Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
2023 Blog #21
May 22, 2023
A Spiritual Legacy
This weekend I had the joy of attending the graduation ceremony for New Brunswick Theological Seminary. It was a true joy to attend graduation. I haven’t attended graduation there in a few years. For several years it was remote because of COVID. Now graduation is back and it is a wonderful place to celebrate new, young ministers and to catch up with old friends and colleagues.
Graduation is back but with a new an interesting twist: it was held at the Methodist Church in New Brunswick. With the expanded programs at the seminary, there are more graduates, and more families. The seminary chapel is not large enough to hold that many guests. The Methodist church was more than adequate in size and extended families were able to attend and enjoy the graduation.
Besides simply enjoying the graduation, there were two other factors that made this event more special for me. The first was that Leah was in an honor class. She graduated from New Brunswick Seminary ten years ago. The second was that the Methodist Church where Pam’s family grew up. It was a homecoming for her.
Pam’s Mother grew up in New Brunswick and she attended this church with Pam’s Grandmother, Grandfather and her Uncle Jim. Uncle Jim remembers, as a child, walking along the top of the communion rail. Pam’s Mom, Janet, was the older child and the “good girl.” She stayed in church, taught Sunday School and eventually became the lay-leader of the youth group.
Eventually the church hired a seminary student to help Janet run the youth group. This seminary student, Russ, came to help. Soon a romance began between Russ and Janet. Janet’s mother, wanted her daughter to marry a minister, made sure that she kept luring him into the home with freshly baked pies. Today’ social standards would forbid such a romance because of power imbalances, but in the 1950’s it was common for male seminarians to enter seminary as a single and find their spouse on a field assignment or in their first church.
As a girl, Pam would visit her Grandmother in New Brunswick during the summers and would, of course, go to church with her at the Methodist church. She spent a lot of time in that church and met many of her grandmother’s friends.
And so, this weekend, Leah was honored for having graduated ten years ago and she was honored in the church where her grandfather had his first seminary field assignment, her grandmother began doing youth ministry, where her mother attended summer worship. It is amazing how many blessings came from James and Irma Cooper worshiping at the Methodist Church in New Brunswick.
I couldn’t help but photographing Pam and Leah at the lectern of the church that is such a part of their spiritual heritage. After graduation we took a walk as well. We went just a few blocks from the church to the house where my mother in law and Uncle Jim grew up and where Irma and James raised their children. The house brought back memories for Pam.
And so, the Methodist church passed on a rich spiritual heritage to my family. I can’t help but wonder what blessings we will pass on by our church attendance and our bringing children to church. In generations, our good works may have the same compounded blessings. You never know how God might use a simple act as bringing a child to church.
To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please look at his website: