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Student of the Month: Janelle Hiroshige

Janelle Hiroshige (she/her/hers) is a third-year Mdiv student at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, GA. She is originally from San Diego, California. As a graphic designer by trade, she enjoys approaching ministry, liturgy, and pastoral care as an artist. She is currently in discernment for the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She believes that churches still matter and that a group of people committed to the place they live in and led by the creative spirit of God can make this world a more just, compassionate and kind place for everyone.

What are some of your favorite classes you have taken in seminary?

Asian and Asian American theology: Dr. Kwok Pui Lan

Critical Issues in Global Anglicanism: Dr. Kwok Pui Lan

Religious Education and Ecology: Dr. Jennifer Ayres

Race, Class, and the Making of American Religion: Dr. Marla Frederick

What has been the most significant part of your MDiv degree?

Throughout my time in seminary, I have served at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Atlanta. A majority of the congregation experience challenges with mental health and financial stability. I remember sitting in my Eucharistic theology class listening to my classmates bemoan that if only their parishioners truly understood what was happening in the Eucharist, then they would recognize the meaning of the sacrament. I could not help but think of my fellow parishioners at Holy Comforter whose neurodiversity may not allow for this traditional view of “understanding.” Yet, one of our parishioners once said “I don’t know what is happening during communion, but it is my favorite part!” While Candler has introduced me to new ideas, Holy Comforter has helped me learn to value other ways of knowing. No matter where I end up, I will always feel accountable to those people and that community. I feel honored that they are the ones that have raised me up for ordination.

What brings you hope?

My classmates are some of the most thoughtful, kind and brave people I know. When I think of them, I feel hopeful for the future of our churches. These next few rounds of seminarians are truly incredible. I am also excited about churches learning to gift agency to the communities that are often pushed aside or rendered invisible. If we are to take justice seriously, we cannot continue to maintain the status-quo. Another hopeful piece is that I got to meet via zoom The Rev. Dr. Diana Akiyama, the first Asian American female Bishop-elect in the Episcopal Church (she is getting consecrated in 2021), a couple months back and that was really exciting!

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