Bethany Theological Seminary
Location: Richmond, Indiana
Bethany Theological Seminary equips spiritual and intellectual leaders with an Incarnational education for ministering, proclaiming, and living out God’s shalom and Christ’s peace in the church and world.
Incarnational education at Bethany Theological Seminary is:
Bethany Theological Seminary offers the Church Service Covenant Grant, a 50 percent tuition award based on a student’s vocational calling. Students apply by submitting an essay describing their vocational goals and how a Bethany education will help meet them. Examples that qualify for this award include but are not limited to pastoral ministry; formal missionary or evangelistic work, international or in marginalized domestic communities; and specialized ministry, such as chaplaincy in a variety of settings, campus ministry, pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, or camp administration. This grant encourages students to consider service and social justice fields and rewards them for committing to such work.
DEGREE PROGRAMS INTEGRATING FAITH & SERVICE
Bethany offers MDiv and MA degrees and four certificate programs: the Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies (general) and newly created specialized certificates in biblical interpretation, conflict transformation, and theopoetics and theological imagination. In all programs, students may choose to include courses and projects that bring together faith and service. Examples would include a ministry formation placement in nonprofit work or an MA thesis or portfolio that focuses on the integration of faith and service. A number of courses, especially in the areas of peace studies and ministry studies, include a component or an option to incorporate readings and practical experience that connect faith with service.
Social Justice Focus Area
Students at Bethany Theological Seminary are working with seminary administration to create a greater multicultural presence among faculty, staff, and the student body. A Multiethnic Seminary Work Group comprising a student, alumnus, faculty member, administrator, and trustee has been created. The Bethany community will be undergoing an antiracism audit of syllabi and curriculum, and the students organized a campus visit from a professional in intercultural ministry, incorporating our monthly Peace Forum program. In a series of sessions over two days, she engaged students, faculty, and members of the local community to raise awareness, educate, listen, and challenge.
ENGAGEMENT ON CAMPUS
Students hold off-campus work-study positions at local community service agencies such as Girls Inc., which helps at-risk girls, and the Amigos Latino Center, which supports the Hispanic community in Wayne County with services such as tutoring and mentoring. Other students serve in the roles of public school volunteer, food kitchen worker, board member for antipoverty in an urban metropolitan area, raising cultural competency around race and privilege in the school system, and board member for a church plant that focuses on urban gardening.
FIELD EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES
A sampling of organizations with which Bethany students have been placed includes the following:
- Open Arms Ministries is a network of churches and caring individuals in Richmond, Indiana, that serves as a clearing house for financial assistance to needy persons.
- Peace Place, started by and housed in a regional Church of the Brethren, teaches peace and reconciliation skills to high school students in an inner-city environment with a high rate of violence.
- Iowa Peace Fellowship is a network of peace churches in Iowa that informs and teaches peace witness and reconciliation skills.
- On Earth Peace (OEP) is a Church of the Brethren agency that works with congregations and other groups to promote peace witness.
- Within OEP, the Ministry of Reconciliation works specifically in conflict situations to reconcile persons or groups to one another and to deescalate violence.
- A Christian ministry in the US National Park Service has placements that connect faith and ecology.
ISSUE INTEGRATED ACADEMIC COURSES
Ecological Theology and Christian Responsibility considers a spectrum of recent ecological theologies, putting perspectives from the Bible and Christian tradition in conversation with recent scientific and ecological thought. With a special emphasis on Brethren and other Anabaptist and Pietist sources, it focuses on interconnections between environmental responsibility and other forms of social justice.
In Prophetic Voices in Preaching, students study formative voices of the prophetic witness in scripture, among recent preachers of various traditions, and as prophetic preaching relates to peace, simplicity, and life in community practiced among Brethren and Friends (Quakers).
Just Peace: An Ecumenical Call uses the World Council of Churches’ paper “An Ecumenical Call to Just Peace” as the centerpiece of study. With an interdisciplinary approach, the document is considered and studied in light of the best current and classical theoretical and theological treatments of the concepts of justice and peace.
In Youth and Mission, students discuss theological and cultural trends that raise issues of ministry with young people and issues of doctrine for the church. Discussion of these themes takes place with regard to the world young people inhabit, a world in which cultures are being reshaped by global patterns of consumption and communication and a world that confronts young people with an array of areas in which they may be searching for reliable guides or guideposts.
Nick Patler earned his MA with a focus in Historical Studies from Bethany Theological
Seminary in 2015. Since then, he’s taught U.S. History at Elizabeth City State University. He is
currently working on a book for the University Press of Mississippi titled, The Governor and
the Senator: Black Vision and Power in the Reconstructed South - P.B.S. Pinchback and Blanche
Kelso Bruce. In addition to his work teaching college students, Patler has worked on recent
“As an historian, whether teaching or writing, I see my work as ministry in the sense that I encourage students and readers to develop historical empathy—not just memorization of dates and events—but to go back in time and step into the historical experiences of persons and racial/ethnic groups. While maintaining historical accuracy and integrity, I encourage them to transform into immigrants, Native Americans, African Americans, and others, and to see and feel the world from their perspectives as much as possible. It is amazing the insight and understanding they come away with, and how that awakening informs the way they see and engage the present with sensitivity.”
Lindsey Frye is a 2011 graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary. After teaching courses on
Cultural Perpectives for EMU Lancaster for three years, in 2015 she moved with her husband
and two daughters to Chiapas, Mexico in order to work with INESIN (Institute for Ecumenical
and Intercultural Studies), a partner organization of Mennonite Central Committee.
The mission of INESIN is to contribute to the construction of peace in Chiapas through
promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Lindsey´s favorite element in her work is to collaborate
with her Mayan Traditionalist coworker in accompanying groups of indigenous women, incorporating Mayan
spirituality as well as Biblical Christian images to create processes of empowerment.
Life in Richmond
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