AAMP Story: Sophia Agtarap
I am a pastor's kid — my father is a clergyperson in the United Methodist church. Growing up I lived in several different places.
My senior year of high school, we moved to Seattle, when my dad took an appointment at Beacon United Methodist Church. I've been here ever since.
Asian American Ministry Program
Since finishing my Master's in Teaching in 2004, I'd been looking at seminaries since, but hadn't found what I was seeking. Then I met Billy Vo, the director of the Asian American Ministry Program at Seattle Pacific University; he had a table set up at an annual conference for the United Methodist Church. Billy told me about the program at Seattle Pacific Seminary (SPS) and I told him that sounded good, but I didn't want to quit my day job. He said, "All our classes are in the evenings." From that point on we kept in touch, and I finally applied in July 2010.
I've found joy in the ways SPS builds community among the students, faculty, and staff. This "Triple A" model — Academy, Abbey, and Apostolate — is really something special. From the very first week we spent together at Camp Casey — living together, studying together, and just enjoying fellowship together — the tone of the program was set. As a result, in classes where tensions could arise from our varied backgrounds and experiences, we first see each other as people who love each other, because we've lived in the same space together, prayed together, and shared meals together.
It's pieces like that that have made me feel blessed in the program. Faculty will join you after class to continue that conversation — it's not just, "I'm here for classes and office hours." They really care about our studies and faith life, and want to be a resource to us.
Why an MDiv?
For me, I think having an MDiv will be a way for me to show that I "know my stuff," in terms of working in and around the church, and working with pastors and other folks who have pastoral positions in the church. To be able to be grounded in a program such as this is really important. With the long tradition that the church has of telling stories — a tradition I think we've lost a bit — I hope to be someone who can find a way for the church to be able to remember and tell her stories and for people to remember that they have a story to tell.