Where the spiritual and scholarly meet

2 min read

Matthew L. Potts has a really long commute to work.

Since 2013, when he was appointed Assistant Professor of Ministry Studies at Harvard Divinity School (HDS), Potts has been driving over 75 miles from Falmouth, Mass. — where he lives with his family and serves as the priest of Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church — to Cambridge to teach courses on “The Sacramental Imagination,” “Sacrifice and Atonement,” and “Preaching in Public.”

“Sometimes I wonder why I do it,” Potts shared during a recent talk to HDS students as part of this year’s “In Conversation” series.

Since its inception in 2004, “In Conversation” has offered a space for faculty members to share their intellectual and spiritual autobiographies with the HDS community.

“The series was inspired by the hunger in all sectors of our community to have substantive conversations with our faculty about how their interior commitments find expression, challenge, and sustenance in the many aspects of their public lives,” said HDS director of Religious and Spiritual Life Kerry Maloney.

For Potts, M.Div. ’08, the decision to be a priest and a professor is related to what he feels is his most central spiritual practice: loving the finite.

“What grounds me spiritually is giving my heart completely to things that are finite. That’s why I’m in Falmouth,” he said.

Potts unpacked this reasoning through a series of personal stories, beginning with one from the same morning of his talk.