Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Relief

If you would like to donate to Hurricane Katrina relief, you can do so through the Coooperative Baptist Fellowship. Gay and I don't have much right now, but there are people down there who now have absolutely nothing, so we made a donation.

You can make a donation through CBF by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I hope I can remember where class is...


I finished my first Tuesday at Wake Forest today. On Tuesdays, class starts at 9:30 am and finishes about 9pm. I have 3 classes, plus Divinity School chapel. Gay joined me again at chapel today; the speaker was the new president of Wake Forest University, Nathan Hatch. The classes are Art of Ministry, History of Christianity, and Church and State in America. All of my classes are in the same room, Wingate 202. I took a picture with my call phone and posted it to the left. All the seats have power outlets. They used to be wired for Ethernet, but WiFi has made that unnecessary.

I'm very tired tonight, so I am not going to post any more right now, and may not post more until this weekend, because I have a LOT of reading to do. I'll try to post some of what I am learning this weekend, because I have had some requests for that. I think a lot of people will find it interesting what a moderate seminary is teaching.

Gay and I continue to appreciate your prayers.

Friday, August 26, 2005

"If I Were a Rich Man"

In the musical Fiddler on the Roof the main character, Tevye, has a verse in a song that came to my mind during History of Christianity 1 this week. The verse is from the song If I Were a Rich Man.

If I were rich, I'd have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I'd discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.

I was sitting in class listening to the dean of the divinity school talk about the history of our faith. All of sudden I started thinking how lucky I was to be there listening to one of the foremost Christian historians in the country. I was doing something very few Christians get to do. I get to spend 3 years studying about God, the church, and the Bible. What a blessing! What a responsibility! I know that I have been given this gift for a reason. I have to take what I am learning and share it with those who are not lucky enough to get this experience.

I also started feeling a huge sense of gratitude to those who have made it possible for me to get there. I have thanked people before, but this is something I cannot do often enough. I want to thank those who have helped me get this far by supporting my financially, emotionally, and spiritually. I hope to make all of you proud of me.

I may not have a lot of money, but I certainly feel like a VERY rich man.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

First Day of Class

Well, today I did something I never thought I would do: I went to my first day of class for a graduate degree. When I finished my degree at the University of South Florida, I thought I was finished with school; I wanted to be finished with school. But, God had other plans for me, and 11 years later, I am on my way.

I started today with Old Testament Interpretation 1. We went over the syllabus for about 10 minutes and then we dove right in, starting with Genesis 1:1. Dr. Neal Walls, the professor of this class, said we are going to ask a lot of questions in this class that we may not answer. We are going to learn the questions to ask in this class, and then answer them later in Theology courses. He led the class in a very discussional style, which I really liked, and I am really looking forward to what I am going to learn in this class.

I tried to post to the blog yesterday, but blogger was having some problems and ate my post. We had our first chapel service yesterday. It was called "A Service of Beginnings." The speaker was one of the associate deans of Wake Forest. She spoke about Abraham and Sarah "tenting" (packing up everything they had and following God) and compared that to what we were doing. The title of her sermon was "I feel like moving on," and she closed with a hymn of the same name that she played on the accordion. She was a great speaker, and it was a good service. I was also very happy that Gay was there to share it with me. After lunch, we went to a luncheon hosted by Ardmore Baptist Church. Local churches will be sponsoring lunches for us every other week, which is also a great thing.

I have taken the first steps on what is going to be a lifelong journey. I don't know where I am going yet, and I know the journey is going to be hard at times. But I am not traveling alone. The Lord is my guide, my wife is on the journey with me, and I have a LOT of people praying for me.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Divinity School Orientation


After the first day of orientation, most of what we have covered has been organizational and practical matters such as student health care, parking, library, etc. Writing about that would be exceptionally boring, so I am not going to do it.

I registered for classes today, so I will give you an idea of what my schedule is like.

