As Cameron Lee, ’12, knows, it takes more than faith to get to divinity school. Lee’s path involved academic study in leadership and rhetoric paired with spiritual development through the University of Richmond’s Office of the Chaplaincy.
Now in his second semester at Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity, Lee is beginning to see how an understanding of the role of leadership will ultimately guide him as he assumes a role in the front of a church. “I can put into practice what I learned about accomplishing shared goals through leading, communicating, and working together,” he says. Meanwhile, working with Linda Hobgood in the Speech Center as a rhetoric and communications studies minor, Lee says he “learned so much about life, faith and the art of rhetoric.”
Personal faith development was equally critical, though, and the University’s Office of the Chaplaincy offered several opportunities for self-discovery through its Pilgrimage program. Lee had the chance to participate in two Pilgrimage trips—one to Israel in 2011 and one to France in 2012.
While in Israel, Lee opened up to many new perspectives. Visiting destinations he had only read about turned reading the Bible into a new experience. And continuous multifaith dialogue contributed to a better understanding of different religious beliefs and how to work together across lines of faith.
“When I read stories about Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Garden of Gethsemane, Capernaum and others, I can see the places in my head,” he says. “I also learned about other faiths and their sacred sites in Jerusalem. Every night, we got together as a group, recapped the day and had conversations about our faiths. These were opportunities to reflect on our beliefs and how they relate to others.”
Lee says that the Pilgrimage: France trip the following year had a different mission, but was no less formational. As a trip aimed at personal faith development, Lee and other participants were challenged to understand their own faith and, the multifaith lens played out in a different way—this time among the many faces of Christianity.
“The monks at Taizé have different denominational backgrounds,” he says. “They were a beautiful example of seeing how different Christian denominations are able to work and worship together.”
And while the academic and spiritual experiences at Richmond gave him the strong foundation he needed for divinity school, Lee says his path has been a long time in the making. Lee grew up going to church and began to sense a call to ministry when he was in high school.
“It felt like that was what I was supposed to do,” he says. “I believe that God has the ability to change lives if only people let him. While I sensed this calling many years ago, I still believe that this is what I am called to do.”