Students Share: Why Seminary?

Princeton Seminary students reflect on their reasons for attending seminary

To mark the start of a new semester, we asked current students to answer one question: Why seminary? We hope their thoughtful observations resonate with readers and inspire others to recall their own reasons for pursuing theological education.

Rachel Rim300x300

"I chose seminary because I had questions about God, life, and myself that felt too important not to pursue. I didn't come in search of answers so much as the right way to ask these questions — the most generous and beautiful way. I wanted to ask these questions alongside others who understood the need for humility when it comes to thinking about this God we're trying to serve and this world we're hoping to bless."

—Rachel Rim, MDiv student

“I am going to seminary to weave my gifts together while pursuing my calling. After graduating college, I realized that I needed to pursue my interests in philosophy, language, and history together with my faith. I believe that a Master of Arts in Theological Studies will allow me to do just that while equipping me to become a professor. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me at Princeton!”

—Luke Donner, MA(TS) student

Jon Rodriguez300x300

“I came to seminary to learn in a diverse community of worship. Stepping outside of my tradition has allowed me to grow as a scholar and discover new ways to experience and share God’s love with others. More than anything else, it was the people who drew me to seminary — and it is the people who continue to make my experience valuable.”

—Jonathan Rodriguez, MDiv student

“I have always felt the movement of the Holy Spirit in corporate spaces: after attending the PC(USA)'s GA as a young adult, I felt a call to continue to be in a space with other Christians all seeking a common goal of better understanding God's relationship with humanity. During this process, seminary serves a practical purpose in terms of ordination, but that corporate call is why seminary is so special to me.”

—Courtney Steininger, MDiv student

James Klotz300x300

“Seminary is where the work of the academy and the work of the church intersect in a way they don't anywhere else. Students themselves bridge the classroom and the congregation with their learning and creativity. I see this all the time as a doctoral student serving local church, as well as a member of a presbytery Committee on Preparation for ministry. Princeton Seminary students bring the fruits of their academic work into churches that are deeply enriched by their service, and these same students bring back the real experiences of congregations in a way that inform and enliven our teaching.”

—James Klotz, PhD student

“Seminary was the last place I thought I would find myself, but after reading all these holy stories about a poor homeless man who embraced outsiders, healed the sick and fed the hungry for free, and lifted the voices of the marginalized so tangibly that those in power got scared...I mean, how could I not? How could I not spend the next four years of my life preparing to bring this message to the children and teenagers who need to hear it?”

—Emma-Claire Martin, MDiv/MACEF student

Angela Hooks300x300

“My writing and teaching for the church helped me discern my call to the teaching ministry. Even as an adjunct instructor teaching first-year writing and literature, my reading assignments were geared to religious and spiritual text such as “The Parables of the Ten Virgins,” Zen Parables, Langston Hughes’ “Salvation,” and Jean Paul Sartre’s “Existentialism.” It was during my graduate years in the creative writing program that I realized my prose alluded to the gospel of Jesus Christ and my faith in him. My master’s thesis was a novel about a female preacher called to preach in a small town, where neither the town nor church desired a woman as a preacher.

As a Christian who writes and teaches my message should be one of hope and redemption whether I’m in the classroom or in the church. Therefore, my natural next step on this Christian pilgrimage is to integrate my discipline of American literature (PhD) and creative writing (MFA) with the study of theology at the seminary. Here, at the seminary, I will learn new skills and theory for teaching in academia and or perhaps the seminary as well as develop courses that involve religion, faith, writing, and literature.

Additionally, I will have the opportunity to establish my theological foundation, expand my thinking, and provide hands-on ministry experience that differs from my regular ministry work. I will have the opportunity to practice the art of theological reflection while serving in a church and integrate the practice of ministry with the work I am doing in academia.

The seminary is a place where I can merge both head and heart, practical application and theory.”

—Angela R. Hooks, MDiv student

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church, Crystal City, Missouri

Joshua Noah, Class of 2015

“Through my field education placement at Trinity Presbyterian Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey, I discovered my gift to minister to all age groups.”