Having first studied John Calvin as an undergraduate at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-related Whitworth College, Kelsy Brown — now a senior at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary — longed again to “meet” the great Reformer.
“I knew right away that I wanted to go to the Calvin Jubilee at Montreat Conference Center,” Brown said, “but since I’m a seminary student, I didn’t have the money.”
When the Rev. John Burgess, one of Brown’s theology professors, told Brown and a classmate that scholarships were available through the General Assembly Mission Council’s Office of Theology and Worship — one of the conference’s co-sponsors — the budding Calvin scholar’s way became clear.
In July, the Utah native journeyed for the first time to the storied conference center in the heart of Western North Carolina, finding it “greener and more mountainous” than she expected.
“To be able to dialogue with scholars who have studied Calvin their whole lives has been a pretty phenomenal opportunity,” said Brown. “I’m grateful that I’ve been able to experience that.”
Brown also commended the conference planners on their commitment to build community among participants and leadership. “It’s a wonderful aspect of ministry that’s lost at so many conferences where there’s just learning, learning, learning,” she said. “Here, they intentionally create space for dialogue where you can talk about what you’ve learned.”
Raised in the 100-member Community Presbyterian Church in Brigham City, Utah, Brown said she feels God calling her to serve a small church. It is because of the nature of her call that she especially valued her conference experience here.
“The speakers here have been able to teach about Calvin and show me how to integrate aspects into my life and future ministry,” she said. “Everything we’ve learned about Calvin has been applicable to the parish ministry to which I’m called, and will also be helpful when I take the ordination exams in the fall.”
A Youth Advisory Delegate to the 216th General Assembly (2004) now under care of Utah Presbytery, Brown currently serves as president of the Presbyterian Student Fellowship at Pittsburgh Seminary. In that role, she enjoys leading her classmates through the wide variety of opportunities and programs available through the denomination.
“I value the PC(USA) and the resources on the Web,” said Brown. “I like to help students learn more about what the church is offering them and how to take advantage of it.”
“One in the Spirit” is a monthly e-newsletter from GAMC Executive Director Linda Valentine to church leaders.