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Prayer for Seminary Sunday
Based on the Genesis 17:1-16 and Mark 8:27-38
God of Creation and Grace
God who called an unknown Abram and Sara to your divine mission,
God who prepared Moses to lead,
God who has guided many as they depart their home, state and country to travel across vast seas and lands to start something new,
And God who is still calling, preparing and authorizing servant leaders even today.
As you have continued to call all of humanity to service to your great plan,
We are grateful that you covenanted with each of us to
Lead congregations, minister in community, pray for the sick, prepare food for the hungry, find homes for the orphan, comfort the grieving and labor where you have placed us – in the body of Christ.
Today we lift up those Seminarians and the Seminary bound, alongside those who have crossed the waters of transformation to discern their next calling.
We call to you as you are calling to them like Abram, Merriam, Moses, Ruth, David, Andrew, Lydia, and Peter to take their places in community to lead, guide, love and minister.
We pray that as they do so, that you who cast the first divine call upon their lives will continue to bless them with an abundance of integrity, love, grace, and mercy that will follow them throughout their lives, vocations and the many places you send them.
May they know what it is to lose their former selves so that the fullness of their call maybe realized all the more.
May they know what it is to follow a servant so that they will always know how to lead your people.
And may they always know what it is to be unashamed in pursuit of justice for the sake of us all.
We pray in the name of the one whom you called to live, lead, die and live again among us – in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.
By Sonya J. Vann, M.Div.
Director Master of Community Leadership
Walker Leadership Institute
Eden Theological Seminary
Prayer of Confession
Mark 8: 31-38
Generous Creator, we are thankful that you look at us like children for we have much to learn. Even though You have given us your son, we still forget what grace looks like. Even though you have given us this Wondrous Wisdom, handed down for years, we still forget your words. Even though you have trusted us with your Church, we still use it for gain instead of bestowal. God, grant us mercy for we are still learning how to become your faithful disciples so we might deny ourselves one day, take up our crosses and blindfully follow you. Amen
Rev. Tiffany Pittman
Director of Admissions
Eden Theological Seminary
A Learned Laity?
“After God had carried us safe to New England and wee had builded our houses provided necessaries for our livelihood reard convenient places for Gods worship and setled the civill government one of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.”
The idea of “lying in the dust” might be disconcerting to present-day ministers. Yet for generations, lay church leaders have known that educating new generations of pastors is critical to congregational vitality. Written in 1650, these words are no less true today. We need a learned ministry and ways “to advance [their] learning.”
The United Church of Christ’s seven seminaries, which we honor on this Seminary Sunday, educate a new generation of ministers—deepening faith, exploring ancient wisdom in new contexts, and preparing for pastoral leadership. These seminaries have faculties that love the church. They do not simply pass on ideas, but engage students in deep reflection that will help them serve the church.
Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis is one of these schools. Our students read many of the same texts read by those preparing for the ministry in 1650—but they read and do so much more. Not only do they read the Bible and philosophy, but they also “read” cultural contexts; they deepen their faith not cloistered in a quiet library, but in lively classroom discussion, online blogs, creative chapel worship, with the church in foreign countries, and in community service.
The church leaders of 1650 worried that the next generation might not have learned ministry. With its seminaries, the United Church of Christ need not worry about an educated clergy in the next generation. Today’s worry is different.
We must worry whether there will be a learned laity. Will the women and men in our congregations have opportunities to deepen their faith, using it to understand better themselves and the world? Or will the absence of such opportunities make our members susceptible to the seductive belief that a return to “the old time religion” will make the world’s complex and troubled aspects go away? What are needed today are Christian women and men with a level of faith understanding that at least matches the level of sophistication they demonstrate every day in their work lives.
At Eden Seminary we are not only committed to educating the next generation of pastors. We are also committed to engaging a new generation of lay women and men—the people in the pew. We look forward to increasing the opportunities for lay people to explore Christian faith for life in the complex contemporary world. And then all of us can share that abundance with the world.
Rev. Dr. David M. Greenhaw
The God of Abraham Praise (#24 New Century Hymnal)
O God, Our Help in Ages Past (#67 Chalice Hymnal or #417 New Century)
Here I Am, Lord (#452 Chalice Hymnal
O Sacred Head Now Wounded (#202 Chalice Hymnal or #226 NCH)
Jesus Saves (#429 Chalice Hymnal)
Standing on the Promises (#52 Chalice Hymnal)
Take Up Thy Cross (#204 NCH)
Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult (#337 Chalice Hymnal or 171 NCH)
This Little Light (#524 NCH)
Holy Ground (#112 Chalice Hymnal)
Suggested by Rev. Tom Baynham, Eden Friend
Hymns exploring calling:
We Are Called – David Haas
The Summons – John Bell
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing – NCH 459
A Hymn of Calling – Laura Kelly Fanucci
Called as Partners In Christ’s Service – Jane Parker Huber
Here I Am, Lord – Daniel Schutte
I’ll Be Somewhere Listening for My Name – Eduardo Lango
Hush, Hush, Somebody’s Calling My Name – African-American Spiritual
Here Am I – Nolan Williams, Jr.
Completely Yes – Sandra Crouch
Take, O Take Me As I Am – John Bell
I’ll Say Yes, Lord, Yes – Lynn Keesecker
Jesus Calls Us – Joy Patterson
God Has Chosen Me – Bernadette Farrell
Do Not Fear – Fred Gramann
Lord, You Call Us – Marty Haugen, setting by Michael Burkhardt
Suggested by Paul Vasile, Director of Music
Eden Seminary Sunday Graphics for Download
Both .png and .jpg file types available below.