Published May 13, 2024

Through field education—where students are placed in contextual learning opportunities in churches, nonprofits, and other settings under the guidance of a supervisor—many students begin to discern God's call on their life and ministry. For Logan Pollock, M.Div. '25, field education has led him to feel a call to ordained ministry.

Pollack served his most recent field education placement at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in southwest Durham, where Rev. Stephen Elkins-Williams served as his supervisor. 

"There is nothing like learning by doing!" said Elkins-Williams. "What you learn in a theology class becomes a lot more real when you struggle with incorporating it in a sermon or engaging the person in the pew. As a supervisor, it is a great privilege to accompany these interns as they begin to exercise the skills of ministry and integrate them in an authentic way on their faith journey."

Rev. Elkins-Williams entered Jesuit training in 1966 and was later received as an Episcopal priest in 1982. After serving 30 years as rector of Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, Elkins-Williams retired and began assisting at St. Stephen's Episcopal, where he had the opportunity each year to supervise a Duke Divinity field education student. 

Pollock said of his field education supervisor, "He has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about preaching, liturgy, parish life, as well as the broader questions of vocational discernment."

Logan Pollock and Stephen Elkins-Williams pose outside at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Stephen Elkins-Williams (left) and Logan Pollock (right) at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

In his placement, Pollock worked alongside Elkins-Williams and the other clergy to serve the congregation at St. Stephen's Episcopal each week. Said Pollock, "I engaged in planning meetings, helped lead Bible studies, preached, participated in Sunday morning liturgies, and ministered to the general needs of the congregation." 

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"There is nothing like learning by doing! What you learn in a theology class becomes a lot more real when you struggle with incorporating it in a sermon or engaging the person in the pewAs a supervisor, it is a great privilege to accompany these interns as they begin to exercise the skills of ministry and integrate them in an authentic way on their faith journey."

Logan Pollock poses at lectern in St. Stephen's Episcopal Church (zoomed out)
Logan Pollock at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

Pollock said he was surprised by the congregation at St. Stephen's showing so much interest and support for his tattoos. He said, "I’ve gotten them over the course of several years, but each of them is designed to sort of open the door to a conversation about Scripture and faith in various ways." The congregation found it fascinating, said Pollock. 

Said Elkins-Williams, "Logan is the only divinity student I have ever known who has creatively committed himself to evangelism through the use of numerous Christian-oriented tattoos! He finds them to be wonderful conversation starters in various social settings. That is laying your body on the line!"

Logan Pollock and Stephen Elkins-Williams talk at a table in St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Stephen Elkins-Williams and Logan Pollock

The tattoos represent just another way that Pollock is uniquely fit to serve a community, in a way that might be different than someone else. He said, "I’ll often get a comment from a parishioner that their son or daughter has tattoos but has never felt comfortable in traditional church settings, and that my being there might help folks know that everyone is welcome at St. Stephen’s. I’m honored to be able to serve them in this way and help broaden their reach in the community."

We asked Pollock about his experiences in field education and how they have shaped his time at Duke Divinity so far.

Duke Divinity School: What did you learn from field education that you might not get from the classroom setting?

Pollock: The Christian faith calls us to action, and the Holy Spirit falls on the ordained and unordained just the same, those who have been to divinity school and those who have not.

While I love the academic study of Christian theology, it is but one member of the Body of Christ. Through field education I’ve been able to see how God works in and through the lives of everyday people, people with jobs and families and appointments to keep and errands to run, to bring his Kingdom into our world.

DDS: What do you want to do after Divinity School, and how is field education helping to prepare you for that work?

Pollock: I came to Duke unsure of where I saw my life headed, vocationally, but through my experiences in field education, I’ve come to feel a strong call to ordained ministry. By getting to work in several parish settings, I’ve been able to see how much variety and creativity there is in ordained ministry.

To be a theologian, preacher, and spiritual caretaker for a particular community in a particular place is an ancient role, but carries a special importance today in an era in which so many people feel a sort of spiritual alienation.

Field education has helped me see how I might fit into that specific vocational path.