Old Testament Interpretation 1: Mondays and Wednesdays 2:30-3:45
History of Christianity 1: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30-2:45
Art of Ministry 1: Tuesdays 9:30-10:45 and Thursdays at 11
Church and State in America: Tuesday Nights 6:30-9pm
Congregational Health: Thursdays (will start sometime after 3pm)

Church and State in America includes a trip to Washington October 13-16, and the class ends after that. Congregational Health will end about that time as well. This means I will be taking 13 hours this semester. 15 hours per semester are required to graduate, but I plan to enroll in a CPE program this summer which will make up for the hours I am missing.

Classes will start on Wednesday, and I am looking forward to it.

We are still trying to get moved into the condo. We like where we live, we just wish the boxes could magically unpack themselves. I haven't been able to help much because I have been at school most of the time, but Gay has done a great job. We will be mailing out some postcards with our new address on them shortly, so be looking for them in your mail.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Divinity School Orientation Day 1

I have now finished the first two days of orientation at the Wake Forest Divinity School. There are 36 students in my class, and exactly 100 currently enrolled in the Divinity School. We were given Divinity School bags with a name tag, a t-shirt, and a notebook with our student id's and information we would be using throughout the week.

The first day started with an icebreaker, we were divided into groups of 4, and given a question to answer. After each question we moved to another group of 4.

The icebreaker was followed by the dean's luncheon, which was held in the lower auditorium of the divinity school. During lunch, we all said it felt like we were being recruited, because everything was set up so nicely. We were joined at lunch by members of the faculty and staff. Dr. Diane Lipsett, Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, was the faculty member at our table. As always, Dr. Leonard's address was amazing. He discussed many of the events that have happened in the last year: the death of the pope, the London subway bombings, Joel Osteen's church, and the war in Iraq. He said that one of the things we would be called on to do throughout the rest of our ministries would be to provide explanation, discussion and enlightenment on the events that shape our world. As an example, he said he was recently asked to address a group of Lutheran ministers about the Left Behind series of books and premillenialism. (I don't want to get into a theological debate about this here, we'll save that debate for when I get there in my studies.) Dr. Leonard said he would like to write a sequel to the Left Behind books called Staying Behind. He said the book would be about a group of Christians that "grabbed onto a tree limb" when the rapture came, in order to help the people who are left behind. He used the parable of the lost sheep as support for his position. The shepherd refused to rest until the one sheep who was lost in the wilderness was returned safely home, and that we should use that example throughout our ministries. He concluded by saying that we would develop life long mentors and colleagues during our stay at Wake Forest, and welcomed us "home" to the Divinity School at Wake Forest University. Dr. Leonard has an amazing ability to both affirm and challenge, and I am always energized and excited after I hear him speak. I am also amazed at how active he has been during this whole orientation process. He seems to be genuinely interested in getting to know each and every student, and how we are handling this major transition in our lives.

After lunch, we headed back upstairs for a discussion of the curriculum. The program takes 90 hours to complete, with a typical course being 3 hours, There are some electives that may be taught only for a few weeks that are fewer hours. Here is a summary of the program requirements:

6 hours in either Greek or Hebrew (I will take both)
6 hours in Old Testament Interpretation
6 hours in New Testament Interpretation
3 hours in an additional Old or New Testament elective
6 hours in the History of Christianity
3 hours in a world religions course
6 hours in Christian Theology
3 hours in Christian Ethics
3 hours in either a history or theology elective
13 hours in Art of Ministry (Vocational Development/Internships)
3 hours in Homiletics and Worship
3 hours in Introduction to the Spiritual Life
3 hours in The Ministry of Pastoral Care
3 hours in Multicultural Contexts for Ministry (more on this later)
23 hours of electives

After we discussed the graduation requirements, we started talking about the Multicultural Contexts for Ministry course. These course combine classroom and travel experiences. The classroom portion of the course covers the people, culture, and history of the region we are going to visit. We then visit the area we have been studying and talk to the people who are ministering there. We were told this is not a mission trip, in that we are not going to do missions, we are going to learn and observe how the people there do missions and to observe the culture and challenges of ministry in areas that are different from what we are used to. There are currently 4 options in this course: Appalachia, inner city New York, Cuba and Romania. (The current administration has made travel to Cuba more difficult, so there are currently no Cuba trips planned.) The travel typically occurs for 10 days over spring break, and we are required to raise at least some of our own money for every trip except the Appalachia one.

