Back in the fall of 2000, I learned first-hand that very proverbial lesson that the grass is not always greener on the other side. I had finished my first year at a northern PC(USA) seminary and it hadn’t gone all that well. Academically it was fine, but there wasn’t, at least for me, a sense of community among the single students, the housing was pretty rough, and having just come from the sunny beaches of Florida, the weather left a whole lot to be desired. So, I went to visit a seminary back in the south. In the interest of full disclosure here, my future husband was already a student at said southern seminary.
When I visited I was struck by the immediate sense of community, the friendliness of the staff, and the way better housing situation. So, I packed up all my stuff and headed south for greener pastures. It didn’t take all that long to discover that I had made a significant mistake. Yes, the housing and the weather were much better than the situation I had left behind. But, this was not a safe or welcoming place for someone like me. Now usually, when we talk about “safe” and “welcoming” we are using buzzwords for topics surrounding such things as sexuality issues.
That’s not the case here. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Nothing says “welcome” like seeing a post on a community bulletin board (a real one, not a virtual one) that says, “How can you call yourself a Christian and not support the ordination of gays and lesbians? ” Students like me, for lack of a better word we’ll label us as “evangelicals” were not safe, were not welcomed, and were treated as second class pariahs by professors and students alike. I spent the remainder of my time there just wishing that I had stayed where I was and made the best of it.