Another whirlwind candidacy weekend in DC
The variety of experiences over this past weekend was a good one; from friends to old AU professors to candidacy committees to the as-per-usual delightful AMTRAK conversation that feeds my soul, a successful trip in relationship building alone. That said, I would like to recount some of the more memorable specifics for you now, starting with the train ride. I have consistently commented on this, but would like to reiterate it here: AMTRAK is the best thing that has ever happened to anyone. As someone who needs to take a little bit more of Sabbath theology to heart, my experiences on the trains have always been intensely restful and peaceful, neither of which I consistently have in droves. After a delightful ride to DC, I took the Metro over to Twinbrook to meet my good friend Casey, who, being a REALLY good friend, was willing to drive me up to Frederick, Maryland, to the hotel I had reserved there. For whatever reason, even though it is the Metropolitan DC synod, the church has liked to hold its events in Maryland thus far during my candidacy process experience.
Friday was the core reason for my trip, and it involved meeting the entire candidacy committee for the first time, and then interviewing with them. The committee, approximately 15 individuals, was mostly ordained ministers (some of whom were Reverend Doctors), a small number of laypeople, and finally the bishop of Washington, DC. The event was held at Hallowood Retreat Center, way out into Maryland, located way out on the edge of Sugarloaf Mountain (which did indeed translate into some SERIOUS cab fees to get there). A gorgeous little getaway, one would literally never find it (not even if searching for Christian retreats in that general vicinity); there is a strong chance that the bunker from the movie Terminator 3 was patterned on this place in terms of “far enough away from everything to survive Judgement Day.” Inside, I got to wait in front of a roaring fire for the other individuals getting interviewed to go through their respective processes, and then it was my turn. I knew this because everyone on the committee came out of the room, got water/coffee and stretched, and then informed me that they would come get me in 10 minutes or so (they wanted to review my background/experiences as a group and thus be better armed to ask me specific questions). Let me assure you: once I was in there, I got the most zesty mix of specific questions one might imagine, from “explain how you feel when dealing with money” to the entertaining question posed by the bishop (a Harvard Divinity School alum) “do they still, you know, do that whole ‘faith’ thing up at Yale?” I got to speak for maybe an hour and 10 minutes, answering all manner of questions, and then I got to go and wait for their decision. I am very pleased to report that they voted in my favor, and thus I am successfully “entranced” (which translates to my being 1/3 done with the vetting process to become a diaconal minister, eventually). This was followed by Saturday’s event, which is the DC synod’s yearly Candidacy Day. The main speaker was a professor of homiletics from the Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia, and she was very interesting; this was paired with the chance to get to know the other candidates (regardless of which roster, or which step in the process they were at), and the time we all needed to make sure we were on-track in our respective processes. A good pair of days.
Perhaps best of all, I got the chance, as per my last trip to DC, to visit a few friends in between the varying scheduled events on my calendar, and that was a real blessing; combining the train rides’ peacefulness with the chance to joyfully reunite with people I haven’t seen in months, I do believe this trip to DC was the closest thing I have had to a Sabbath (albeit a working Sabbath) I have had in a long time; given that the candidacy committee’s specific requirement of me was to take more Sabbaths, that bodes well for the future of this diaconal ministry endeavor, I should think 😀