When Rev. Autura Eason-Williams decided to go to seminary, she thought she was responding to a call to lay ministry. At that time, she was “just trying to reach out to kids, not make a career out of it.” As she gained experience in ministry service while studying in seminary, she sensed that God might be calling her to ordained pastoral ministry. The more she surrendered herself to God’s leading, the more opportunities presented themselves to her for preaching and serving within her district and conference which she previously did not know existed. Her church and community confirmed her calling along the way as she transitioned from youth ministry, to being an associate pastor, to being a senior pastor.
In her first semester of seminary, she had no idea what to expect. Her “Pastor as Teacher and Educator” class immediately demonstrated MTS’s commitment to practical theological education, and she was delighted at how much she could use what she was learning as she taught Sunday School and Bible Study in her congregation.
The small class sizes were intimidating at first, but she treasured the opportunity to develop close friendships with her seminary classmates and professors. Her advisor, Dr. MaryLin Hudson, offered personalized and thoughtful guidance about her course schedule, rooted in knowing her well and caring deeply about her personally and spiritually. MTS offered a caring community who shared a commitment to learning and Christian service, particularly as she pursued ordination.
The Formation for Ministry program at MTS has also been a key part of her pastoral formation. As she volunteered in the program, she was able to give back to others coming up in ministry to help them cultivate faith practices which will be meaningful to them as they finish seminary and transition into professional ministry careers.
Eason-Williams shared that even if she had not entered professional ministry, she is still proud to be an alum of Memphis Theological Seminary because it helped her grow in her faith, gain a better understanding of the Bible and the history of Christian beliefs and Christian practices, and more fully appreciate the diverse forms of Christian community around the world.
Eason-Williams now serves as senior pastor of Capleville United Methodist Church in Memphis, TN. Her experiences at MTS, both in and beyond the classroom, have continually shaped and equipped her for professional ministry including understanding Methodist life, prayer as a missional act, and congregational leadership.
To those considering seminary, Eason-Williams offers the following encouragement: “For someone considering Memphis Theological Seminary, you could not get better diversity anywhere else.” She cherished the opportunity to learn among students from a variety of denominations and theological traditions. The inclusive environment challenged her faith in wonderful ways and continues to form and inform her ministry.