“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″
(May 6, 2008) — Bethany Theological Seminary celebrated its 103rd commencement on May 3. Two observances marked the occasion. A ceremony for conferring degrees took place in Bethany’s Nicarry Chapel on the campus in Richmond, Ind. A public worship celebration was held at Richmond Church of the Brethren.
Sixteen students received degrees or certificates. Eleven students received a master of divinity degree, one with an emphasis in peace studies. Two students received a master of arts in theology degree, and three received a certificate in theological studies.
Steven L. Longenecker, professor and department chair of history and political science at Bridgewater (Va.) College, spoke at the conferring of degrees ceremony. In his address “The Useful Dunker Past,” he shared the story of Howard Sollenberger, who immediately after graduating from Manchester College in 1938 persuaded the Church of the Brethren General Mission Board to send him to China, providing relief for the Chinese during the war with Japan. “Admittedly, God calls only a few to flirt with danger on a distant continent or in a war zone,” Longenecker said, “but God summons all to faithfulness.”
Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, associate professor of preaching and worship at Bethany, was the speaker for the afternoon worship service. In her message, “Where the River Goes,” based on Ezekiel 47:1-12, she also referenced the 300th Anniversary of the Brethren. “When eight persons stepped into the Eder River 300 years ago, they counted well the cost of giving their lives to Jesus Christ, of giving up their homes and wealth in mutual support, of moving into unchartered waters. But little did they know where the baptismal waters of the Eder would take them,” said Wilhelm. “You can count the cost however you will, but you can never figure where the water is going to take you.”
Those who received a master of divinity degree included David Beebe of Bear Creek Church of the Brethren, Dayton, Ohio; Nan Lynn Alley Erbaugh of Lower Miami Church of the Brethren, Dayton; Stephen Carl Hershberger of Roaring Spring (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Elizabeth Jacqueline Keller of Richmond (Ind.) Church of the Brethren; Jason Michael Kreighbaum of Nettle Creek Church of the Brethren, Hagerstown, Ind.; Matthew Eugene McKimmy of Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren, Blacksburg, Va.; V. Christina Singh of the Richmond Church; Karl Edward Stone of the Richmond Church; Paula Ziegler Ulrich of the Richmond Church; and Douglas Eugene Osborne Veal of the Richmond Church. Brandon Grady of Madison Avenue Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., received a master of divinity degree with a peace studies emphasis.
Receiving a master of arts in theology degree were Marla Bieber Abe of First Church of the Brethren, Akron, Ohio; and Susan Marie Ross of Churubusco (Ind.) United Methodist Church.
Certificates of achievement in theological studies went to Mildred F. Baker of Diehls Cross Roads Church of the Brethren, Martinsburg, Pa.; Nicholas Edward Beam of Pleasant Hill (Ohio) Church of the Brethren; and Jerry M. Sales of Peoria (Ill.) Church of the Brethren.
Nan Erbaugh received distinction for her academic work in biblical studies. Matthew McKimmy received distinction for his work in ministry studies. Karl Stone received distinction for his work in biblical studies and ministry studies. Paula Ulrich received distinction for her work in theological and historical studies, and ministry studies.
Graduates’ future endeavors include careers in pastoral and congregational ministry and as staff for educational and nonprofit organizations.
–Marcia Shetler is director of public relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.
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