Community Life Coordinators Advance “Be Known, Belong, and Become”

In their roles as Portland Seminary Community Life Coordinators, current seminary students Drew Scott and Hannah Souter put into practice the seminary’s motto: “Be Known, Belong, Become.” The seminary created the coordinator positions in 2012, with Amanda Nelson Stoltzfus and Drew Scott serving as the first coordinators. Hannah Souter stepped in when Stoltzfus graduated, and now, as both Scott and Souter prepare to graduate this May, the seminary seeks another two student leaders.

Hannah and DrewThe Community Life Coordinators strive to make the seminary experience robust by creating opportunities for students to explore ideas, unwind, and build relationships. Sometimes this takes shape in a casual event, such as a night of building gingerbread houses. At other times the coordinators work with seminary faculty and staff to host seminary “symposia” events, such as the “Will God Save Us From This Ecological Mess?” panel discussion. Perhaps the best known among the events the coordinators host is the monthly “Relaxation Station,” where students can take a break without leaving campus to enjoy coffee, snacks, and conversation.

Scott and Souter also are active in routine seminary operations. They take turns at the front desk, where they answer students’ questions and serve as liaisons between students and faculty. They participate in seminary faculty team meetings, giving input on faculty hiring decisions and voicing community-life needs. They also assist with student recruitment and connecting Portland Seminary’s local students with Online Learning Community students.

Souter, a Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership student, expresses gratitude for the way this role gives her the opportunity to “see behind the curtain” to the inner workings of the seminary. From this vantage point, she observes that the faith convictions faculty members communicate in the classroom are convictions they endeavor to live out. It is “encouraging and edifying to see them seek that congruence,” Souter notes.

Scott, a Master of Divinity student, shares a similar observation: “In class we talk a lot about power and space. We’ve been invited to give power and share space.…[and] what is put forth in the classroom as healthy gets executed on the leadership level.” Scott relishes this opportunity to interact with people and face the challenge of looking outside himself to perceive and meet needs. Furthermore, he sees sharing this responsibility as a big plus. “What I really like is [Souter and I] operate as co-coordinators,” Scott explains. There is no male/female or junior/senior division with the two roles, simply shared leadership.

Reflecting on his overall experience within the seminary community, Scott says, “I’ve been safely shaken up. Lovingly instructed and guided. Empowered. Challenged and taught by my peers. And academically and intellectually ‘firmed up.’”

Souter’s biggest takeaway from Portland Seminary? “This may seem like a Sunday-school type answer,” she confesses, “but God loves us. Us as in…as big as that word can include. And not only is God committed to teaching us what that kind of love means, but is also capable of helping us become what that means.”

Students interested in helping advance “Be Known, Belong, Become” as a Community Life Coordinator should contact Darla Samuelson for more information.

Article by Sierra S. Neiman