preparing to begin fulfilling my elective requirement. While it would have been easier to take fun courses with professors I already knew, I decided to sign up for things that would add to my ministerial toolbelt. This decision has helped shape me as a student and as a pastor. The course selections at NYTS allowed me to expand academically, but more importantly the passionate nature of the faculty helped inspire me to be passionate about my work and call.
NYTS allowed me to figure out who I am and gave me tools to continue to figure it out. I am grateful that NYTS helped me discern and affirm my call to ministry, challenged me through coursework and classmates, pushed me into comfortable and uncomfortable places, and helped to shape me into the leader I am today. To trust in the plans God has for me, and to make space to hear what God is saying for me as I continue to walk this journey of ministry.