Then & Now: Macchia, Kuzmic, & Hackett
Frank Macchia, Southeastern University (early 90's)
In the early 90's I was privileged to study under Frank Macchia now at Vanguard University, CA and Ph.D. advisor at Bangor University, UK. (So that's why I'm so Barthian in my theology) Though back in the day he was a newly minted Basel Ph.D. He went from Switzerland to Florida - that's some transition. Over the years, usually at SPS, Dr. Macchia has been gracious with his time and has continued to take interest in my pastoral leadership and social justice research. Throughout the years we've continued to email and dialogue. Though this time our conversation was different. It wasn't like Duke, Marquette or Minneapolis, no we were in Lakeland. At the end of the conference Frank Macchia would be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award and it was so fitting it would be in Lakeland.
As we sat in the Disney like campus we both felt the reality that this is where it all started. He as a professor. Me as a student. Twenty years of life stopped. As the student, I asked questions. He as the professor, crafted theology. The brilliant yet humble professor started pouring into me again, asking me the same questions as he did twenty years ago. I learned from my professor that the best of theology always speaks to the complexities of life. I asked about my Ph.D. research and family life. He answered with his normal profound clarity. As I shared my thoughts, he shared his reflections and in the words of Bonhoeffer we shared "life together".
As our time closed, I read him an email that he sent me over a decade ago that now is taped to the inside of my preaching Bible. In this well crafted paragraph contained encouraging words from a now seasoned theologian, Dr Macchia, to his second year seminarian, Me. As I finished, we both sat glassy eyed.
Where two or more are gathered there is the Spirit and the Spirit was there.
Peter Kuzmic, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
During dinner, I sat in a private dinning room with some dear friends from Assembly of God Theological Seminary.
As I was reflecting on today's events with Dr. Macchia. I looked up and in his intellectual European ethos strolls in Dr. Peter Kuzmic! My dear missions and ecumenics professor at Gordon-Conwell.
My worlds collide, again. My seminary meets my college.
Dr. Kuzmic, told me all about his mission and seminary in Eastern Europe as well as his teaching load at Gordon-Conwell. (I've always found his neck breaking ministry fascinating. Who commutes between Osijek and Boston? Kuzmic does.) I told him about my teaching post in Kiev, Ukraine; he was grateful for that contribution. As we had dinner, he shared is heart, he asked about my family and I asked about his, we laughed and carried on.
It was great to visit Boston in Lakeland.
William Hackett, Southeastern University (Present)
As I entered the chapel for the evening plenary session. I instinctively moved and sat in "our" row. It's on the left hand side, a third of the way up in the middle. That's where my "boys" and I would sit. Where else would I go? I sat down and the evening worship started. As it began, I started tearing up. Again. I was flooded by the memory of my spiritual formation at such a young age. Music at Southeastern has always been good. And it was world class. I have no idea what they were singing. I was in the moment, I turned to my left and right I saw memories of Josh, Ham, Chad, Chuck, Hawk and -- where's Brad? And later the "girls", Necole, Jules, Jennifer and the other Jessica & Kelle's that would enter our story.
I just stood there in the Spirit much like John did. (Rev 1:10)
I looked up and saw Dr. Hackett, my first homiletics professor before I had Haddon Robinson. I went up and touched Dr. Hackett's shoulder, he turned and immediately recognized me, "Jamé!!", he said with a warm pastoral expectation.
I lost it.
I started to sob. Hard.
The collision of my worlds was completed.
"Doc Hackett" as we called him, asked me, "Are you Ok?" I stated I'll be "Ok". It's just all so surreal. We hugged. He told me he had watched my educational journey, pastoral and social justice ministry, as well as my teaching at Southeastern. In his quiet nod, he smiled and said, "I'm proud of you".
I emotionally collected myself, returned to my seat and sighed.
I began to settle down and listen to the plenary lecture on globalization.
Later that evening, as I mentioned to my colleagues that Macchia had once again breathed life into his student; Kuzmic encouraged my teaching post in Kiev; and Hackett validated my Southeastern professorship.
My heart was full.
My colleague said, "Jamé, early in your life, you had some wonderful people pouring into you."
I nodded in agreement and whispered, "And...I didn't even know it".
I sat under some master teachers and I owe them a debt that can never repay.
Thank You Southeastern.
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