Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

5/3 2012

Student Survival Kit

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Slowly but surely I am cleaning, organizing, and packing my things up for the big move post-graduation. It has been a cathartic experience looking back over the past three years by way of notes, cards, and gifts I’ve acquired. I came across a gift that each of the students in the class of 2012 received during orientation in late August 2009. During the Activities Fair, the Alumnae/i Council welcomed us with a Student Survival Kit. This kit was full of knick knacks that served as visual reminders of the sage advice and verses so colorfully printed on a note card. It was a happy surprise to come across it again. As I read through each line of the note, tears began to well up because it tells the story that I think most of us have lived while being here at Pittsburgh Seminary. More than that, it tells the story of experiences that have come before us and will come after us. Of course these words of encouragement and advice apply to us all as we live out the Christian faith. I pray it blesses you the way it blessed me. survival_kit

  1. Toothpick: To remember to pick out the good in others. Matthew 7:1
  2. Rubber Band: To remember to be flexible. Romans 8:28
  3. Band-Aid: To remember to mend hurt feelings. Colossians 3:12-14
  4. Pencil: To remember to list your blessings daily. Ephesians 1:3
  5. Butterfinger Candy Bar: Because we all slip sometimes, and it’s okay. Genesis 50:15-21
  6. Gum: So you can stick to it. With God you can accomplish anything. Philippians 4:13
  7. Salt: To remind you God wants us to be the salt of the earth. Matthew 5:13
  8. Candle: To remind us to be a light to someone else’s day. Matthew 5:14-16
  9. Puzzle Piece: To remember that without God we are not complete. Colossians 2:10
  10. Paperclip: To help you hold things together. Ephesians 4:15-16
  11. Nail: To help you remember the price Jesus paid because he loves you. John 3:16
  12. Eraser: To remind you that everyone makes mistakes. Romans 3:23

This post was first published in May 2012 and was updated in September 2015 and September 2016. The Rev. Melanie Kim Hamill graduated with her MDiv degree in 2012 and now serves as campus minister at Ringling College of Art and Design, New College, and University of South Florida Sarasota-Bradenton.

You can also view this survival kit as a SlideShare presentation (below) or PowerPoint.


4/26 2012

Looming Reality: Life After Seminary

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We are now approaching the half way point of the third term, and as a graduating senior, the looming reality of life after seminary is becoming all the more realistic. In the midst of looking ahead to the next stage, I have also been drawn into a retrospective posture looking back upon my seminary experience over the past three years. I can remember well the feeling of coming to Orientation with a sense of excitement and wonder about what the next few years would entail. I recall the personal struggle of wrestling with my own sense of vocation and God’s call for my life. I can see how the Lord was working through my time here to lead me gently into waters which I had no plan or desire of treading. I can vividly recollect the anxiety of sitting in my first year classes wondering how long it would be before everyone would find out that I had no idea what epistemology, eschatology, parousia, hypostatic union, or ontology meant.

From my present perspective as a graduating senior, however, I also have the luxury of seeing how God has used the course work, reading, interaction with my peers, discussions with the faculty, and field education to build my confidence and shape my theological and pastoral identity. I have been challenged in the best way. My time at PTS has given me the tools to critically evaluate and question what it is to do ministry, to be the Church, and what the purpose of both really are. Looking toward what lies in the future as I prepare to step into a leadership position of a worshiping community as a teaching elder, the difference in my comfort level now compared with where I was at Orientation is as different as night is from day. I certainly have a healthy level of humility knowing that this is only the beginning of my theological education and that storms yet unseen lie ahead in my path, but I know that my foundation for ministry has been set firmly on bedrock and for that I thank the risen Lord who has promised that He will never leave nor forsake me.

Jon, Senior MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

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