by Frank Ramirez
Faculty, staff, and graduates of Bethany Theological Seminary and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership were joined by others at an Annual Conference luncheon. The theme of “Spirit Moving” was expressed succinctly when seminary president Jeff Carter noted that, thanks to what he called “our Anabaptist/Pietist vision, he said, “The world needs us.” Because of this, Carter said of the seminary’s reach: “It is broad. It is deep. It is moving.”
Despite Bethany’s small size, it is continuing in an era when other seminaries are closing. While the seminary remains vital, Carter said, “We are a mustard seed among tall cedars. Rather than cower, we’re stepping out in faith. We are making the very best decisions as we listen to the Spirit.”
Acknowledging that there is an enrollment shortage, Carter pointed to the Pills and Pathways program that allows students to gain a theological education without incurring further debt. In another new program, the seminary also is preparing to break ground on a technological center in Nigeria, which is expected to be up and running by January 2018.
“We’re managing. We’re on an adventure. We’re stepping forward in faith,” Carter told the luncheon.
The group also heard a reflection from Erin Matteson, who graduated from Bethany Seminary with a master of divinity degree in 1993 and recently concluded nearly 25 years in ministry. She traced the influences in and outside of the Church of the Brethren that led to her transition out of pastoral ministry and into spiritual direction.
Matteson has transitioned into a full-time ministry in what she calls the “art and practice” of spiritual direction. “Discernment is a cloth of many colors,” she said, describing the various threads of experience with reference to diverse authors ranging from Frederick Buechner to Parker J. Palmer and E.E. Cummings, and Brethren writers and thinkers including Warren Groff, Glenn Mitchell, and Nancy Faus Mullen.
For more onsite coverage of Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac/2017/coverage .
The news coverage of Annual Conference 2017 is made possible through the work of the volunteer news team: Frank Ramirez, Conference Journal editor; photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Laura Brown, Allie Dulabaum; writers Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett; with web staff Jan Fischer Bachman and Russ Otto, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services. Wendy McFadden, publisher. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.