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    A Matter of Priority

    How four students picked their seminaries.

    Kathy Furlong

    priorities drew these four college students to seminary grad schoolWhile there are many factors to consider when choosing a seminary, it's important to know which criteria are most important to you. Understanding your priorities will help you narrow down your choices and find your best fit.

    From spiritual formation to faculty, from location to cost, these four students share their reasons for deciding on a school.

    As a writer, Natalie Corbin worked on grants for the non-profit sector in Maryland. Then, following God's prompting to return to school, she spent a lot of time in listening prayer, and believes God directed her to Denver. "I attended a preview weekend for prospective students and listened: to hear God, to gain confirmation," she says. "Time and again he returned confirming answers, both directly and indirectly. It was with confidence that I applied to Denver Seminary and began preparations to move to Colorado."

    While obedience to God's direction was primary in Corbin's decision to attend Denver, she also paid attention to the seminary's emphases on academic and spiritual growth. "Rigorous academic programs are partnered with an intentional spiritual formation program that provides an environment of balance between head knowledge and heart knowledge. The two are surely connected and must be pursued together during preparation," she says. As she investigated the school both that weekend and on the web, "it was clear … that Denver Seminary had a very holistic philosophy of education and desired to nurture and nourish each student."

    Now anticipating graduation with a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies (New Testament), she plans to continue writing, with a new focus. "My hope is to produce works through God's leading that will encourage and challenge people to explore God personally, either for the first time or in on-going pursuit of relationship with him," she says.

    Several factors led Matt Green, a Philosophy of Religion major (M.A.), to Denver Seminary. Knowing he wanted to study Philosophy of Religion, program offerings were an important consideration. He was interested in travel courses, and also searched for a school that enjoyed a strong sense of community. He wanted a school that was both denominationally unaffiliated and in close proximity to practical ministry opportunities. Location was also a factor, he says, "as I hoped to be in a place where I could take part in outdoor activities, but also [enjoy] the amenities of urban culture, and ideally be within a day's drive of my home in Montana."

    Green chose Denver because it best fulfilled his varied criteria. In addition to its relative proximity to home, its residential campus community was well situated to enjoy both "the benefits of the Rocky Mountains and the city of Denver." The school's philosophy program was attractive, as were "the diverse offerings in biblical and theological studies with professors who are well respected in their fields," he says. "In this environment, there were also numerous opportunities to get involved in ministry."

    A writer by trade with a background in communications, Green hopes to fuse his writing skills with his graduate education to engage in outreach. His passion, he says, is "to relate the truth of Christianity through the venues of our culture in a way the culture can comprehend."

    "My main intent for seminary was to know my Bible well. God's truth and the gospel of Jesus set people free, period. Jesus did this for me when my world had fallen apart at the age of 30, and I knew I wanted to carry the Lord's hope to others who were hurting."

    Thus began John Elmore's journey into ministry, and to Dallas Theological Seminary. In 2006, he enrolled at the Kanakuk Institute in Missouri for a year of biblical studies and discipleship. "The school invites professors to come teach each week on a given book or topic and, without fail, my favorite professors were from DTS," he says. "Their authority and resource was the Bible: they knew it well and could teach it well." After Kanakuk, Elmore followed his favorite professors to Dallas and enrolled in the Pastoral Ministries track of the Master of Theology (Th.M.) program.

    "DTS professors aren't jaded academic recluses," he says. "They are seasoned with a lifetime of field experience and bring that together with expert biblical teaching. Beyond this, they truly love students."

    Elmore's goal initially was pastoral ministry in the U.S., but he's sensed God leading him in a somewhat different direction. "During the last two summer breaks I have been in interna-tional crisis areas and I feel my desires and direction changing," he says. During the 2007 food crisis in Haiti, Elmore was part of a group that planted and operated a malnutrition clinic for dying children. The following summer, he ministered with alcoholics in southern Sudan. "DTS is equipping me far beyond what I ever estimated," he says.

    As Christian counselors in their native Romania, Anda Mogos and her husband longed for a better way to meet the needs of the people they served. "Although we both had a B.A. in Theology, we felt we were suffocating when faced with situations that overwhelmed our level of training," she says.

    They began searching for a school "where Christ would be honored, where the Scripture would be approached without fear and with honesty, and where we would be taught to interact with life as it really is," she says. Their search led them to Dallas Theological Seminary.

    In addition to looking for the right program at a reputable school, the Mogoses needed to take their finances into consideration. "From a theological perspective, DTS sounded great, but from an apartment in Bucharest, it was clear that finances would determine if and where we would go to grad school," she says. "DTS has an excellent scholarship program and excellent admissions counselors and these, combined with a mountain of divine miracles, are what brought us here."

    Anda will graduate this year with an M.A. in Biblical Counseling. "My plan is to become a certified therapist in Romania and to create and persuade the Romanian government to accredit Integrational Christian Therapy as a legitimate orientation in counseling," she says. "My passion is to encourage evangelicals in Romania to develop a paradigm of integrating healthy psychology with a grace-oriented, Christ-honoring Christianity."

    Kathy Furlong is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia, PA.