Meet Skyler Daniel
Degree: Master of Divinity
Hometown: White Pine, TN
After graduation, Skyler Daniel and his wife, Ronella, will be moving to Bucharest, Romania. He will be helping bring theological education to Roma (Gypsy) pastors, and ministering to impoverished Roma students in the ghetto. She will be using her special education degree to serve orphans with disabilities. “These are both people groups considered hopeless and beyond redemption by many Romanians,” says Skyler, “But the wonderful Romanian ministries we are partnering with subscribe to a different narrative—that there is always hope in Christ Jesus for all people, for liberation in the here and now, and salvation in the life to come.”
Q: What inspired you to take up your field of study?
A: At the age of 17, I accepted God’s call on my life to pastor the church. It’s a long story, but it involves preaching a sermon at my Southern Baptist church, an old Pentecostal lady in the congregation, and my Presbyterian minister grandfather. (Therein one can already foresee the skeptical religious conscience brewing.) I was taught that a Master of Divinity degree was an essential aspect of preparation for a life of ministry.
Q: What does earning this degree mean to you?
A: It is beyond my abilities to convey all that this degree means to me. I have looked forward to this time since I was 17 years old, and it has been a more profound experience than I ever anticipated. I feel prepared to preach to congregations, to sit in difficult questions with struggling parishioners, and to lead faith communities to enact social change for God’s glory. No one can ever be quite adequate for the work of ministry, but the School of Divinity has prepared me in such a way that I am confident will abide with me my entire lifetime as a minister.
Q: What class did you enjoy most and why?
A: I enjoyed my Food and Faith class with Fred Bahnson. I learned so much about how small, local, organic farming, coupled with homemade, whole food meals (seasoned with gratitude to God), will help bring the hope and peace of God to our families across the world, into the future. (And I also ate a lot of really good food in class!)
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at Wake Forest?
A: My favorite memory of my time at Wake Forest has been walking this journey with my wife. We got married just a few months before I started divinity school, and she began her teaching career. Ronella has been so supportive during this time, and has somehow managed to tolerate my periodic heretical musings, not to mention the student loans I’ve been piling up while she paid all our bills.
Q: Did you participate in an internship?
A: I was blessed to intern at a downtown church called ‘One Church.’ I developed, launched, and ran a small groups program, preached multiple times, and much more. Not only did I get some amazing ministry experience, I also experienced the truly wonderful sense of a diverse and strong Christian community. The church ultimately closed its doors, but that, too, served as educational exposure for a young divinity student.
Q: Tell us about your volunteer experiences.
A: I had many volunteer experiences during my time here, but I was perhaps most impacted by my trip to Nicaragua with the divinity school. There, we volunteered in a rural village with a Christian ministry called Project AMOS. AMOS works to empower such villages to help themselves in terms of basic healthcare, and they are doing amazing work. Spending almost a week with those wonderful people demonstrated the resilience of the Nicaraguan people, and more importantly, the great injustice of our current economic, political and agricultural systems, which demand serious change from the church and the world.
Q: What are your long-term plans?
A: Eventually I will return to the South to pastor a local church, but I’m excited to begin my ministry journey in Romania.