This year’s theme is “The People.” Today we are exploring….

The People I earned my seminary degree for


Carol Harston has served as Minister to Youth at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, since 2007. Born and raised at Highland, Carol has found the joy of caring for youth in the same community that shaped her as a young person. Outside of youth ministry, Carol has her hands full as a mom to James (5 years old) and Collier (3 years old) and wife to Drew (orthopedic surgery resident and faithful youth volunteer).

I furiously sketched around the poster board as she asked questions.

“How can Jesus be both fully divine and fully human?”
“What is salvation really?”
“What is this ‘three-in-one’ business?”

After 30 minutes of talking, I dropped the marker and we ended our Bible study. She walked out of the house and the next Sunday she walked the aisle to be baptized.

It never really works that way. But in that situation, it did. She was a young middle schooler who had had countless questions for years about how to really understand this faith. I entertained every question she could remember and tried my best to put words to mystery. It clicked and she was ready to move forward in her faith.

I may have earned my seminary degree so that I could attain a job. But really, I earned it for her. She was the first one to put all the theology to the test.

There have been many since.

When a youth talked about the troubles that blanketed her life, I brought out the theological foundations from Faith Seeking Understanding my first year. Surrounded by fall trees at our retreat, I brought forth Frederick Douglass’ prophecy in regards to slavery when a youth had told me how they felt imprisoned within a system of prejudice. When depression and self-harm is confessed, we draw close to God of the Hebrew Scriptures that is always close to the broken-hearted.

I give thanks for the people for whom I earned my seminary degree.

They are the ones who have shared their lives with me and allowed me to search with them for where God is at work in their very life. They are the ones who have made the gospel flesh again. They have shaped my theology through their willingness to share their struggles.

Thanks be to God for a faith that expands as it is applied.
Thanks be to God for the people who yearn for the good news amidst all the bad.
Thanks be to God for the God who is alive, active, and calling us through it all.