An Epistle from our Seminarian, Spring 2023

Dear Grace Church,

Greetings from Sewanee! As I write this, it’s a beautiful spring day with the sun shining and daffodils blooming. I hope you’re keeping warm up there.

It’s wild to think that I’m more than halfway through my first year of seminary. A new highlight this semester has been Introduction to Preaching. It reminds me of the creative writing classes I loved as an undergrad. I’m finding that sermon preparation gives me a deep sense of connection to Scripture. I preached my first 10-12-minute sermon in class just the other week. The assignment was to preach on an Old Testament reading from the lectionary, and I ended up with Isaiah 5:1-7, the Song of the Vineyard. It was a challenging but deeply rewarding experience, and I can easily see how sermon writing becomes an important part of a priest’s prayer life.

One interesting thing about being at the University of the South right now is being present for the school’s ongoing reckoning with its history. The bishops who founded the school all owned enslaved people, and a lot of work is being done by the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation to bring the stories of African American people here to light. My class recently toured Sewanee’s cemetery and historic Black neighborhood as part of a Preaching unit on speaking to the history of a place. I’m realizing that growing up in Michigan means I haven’t been this face-to-face with this part of our history before, and it’s extremely humbling.

Outside of class, my primary focus is on “contextual education”—that is, seminary and diocesan requirements for real-world experience. I’ll be interviewing later this month with several parishes for my three semesters of “field education” starting in the fall, during which I’ll essentially serve as an intern under a full-time priest. I’m also in the process of finalizing a site for Clinical Pastoral Education, the summer chaplaincy internship I mentioned in my last letter. I’ll likely be working in a clinical setting 40 hours per week. It will be difficult, but I’m excited for the experience and personal growth that will come out of it.

Please know that you are always in Nora’s and my prayers. It’s a joy to see all the wonderful things happening at Grace, and we are deeply blessed to call it home.

With thanks,

Matt Roney

Spring 2023

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