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Making Rich Connections

Rev. Celeste CranstonPrior to becoming the director of Seattle Pacific's Center for Biblical and Theological Education, the Rev. Celeste Cranston filled her résumé with experiences ranging from teaching high school in Paraguay to being the director of the women's shelter at Seattle's Lakeview Free Methodist Church. Find out more about her rich journey, and what she's learning in her new role at SPU in this exclusive Q&A.

What are some of your connections to SPU, and what drew you back here?

My dad was an ordained Free Methodist pastor, served as president of Central College (a sister Free Methodist school), and was a founding member of the Association of Free Methodist Educational Institutions. So I grew up in a home where the church and the academic world were very connected, which prepared me well for my new role.

My brother, Frank Kline, is an SPU faculty member; my father-in-law attended the University and served on the Board of Trustees; and I was on staff here years ago. Both my husband and I received graduate degrees from SPU. Our family lives near the University, and we've been connected with SPU and prayed for SPU for many years. Our family now also attends First Free Methodist Church. These rich connections add even more meaning to my work here.

What do you enjoy most about your new role as director of the Center for Biblical and Theological Education at SPU?

I love being on a university campus and interacting with students, because the college years are a wonderful season of life. I also love the Christian environment — what a gift it is to attend Chapel as a part of my work. My colleagues in the School of Theology are wonderful; I received my master's in biblical and theological education here years ago, and now I'm privileged to be back and interacting with those faculty members in new ways.

Are there things about your job or about SPU's biblical and theological education initiatives that have surprised you?

Everything! I still pinch myself about the fact that I'm here. What a wonderful gift it is to be at SPU — God's abundant provision for me. Some of the components of my work have been wonderfully surprising, such as the fact that I love art history and in this new role I'm selecting images of religious art each week to accompany our Lectio readings.

SPU just launched its exciting Lectio: Guided Bible Reading program. Can you share something you've learned from the Lectio readings thus far?

I have the privilege of teaching about the Lectio passage each week, which is great because of course it takes my own learning to a whole new level. We are in Genesis right now and I've been struck by the sin-judgment-grace cycle that we see and how it is left hanging after the Babel story. We live in that grace, in that pause between the "already" and the "not-yet." Along with the rest of the SPU community, I'm continuing to learn new things each week.

What can you say to parents who would like to know how to support and encourage the spiritual growth of their SPU students?

Here's what I am learning as a parent right now: We can't hold too tightly to the wheel, because when we hit bumps in the road it can be very jarring. We need to trust God to walk beside our children, because it's not about us — it's about God's work.

I am learning, too, that as parents we need to plumb the depths of God's word ourselves; we need to allow God to speak into different places in our own lives. Of course I would also encourage parents to join us in our Lectio study this year. This provides a great opportunity for parents to participate with the SPU community by studying the same passages of Scripture that their students are exposed to.

Read other stories in the Staff Story Archives