While many Candler School of Theology students go “church shopping” when school starts each fall to find a church home and worshipping congregation in the Atlanta area, many of our United Methodist students have the opportunity to go “conference shopping” in the spring. With such a diverse student body from across the globe, it makes sense that church bodies would want to “recruit” candidates for ministry here at Candler, and in turn, it is only natural that students would also like to size up the options for ministry from across the Church.

The Candler Office of Student Programming coordinates visits for tons of United Methodist Annual Conferences each year, but this time of year in particular, early spring, is our heavy meet-and-greet season. From Mississippi to Kansas and from Oregon or Idaho to North Carolina, The United Methodist Church is well represented on the Candler campus this semester. Between the start of 2008 and commencement in May, over ten conferences will send representatives from their Board of Ordained Ministry or Cabinet (I’ve even sited a bishop or two!) to both visit with Candler students from their conference and to talk with current students who may be interested in doing ministry in their region.

There are certainly plenty of students at Candler that are committed to be ordained or provide lay leadership to a specific conference, diocese, district, congregation, or community, but others are still looking for that perfect fit. In fact, during my first year at Candler, one of my classmates, who shall remain nameless, signed up for every single United Methodist Conference visit, particularly when the conference was offering a free meal to its student and inquiring candidates. Without fail, he attended every drop-in, meet-and-greet, dinner party, information session, and Q&A time for conferences ranging from the Pacific Northwest to Florida. He networked, ate, and made friends with students and conference officials from conferences in every United Methodist jurisdiction. That, my friends, is the connectional church at work!

It turns out that March is also a high season for prospective students to visit seminaries and schools of theology as well. So between the Boards of Ordained Ministry and the prospective students, you never know who you will run into at chapel or in class. Earlier this week we hosted 20 finalists for the Woodruff Fellowship, Candler’s most prestigious and generous scholarship award. The following day after they left, we had several individual visitors come to campus to learn more about Candler School of Theology. What I naturally deduce from all these visitors to campus is that Candler is either the center of the universe or the coolest place ever to study theology. In my optimism, I like to believe both, but I invite you to make a visit here so you can be the judge. World revolves around us or coolest learning environment ever?

With weeks still left in March, it’s hard to know how many visitors we’ll host to campus in the coming days, but I hope you are one of them. We have two admitted student visit days coming up later this semester, but we welcome prospective student visitors just about every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Candler is an amazing community of students, faculty, staff and the occasional Bishop, and we would love for you to make us a permanent home for study and reflection in one of our degree programs. If you would like more information about Candler, please visit our website, email us at candleradmissions@emory.edu, or call us at 404.727.6326. Look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology), and you are welcome to join the Candler School of Theology Facebook group.