Translation exists to foster community in the Divinity School around two questions: (1) how does what we learn at VDS translate out to our various places of ministry? AND (2) how does a God-given “must” (or a call to ministry) translate into VDS?
Three points of this statement deserve further clarification. First, we exist to foster community. We believe that sharing our own stories and listening to the stories of others are the primary ways of building this community. We need to hear where others have been, how they got here, and where they think they are going. We also need to share these things about ourselves knowing that they will be heard and treasured by other people. We strongly adhere to VDS’ commitment to give voice to the unheard and firmly believe that in order for this commitment to come to fruition, we must provide a place to listen.
Second, we care about the question “how does what we learn at VDS translate out to our various places of ministry?” We believe that this question helps us avoid fundamental mistakes and helps sharpen our sensitivities to others. We want to avoid the error of thinking we have some privileged knowledge because of our VDS education and we need to go educate the poor saps in the pews (or wherever we do ministry). We also want to avoid too quickly dismissing some wonderful insights from our education here because we do not think those we minister to will be able to accept such insights. This question leads us to critical reflection about which parts of our education we find most useful and how we will understand such things in light of our places of ministry.
Third, we care about the question “how does a God-given ‘must’ (or a call to ministry) translate into VDS?” We believe that this question calls us back to many of our initial reasons for coming to VDS. We feel God has placed something in us that we must do; we want to be around a diverse group of people; and we do not think that we are here by accident. We fear that exams, papers, and heated discussions can obscure these reasons, and so this question calls us back to them. We believe that there is something in this world that we must do and that this God-given “must” does not begin once we leave VDS. It somehow involves our time at VDS as well. This question also aids us to consider consistently our time at VDS as purposeful.
These three points demonstrate how Translation corresponds to the commitments of VDS. We provide an opportunity for those who in any way feel called to some form of ministry. We want to foster communities that can discuss how issues of sexism, racism, classism, and heterosexism will play out in places of ministry. We also want to honor the stories of those in our community who can attest to the effects of racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism in their own lives.