Evening & Weekend Studies

Fall 2008 Stories

Heeding the Call

Greeners in the Ministry

by Song Rose Israel

As a state institution, Evergreen can appear very secular. The college graduates aspiring artists, teachers and doctors. Yet a closer examination of its Evening and Weekend Studies (EWS) students leads to a different kind of Greener – clergy.

“The environment here reflects the natural theology that all of us have. It illuminates the spiritual connection we have to each other and to nature, affirming that we are agents of change. This greatly inspires my faith,” says Antony Xczar, 36, an Episcopalian lay minister and EWS student.

Sherry and Leah

An alumnus who found inspiration through EWS programs is , an ordained elder of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “My involvement with the campus group Greeners for Christ greatly helped me to stay connected with Christians on campus. At that point, I decided to change my focus from science to philosophy, which I felt would prepare me better for the ministry. I finished my degree as an EWS student, and loved the freedom that Evergreen gave me in my studies,” says Higdon, 26, a chaplain intern at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia this summer. She will serve as a pastor intern at a Presbyterian congregation in Austin, Texas during the academic year, and will receive a master of divinity degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary this spring after three years of graduate study.

Another EWS alumnus is Leah Hart-Landsberg, a 27-year-old aspiring Unitarian-Universalist minister. “Studying at Evergreen was a great experience overall. A lot of the learning I did was about justice issues – labor, healthcare, race and gender studies, political economy, inter-national politics and social movement theory. These lenses have been very useful for framing religious conversations about good, evil, human agency, the presence of God and capacities for personal and theo-logical transformation,” she says.

“My time at Evergreen helped me discern my call to the ministry in part because it gave me the opportunity to deepen my commitment to our planet and to communities working for peace and greater human flourishing. It was during college I began to see the Unitarian Universalist religious movement as a place where I could contribute to invitational, accessible justice-making in sustainable, creative and effective ways,” adds Hart-Landsberg, who is also doing a chaplaincy internship at Providence St. Peter in Olympia this summer, and a congregational internship in New Jersey in the fall. She is to receive her master of divinity degree this spring from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Song Israel was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and is a sophomore studying education at The Evergreen State College.