My Best Teacher

One of our ministry interns from Candler School of Theology, Tiffania Willetts, looks back on her formative experiences at Glenn now that she has that MDiv diploma in her hands!

On Monday, May 14, I graduated from Candler School of Theology with my Master of Divinity. Over the past three years (2.5 to be exact), I have taken classes in Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, Methodist History, Theology, and Polity, Pastoral Care, Systematic Theology, Preaching, Ethics, Evangelism, Mission, and Worship. I wrote papers and took tests, read books and essays. But my most valuable teacher was not in the classroom. My most valuable teacher was Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church.

I learned more from Worship committee meetings, Church Council meetings, Stewardship committee meetings, Church and Society meetings, youth retreats, SPARK 4th and 5th grade outings, children’s Sunday School, serving (and eating) Wednesday Night Dinner, Good Neighbor Day, Egg-cellent Saturday, Back to School Splash, unloading pumpkins, Pumpkin Party, serving homebound communion, teaching Bible study, sitting in a small group, going to Thursday night trivia, and watching the Braves play in Turner Field than I could ever learn in the classroom. Each and every one of you taught me what it means to be the church, how to organize for ministry, how to extend grace when things don’t go according to plan, how to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.

At the end of my time filling in for Rev. Susan during her family leave last year, Pastor Alice asked me what kind of church appointment I was planning to take back home in Florida after I graduated. I told her that I wanted to be in an Associate Pastor position to keep learning as I had done the past three years at Glenn. She told me, “You don’t need it. You could be a lead pastor.” I know that the only reason she could say that with confidence and the only reason I can confidently move into my new appointment as the pastor at Seminole Heights United Methodist Church in Tampa on July 1 is because of the great experience I have had at Glenn.

The experience has not always been easy. We have cried together over friends and family we have lost along the way, we have commiserated over screaming toddler temper tantrums, we have patiently – and not so patiently – waited for construction to FINALLY finish. But through it all, we have been in this together, and I have felt like part of the Glenn Church family since day one.

I am so thankful for each of you, and I thank God that I have been able to call Glenn my home away from home over the past three years. I will miss you so much, but I am so thankful that my first experience working at a church was here, getting to know you and doing ministry and life together.