June 9


Eastern Mennonite Seminary

Two years ago, my son was born. It quickly became apparent that my wife and I weren’t going to have enough hours in the day to make artisan cheese anymore. We shut down the business and sold off the equipment. And I began to contemplate what to do next.

There aren’t a lot of jobs in southern Utah.  It’s beautiful country and a great place to raise kids.  But jobs are few and wages are low.  The median income is well below the poverty line.

So I wrote, and I contemplated.

I did my undergraduate in Theology at Loyola Marymount University.  I loved it.  That’s where I was introduced to the Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder.  His book, The Politics of Jesus,* completely changed my views on religion.

I’ve always felt drawn to do some sort of ministry, but that seemed impossible since I had never found a church I wanted to belong to.  Three years ago, during a trip to Denver, I attended my first Mennonite church (there aren’t any in southern Utah), and felt that I had finally come home.  It wasn’t long before the possibility of ministry started percolating again.

After my son was born, I talked to my pastor about ministry.  He suggested a couple of schools I could attend.  None of them were in Utah.  One of them, Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Virginia, had a website that really caught my attention.  I thought, “I wish I’d written that!  I want to be with these people!”

I talked about it to my wife.  She was raised in western Colorado and southern Utah and had never lived anywhere outside the high desert.  She said, “Virginia?  Are you crazy?”

So I contemplated.  I looked at some other schools.  They were schools.  None of them appealed to me like EMS.

Last fall, a year out of the cheese business with no alternative plans on the horizon, I told my wife that we really needed to revisit the EMS question again.  I suggested a trip to see what it was like.

To my surprise, she agreed.

To my even greater surprise, she loved Virginia.

Events moved quickly after that.  I applied to EMU, was accepted, and we found a place to rent.  May 1, we closed up a 26-foot U-Haul and set off across the country.

We’ve now been in Virginia for a month, and we love it.
*(The Politics of Jesus is available in paperback and ebook.)

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Posted June 9, 2016 by mitchmaitree in category "Background", "Religion

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