Student Reflections on the Newbigin Year 2017-18

The Newbigin Year is a part-time, cohort-based, distance learning program in theological education. Students who complete the year are eligible for advanced standing with credit at one of our partner seminaries. Read on to hear three of our students share about their experience in the program.

Applications for the 2018-19 academic year are being received until August 31, 2018.

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Terri Kim is a physician in San Francisco.

I didn’t know what to expect from the Newbigin Year. I’d already had some seminary education in online and hybrid format, so I wondered whether the cohort would make much of a difference. I cannot overstate just how important the cohort was to my experience. My cohort peers provided the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual space I needed to process the material as well as to flesh out my vocational calling. They challenged, encouraged, and supported me by bringing their unique perspectives to our conversations. The academic rigor of the curriculum combined with the cohort format created a singular experience. The historical perspective brought by Professor Choi was invaluable in understanding how to contextualize current challenges in urban ministry.

Andy Hill is executive director of Grafted, a ministry in New York City.

The curriculum Newbigin House designed was incredible … What Newbigin House did for me overall was to help me see the big picture of what God is doing through Grafted. By placing our community’s story inside the ongoing story of how the Holy Spirit builds communities and how they should impact their cities, I have a better understanding of how Grafted is moving forward, what we need to focus on, and most importantly, see the places where we’re stuck.

Julie Rodgers is a writer, speaker, and advocate for LGBT people in Christian communities. She lives in Washington, D.C.

It’s hard to be a Christian during a time of such enormous cultural transition. We do not, as a society, have a common understanding of truth or facts, and the internet has fundamentally changed the way we relate to one another. We have lost faith in our institutions. We’ve lost respect for our leaders. We’ve lost sight of the fact that we belong to one another.
The Newbigin House of Studies does not present itself as the solution to the crisis of authority we face. It doesn’t claim to have all the answers about the future of the church or theological education. Instead, the leaders at the Newbigin House create a place for people to reflect on the Scriptures and the Christian tradition, to become students of the communities in which we find ourselves, and to prayerfully imagine ways of living out Christ’s call to love our neighbors in our current context.
I joined the Newbigin Year because I wanted to discern where God might be leading me in the next season of life. While I didn’t find a clear answer to that question, I found something much more important: a community of people to walk alongside me as I worked through theological questions that I had previously only wrestled with in isolation. I became friends with classmates who earned the right to challenge me and speak into my life. And I ended the year with a sense of hope that God is with us right now––that God is with me right now––and that the promise of redemption is as true for us today as it was when Jesus rose from the dead.
There are a lot of people out there doing the work of deconstruction, but equally vital is the process of reconstruction. The Newbigin House of Studies stands out as one of the few theological communities nurturing this kind of spiritual growth. Whatever the church of the future will look like, it will be stronger and healthier if its leaders are connected to communities like the one I found in the Newbigin Year.