When I was graduating from seminary, Andover Newton Theological School began selling bricks to pave a walkway in the middle of campus. This walkway was literally in the middle of the quad, and fellow students were so excited about being able to leave a message behind as we left the Hill to go out into the world to serve God and God’s people.
As a rather broke seminarian I thought about buying a brick for myself, but didn’t. I was about to graduate and begin the Search and Call process in the United Church of Christ, needing to move back home with my parents to just have a place to land during that time. Spending money I didn’t really have on a brick I didn’t really need was just not going to happen for this middle-class girl from Ohio! And I was perfectly okay with that (I told myself.) Because once I landed a church and life and finances were a little less precarious, I would buy a brick to benefit the school I loved so much.
At this time, I was serving as the Student Minister of an amazing church (Wellesley Hills Congregational Church UCC!) I hadn’t shared with anyone that I even wanted a brick left behind as I left seminary. And lo and behold a beloved church family came up to me after worship one Sunday and declared with smiles and laughter, “Hey, we bought you a brick!” Yes, a church family who loved me and Andover Newton heard about the walkway and bought a brick in my honor. It was such a loving gesture that meant more to me than I could possibly explain to them.
Now the brick is back with me as Andover Newton will no longer be on the Hill. Hearing the news that Andover Newton will be leaving the Hill and moving in with Yale Divinity School has left me and other alums with mixed emotions. Part of me has reeled with sadness thinking about seminary students never again having the experiences those of us who lived on that Holy Hill were lucky enough to have as we spent years together on campus in Newton Centere, Massachusetts. But times have changed, and seminary education has changed and will need to change in order to not just survive but thrive in the future God is calling us to embrace. I am thankful for the institutions, and more importantly, the people. who have supported me over the years. My Andover Newton brick will certainly always stand in a place of honor! Because you see, sometimes a simple brick means so much more.