Mother and Daughter: Growing in Ministry Together
by Allie Naskret
Megan LeCluyse (Dual M.Div./M.A., 2012) and her mother, Buzzy, have had theological conversations with each other for many years. Yet now, their conversations are happening in a slightly different context; this year, Buzzy has joined her daughter as a student at Princeton Seminary.
When speaking with Megan and Buzzy, it is clear that their relationship is one of mutual love and respect. Each’s faith journey has been deeply influenced and enriched by the other. Prior to coming to seminary, Buzzy had been serving as the youth director at Mountainview Presbyterian Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. She began this position in 1996, when Megan was ten years old. Buzzy says she always made it clear that when she volunteered to help with programs at the church, “they didn’t just get me, but the whole family.”
As a result, Megan grew up spending a lot of her time in church – she says she was a “wannabe preacher’s kid” and that her experience in the church was an integral part of her young life. “I don’t know what it would have been like if my mom hadn’t been working at the church,” she says. Steeped in the life of the church, Megan was exposed to many of the realities of ministry. “I never sheltered her from the underside of the church,” says Buzzy, who felt it was important for her family to see not only the joy but also the messiness that comes with being part of a community of real people.
Megan felt a call to seminary as early as the eighth grade. Buzzy says she remembers her daughter talking about going to Princeton Seminary even before she left for college. When Megan and her sister Annie were still in college, Buzzy also began to feel called to seminary. Yet financially, it wasn’t the right time for her to go back to school, with two children in college and her husband trying to launch his own business. In addition, Mountainview Presbyterian Church was experiencing a transition in leadership, and Buzzy felt strongly that she wanted to stay with the youth group through that period.
While still serving as youth director, Buzzy took a few classes at Fuller Theological Seminary Southwest’s youth ministry extension site in Phoenix, and later at San Francisco Seminary. Yet Buzzy felt that she wanted an experience that would challenge and stretch her further out of her comfort zone.
Megan at that time had begun at Princeton Seminary, with the goal of studying youth ministry, and Buzzy didn’t want to impinge on Megan’s experience in her first few years at seminary. She did a lot of legwork before talking to her daughter about the idea of joining her at Princeton. In the past, whenever Buzzy had brought up the idea of leaving the Mountainview youth group, Megan had become furious with her mother. Yet when Buzzy decided to apply to Princeton, Megan says, “I knew to trust her feeling that this was the right time.” With many of Megan’s friends having already graduated from the M.Div. program, her fourth year as a dual student would be different in many ways. The time seemed right for other transitions.
Buzzy was accepted to Princeton, and a few months later, she and her husband drove across the country with only a few belongings in their small car. They are slowly acquiring furniture from Craigslist for their new CRW apartment. Megan’s sister Annie has stayed in Scottsdale to care for the house and the dogs, and is contemplating moving out to New Jersey with her parents in January.
With two members of the family in seminary, there has been some necessary adjustment. While Megan and Buzzy have their separate, busy lives, they are also grateful for the parts of the experience they can share together. Megan says that she has been going over to CRW about once a week for dinner, when things aren’t too busy. “Now that they have a couch, it will be more appealing to go study there,” she says.
Megan and Buzzy (who is also a dual M.Div./M.A. student) are even taking a youth ministry class together with Professor Kenda Creasy Dean. The first day of class, they sat next to each other, and when Professor Dean looked up and saw the striking resemblance, she did a double take. Megan and Buzzy admit that several times, other students on campus have confused them at a distance.
Buzzy says that being at PTS with her daughter has given her a “greater empathy for the process” – a better understanding of the challenges and joys of seminary, and the realities of just how much work, time, and energy are demanded of students. Megan jokes that she tries not to tell her mother “I told you so” too often.
Recently, Megan and Buzzy helped serve communion together in Miller Chapel. They stood side-by-side, mother and daughter, holding the bread and wine out to their fellow students. As Buzzy stood there, she wondered if she and her daughter would be standing side-by-side like that in some ministry context in the future. Megan says that her “gut reaction” is that “our ministries will be interwoven in some way,” whether that means working in the same ministry location or working at two different churches that have some type of connection or partnership. Either way, says Buzzy, “there will always be that ability to empathize” with one another. Learning to interact with each other both personally and in ministry settings has been enriching for both. Being able “to grow with each other in those ways,” as mother and daughter, has been a joyful journey.