I am now officially accepted as a seminary student at George Fox in Portland. The dean says there are students from over 40 denominations. That should make class discussions interesting… I’m not sure I realized there were so many Christian denominations, as I’m sure 40 isn’t all there is. I’m sure there isn’t one representative of every denomination existing.
Our group interview consisted of a group exercise on Values and Consensus. We were split up into groups of 6-7 people, and were each given a sheet of paper with 10 pictures on it. We were to identify what each picture symbolized to us individually, then, we were to rank each symbol in order of value to us individually (all within 5 minutes). Then as a group we were to try to come to a group consensus on the meaning of each symbol (10 minutes), and then try to reach a consensus as to the rankings of the symbols. There was a staff member with each group to go over the directions and then watch and make some notes, but there was no further interaction once we had started, other than to let us know how much time we had left for each section if we asked.
The pictures consisted of:
A. a gold statue with a sword and weighing scales
B. a man holding a small baby and a woman next to him looking over at the baby and smiling.
C. a big red heart
D. an open Bible
E. a picture of very tall trees, grouped closely together
F. 8 different flags blowing in the wind. One was the USA’s flag, the others were not as discernible for me as I’m not familiar with them.
G. a brick building with a steeple and a bell tower.
H. a young child’s face with his eyes closed and his hands clasped in front of his mouth and nose
I. a smiling man with a white collar and a black garment.
J. a mortar board hat on someone’s head and next to that a gift card for a graduation.
The group consensus on the meaning of the symbols was this:
A. Justice / B. Family / C. Love / D. Scripture – Word of God
E. Environment / F. Culture / G. Church body / H. Prayer
I. Ministry / J. Education
The Group Consensus of rankings came out like this:
1 (C). Love
2 (D). Scripture
3 (H). Prayer
4 (B). Family
5 (G). Church Body
6 (I). Ministry of all people
7 (J). Education
8 (E). Environment
9 (A). Justice
10 (F). Culture
The biggest debates were as to whether Love or Scripture was more important, and then again with Prayer and Family. Interesting to note is that everyone in our group had those as 1 & 2, and then as 3&4 in their rankings. Nobody argued that Family was more important than Love or Scripture for instance. Once we got through Education, it became a bit of a toss up.
After this was over we reconvened as a larger group to go over “how did our rankings change, solidify, or remain unaffected as a result of group discussion?” and “how did we feel about the group exercise assignments?”. We were basically advised that if we didn’t enjoy this type of interaction and exercise that George Fox probably wasn’t the right seminary for us. Personally, I thought it was fun. I’m guessing we had the easiest group though, because lots of people talked about how difficult it was to agree on the symbols because of semantics, and then agree on values when people were coming from such diverse backgrounds. My group was completely quiet until one guy piped up to say, “well you haven’t heard anyone from our group speak up, and I’m guessing that’s because we had an easy time of it, it was very smooth with everyone getting their say and getting heard, but agreement came easily.” My rankings changed through group discussion, but only because some of my symbols changed meanings after group discussion. The values didn’t change rankings, but the symbols representing those values changed pictures.
All in all it was a very interesting experience. Nothing like I had imagined it would be. Now I’m excited for class to begin!