Nathan Bourne '17, Student Profile


Our current seminarian, Mr. Gregory Stark, wrote the following on past seminarian, The Rev'd Nathan Bourne for the Berkeley at Yale zine. Both Gregory and Nathan are seniors in divinity school.

Nathan Bourne is on his way to complete the requirements for the Master of Divinity degree and the Diploma in Anglican Studies. For the past two and a half years, he has been a caring and insightful member of the Berkeley and Yale communities. Whether he is reciting Russian poetry, sharing freshly baked bread, or biking around the Elm City, Nathan has brought his whole self to the common life of this seminary.

Nathan’s first sense of a call came in his home parish in Hayesville, North Carolina, where the deacon led a weekly Bible study for teenage boys. After high school, Nathan ventured off to the mountains of Tennessee, intending to major in philosophy at the University of the South. His academic achievements there earned him membership in Sewanee’s renowned honor society, and Nathan ended up majoring in not one but three subjects: Russian literature, philosophy, and environmental science. In addition to his studies, Nathan explored the thousands of acres of forest surrounding Sewanee, finding in them glimpses of God.

Between his sophomore and junior years at Sewanee, Nathan spent the summer in and around St. Petersburg, Russia. Half his time was spent studying the Russian language, and the other half, Nathan volunteered at a preschool and an orphanage and pre-school for children affected by HIV and AIDS. Following graduation, Nathan went back to teach for a year in the Republic of Georgia. His fellow students have happily listened to his stories of hiking in the Caucasus region, traveling across borders, and receiving abundant hospitality from total strangers.

Upon returning to the States, Nathan worked with the Office for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability at Sewanee. He helped write a sustainability master plan for the university. Even more interesting, perhaps, was his work with the university’s Herbarium. He joined in conducting a floristic inventory of the campus, collecting and cataloguing plant species, and working to quantify the different habitat types.

Nathan sustained this work with prayer, going three days a week to St. Mary’s Convent where he prayed the Daily Office with the sisters. And, following the completion of the sustainability project, he put that environmental knowledge to a different use as a farm intern at the convent.

Rhythms of prayer, immersion in nature, and radical hospitality have shaped Nathan’s practice of stewardship in the church during his time at Berkeley. After living with non-divinity school students his first year, Nathan became one of the five Berkeley house residents, preparing morning coffee, making space for prayer and community, and cooking exotic foods for the weekly dinners the follow the Community Eucharist. On top of these involvements, he has managed to win prizes for academic excellence and preaching.

During the summer after Nathan’s first year, he and a fellow classmate ventured out to Tacoma, Washington, where they completed CPE. The intensity of the clinical setting juxtaposed with the beauty of the Pacific Northwest broadened his knowledge of and appreciation for the healing and sustaining power of nature.

In his internship, Nathan shared his gifts with the people of St. James’s Church in West Hartford, and learned from their noteworthy charism of hospitality. He worships regularly in New Hampshire with the Church of the Woods, investigating new ways to bring together his passions for prayer, community, and God’s creation. He looks forward to continuing this work of integrating sustainability, radical hospitality, and communal prayer after his ordination in the Diocese of Western North Carolina in 2017. His faithfulness and abundant compassion have already left their mark on the Berkeley community.