Mark Harmon received his ministry certificate through the FOUNDATIONS program at Central in 2011, but he didn’t stop there. He was an active lay leader and Chapel Service Coordinator at Countryside Christian Church and decided to pursue the diploma in theological studies. During his first semester he applied for the master of divinity degree and was accepted into that program. At Commencement in May he received his MDiv and was honored with the Presidential Citation for the top GPA for this year’s graduating class.
While still a student he began serving as a ministry intern at Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). As a result of that experience, the congregation asked him to stay on as an associate pastor. When approached with this offer, Harmon was asked to write up a position description. He began to realize how much his vision of his calling had changed since he entered seminary. Originally he saw his strengths in proclamation and teaching, with pastoral care as a weakness. Now, with the opportunity to define this ministry position, he found himself developing a position description to focus on the development, support, and maintenance of programs that respond to the varied care needs of members and the community at-large, as well as establishing interfaith and interracial partnerships to promote reconciliation and healing.
Mark reflected on this shift in thinking:
So, how does one move from envisioning ministry primarily as preaching and teaching to ministry primarily as caring and creating community? For me it was the careful and caring prodding of my professors. During my journey towards a Master of Divinity degree I was blessed to learn from professors who are not only intelligent, but wise. They encouraged me to push on through some difficult personal experiences and to push beyond the limits of my self-perception. While they imbued me with the technical knowledge necessary to perform my ministerial duties, they also inspired me to think independently and to own my faith. There is, however, another essential element to my seminary experience that greatly enriched me as a person – the diverse and faithful student community I had the privilege with which learn. Both the faculty and the student body contributed to my understanding of my calling and many of the relationships forged during this experience will endure long after graduation.
Harmon began serving as the Associate Pastor of Caring Ministries at Saint Andrew Christian Church (DoC) in Olathe, Kansas, in July, and on August 20 he was ordained by the congregation. His ministry is just as he defined it.
My time at Central has equipped me by making me more biblically and theologically knowledgeable, more ethically responsible and response-able, and more mature in my faith and spirituality. In addition, through the coursework and the guidance of the staff, I was able to more clearly discern God’s specific call to ministry in my life. I am excited about the opportunities before me and thankful for the ways in which my experience at Central Baptist Theological Seminary has prepared me to participate in God’s mission.