Jamal Scarlett

Master of Divinity, 2012

What a ride!

I came to Fuller Seminary out of a desire to see and study with the church in all its beauty and diversity. Sensing a call to ministry that I did not fully understand, I found Fuller to be a great place to explore the contours of faith and culture with honesty and civility. I entered my first seminary class in 2005 a bit naïve about the rigors of theological education. What I thought was going to be a program that simply recounted all that I had already believed turned out to be a life-transforming seven years that I could never exchange in my preparation for ministry. Taking classes at the California Coast campus in the evening after work, I had the chance to share in a close-knit community with other professionals who had similar pains and trials, aspirations and callings to the ministry. We've wrestled, cried, laughed, and thought deeply about the many areas of our lives and how our faith informs even the small decisions.

Mike McNichols, the director of Fuller California Coast, has been an invaluable resource to me and the other students at the campus. His pastoral outlook on life and learning is infectious and has provided a great model of leadership for those who desire to live the contemplative life, always reflecting on the glory of God. Dasia Ryan, our program manager, has been the "seminary whip" (to turn a phrase), always making sure that I was on track for graduation by choosing the appropriate classes well in advance.

One of my favorite people in the world is my Greek professor, Dr. Peter Hintzoglou. Having taught seminary for three decades and pastored churches for longer than that, he has a corner on wisdom and insight. There were times he gave me hope to go on when I did not have any. At one point in my seminary career, I began to doubt my call as a pastor. An introvert at heart, I felt the certainty of my call was lost trying to be someone I was not. Difficult days followed, and I entered into what St. John of the Cross would call a "dark night of the soul." I confided in Dr. Hintzoglou and he gave me the best advice: "Do not convince yourself in the dark of what you've been convinced of in the light." I will never forget his words. This is just one of many life-changing interactions in my experience at Fuller, and it is my goal to press into the Kingdom of God with all the equipping I have been given. Praise God!

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