The primary objectives of this course include connecting Peace & Conflict studies with my major, exploring peace issues in United Methodist Hispanic ministry, researching graduate schools and career options, and vocational discernment. So, for the last journal of the semester, I would like to reflect on how these objectives have been achieved (or not).
1. Connecting PCS with Biblical Studies
This course has been an intentional time of synthesizing my two great passions— peace and Bible. Having two credits worth of time and responsibility to carry out this task has been a tremendous opportunity, and I hope to continue this work even after this semester. This class has given me a framework for thinking about the relationship between my theology and my commitment to peace, my study of Scripture and my vision of shalom. What I have come to see is that life-giving biblical scholarship is, in fact, an act of symbolic peacebuilding. So, peace and Bible are certainly connected— in my life, my gifts, and my call.
2. Exploring peace issues in United Methodist Hispanic ministry
Reading Hispanic/Latino Theology throughout the semester and discussing it with a focus on peacebuilding has helped me articulate an understanding of Hispanic ministry shaped by my commitment to peace. Reading the articles in El Interprete has enabled me to focus on United Methodist Hispanic ministry in particular, identifying the ways in which the UMC is already building peace through Hispanic ministry as well as some things that could be improved. This summer as a Hispanic ministry intern, I will have the opportunity to engage in peacebuilding through Hispanic ministry, putting the theories of this semester into practice. My term paper for this course critiques the use of Scripture in Hispanic ministry and proposes a nonviolent hermeneutic for the context of United Methodist Hispanic ministry; this summer as I lead Bible studies in Hispanic ministry, I will be putting my paper into practice and embodying the broad scope of this course— the connections between Bible and peacebuilding, as well as my increased knowledge of Hispanic ministry in the UMC.
3. Researching graduate schools and career options
I have done research on graduate schools this semester, and I visited two seminaries over spring break, but the most significant contribution of this class has been the opportunity for intentional discernment; this has helped me create a description of the type of seminary I would like to attend. Ultimately, my seminary choice comes down to four factors: first, academic excellence and a strong Bible program; second, a sense of community on campus and preferably on-campus housing; third, peace & justice opportunities; fourth, scholarships and financial aid. I realize that there is no perfect place, but these are helpful indicators of the right place for me. This summer, I have plans to visit seven seminaries, and I look forward to seeing where God is leading me after Bluffton!
4. Vocational Discernment
This category seems to encompass all of the others, because this entire course has been an opportunity for intentional discernment. Each week in my reading journals, I have pushed myself to reflect somehow on my vocational discernment, and this has been one of my favorite parts of this course and my entire semester. Writing is an empowering practice that enables me to process my thoughts, so it has been a powerful tool for discernment that I hope to keep using in the future. Looking back over my blog posts for the semester, I can see how God has been leading me day by day and week by week, which helps me see the broad patterns of discernment over the course of the semester.
Just as I began the semester with a vocational “inventory,” so to speak, I would like to end the semester in the same way. This semester in Theories of Peace & Conflict, I have learned that I am called to do the work of building capacity; specifically, I am drawn to the work of symbolic peacebuilding. I believe that by transforming minds for peace, we can transform the world for peace; this is why at the end of this semester, I am more seriously considering going into education than I was at the beginning. In January, I was willing to entertain the idea of teaching, but at this point I see it as a strong possibility. This is because my classes and experiences this semester have consistently pointed me toward education as a form of peacebuilding and as a potential vocation. As of right now, I would love to continue my work in biblical studies with a focus on issues of violence & peace in the Bible. At the beginning of the semester, I listed peacebuilding and biblical scholarship/teaching as two separate vocational options, but now I see them as one calling, one gift, and one identity. This semester I have learned to stand at the intersection of Scripture and shalom, and it feels a lot like home.