Second year student Noah Morgan likes to remind people that there is still good in the world. That’s one of many reasons he’s pursuing his M.Div. at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and preparing for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to follow God’s call into local parish ministry.
“I was a preacher’s kid growing up, so church was always a place that felt like home,” he says. Both of his parents served and are still serving in ministry leadership—his father as pastor and his mother as director of worship arts—at his home church, Westminster PC in Richmond, Va.
“People always asked me if I was ‘going into my parents’ profession’. But I wanted to be my own person, and what that meant was not church stuff. But God had other plans.”
Discerning the Call
During high school and college, Noah gradually came to realize that God was calling him into the vocation of Christian ministry. Serving in his home church as well as his local presbytery gave him the sense that ministry was what he was supposed to do, and there wasn’t anything he could do to resist it. While attending Randolph-Macon College, he participated in a pre-professional program for students seeking to serve in full-time ministry, and did two internships. Together, these experiences helped him form a strong sense of a particular call to parish ministry.
Choosing the Right Seminary
“So when it came time to start looking at seminaries, I was really looking for a place that was away from home—both literally and culturally. I’m from Richmond, Va., and that comes with all the history and the contemporary struggles of what that means. So I wanted something formational in a different sense, one that was different from home. I wanted a school that had a close-knit community and was financially affordable. PTS checked all the boxes,” Noah says.
Building Good Community
Starting seminary in the midst of a pandemic meant engaging professors and others students in community was challenging. But Noah believes Pittsburgh Seminary’s smaller size and Worship Program facilitate community engagement well.
“There are natural pathways here that help us build community,” he says. “I’ve grown to really value the chapel program. PTS has a unique opportunity to not just ‘go to chapel’ or have chapel delivered to us but to actually participate in chapel and live in it, be formed by it.”
This year, Noah has been serving on the Chapel Team, which works with Director of the Worship Program the Rev. Kendra Buckwalter Smith to plan and lead weekly chapel services for the Seminary community. The experience has allowed him to develop skills and gain experience in worship leadership.
One thing Noah has enjoyed at PTS is that community-building happens beyond the Seminary’s students, faculty, and staff. He lives in Calian Hall, which includes PTS students but also a few residents who study at other colleges and universities in the area. Many of them are international students, which Noah really enjoys. He says, “I really love getting to interact with people who aren’t part of our community as a cross-cultural experience. I see it as another way I’m preparing for ministry with all people.”
Finding the Good in Unfamiliar Places
Asked about his favorite hobbies, Noah answers as many seminary students do. One of his favorite ways to relax is reading about theology and other related topics. “I’m a very cerebral person,” he says. “I always like to learn more and do deep dives about new subjects.”
In the past year, Noah has also gotten into streaming Korean dramas on Netflix. He says most of them are similar to soap operas, and some are historical dramas based in medieval or ancient Korean dynasties while others are more contemporary. Asked what appeals to him about these shows, Noah says, “They’re refreshing! They remind you there’s still good in the world. Korean dramas are more hopeful and optimistic than most American television.”
Anyone who spends a few minutes with Noah knows why this genre is so appealing to him. Like those Korean shows, Noah is a naturally hopeful and optimistic person. His love for God and passion for ministry is a refreshing presence for a world in need of the Good News.