Joining Head and Heart
By Abi Averill 14C
From Emory’s Candler School of Theology, it is a leisurely fifteen-minute walk to Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church—and yet the transition from one to the other is significant for Alice Rogers 98T, the new senior pastor at Glenn.
As both a graduate and a professor at Candler, Rogers credits the school with playing a central role in her development as a minister. “I’ve learned as much in the last eleven years as I’ve taught, because I had the opportunity to go much more deeply into how we contextualize theological education,” Rogers says.
It is this connection between learning and worship that Rogers is most passionate about.
“All of my academic career, I have felt a strong connection between the university and the church,” Rogers said. “At Glenn, I feel that part of my role as pastor is to help connect the church to the academy and also the surrounding community.”
With experience in both preaching and teaching—Rogers served as a minister for seventeen years before returning to Candler to teach—Rogers has the ability to make those connections happen. Her goal is to become “more than good neighbors, but good partners,” and she plans to cultivate relationships among her congregation, the Wesley Foundation, Dean of Religious Life Susan Henry-Crowe 76T, and President James Wagner.
As the church’s first female senior pastor, Rogers has been impressed by the openness of the congregation. Although other churches where she has served all became accepting over time, Rogers says having “a congregation that, from the beginning, has no restrictions on who their minister might be as far as gender is concerned is energizing and exciting for me.”
She credits some of this openness to the previous female associate pastors whose leadership paved the way.
Even as Rogers prepares to make the transition, she says it is bittersweet because of her love of teaching at Candler. Being around students preparing to set out on their own journeys of ministry is something Rogers valued deeply, and she hopes those connections won’t be lost as she moves to Glenn. She considers the “joining between the head and the heart” fundamental to worship, and one of her aims was to help students seek that duality daily. Ashley Kirk 14T, a third-year MDiv candidate, will miss Rogers’s directive empathy. “She can see what you’re talking about, she can affirm it, but then she can also help you get ten steps down the road,” says Kirk, who says she’s glad that although Rogers is leaving Candler, she is “only going a little ways away.”