A Personal Farewell to Wake Divinity

Dearest Wake Divinity,

When I began my studies here, I thought I knew what to expect.  After making a visit, and praying, and discerning, and calling upon expert advice, I thought I chose the right place.  I expected my time at Wake to be three smooth years of learning, discourse, and perfectly pinned opinions.  I never expected my theology to change; nor my sense of direction as a scholar.  I thought I had to down to a science.

My goodness was I wrong.

Instead, I learned how much things change; in life, in ministry, in relationship with God and with my peers.  I was taught the value of vulnerability.  I was reminded of the power of prayer.  I was shown the gift of grace on many occasions.  I was given the privilege of presence.  I learned that ministry isn’t a complete science, but an interplay of science and art.  I thought I knew exactly what to expect, but I received more in return then I could’ve ever asked for.

Turns out that I wasn’t in the right place.  I was in the perfect place.

This is the place where I learned of God’s manifold expressions.  This is the experience that put me in my place – as a scholar, as an emerging theologian, as a human.  This is the environment that allowed me the time and grace to feel completely comfortable in my own shoes.  And despite this space being contentious, tense, and frustrating at times, this space has been sacred all the long.

This is not just my story; this is the testimony of many. 

So, as I prepare to take on new challenges, to embrace new communities, and to encounter new problems, I take a moment – this moment – to say thank you.  Thank you to the faculty and administration for showing us the delicate, indelible balance between ministry, scholarship, and humanity.  You pushed us, but you loved us along the way; even when we couldn’t see it.  Thank you to the admissions team for seeing enough in each member of this community to take a risk and invite us in. Thank you to the support staff for your hard work and ministerial presence, we couldn’t make it this far with you loving on us – every day – without fail. 

Thank you, lastly, to my peers. We’ve grown in so many ways over the last two and a half years.  Now as the world calls you onto itself – to transform it – do so with uncompromising grace.  Pray without ceasing.  Love without limits. Preach the Word, Lead the non-profit, and Cultivate relationships with your hospital communities, your academic communities, your living communities – as agents of justice, reconciliation, and compassion.  And its my hope one day that we look back on our time spent here and thank the Divine for every hard-fought second.

So, Wake Divinity, I say to you – each of you – thanks.

Cheers to the Class of 2019.

Devon Stewart

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