More Wisdom Year Stories - Hank Tuell and Jo Ann Jones

In response to the evolving needs of the Church, The General Theological Seminary is building a program of education and formation that integrates the classical theological disciplines with real-world experience and practical ministry skills. As part of The Way of Wisdom, seminarians spend their final year in a Wisdom Year residency while connecting their experience to their classwork through particpation in the Integrative Seminars. During The Wisdom Year, students synthesize their entire seminary education through practical experience that goes beyond field placement, by placing them in real-world, paid, part-time positions in a ministry setting. The students are given support, mentoring, and tools to connect this experience to their academic pursuits on campus.

Following are a few of our current students and the experiences they are having out in the world of parish ministry.

Hank Tuell (center) with students from the Canterbury Downtown community
Hank Tuell (center) with students from the Canterbury Downtown community

Henry (Hank) Tuell M.Div., Class of 2017

Hank Tuell, from the Diocese of Montana, is doing his Wisdom Year Pastoral Residency with Canterbury Downtown Campus Ministry, a Christian community of, by, and for university students in lower Manhattan. Canterbury Downtown provides students from varying backgrounds and experiences with space for respect, hospitality, and spiritual growth. Tuell participates in the services they attend at Grace Church, meals, and various activities including guest speakers and discussion groups. He also holds individual pastoral meetings with students and is engaged in their retreats and public service opportunities.

The experience is increasing Tuell’s love for Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy. “In the changing world we’ll be called to a lot of different things,” he says, “and pastoral care is key. In Campus ministry, we must lead in a rapidly changing environment, and this is really useful practical experience in dealing with changes and being watchful for what’s needed in a community.” Canterbury Downtown is an open and inclusive community, and Tuell is grateful for the opportunity to work in other faith settings, where there is the promise of finding common ground and better understanding each other. He observes “a need within our Church to better foster and maintain our relationships with young adults as they transition from high school to college to work. We need them as much as they need us during this transition.”

Jo Ann Jones preaching in The Chapel of the Good Shepherd
Jo Ann Jones preaching in The Chapel of the Good Shepherd

Jo Ann Jones M.Div., Class of 2017

Jo Ann Jones, from the Diocese of Pennsylvania, is spending her Wisdom Year in dual Pastoral Residencies at St. David's Church, Wayne and St. Alban's Church, Newtown Square in her home Diocese. St. David's is a very large parish with the means for many programs and much outreach. It is a church on a mission to know Christ and to make Christ known. St. Alban's, on the other hand, was a mission created by St. David's and is now without full-time clergy. Its mission is to be the heart, voice, hands and feet of Jesus Christ. St. Alban’s clergy are supplied by St. David's weekly.

Jones has the benefit of observing the administration of a very large and well-resourced church while at the same time assisting a struggling small congregation regain its footing and secure its future. She is “thankful for the breadth of this experience and, in both cases, for the embrace and trust of the members of both congregations in me and my gifts for ministry.”

The Wisdom Year provides the opportunity to use lessons learned during courses in congregational settings and to experience regular life in a congregation in preparation for ordained ministry. Jones states her gratitude “for the members of St. David's Church, Wayne and St. Alban's Church, Newtown Square for including me in their congregations and allowing me to learn from and minister to them." She goes on, “During a recent visit with a parish family, I brought Communion to the wife/mother who had recently broken her ankle. She and her husband shared many stories with me about their family. Because I have known them for a short time, it was a great privilege to hear them tell me about some of their struggles, revealing their love for their family and each other. What a joy!”