Dan Stringer

navigating the convergence of faith, culture and the common good

California, here we come!

August 20, 2014

I moved 10 times growing up.

As a TCK, these included moves to new neighborhoods, states, countries and continents. Shortly after college, I got married, returned “home” to Hawaii and stayed put for 10 years straight, an eternity by TCK standards.

Honolulu is where I got my first real job, lost a parent, preached my first sermon, had some kids, went to grad school, lost a kid, did more work, did more school, among other things. Serious life changes, yes, but no major geographic moves since 2004—same island, same state, same country, same hemisphere.

I guess the past decade has been my reaction to the absence of a clearly-defined home growing up. Once I realized home was up to me, I decided to make it Honolulu, city of my birth. Why not?

fuller dan becca

Enter Fall 2014.

In less than two weeks, four Stringers are moving to Pasadena, California where Rebecca and I will both attend Fuller Theological Seminary full-time for the next two years. The plan is for both of us to graduate in June 2016, she with an M.A. in Theology & Ministry, and I with an M.Div, which I began a few years back via Fuller online.

Graduation isn’t really on our minds these days, not when it’s moving time, go time, logistics time, goodbye time. Sad and stressful stuff.

Besides, Hawaii isn’t the kind of place you can just leave. It takes some serious wings.

Ten years will attach you somewhere. Oahu, “the gathering place,” has become home for the whole family, as our growing collection of birth certificates and cemetery markers attest. We boldly hope and pray for the opportunity to return here post-seminary, but it’s no guarantee. Anything can happen.

After all, Hawaii isn’t the kind of place you can just parachute into, at least not successfully. It takes a community to help you land. Our family’s island life would be impossible without friendships, churches, workplaces and service providers who have invested in our development. Through them, we have put down roots, and grown.

Stringers 2014To truly flourish, however, we must fly a little further. We love Hawaii to pieces, but have repeatedly sensed a strong call to complete our seminary education before proceeding further in pastoral ministry.

The decision for both of us to attend school full-time in a new city while raising young children isn’t easy to explain, but it sounds crazy enough to be one of God’s ideas. And if we’ve learned anything since our last hop over the Pacific, it’s that God provides everything we need for the journey.

As someone who loves all things schoolish, I’m excited about living on a seminary campus as a family, surrounded by learners of all types. How richly adventurous of a gift is that?

Think about it: How many American 30-somethings get to study theology full-time alongside their fellow full-time seminarian spouse, raising kids in such a setting? Alas, we approach the fine line between unique and insane. To me, it’s beauty.

Answering the question, “Why Fuller?” may require a future post, but I’ll briefly say there were many reasons for our choice, including its commitment to multicultural diversity and women in church leadership.

On top of that, I think Fuller’s greatest strength can be summarized in what seminary president Mark Labberton calls a focus on shared beliefs rather than divisive ones, by which we have learned to be a gracious convening place for divergent thought.

So there you have it, our big family news story of the year: Stringers to SoCal, a shift from slowly making money to spending it fast, all because God told us to (or something like that).

I don’t travel as much as I once did, but I still think about life in terms of moves. And I’m feeling good about this one.