Candler Support Fuels Student Growth Through Professional Development

November 15, 2019

Candler’s mission to educate faithful and creative leaders for the church’s ministries throughout the world drives a commitment to student learning and professional development that extends beyond the boundaries of Emory University. Candler encourages and enables student participation in professional conferences, guild meetings, and other outside learning experiences by offering financial assistance through the school’s Professional Development Fund and from denominational programs.

The Office of Student Programming (OSP) administers the Professional Development Fund, which grants students up to 75% of the total cost of an event with a maximum of $300 per award. Students are eligible to apply for three grants during their time at Candler, with a limit of one award per semester.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, OSP awarded 16 grants, ranging from spiritual formation events to academic conferences to specialized ministry training.

Third-year master of divinity student Danielle Campbell Lloyd received a grant from the Professional Development Fund to participate in The United Methodist Women’s “Holy Disruption Cohort,” a four-month online social justice education intensive focused on disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline that concluded with a three-day in-person gathering in Tempe, Arizona. She says she is encouraged by Candler’s realization that experiences like these are vital to a student’s discernment process.

Third-year MDiv student JW Rice attended the international meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. Rice says that attending the international meeting boosted his professional development by both allowing him to listen to papers in Hebrew Bible scholarship and giving him the opportunity to present his own paper for the first time to an audience with international experts.

Third-year MDiv student Kevin Lazarus received a grant to attend the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability, which brings together scholars, students, clergy, laypeople, people with disabilities, their families, and allies to cultivate and share resources around the intersection of theology, ministry, and disability. Lazarus says that the event aided in his vocational clarity: “Since this field is relatively new and growing, it can often be difficult to find models for what this kind of ministry might look like in my own ministry. At the Institute, I was able to meet clergy, directors of nonprofits, scholars, personal care assistants, and so many others that were approaching this field in unique ways. I left the Institute with a renewed passion for theological education and disability.”

Along with the Professional Development Fund, which is open to all students, Candler’s denominational programs can also provide support and resources to affiliated students.

In May, MDiv students Marisa Sifontes, Zachary Jones, and Nicole Lambelet attended the Episcopal Preaching Foundation’s Preaching Excellence Program (PEP) in Richmond, Virginia, with support from Candler’s Episcopal and Anglican Studies Program. Sifontes says that “the chance to learn in community over the course of a week with other seminarians from across the U.S. and Canada was invaluable.”

For Lambelet, “The time with my national church family was deeply encouraging and productive for my formation as a preacher, and as someone longing to remain faithful to the gospel in this ever-changing world.”

And these experiences will circle back to enrich the remainder of their time at Candler. Zach Jones says that he left the weeklong program “with a better understanding of how our cohort can, together, help one another grow as preachers through close listening and thoughtful feedback.”

Learn more about and find applications for Candler’s Professional Development Fund.