Alisha Jones ’07 M.Div.
B.M. Oberlin Conservatory of Music
“I can go anywhere…I can be anything,” is the lyrical wisdom I absorbed from the 1980s children's public program called the Reading Rainbow. As an African American opera singer, I have been afforded the opportunity to travel the world and perform for royalty and lay people alike, but there was something lacking in the accomplishment of these goals. The larger world vision of multi-cultural reconciliation needed to be incorporated into my work. And it is here at YDS that this cosmopolite vision of ministry, the ability to go anywhere and be anything, has been most adequately realized through YDS's objective: “To equip its students with tools for real world service.”
I'll have to admit that I considered myself spiritually fit and ready to exercise the brawn that had been formed in my faith community, but quickly I learned that the race of theological education is not given to the swift or the fit. The race is given to those who endure.
I no longer assume that I understand the particular experiences that bring a person to the table of reconciliation, but willingly I offer my experience into the conversation with the hope that all will be heard, informed and understood. This is the work of reconciliation, to gather the stories of many and weave those complex stories into the fabric of solidarity that Jesus preached, regardless of philosophical disagreements.
This fall I matriculated into Ph.D. study in ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago. I have found at YDS that I could become everything that I saw in my vision: a preacher-scholar-musician-author, who would infuse cultural consciousness, social justice and public service into the message and the music with which God entrusted me. The professors, staff and, most importantly, the passionate students forced me to be genuine in what I believed and, dare I say, walk in an authority that my work would have sorely missed without this experience. Liberation, confidence, grand expectations, joy and understanding have come to me in a community of diverse people who were willing to be living epistles, read and examined by others who also desired to see God's kingdom on earth. Why not join us and dare to go anywhere?