Hart’s Going in Grace
A New Transition
There are four certainties in life: Death, taxes, the final judgement, and a Hart transition. Over the last five years, we have done our fair share of moving. As of June 5th, our eldest son, who is almost three, has officially lived in seven different homes. Since our marital union in 2016, my wife and I have lived in a total of nine. We have resided in several places over the years, including four towns in West Virginia and a brief stint in Florida — and our most recent transition will not be the last.
First, a backstory.
My latest post on Presbyterianism highlights some of our family’s journey from a broadly evangelical faith to the Reformed one, highlighting Grace Church (PCA) as our Reformed home and place of vocation since the spring of 2019. Since the Fall of 2020, I have been studying online at the Reformed Theological Seminary and doing quite well at it. Both boys were baptized at Grace, and during our sojourn with them, have made more than a few dear friends. The last two years have been nothing short of the blessed reward of God’s grace, and until recently we had been decidedly committed to the future of the congregation. What changed?
During the winter semester at RTS, I had begun to reconsider my level of interest in the online program offered by the institution. While I have found the program to be helpful in my training and do think that online education is a wonderfully affordable option for those unable or unwilling to relocate, my desire to belong to an educational community only grew more pronounced with each passing month. The school does expend much of its energy attempting to harmonize the locational distance by offering intensive weeks and hybrid communities, but this short communal experience simply did not “cut the mustard.”
The rationale for a shift in philosophy is listed below. These reflect a personal expression and should not be treated as a polemic against other forms of theological education.
- Without any undergraduate or familial training in the Christian faith, I see the academy as the only formative institution, alongside the church, adequate for preparing pastoral catechumens within a confessionally-Reformed tradition.
- The appeal of a residential program, involving my affectionate concern to come under the care of professional educators within a rigorous community of academic pursuit, bolstered well against the isolated context of my studies to this point. I believe this type of mutually reinforcing community will only further motivate me toward pastoral ministry.
- My love for the Lord and his people caused me to reconsider my preparational trajectory. The church, purchased by the blood of Christ, deserves qualified pastors and shepherds able and equipped to serve them. I think a residential program, over and above my own feeble efforts, will help to ensure that these qualities are appropriated in my spiritual maturity.
Morgantown to Greenville
Upon the weight of these three points, and wise counsel, we decided that it was best to move on from our current state to pursue a residential program elsewhere. By God’s grace, I received several scholarship opportunities. In the end, the one that most appealed to me was from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. As of this week, I have been officially accepted into the Masters of Divinity program and will begin my studies, once more, in the Fall of 2022.
This brings me to the final wrinkle of our transition. For one year, we will belong to Reformation Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Morgantown, West Virginia as I prepare for my studies in Greenville. In the intermediate, I will serve as an apprentice to Rev. Jonathan Hutchison, shadowing him over the course of a year, with the stated goal of coming under the care of the Presbytery of Ohio. This should be viewed as a detour, with its ultimate destination in South Carolina. I am happy with this additional motivation and think it will bode well for us moving forward.
“It’s more like, see ya later.”
We are sad to be moving on from Grace Church. Moving day was comprised of great lament; a day of tears and embrace. The church in Buckhannon is, as I have noted in prior sermons, a body of our dearest mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. Fortunately, they have sent us with their blessing. I imagine that our friendships will endure, and both parties will pray for a reunion; whether in this life or the next.
In one of our final moments together, the congregation, sad, yet supportive, encouraged us to pursue this transition for the good of our family and ministry. It became apparent to me that in order to become a man worthy enough to pastor a communion like Grace Church, it was incumbent upon us to leave rather than to stay.
Pray For Us
The Holy Spirit often prohibits his servants from entering a region of their affection. More personally, he often moves them from one region to another. I long for the stability and familiarity of “place” that my peers have grown to enjoy over the years.
Some may be tempted to view our transitions as superfluous, a kind of chasing after the wind. In years past, I would have been tempted to agree with them. Today, I have grown to view them in a different light — it is the Lord’s grace to redeem us, restoring to my wife and children the years that the locusts had taken. Our fundamental desire is to serve Jesus Christ, and he has seen fit to use us in this way. As I look back upon past transitions, none have been in vain. Neither shall this be.
We ask that you continue in prayer and petition upon the Almighty on our behalf. Here’s to more transitions, and the glory that awaits them.