Not just ministry to God, but ministry to the Earth he created.
That's the philosophy of Millsaps College student Caitlin White, a senior psychology major from Oakland, Tenn. She's eyeing a career in ministry that also encompasses environmental sustainability.
"If the way you treat the creation reflects how you feel about the Creator ... Social justice and environmental stewardship are crucial components in the life and future of the church," she explains.
White is among 40 college students nationwide awarded a 2011 Fund for Theological Education Undergraduate Fellowship. The program identifies young people with "exceptional gifts for ministry" and supports them in their exploration of ministry as a vocation.
White has focused much of her academic work around her passion for environmental sustainability. On campus, she takes part in C.A.L.L.S., a group for students discerning a call to ministry, and leadership of the Campus Ministry Team. She is Student Body Association treasurer and has worked on campus in the HAC, Reuben's, and the Chaplain's Office. She plans to attend divinity school to earn a Master of Divinity degree.
The Fund for Theological Education is a prominent advocate for excellence in ministry and diversity in theological education. The Undergraduate Fellowship gave White the opportunity to attend the 2011 Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans in June. "It was great to meet people from all over the country and be able to talk about the effect Hurricane Katrina had on the community in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast, which was the focus of this year's conference. I met people in so many different phases in their theological education. It allowed me to think about where I see myself going."
Students are nominated by professors and campus ministers for Undergraduate Fellowships. They were selected by a national committee of theological educators and religious leaders. White was nominated by the Rev. Raymond Clothier, associate director of the Faith and Work Initiative and advisor to pre-ministerial students at Millsaps.
"Caitlin was in ideal candidate," Clothier said. "She has extraordinary gifts of imagination, intellect, and initiative, and she has sought out opportunities to view her vocation from as many vantage points as possible."
Millsaps College continues a strong tradition of preparing and supporting outstanding candidates for ministry. Since 2001, 28 students have enrolled in graduate theological education after graduation. During those years, the College's Faith and Work Initiative has encouraged students to delve deeply into questions of meaning, purpose, and calling as they begin to construct their life's work.
For the Rev. Brad Corban (Millsaps 2006), the Faith and Work Initiative was a vital part of his vocational discernment. "Because of the internship opportunities facilitated by the Faith and Work Initiative, I was able to explore church work as a college student, meaningful church work that eventually exposed a call to professional ministry," Corban said.
"FTE fellowships, the Millsaps C.A.L.L.S. group, two Faith and Work internships, and engaging religious studies classes all combined to prepare me for reflective, prophetic, and compassionate Christian leadership."