Thirteen Bethany Theological Seminary students and friends recently spent 12 days touring historical and religious sites in Greece, accompanied by Nadine Pence Frantz, professor of Theological Studies.
Bethany students enrolled in the Master of Divinity (M. Div.) and Master of Arts in Theology (M.A.Th.) degree programs are required to take at least one course in cross-cultural studies including direct experience of and reflection on a cultural context other than their own. Cross-cultural courses enhance students’ appreciation and respect for different cultural perspectives, increase their ability to critique their own society and culture, and allow them to explore possibilities for ministry in a different social and cultural context.
The group left the US on Dec. 27, 2005, and returned on Jan. 8. The trip was Frantz’s first to lead to Greece, and included Mycenaean, Classical Greek, Roman, early Christian, Byzantine, and Greek Orthodox sites on the mainland of Greece and the Peloponnese. Cities visited were Athens, Delphi, Olympia, the Lousios Gorge, Mystras, Geraki, Sparta, and Corinth.
Students were required to do some reading and to meet for preparatory sessions before the study tour, and to write a paper on a particular site or aspect of the trip once they returned. Three of the travelers did not take the course for credit but because they are interested in learning more about Greece’s history and culture.
“The trip was a wonderful mixture of history, culture, and people,” said Frantz, “and helped us understand the culture and context of the church that developed within the Greek culture.” Sue Ross of Fort Wayne, Ind., said the trip allowed her to see some of the history that she has read about in books. “Standing in the place of Paul at Corinth brought his letters alive to me,” she said.
“Physically connecting with the land of our religious and spiritual history has prompted in me many questions and feelings about my beliefs and own spiritual journey,” said Kendra Flory of McPherson, Kan. “Experiencing contemporary Greek culture and its secular and spiritual traditions has brought me to a special place of reflection about my own traditions,” she added.
“The way I approach preaching God’s word will be different since catching a glimpse of the world in which it was told,” said Laura Price of Empire, Calif.
For more information contact Bethany Seminary’s Admissions Office at 800-287-8822 ext. 1832.
(This article is from a news release on the Bethany Seminary website, see www.brethren.org/bethany.)