Pictured: The School of Theology’s Chapel of the Apostles. Photo courtesy of Sewanee’s Flickr.
By Richard Pryor III
Mentioning the recent news about the upcoming move of the School of Theology to Guerry Hall and St. Luke’s Hall brings a sort of “meh” attitude up from most undergraduates. They don’t see the point. There are a few who find themselves upset that the first floor of St. Luke’s will be converted into office space or that music and politics are going to need to find a new building or two, and then there’s me. As far as I know, I might be the only person who supports this move. Let me tell you why.
For the last year and a half, I have found myself in the unappointed and unexpected position as the “Token Undergraduate at Seminary Events.” I love being a part of their vibrant community, from playing intramural sports to being with them in worship, and from listening to the guest speakers they get to joining with them in cross-campus events. As I write this, Andrew Sloan (T’21) and Allen Davis (T’20) are sitting a bit away from me on the first floor of the library. But how many people recognize them in the library for who they are?
Most undergraduates, if they’re lucky, get to meet five or so seminarians before they graduate. These connections are generally made through All Saints’ and its programs and sponsorships, like hosting a field education student most years, seminarians occasionally serving in worship or leading Catechumenate groups, or working on outreach trips.
The fact is, the students (and faculty and staff) of the School of Theology are some of the best people on this campus; they’re a vibrant and diverse bunch filled with great personalities. As an Episcopalian, I’m glad to know the leaders of my beloved church, but as a human being, I’m glad to know some of the brightest examples that this human race offers.
Yes, we do lose the first floor of St. Luke’s and two departments lose their spots in Guerry, but what do we gain? I’d argue that we’ll gain much more. We gain the chance to make connections and be a united campus community.
The hymn “Come, Risen Lord, and Deign to be Our Guest,” numbers 305 and 306 in the Hymnal 1982, the hymnal of the Episcopal Church, in its third verse, reads: “One body we, one body who partake, one church united in communion blessed; one name we bear, one bread of life we break, with all your saints on earth and saints at rest.” For Christians, including the leaders of this University, we are one body in Christ Jesus, and no matter our religion, we are one University community – this move will give us the opportunity to live that out even better.
Well said — thank you for writing this, Mr. Pryor. My wife (Rev. Suzanne Cate) is a 2012 graduate of SoT. We support the school’s move back to central campus.
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