I think many of you are able to see why I chose Wake Forest. The program is just incredible. They are really trying to balance academics, practical experience, and real-world learning. All of the new students are really excited about the program, and we are looking forward to getting started.

Next we had a discussion on plagiarism with one of the librarians from the Wake Forest library. This was followed by a student panel on what to expect in Divinity School. We were told to expect to be reading between 400 and 600 pages a week. After the panel, we had a break.

Once we came back from the break, we began the discussion of the Art of Ministry courses. These courses are designed to help us figure out where we fit in ministry, and provide us with the real-world experience we need. Each course includes a small group (5) that gives us time to talk about the issues we are dealing with and problems we are having.

This discussion was followed by the community life panels. There was one offered for singles, and another for couples/single parents. Most of the spouses of the students attended this meeting, and it was nice to see that there were other people going through the same kind of things Gay and I are.

The day concluded with the "Dinner on the Dirt," a picnic dinner in front of the divinity school. All of the students' families were invited to this event. Gay and I had dinner with a couple from St. Petersburg that doesn't live far from us here either. Gay and I both hope to get to know this couple more. Dr. Leonard came and sat with us, because he said he hadn't had the chance to talk to me yet, and wanted to know how I was doing.

It was a very long day that started about 10am, and didn't end until after 7. But it was also a very affirming and fulfilling day. I truly feel blessed to be at Wake Forest, and I am looking forward to what God has in store for me.

Monday, August 15, 2005

In Winston-Salem

We have arrived safely in Winston-Salem, and are scheduled to close on our condo at 2pm today. I will post mor later.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

We closed!

We finally closed on our home in Tampa today. It was 2 days late, but better late than never. We will pack up a moving truck tomorrow and Saturday, and drive to Winston-Salem on Sunday. We have a walk-through our new condo up there at 1:15pm and closing at 2pm.

We thank you for all your prayers, and please continue to pray for us as we make these final moving steps.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Farewell to Bayshore

A chapter in our lives has come to a close. This week we had our last Sunday and last work day at Bayshore. We feel a mixture of sadness and excitement: we will miss the people we are leaving behind, but we look forward to what is ahead.

The following is an article I wrote for this week's newsletter at Bayshore:

As many of you know, Sunday July 31 was our last Sunday at Bayshore Baptist Church; a place that has played a huge part in our lives for the past 5 years. On June 3, 2000, we were married here; Gil was ordained as a deacon in 2002, and we were both ordained as ministers here in June. We have both worked at the church either full or part-time in the past 4 years, and we have made friendships that will last a lifetime. We appreciate the opportunities we have had to serve and grow alongside many of you.

We would especially like to thank Nancy Burke for being a mentor to the two of us. She has always been there to encourage and support us. If she didn’t have the answer we were looking for, she helped us find someone who did. She was willing to give us responsibilities that helped us grow as church leaders and learn valuable lessons that will help us throughout our ministry. Entering the ministry can be a very scary experience, and I wish everyone could have someone like Nancy to help guide them along the way.

In the coming weeks, we will be packing and moving to Winston-Salem. At the end of August, Gil will begin studying at The Divinity School at Wake Forest University. Gay has several job prospects at churches in the Winston-Salem area, and will have some final interviews at the end of August. We both appreciate all of your prayers during this time of transition in our lives.

We also would ask for you to continue to pray for us over the next several years, as we try to find where our ministries fit into the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 compares the body of Christ to our own bodies saying: "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ." Making the decision to enter the ministry and surrender every part of your life to Christ is only the first step. The second step is discerning where and how he wants us to serve. That means putting our own wishes and desires aside, and saying, as the old hymn does, "Wherever he leads, I’ll go." Finding the right place is essential for the body to function as God intended it to: "so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it, if one part in honored, every part rejoices with it." We will continue to pray that everyone at Bayshore finds their "part" in the body of Christ, and we would ask that you do the same for us.

We plan to visit Bayshore as often as we can. You can keep track of us on Gil’s online weblog at http://revgil.blogspot.com.

Yours in Christ,

Gil and Gay Gulick