Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Visit to Payne Theological Seminary

On Thursday Linda and I got up at 5 AM and traveled 200 miles south to Wilberforce, Ohio, and Payne Theological Seminary. PTS is connected to Wilberforce University. WU's website says this: "Wilberforce University is a unique institution located in a state rich in America's private college tradition. Founded prior to the end of slavery in 1856, it is the nation's oldest, private African-American university. For 147 years WU has, through sheer force of will, provided young African-American students with a solid educational experience."

PTS's dynamic president, Dr. Leah Fitchue, is a friend of mine. She invited me to speak and teach part of a week-long seminary class called "Transformational Leadership." The other class teachers were Dr. James Cone of Union Theological Seminary and Dr. Deotis Roberts of Howard University. My role was to wrap up the class by teaching on Personal Transformation: How God Changes Lives. I did this Thursday from 9 AM to 12:30 PM. My class was held on the campus of Wilberforce U.

Thirty-five African-American seminary students were in my class. Most were pastors and leaders in the A.M.E. church (African Episcopal Methodist). One student was from Sierra Leone, and another was from Ghana.

I structured my 3 1/2-hour block like this:

9 - 9:45 - Introduction; meet the students; share basics of how God changes lives

9:45 - 10:45 - I sent the students out to pray for 45 minutes. I explained to them how I wanted them to do this. My basic instructions are: go alone to a quiet place to meet, just you and God; use Psalm 23 to meditate on; when your mind wanders, write down where it wanders to (the mind always wanders to something like a burden); when God speaks to you, write it down; After 45 minutes, return to class.

10:45 - 11:45 - Meet in small groups, Share what God said to you. Someone take notes on the group sharing. Then, group recorders share with all of us. I comment on what I hear God saying to the people.

11:45 - 12:30 - I taught the elements of Personal Transformation. They are:

1. Recognize how needy you are
2. Realize the magnitude of the needed transformation (into Christlikeness)
3. Understand that only God can effect the needed transformation
4. Get into the presence of God
5. Understand what it means to dwell in God's presence
6. The level of personal transformation is: "the deep waters of the heart" (Proverbs 20:5)
7. God deconstructs the false self
8. The essential attitude is: humility ("Unless you humble yourself like a little child you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" - Matthew 18)

I am so glad Linda came with me. We had a wonderful time, made many new friends and connections. I believe we will be working together in some way in the days ahead.