A Blessed Academic Journey


A few weeks ago, I presented and defended my Doctor of Ministry project on reproducible discipleship.  My committee was standing when I came back into the room, and they called me doctor.  The project is 139 pages loaded with hundreds of footnotes, a thesis, data, a bibliography, and all the stuff that goes into a dissertation. It's printed on high-quality, expensive paper and bound in a hardcover.  It has a long title.  Nobody else will read it, ever.  It will sit, lonely on a library shelf for years.  Nonetheless, it serves as a symbol of the culmination of a blessed academic journey. 

This post is about to be like the section at the front of books where the author thanks a bunch of people.  You probably skip those parts.  I usually skim, at best.  I'd understand if you skim, but please know that there are a lot of names of brilliant, Godly people in my academic journey, and for them, I'm thankful. 

Gateway Seminary was called Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary when I started.  It was in San Francisco and that's where I did many hours of seminars.  Each of those seminars required thousands of pages of reading and hundreds of pages of writing.  But it was my faculty and cohort that made all the difference.  Al Weeks, Josh Saefkow, Mike Clements, David Yi, and Daryl Watts joined me month after month for cohort learning and growth.  I love all those guys.  And while I had many great professors, some were especially impactful.  I'll never forget Spiritual Formation with Dr. Wilson. The system's theory was a game changer too. Dr. Reed's time management material is still helping me get a handle on my scheduling.  I'm blessed to have studied under remarkable men and women like Dr. Russel, Dr. McQuarter, Dr. Johnstone, Dr. Shelley, Dr. Steele, Dr. Kelley, Dr. Iorg, and others.  I'm especially thankful for my committee, Dr. Rick Durst (chair) and Dr. Warren Haynes.  And I wouldn't have survived the program without my friend and field mentor, Dr. Jim Harding. 

I'm grateful for this academic journey.  

But this would not be a complete story of the journey if I didn't mention my journey through a Masters of Divinity at Liberty University.  Well, it was called Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary when I was there. It seems there has been a merge since then.  

I studied under some brilliant, passionate professors at Liberty but a handful of them have profoundly impacted my academic, ministry, and personal life.  I'm grateful for them too.  Dr. Dave Earely has probably had the most significant impact, both when I was a student and in the years following.  I owe him a great deal.  I'm also thankful for Dr. Percer, Dr. Yates, Dr. Wheeler, Dr. Dempsey, Dr. Mitchel, Dr. Towns, and Dr. Smither (who was a Ph.D. candidate when I was there). 

And finally, I have to thank Dan Bragga who put the theology bug in my soul; and Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley, Sam Storms and early years of The Theology Program that made me decide I needed to go to seminary. 

I've enjoyed an incredible journey in academia.  I know it's because of all these I've thanked and so many more who slipped through the cracks.  (If that's you, I'm so sorry!) 

For the Kingdom! 
Bryan Catherman