Letter from Wilmore

Feb 2014    

It was like “the Wesleyan Institution” for all Methodists. Reading about the rich heritage of the seminary and the many testimonies of my friends, along with encouragement from Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon, I was convinced to apply to Asbury.

“Greetings from Wilmore! Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on my journey here.

The past eight years in leadership as the Conference President has held many lessons for me. I was thrust into the deep waters of leadership at a very early stage in my ministry. It was the most challenging time of my life.

Sitting together with the Bishop, fellow Presidents and senior leaders of The Methodist Church in Singapore made me very nervous at many meetings. I knew I had to step up to my call and began reading up on leadership and attending any trainings on leadership, apart from praying for guidance.

As the years passed, I began to like what I was doing even though it was tough, experiencing “on-the-job training” in leadership. I felt privileged to have a practical insider training on leadership. Thus, I really wanted to hone my leadership skills and offer myself as a faithful and efficient leader to the church.

Going back to school was not an easy decision as I had to consider many aspects. I had to convince my wife, children, church and the conference. After much prayer and convincing, I was given the green light. My family and the church are making great sacrifices, and I thank them all.

In contrast, choosing to attend Asbury Theological Seminary was not a difficult decision. Many of my friends whom I studied with in Trinity Theological College had gone to Asbury for their further education. It was like “the Wesleyan Institution” for all Methodists. Reading about the rich heritage of the seminary and the many testimonies of my friends, along with encouragement from Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon, I was convinced to apply to Asbury for the Master of Arts in Christian Leadership.

It took me almost a year to make all the necessary arrangements with the conference, the seminary and the Embassy of the United States of America. I wish it was much simpler, but eventually all the waiting and praying at different stages of the process paid off. At 3 a.m. on August 6, 2013, we were in the airport with family and friends bidding us farewell.

After a 30-hour journey we arrived at our new home in Wilmore, Kentucky. This is a recently-built cluster of family housing called the Kallas Village. Wilmore is a very small place with only two traffic junctions and a row of shops.

We arrived at the end of summer and beginning of fall season. It was beautiful – everyone was out taking pictures and enjoying the weather.

Fellow students helped us enrol the children in school, brought us to Walmart for shopping and made sure that we were settled in. Within a week the children were in school and my wife and I were attending orientation events by the seminary. It was a pleasant first few weeks getting to know friends from different parts of the world, their stories and testimonies.

Classes began on the last week of August 2013 and instantly everyone dived into the books and assignments. The library is open from 7.30 a.m. till midnight. There is a daily chapel and Eucharist at noon, and morning and evening prayers. Though community life became busy it is never a mad rush. Classes are very interesting and I look forward to every lesson. The lecturers encourage interaction, providing opportunities to learn from each other.

I have just finished my first semester and it has been a wonderful five months. I thank God for this opportunity, and am looking forward to the rest of this fruitful and meaningful learning experience with my family.

The Nagulan family at the entrance to Asbury Seminary in front of a statue of Francis Asbury on horseback. L-R Noel 17, Naomi 13, Nathanael 6, wife Kalaimathi and James.

The Rev James Nagulan left Singapore last August for a two-year study-cum-sabbatical leave at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore (Kentucky), the United States of America, following in the footsteps of many of our Methodist pastors from Singapore. He has been a Methodist pastor for 16 years and was elected President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference from 2005 to 2012.


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