Pastor’s Message – November 19, 2019

Three Years and 136 Pages Later
(a longer version of this reflection is on my website,
Two months after moving to West Point, I began the Doctor of Ministry program at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology with a desire to study hospice care. With God’s help and your support, I was able to develop, run, and analyze a research project.  On November 7, I had the privilege of carrying three years of work, compiled into 136 pages, into a conference room in Atlanta for the oral defense.
It was not an easy walk into the room, not because I was nervous, but because I’d had the “brilliant” idea to wear two-inch high heels. In my defense, no pun intended, I thought the heels were one-inch when I bought them! Thankfully we sat down for the majority of the time together. Truth be told, I did feel two inches higher when our time together ended in approval, and not because of the shoes.
As we wrapped up, one committee member had asked me, “What have you learned about yourself?”
I responded, “I am more in love with the church.”
Receiving a degree does not necessarily or solely move us up a hierarchy. It can also move us into a deeper understanding of where we presently are. Everything I’ve studied and experienced has caused me to love God’s Church, and especially this congregation, more. The tools of academia have tuned my heart to sing God’s praise in the community of faith I’m leading right here and right now.
Though the degree I’ve obtained may say “Doctor of Ministry,” I prefer to identify as a Doctor of the heart—which is the church. And for as long as you and the Lord see fit, First UMC of West Point is the heart to which this doctor wants to tend. Know how grateful I am for you!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          all good things to each of you,
Pastor (Dr.) Darian
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