(June 19, 2007) — The Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees has called Ruthann Knechel Johansen of Granger, Ind., as president, beginning July 1. Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., is the graduate school and academy for theological education for the Church of the Brethren.
“The Board of Trustees of Bethany Seminary is very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Ruthann Knechel Johansen as the next president of Bethany Theological Seminary,” said board chair Anne M. Reid. “She brings a deep love of the Gospel and the Kingdom and a great appreciation for the denomination to the office. Her skills in listening and in reconciliation will be invaluable in helping the seminary relate to the larger church.”
Johansen is currently a professor in the Program of Liberal Studies and a faculty fellow of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She has served as adjunct faculty at Bethany and has been a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School (1992-93) and Princeton Theological Seminary (1983-84). She holds a Ph.D. in English with emphasis on religious, psychological, and philosophical thought in literature from Drew University; an M.A. in English from Columbia University Teachers College; and a B.S. in English and music from Manchester College, a Church of the Brethren related college in North Manchester, Ind.
In previous appointments, for 13 years Johansen administered and taught in the College of Arts and Letters interdisciplinary seminar “Ideas, Values, Images” at Notre Dame. She has also taught courses such as “War, Peace, and the Literary Imagination” and “Understanding Story: Cultures, Conflict, and Identity.” She participated in Notre Dame’s Ford Foundation Summer Seminar on Cultural Diversity, and has received a Kaneb Teaching Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Distinguished Notre Dame Woman Award. Johansen has been a guest lecturer in numerous venues, including professional associations, Earlham College in Richmond, Ind.; Juniata College, a Church of the Brethren related college in Huntingdon, Pa.; Manchester College; Bethany Seminary; and Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Indiana.
She is the author of several books and publications, including Listening in the Silence, Seeing in the Dark: Reconstructing Life after Brain Injury; The Narrative Secret of Flannery O’Connor: The Trickster as Interpreter; Coming Together: Male and Female in a Renamed Garden; “Peacemaking and Global Justice”; “Our Babel: What Shall We Do with the Language”; and “Turning from Underneath: On Oppression and Power.” She has been a writer for many Church of the Brethren publications, including Brethren Life and Thought, Guide to Biblical Studies, and Messenger magazine.
Johansen is a member of Crest Manor Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind., where she has served on various committees including the Congregational Relations Committee, the Envisioning Committee, and the Leadership Team. She currently is moderator-elect of Northern Indiana District of the Church of the Brethren. She has been a workshop and retreat leader at many local and denominational events, and has served on denominational study committees. She was a member of the Bethany Board of Trustees from 1985-95.
Johansen said in accepting the appointment: “The Church of the Brethren, our society, and the world need the faith and Christ-centered vision Bethany Theological Seminary and our church have offered since their foundings. I am committed to the Believers Church tradition which emphasizes the priesthood of all believers. In such a faith tradition, Bethany Seminary is not simply an institution charged with educating professional clergy; it is also an inspirational resource for study and empowerment for all believers within and beyond the denomination who seek to embody the love, justice, mercy, and peace of Jesus Christ in an often fearful and violent world.”
The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Marcia Shetler, director of Public Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary, contributed this report. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.