Spiritual formation is what happens at a seminary — right? No one disagrees with that. But spiritual formation isn’t just for students. At Central Baptist Theological Seminary, we’re trying to provide it for members of the board as well.
How is the board’s spiritual formation evident? Stated succinctly, we are family. Remember that classic song by Sister Sledge?
We are family.
I got all my sisters with me.
We are family.
Get up everybody and sing!
At Central, we’ve never actually sung that song together, but we could. And we’d sing especially loudly when we got to these lines:
All of the people around us, they say,
“Can we be that close?”
Just let me state for the record,
“We’re giving love in a family dose.”
So we’re a family. But how does a family grow in spiritual depth?
Each time the board of directors at Central Baptist Theological Seminary meets, we start with worship. We sing, we pray, we recount our personal experiences with God through Jesus Christ. We read scripture together, and we respond with acclamations of praise and accord. Through our worship, we prepare ourselves for the Holy Spirit, already present as promised, to dance among us and with us.
That movement of the Spirit binds us together, weaving our own spirits delicately and intricately, allowing a gentle familiarity to cover us. We realize that together, as diverse as we may be — sisters and brothers coming from north, south, east, and west, bringing our various ethnicities, personalities, histories, and theological perspectives — together we share not only one Lord but one vision for Central Seminary.
Wearing the mantle of directors, and accompanied by committed administrators and faculty, we work toward equipping the seminary to “prepare women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity” — that’s Central’s mission. Whether first-year students, professors, or board members, we keep seeking God, our first pursuit. That empowers us to go out to shape the church and serve humanity. That is spiritual formation.
But where does that “family dose” of love come in — the one that Sister Sledge sang about? That love moves among us like the Spirit’s breath. We take time to know each other. We pray both with and for each other. We listen to homilies by students and faculty, and we reflect upon and recommit to our calling as board members of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. We play, eat, laugh, and weep. We share joys and heartaches — we commune with one another.
And we set a table as broad and as long as the table Christ has set for us. At that capacious table, we find plenty of room for all of us, with our likenesses, our differences, and our uniquenesses. There at that table, we find family.
“We delight in the variegated tapestry God is weaving at Central,” says seminary president Dr. Molly T. Marshall. She adds, “We seek to ‘receive all as Christ’ and by the Spirit to kindle the spiritual gifts each brings to our common calling.” That statement, I believe, reflects the prayer of Central’s board for itself and for the seminary. We the board are a “variegated tapestry” as well. And we are family.