Malinda Berry Speaks for Bethany Theological Seminary Luncheon

By Karen Garrett

Members of the Bethany Seminary board and staff greet guests at a reception held by the school during the Annual Conference in Grand Rapids. The event featured a decorative popcorn maker, and free popcorn for all comers. Photos by Regina Holmes

Mmm! It’s tasty!

Several highlights from the Bethany Theological Seminary’s 2010-11 academic year were shared at the school’s Annual Conference luncheon on Tuesday, July 5.

It was announced that the 2011 graduating class was the largest since Bethany moved to Richmond, Ind. Several graduates were recognized: Training in Ministry graduates Linda Banaszak, Sue Bollinger, Cheryl Mishler, and Don Morrison; and Education for a Shared Ministry graduate Patrick Godfrey.

A certificate was given to Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center noting its five-year recertification for the Academy Certified Training System (ACTS) ministry training program.

Speaker for this year’s luncheon was Malinda Berry, associate professor of Theology and director of the Master of Arts program at Bethany Theological Seminary. Her presentation, “Breaking Stone, Set in Bread: How the Arts Change Our Perspective,” included visual images to show ways theology is expressed through art.

As the program for the event explained, “For centuries, visual art was a vital part of the church’s worship life. Since the Protestant Reformation however, most Christian groups have struggled to understand the relationship of the arts to the practice of faith.”

Berry intentionally mixed up the common phrases “breaking bread” and “set in stone” to signify that it is time to break the “stone”–the traditions that may no longer serve us. She grew up surrounded by the arts, and only later in life discovered the point of view that “Christians should set themselves apart from art,” that art was for the secular world not the church.

Now, as she continues to do theological reflection, she is again looking at the arts as important pieces that develop our theology and are important ways we express our theology. The arts can lead us to deeper meaning, spirituality, and belief.

Coverage of the 2011 Annual Conference is by the News Team of Jan Fischer-Bachman, Mandy Garcia, Karen Garrett, Amy Heckert, Regina Holmes, Frank Ramirez, Glenn Riegel, Frances Townsend, and editor and news director Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Wendy McFadden serves as executive director of Brethren Press. Contact

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