Bethany Luncheon Features Conversation Between Past President and New President

Photo by Glenn Riegel
Delegates recognized Bethany’s retiring president and new president during the business session, with a standing ovation for Ruthann Knechel Johanson (left) who is retiring from leadership of the seminary. At the podium is newly named president Jeffrey Carter, with Bethany board chair Lynn Myers.

The Bethany Theological Seminary and Brethren Academy luncheon is hosted each year by the Bethany Alumni/ae Coordinating Council. The luncheon is a time to recognize recent graduates of Bethany Theological Seminary and the Brethren Academy Training in Ministry programs, current students, faculty, and staff.

The event featured a conversation with Jeffrey Carter, who was in his second day as the new president of Bethany Seminary, and president emerita Ruthann Knechel Johansen, who was in her second day of retirement.

Johansen reviewed several accomplishments of her term as president stating that her contributions were not done alone but with and by the entire community. She named her accomplishments as adoption of the current Mission and Vision statement, which led to the Strategic Plan, which led to the development of a new curriculum and a Comprehensive Assessment Plan.

Carter was then asked to reflect on how he plans to lead into the future. He is coming to the Presidency at a time when many good things are already in place, he said. “This gives me the opportunity of time to think about where we are and to listen to the board, faculty, and staff, and the broader denomination, and to then start dreaming about the next strategic plan.” He shared that his main responsibility is to maintain the health of the Bethany community and the wider church, and to keep open communication. A goal he brings is to “Look out, look forward, leading us [Bethany Seminary] into new growth, yet firmly planted in our mission.”

Carter has another goal–that Bethany Seminary become the first thought when one considers where to seek theological study. He also desires that the seminary is the first thought when a congregation needs resources. “Rather than look at Google or Wikipedia, call the seminary,” he suggested.

Photo by Randy Miller
Ruthann Knechel Johansen is greeted by Enten Eller during a reception in her honor, hosted by Bethany Theological Seminary where she is retiring as president.

Both Johansen and Carter recognized the goal that the seminary has for growing a stronger ecumenical influence. Carter has served the denomination in ecumenical settings and stated, “I always left [ecumenical] meetings with a better understanding of my Brethren identity.” He explained this was due to the many conversations that happen in ecumenical settings where he was called on to explain a Brethren practice or belief.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership announced that the Academy Certified Training System (ACTS): Christian Growth Institute serving Shenandoah and Virlina Districts has received re-certification. Recognition also was given to the final cohorts of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Vital Pastor Program and Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership Program. The year 2013 brings the culmination of these programs, but the Brethren Academy will continue to provide continuing education in new ways.

Lowell Flory was presented a memorial album in recognition and thanks for his involvement with the Advanced Foundations programs over 10 years.

— Karen Garrett is a member of the Annual Conference News Team

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