Bethany Theological Seminary President Eugene F. Roop announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2007, at the March 24-26 meeting of the seminary’s Board of Trustees. Roop has served as Bethany’s president since 1992.
Board chair Anne Murray Reid of Roanoke, Va., shared the announcement with the Bethany community. “The board accepts Dr. Roop’s announcement with regret, and with deep appreciation for the 15 years of dedicated service he has given to this Brethren institution,” she said.
Roop led the seminary through several major transitions and accomplishments, including a move from Oak Brook, Ill., to Richmond, Ind., in 1994, and an affiliation with Earlham School of Religion. With the sale of Bethany’s Illinois property and the establishment of prudent financial practices, the seminary retired all debt and built a significant endowment. The current $15.5 million financial campaign, “Inspired by the Spirit–Educating for Ministry,” has added additional financial strength. Bethany met the initial goal of the campaign in Sept. 2005, and projections indicate that by the campaign’s conclusion on June 30, the total may top $17 million.
All of the current fulltime teaching and administrative faculty members joined Bethany’s staff during Roop’s tenure. Among the programs developed during his years as president were an educational partnership with Earlham School of Religion; Connections, a distributed education program; the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a non-graduate level ministry training program administered in partnership with the Church of the Brethren General Board; Bethany’s Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults; Ministry Formation, a distinctive design to the Master of Divinity program in partnership with church congregations and agencies; Cross-Cultural Bank, a program to help finance a cross-cultural study for Bethany students; and off-site graduate courses hosted at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center in Pennsylvania.
Roop is a graduate of Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind.; Bethany Theological Seminary; and Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University. In 2001 he was awarded a D.D. “honora causa” from Manchester College. Roop began his theological teaching at Earlham School of Religion in 1970. His career at Bethany began in 1977 as associate professor of Biblical Studies. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including “Living the Biblical Story” and two commentaries in the Believer’s Church Commentary series: “Genesis” and “Ruth, Jonah and Esther.” He was a significant contributor to “Bethany Theological Seminary: A Centennial History,” published in 2005.
Board of Trustees member Carol Scheppard of Bridgewater, Va., will chair the search committee for a new president. The committee will open a search in late spring, reviewing candidates until an appointment is made, with the hope of bringing a candidate for board approval in March 2007. The committee anticipates that the new president will take office July 1, 2007. Other search committee members are board members Jim Dodson, Connie Rutt, and Philip Stone, Jr.; Ed Poling, pastor of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren; Elizabeth Keller, Bethany student; and Bethany faculty members Stephen Breck Reid and Russell Haitch.
In other business:
The board expressed appreciation to several people who are retiring or completing their service to the seminary.
- Theresa Eshbach will retire on June 30. She was the seminary’s executive director of Institutional Advancement from 1993-2004, and part-time advancement associate from 2004-06.
- Becky Muhl, accounting specialist, will retire on Aug. 31. Muhl joined the Bethany staff in 1994.
- Warren Eshbach is retiring as director of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center this summer. The board recognized his contributions to the enhancement of Bethany’s educational program through the center.
- Board member Ron Wyrick of Harrisonburg, Va., will complete his service to the board on June 30.
The board meeting also served as the occasion to officially unveil the seminary’s new logo. This is the first design change since 1963, when the previous logo was created to mark the seminary’s move to its former Oak Brook (Ill.) location.
President Roop describes the new logo as evocative. “It has features that are clear and confessional and others less tangible, inviting imagination and wonder. It serves as an invitation to join our community, which features both of those dimensions.”
“Consistent with Bethany’s mission to educate witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross is prominent at the center of the logo, arising from baptismal waters and rehearsed in the practice of foot washing, both important worship practices in the Church of the Brethren,” said a release from the seminary. “The bottom perimeter of the symbol suggests a circle, not closed but open to light from above and new voices from beyond. It represents a symbol of community and is expressive of Bethany’s educational process, which grounds theological education in spiritual formation with the life and ministry of communities of faith. At the bottom of the waters is a fish, the symbol early Christians used to express their commitment to Jesus Christ, the son of God. Atop the waters is a form which lends itself to several symbolic possibilities. As a book, it denotes both Bethany’s biblical foundation and striving for academic excellence. As a dove, the lines lift up both the dove of divine presence at baptism and the dove of peace, representing one of the living testimonies of the Church of the Brethren.”
Creation of the new logo was a part of the seminary’s institutional identity project. The development process, under the direction of Hafenbrack Marketing of Miamisburg, Ohio, took several months and involved input from representatives of all of Bethany’s constituencies. The seminary’s printed materials and website will be updated to feature the new logo and contemporary design elements.
The board called leadership for the 2006-07 academic year. Anne Reid will continue as chair, and Ray Donadio of Greenville, Ohio, will continue as vice chair. Frances Beam of Concord, N.C., will serve as secretary. Ted Flory of Bridgewater, Va., will chair the Academic Affairs Committee; Connie Rutt of Quarryville, Pa., will chair the Institutional Advancement Committee; and Jim Dodson of Lexington, Ky., will chair the Student and Business Affairs Committee.
The board approved a $2.15 million operating budget for 2006-07 fiscal year, and approved 11 candidates for graduation, providing all requirements are completed by the May 6 commencement date.
For more information about Bethany Theological Seminary, go to http://www.bethanyseminary.edu/.