Reflections on Regent College Summer School by Isabella Hall, '19

The greatest challenge in reflecting upon my time at Regent College this past summer is articulating the depth of gratitude and transformation I feel in the wake of my experience. Regent College provided an excellent setting as a graduate institution committed to producing theological work accessible to and intended for the laity. It was the ideal environment for exploring questions of vocation and calling as well examining the relationship between the life of the mind and the life of the spirit. The diversity of the students within each class is a testament to Regent’s vision which, like Christ, cuts across boundaries and divisions in order to unite followers of Jesus in their seeking the Kingdom in their respective contexts. In the same vein, my own cohort reflected a beautifully diverse collection of individuals—from our ages, levels of study, academic disciplines, geographic locations, nationalities, ethnicities and cultures. However, each of us were attracted to the project because of a desire to use our intellect to deepen our understandings of Christ through academic study and group dialogue. I learned a tremendous amount in my classes under faculty members who made themselves available outside of class times and were passionate scholars who delighted to share their work with students; especially Dr. Soong-Chan Rah who took the time to familiarize himself with each student and speak with particularity to our various experiences. Furthermore, my professors were models of enduring devotion to Christ who balance the importance of theology and doxology with humility and wisdom. This was wildly affirming to me, as one who strives to understand my intellectual pursuits as service to the common good and worship to the Creator who designed the development of my interests, passions, and driving curiosities.

Outside of the classroom, I learned nearly as much in the conversations which unfolded with fellow students in the margins of class time, over coffee breaks, around the chapel, and especially doing life with the other cohort members. With so many different perspectives, each conversation was rich with complexity and insights of Truth which I never would had arrived at alone. It was a humbling reminder of the gracious gift community is and how vital personal formation within community is to a life of faith. Acts 4:32 reads that “all the believers were one in heart and mind” and despite our countless differences, I had everything in common with the people I encountered because of a shared pursuit of Truth in Christ. This was an important theme that arose throughout my time at Regent—that I maintain a posture “truth pursued” and come alongside others in that pursuit rather than employing a rhetoric that assumes I have “truth possessed.” This distinction invites me to appreciate and learn from the variety of traditions, worship practices, and even doctrines within the Christian faith. It fosters a sense of kinship with my fellow followers of Christ; that I might learn from them and in turn, they might learn from my journey and expressions of faith. Leaving the program, I was very surprised at how moved I was by every single person in my cohort. I could not have predicted how deep our affections for one another would have grown in such a short time. It was nothing short of spectacular movement of the spirit among us.

Additionally, Vancouver’s otherworldly beauty was a significant piece of my time at Regent. The impossible amount of sunlight each day had a way of obscuring time. Coupled with the formidable blue mountains to the North, the severe blue of the perpetually clear sky, the rocky beaches, and gentle summer warmth; the landscape was a source of nourishment. The environment invited me into a contemplative mindset as I spent most mornings running, reading, or sitting by the ocean. The hiking excursions arranged by the project were great fun and allowed me to see more of Vancouver’s distinctive character. I am so inexpressibly grateful for the unexpected moments of my trip, like jumping into the frigid natural springs of Lynn Canyon, sharing sushi and watching sailboats at the Deep Cove marina, or getting thrown from a mechanical bull at the Richmond night market. My time at Regent College summer school was an adventure that empowered me to be thankful and excited for the adventure that is a life with Christ.

Isabella Hall is a 3rd Year student at UVa who is a Perkins Fellow as well as a resident of the new Perkins House.