Faith, reason, and justice are integral values that continue to remain with me as a theologian and pastor. I was introduced to those values as an undergraduate in 2003. I describe my four years at Eastern as an intellectual and spiritual discovery, for I began to understand the connection between thinking well about God and discipleship. I found value in a Christian education, even beyond the pulpit.
I vividly recall a discussion during my junior year of high school concerning my plan to attend college. While sitting in the counselor’s office, I informed her of the schools I wished to attend. While talking to her, the counselor busied herself reviewing my transcript and as I finished speaking, she politely said, “Maybe you are not college material.” My senior year G.P.A. was a 1.7. I responded saying, “In my house not attending college is not an option.” School was for socialization, and academics was what I had to do to play sports. I realized that I needed to improve academically if I did not want to be embarrassed in the classroom and be there for the long haul during my first semester at Eastern. Though 19 years have passed since that conversation, Eastern and its values still live with me.
The Christian Studies Department (now Theology Department of Palmer College) at Eastern left an indelible mark. In fact, I still have relationships with several of my former professors. They invited me into their homes and were genuinely interested in what I thought. I will never forget the honest talk I had with Dr. Ray Van Leeuwen. He told me I would have to take my studies more seriously if I wanted to pursue doctoral studies. Drs. Eric Flett and Carl Mosser encouraged me to ask questions, even when I was not sure what I was asking; they took time with me. Dr. Kent Sparks was the professor of firsts. Thinking back, he was the first person who I knew that was a pastor and an academic. He was also the first professor who I saw cry while giving a lecture. He was so impassioned in talking about God’s love for same gender loving believers that it moved him to tears. The men and women in the department did not merely share Karl Barth or C.S. Lewis with us, they shared their lives with their students, and I am grateful to be able to claim that I am a product of their labor.
Faith, reason, and justice are values that must be oriented towards the world—the place where the Spirit of God works, and a Christian faith rooted in education aids in thinking more deeply about God and God’s activity in the world. My time at Eastern, which also includes earning a Master of Divinity degree at Palmer Seminary, prepared me for the life of the mind and a life of service to others for the glory of God.
Rev. Andre Price graduated in 2007 with a BA in Theological Studies and a minor in Business Management, and in 2010 with a Master of Divinity. He is a PhD student at Villanova University studying Systematic Theology and Social Ethics, and serves as pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Philadelphia.