Powell Completes First Year of Seminary
A Shocked Barnabas Powell Finishes His Freshman Year at Holy Cross
Brookline, MA 4 June 2008: With final exams behind him, Barnabas Powell finds himself at the end of his first year at seminary at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. The school, located on a beautiful campus in Brookline, Massachusetts (near Boston and just minutes from historic Fenway Park) is the central educational facility for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and is also home to the only fully accredited Eastern Orthodox Christian 4 year undergraduate college in the Western Hemisphere (Hellenic College). Go to http://www.hchc.edu for more information.
A Review of the First Year
Barnabas, his wife Connie, and their (then) 11 month old daughter Alexandra, arrived at Holy Cross in August of 2007 to Married Student housing on campus. Their apartment was actually bigger than they expected and they immediately set out to make this 900 square foot, 3 bedroom apartment, their new home for the next several years.
While Connie set up the apartment, Barnabas registered for classes and re-entered the life of a student after having been in the workforce almost 20 years since his last venture in higher education at Toccoa Falls where he received his first Theological degree. The first year at seminary is supposed to be the toughest and it certainly was. Courses in New Testament Greek, the Book of Romans, Patrology, Genesis, and others immersed Barnabas in reading, studying, and test taking that pressed him to excel in his chosen field. The first semester ended with Barnabas passing all his courses.
The second semester of this first year was filled with new challenges. Classes like Dogmatics, Canon Law, Liturgics, and Byzantine Chant would require Barnabas to examine areas of theology and prayer that called him to a serious reflection of his faith and his time management skills. On top of that, Connie had taken a part time job as a substitute teacher in the local Brookline City Schools to help the little family cover expenses while Barnabas focused on his studies. This meant a seemingly weekly struggle to find daycare for Alexandra while Dad went to class and Mom went to work. But they did it.
The highlight of the second semester was Holy Week. Each year all the incoming freshmen are tasked with serving the Campus Chapel (Holy Cross) for all the services of Holy Week. This meant serving in the altar, baking bread for the services, and clean up of the Chapel every day of this special week. With services at least twice a day (sometimes more) Barnabas and his fellow classmates were very busy. But this week was wonderful and terrible. Exhausted and exhilarated, the freshmen arrived at Pascha ready to hear the familiar cry “Christ is Risen!” It was glorious. Unfortunately, what Barnabas thought was a recurrence of kidney stones that started on Holy Tuesday turned out to be a fairly serious infection that landed him in the hospital on Clean Monday. All was well after a week of antibiotics and it was back to work.
The year ended with a flurry of activity around final exams and Graduation exercises. Barnabas was both active in coordinating the Graduation exercises and singing in the school choir. He received his grades for the second semester and found that his first year’s GPA was 3.73 after receiving all A’s for his second semester classes.
The end of the second semester doesn’t end Barnabas’ work. He is scheduled to take Liturgical Greek during the first session of Summer School and then begin his Modern Greek training in August for the second half of Summer School. In between, Barnabas will be working at the Diakonia Center in South Carolina teaching and being a counselor at the Metropolis of Atlanta Youth Camp program. Barnabas has also recently added a part time job to his schedule. He is working at Capers Catering here in Boston to help cover summer tuition and other bills.
Barnabas has also been given the honor of being one of four students selected next year to serve as an Altar Group Leader. The Altar Group Leader is assigned one week each month of the semester when his team is in charge of serving in the altar for our twice daily services and in keeping the Chapel clean. The team is made up of an Holy Cross seminarian (the team leader), an Hellenic College assistant leader, and several incoming freshmen that are to be trained in serving the Chapel. Barnabas considers this honor one of his most important tasks next year. He has also been elected to the Student Government for the Seminary and College as the Treasurer. This puts Barnabas on the “executive board” of Student Government, making him the only Married Student representative on the executive board. The second year looks even busier than the first.
Barnabas, Connie, and Alexandra are so grateful to the many friends and family who made this first year possible through their prayers and donations. Your gifts at the very beginning of this unlikely journey made this first year possible for the Powell family. Connie still plans to continue working for Brookline Schools, and Barnabas hopes to get as many hours as possible at the catering company. Alexandra continues to grow so fast and will celebrate her 2nd birthday September 22. She enjoys going to play dates with Mommy, and generally either whispering or shouting the new words she seems to learn every day. She is the apple in her mother’s and father’s eye.
If all goes according to schedule, Barnabas should graduate in May of 2010 and then, as the Lord wills, he will continue serving the Lord’s Church as God sees fit. His dream is to so grasp and internalize the beautiful and life-giving Orthodox Christian faith that he will be able to communicate at least some of that beauty to as many people as possible here in America. He and Connie hope you will remember them in your prayers.
Barnabas Powell is a former Pentecostal pastor who converted, along with 20 families from the church he founded in Woodstock, GA, to the Orthodox Christian Church in November of 2001. He is married to the former Connie Demas, and they are the proud parents of Alexandra Georgia Powell. Barnabas is a full time seminarian at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA, studying for his Masters of Divinity in pursuit of ordination to the holy priesthood of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. He is a grateful seminarian under the loving paternity of Metropolitan ALEXIOS of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta and a proud son of the South temporarily waylaid entirely too far above the Mason-Dixon (but he longs to get home as soon as he can).