Faith Nowell's inspiring journey of adaptability includes graduating from Palmer Seminary at age 73.
Hebrews 11 reassures the reader that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen,” or as The Message version explicitly declares:
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors; set them above the crowd.”
At 73 years old, Faith Nowell MTS ’21, a graduate of Palmer Theological Seminary with her Master of Theological Studies (Openseminary), is the hope, evidence, and inspiration of many to adapt, endure, and see the assignment through to the end.
Faith’s journey was not an easy one, however. “My journey back to school was challenging, but necessary to complete my assignment. The major motivating factor was the call of God to pursue and complete my journey. If there was no difficulty in the process I would have done this years ago. However, I am sure that I am where the Lord would have me to be at this present time in my life.”
When many may be stopped with shortsighted vision, Faith pressed on in a technologically advanced society while in the middle of a pandemic to pursue a degree. In the challenging space of overcoming her “fear of failure,” she was challenged to shift her imagination and vision from simply being “the oldest person in the program with an outdated approach to life and ministry” — to envisioning herself as this God-inspired evidence of the things she had yet to see.
The non-conformity and renewal of Faith’s mind reminds me of Romans 12:2, which describes how we as a people are called to shift our perspective from the “patterns of this world” in order to “test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” The will of God in Faith’s case was to finish no matter the cost, be it financially, mentally, or emotionally. Call it a Faith manifesto—a chance to believe in the capability of Palmer to prepare her for further ministry.
Faith further believes that Isaiah 43:19 sums up the impact Palmer had on her vocation:
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Our perception of what we can and cannot do is a matter of our belief and faith in God’s plan and promises for us. I find it largely appropriate that Faith’s name is interconnected with how we should plan to live our lives—expecting to experience our hopes of the unseen, yet simple, miracles of life.
Faith is grateful that Palmer’s online Openseminary program was diverse, from the program’s guest speakers to the ability to converse with classmates from all over the world and varying cultures. “The step by step approach in ministry allowed for my inward reflection and helped further my outreach to others,” Faith shares.
Sanovia Garrett MA ’18 is the social media and communications manager for Palmer Theological Seminary.