Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

Miracle Gro*

September 2014

Greetings Columbia Seminary alumni/ae and friends! Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!

I learned last year that the word “seminary” comes from the Latin seminarium translated as “seed-bed”. It is a piece of ground where seed is sown for producing tender seedlings for transplantation. Church historians believe that this image emerged from the 16th century Council of Trent which called for the establishment of the first modern seminaries.

 Since your own up-rooting, as it were, from Columbia Seminary, in whose garden have you been planted? How well are you doing in your current plot of ground? Has there been much rain or are you sort of parched? Are you receiving daily required hours of sunlight? How about your surroundings? Losing ground to the surrounding thorns and thistles? Not seeing much of a fruit harvest this season? Perhaps, among other things, it’s a nourishment issue. Like the rest of us, maybe you, too, need an occasional shot of spiritual fertilizer!

With my seminary table display, last month I represented Columbia Seminary in Dallas, Texas, at the 2014 National Gathering of the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Established in 2012, ECO is composed of church congregations and their members formerly united with the PC(USA). Along with the other 1,000+ attending the gathering, I looked, listened, and hopefully learned a thing or two.

 The Monday night schedule called for “dinner on your own” which was fine with me. As I was about to sit at the hotel restaurant table for one, I heard a voice from behind me ask,” Are you by yourself, so am I. Want to share my table for dinner?” His name is Denny and he lives in Arizona and is a member of a Presbyterian Church there. After spending 20 years under water piloting submarines for the US Navy, Denny retired from the military, enrolled in college which he describes as the most awareness-broadening time of his life. Upon graduation, Denny built his own business, sold it 10 years later, bought an RV, and with his wife, Marcey, traveled the country for 2 years. Denny shared with me what he called a couple of “fundamental transitions” in his faith life. Though a proud military veteran, he now believes there is no such thing as a just war and declares that he is a pacifist for all intents and purposes. A former advocate of the death penalty, he also wonders how one can be a “right to life” person for unborn babies while killing prison inmates. Spontaneously I replied, “You sound like a person who’s been liberated by Jesus!”

I do not remember what I ate for dinner that night. However, I know that for me the meal shared with my new friend, Denny, was deeply memorable and sacredly enriching. Wishing the same for you in ministry, I join you in reclaiming the psalmist’s declaration…

      You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. (Psalm 128:2)

Grace to You and Peace,

Randy Calvo ‘81

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