Supporting Our Seminarians

Third Church is proud to have two seminarians currently under its care: Becka Fergusson-Lutz at Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School, and Gabi Henry at Princeton Theological Seminary. The following letter from Becka explains more about her journey and the church’s role in it.

Dear Third Church, 

As many of you know, I’m in my second year as the Coordinator of Youth Ministry at Third Church, and I’m also in my second semester in the Master’s of Divinity program at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. That’s no coincidence; not long after I joined the staff here, I felt more keenly than ever that God was calling me to take a critical step in my personal and professional life, one that I had been considering for a few years but had not previously felt empowered to take. After about three months of working at Third Church, however, I was able to imagine myself as a church worker, a pastor, a chaplain, or something of that ilk. Things made sense, in a visceral way, and I submitted my application. 

My seminary journey is tied to you not only because I am a member and employee of Third Church, but also because I am now an Inquirer on the path to ordination in the PC(USA). That means that the Third Church Session endorses me to the Presbytery’s Committee on Preparation for Ministry, which has oversight over the completion of seminary studies and the numerous required exams. I think that is by design that inquirers are linked to their church Sessions; we cannot and should not be “lone wolves.” You provide critical emotional and spiritual support. I rely on your good judgment and I expect you to set me straight, monitor my emotional well-being, and pray that God will give me wisdom and strength—and I know that you do! (And by the way, I have also been the recipient of so many books from Ernest Krug and Paul Gongloff that I’ve had to buy another bookshelf!) 

There are three primary reasons why I love CRCDS, and why I encourage others to consider taking or auditing even just a class or two for personal or professional development reasons: 

  1. As my advisor, Dr. Mark Brummitt says, “CRCDS is a matriarchy, and I love it.” I concur. Nearly all the leadership at CRCDS are women of color, all formidable scholars and theologians.   
  2. Perhaps ironically, there is little room for piety at CRCDS. My professors expect us to ask and answer hard questions and are not afraid of “irreverence” and “doubt” from students.  
  3. I think it’s immensely valuable to study in an ecumenical classroom alongside professors and students who are Episcopalians, United Methodists, American Baptists, Unitarians, and members of independent non-denominational churches. Even in traditions that are fairly doctrinally similar, it’s readily apparent that there is a lot of space for diversity in thought. 

As I keep slogging away at my coursework, I ask that you continue to pray that everything that I learn will shape not only my thinking but my habits, my words, and my deeds. 

All the best,