(Written August 2013)
I can hardly believe I am writing this. It really does feel like yesterday that I was freaked out about learning Koine Greek. Now I not only have that under my belt but Hebrew too. I am finally starting to feel like a seminarian and I am half way through.
We welcomed in the newest cohort of students to Luther Seminary this past month. CH7 (cohort 7) stands to be the largest ever at Luther in the Distance Learning program and those of us who are ahead of them are thrilled to see the progress the program is making. We are honored to be part of the ‘sorting out the kinks’.
But that means we have kinks. Yup. They come and go, some big, some small.
Right now, I am struggling to find a CPE (clinical pastoral education) placement in Los Angeles. For such a large city, there is a dearth of programs that are seasonal. Many are suffereing losses of supervisors so they can only offer summer or year long placements.
For me, I thought applying to my closest one would be a done deal. The problem is that no one told us how hard it would be to get into a site. They said to apply early because it takes time to get placed, but they did not explain that it would be because of a shortage of positions, rather, we all thought it just meant it took time to place us literally. They also didn’t explain that some sites are very desirable. That means they become the ‘ivy league’ of CPE sites and people try to get into them from all over the country. There is no exception for those who are local- just a free for all application process that leaves the winners on top. In other places, they just put you in order you applied, so if there are 5 slots and there have been 10 applicants the last year, they put you in at number 11. It can be slow going. And frustrating.
As a Lutheran, we are required to go through a step called Endorsement before we can do our internship year. It is a process that involves professors, candidacy committee, and student essay/interview. At the end, the hoped for result is the ELCA saying, “yup. They look like they will become a pastor with us. Keep going and lets see what internship does.”
Some synods (think of them as large state like areas around the country) require CPE before Endorsement. Some will do it after as long as it happens, others can make exceptions, do the endorsement pending completion of CPE, etc. Mine requires it beforehand. Now that might not seem like a big deal, except that it can take up to a year to place a person in their internship slot after endorsement. So a delay now means a delay then…etc.
So here I sit, lots of great classes for this fall, but no slot for CPE. That is okay though. I know God has this, I just wish once in a while I knew some inkling of the direction God is planning. Life of a seminarian.