Student Highlights

EMILY HILL

Kilns Masters Student - Residential Program

Lives: Bend, OR
Works: Director of Missional Engagement at Antioch Church

Emily Hill (MA, Social Justice, 2015), has been accepted to the University of Aberdeen in Scotland where she will pursue a PhD in Theological Ethics. Hill will study the intersection of theology and economics and how Christians can bare witness for the Kingdom in their economic lives.

Hill was initially drawn to Kilns College because of the mix and type of classes offered and the focus on theology and justice. She had previously graduated with a Masters of Economics and was working in the corporate world when the Lord lead her to Kilns. "I never thought I would go back to school, but Kilns totally reshaped who I was and how I interacted with the world. God revealed through course work and life experience my desire to explore the spiritual connection to economics."

Hill explains that because of her time at Kilns she was able to sit and go deeper with topics in a way she wasn't able to before. Kilns provided a space to be transformed and equipped academically and spiritually to move on.

She encourages future students to use Kilns to explore the connection between theology and their life practices. "Whatever your passion is, it's bound to be exposed."


BRYON ROSSI

Kilns Masters Student - Distance Learning

Lives: Sterling Heights, MI
Works: Arts at Kensington Church
Family: Joie, my wife of 11 years & our two boys, Jett (5) and Cannon (3)

Why the Kilns Graduate program, among many others?
God has been softening my heart over the past 5 years. The Justice conference this past February was a very spiritual and emotional experience for me, and it began a somewhat dramatic shift in my heart and path in life. While there I ended up at the Kilns table speaking with Sam Adams about their Graduate program in Social Justice. It was short and casual (he mentioned the many wonderful microbreweries in Bend) and I wasn’t aware of Kilns connection to the conference at the time. I just remember thinking that I would like to learn about Social Justice specifically from Kilns afterwards. By the end of the weekend I had picked up Pursuing Justice and was aware of the connection between Kilns and the conference. And by the end Pursuing Justice I decided to apply.


In what ways do you expect your graduate education will change you?
I’ve already noticed God using the knowledge and understanding from this program to influence and reshape the way that I pray, love my family, see the world, relate to other people, and read Scripture. I heard Ken Wytsma refer to education as a code word for discipleship. In short, I applied to learn specifically from the Kilns faculty.


How do you hope to utilize your Masters degree now and in the future?
The only thing I’m absolutely certain of is the application of this education in my own personal life. This understanding of Justice – as an ethical, existential, and theological necessity – has awakened something in me and drawn me closer to God in ways that I have never experienced until now. More than anything else, my primary hope and prayer is that Joie and I will have the courage and faith to follow where God leads us, that our lives will reflect this knowledge, understanding, and truth, and that we will pass this on to our sons.  Beyond that, I’m yet to find out wherever I’ll be and whatever I’ll do for the rest of my life.


What markers along your path thus far helped lead you to pursue your Master of Arts in Social Justice?Early in life I pursued a career in music and entertainment as a performer, and I’ve always had a bent towards charity work. In every band or event I was part of, I tried to orchestrate some kind of benefit to leverage what was happening for the good of a community somewhere. Working at a church was something that I fell into later in life, and I am grateful for it. My heart was broken about 3 years ago during a teaching series at Kensington based around Richard Stearns book The Hole in Our Gospel. That was when the ground started moving underneath me. There was a noticeable lack of peace and I felt perpetually unsettled since then. At the Justice Conference God started to clear some things up for me. I think I’ll always be a bit of a wanderer, but I have a peace now that I haven’t had in a while and there is something different and permanent about it. It’s divine and I am thankful.


What have been the best and most difficult parts of the distance learning program?
Reading and reading. It’s been about 12 years since I’ve been in school and I’ve experienced quite the wake up call with regards to the amount of reading required. But the readings, combined with the insight of the faculty, has also been one of the most rewarding experiences so far.

The ethos of Kilns’ graduate program is going from my head to my heart very quickly…quicker than expected…and I’ve been overwhelmed by the content from the classes and the Holy Spirit multiple times while sitting alone at my kitchen table just reading or watching.

Also, the ability to interface with faculty and students directly has always been one of my favorite ways to learn, so being in Bend for the week-long intensive was both a blessing and a big tease - I was able to connect with the Kilns community and be around great people in a beautiful part of the country for a week, and then I flew back home to Metro Detroit and began the work/school balancing act. There’s definitely a bit of "there’s greener grass in Bend” perspective…at least from this distance student’s eyes (which are staring right into an oncoming Michigan winter vortex).