The Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees has announced that Jeffrey W. Carter of Manassas, Va., has accepted the call to serve as the seminary’s tenth president, beginning July 1. Bethany is the Church of the Brethren seminary, located in Richmond, Ind.
“The board of trustees is very pleased that someone with Dr. Carter’s commitment, talents, and background answered the call to the leadership of Bethany,” stated Lynn Myers, chair of the board. “In our discussions, he told of being encouraged by a gentleman who had great influence in his decision to become a pastor. In his new role as president, we look to him to replicate that experience as he leads the Bethany effort to call those within and beyond the Church of the Brethren to vocations in ministry.”
An alumnus of the seminary, Carter comes to Bethany with years of pastoral and denominational leadership in the Church of the Brethren. He is currently pastor and head of staff at Manassas Church of the Brethren, a position he has held since 2003. Previous pastoral ministry includes positions as associate pastor and team pastor at Manassas between 1995 and 2003 and two years as associate pastor at Florin Church of the Brethren in Mt. Joy, Pa.
Carter is a graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College with a bachelor’s degree in international studies. He earned a master of divinity degree from Bethany in 1998 and a doctorate in ministry with a concentration in practical theology and hermeneutics from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2006.
Bethany trustee Rhonda Pittman Gingrich chaired the seminary’s Presidential Search Committee. “As we began our work, the committee sought input from a variety of constituencies,” she said. “A deep love for Christ and the church, a passion for intellectual and spiritual growth, pastoral experience, a commitment to building relationships within the denomination, and dynamic communication skills were among the many desired qualities identified during the information gathering stage. Dr. Carter not only embodies these qualities; he also brings the necessary leadership skills to fulfill the current strategic plan and a vision for the future.”
The Church of the Brethren has tapped Carter to serve in various denominational capacities throughout his ministry. Currently a member of the Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference, he chaired both the Annual Conference Study Committee on Denomination Name and the Forms Reception Committee as part of the recent Special Response Process. He has served on the Brethren Housing Corporation Board of Directors and has been a featured speaker at Annual Conference, National Youth Conference, National Junior High Conference, and many other events. Between 2000 and 2006, Mid-Atlantic District called Carter to the district board, including the position of chair of the Ministry Commission, and to the role of district moderator.
Carter’s publications include contributions to “Feasting on the Word,” a commentary series published by John Knox Press, and the essay “Worship in the Church of the Brethren,” appearing in “Worship Today: Understanding, Practice, Ecumenical Implications,” published internationally through World Council of Churches Publications in Geneva, Switzerland. His articles for Church of the Brethren publications include regular contributions to “Messenger” magazine.
As a pastor, Carter has provided guidance and direction for the many facets of congregational life and ministry, emphasizing support of and involvement in the denomination and its programs. His earlier years involved the development and strengthening of Christian education and youth ministry, with increasing responsibility in administration of church programs and operations. He has worked with his congregation to acknowledge its needs and its potential, envision possibilities for growth, develop an effective strategic plan, and strengthen the church’s fiscal position. Throughout his ministry, Carter has demonstrated the importance of communication and relationship building.
“I am excited to join the Bethany community and offer my pastoral experience and academic commitments in leading the seminary forward with great hope and promise,” he said. “I look forward to deepening my relationship with students, staff, faculty, and trustees while embracing and extending the seminary’s circle of friends.”
Carter also has extended the influence of the Church of the Brethren and his own faith commitment into wider circles. Prior to entering ministry, he served as a legislative aide with the Church of the Brethren Washington Office through Brethren Volunteer Service, participating with ecumenical and public policy advocacy agencies and representing the denomination’s views and positions in collaborating with government officials and organizations. From 2003-2010, Carter was the Church of the Brethren representative to the World Council of Churches and simultaneously served on the US Conference of the World Council of Churches Board of Directors. He is currently lead chaplain for the Department of Fire and Rescue of Prince William County, Va.
“I have an abiding love for Christ and the church, a commitment to incarnational education, a deep regard for the cultural and theological tradition of the Church of the Brethren, and an open imagination to new ways of being the church and calling forth and equipping leaders,” he said. “Bethany Theological Seminary has a unique calling as it forms individuals and a church for ministry, witnesses to God’s shalom and Christ’s peace, and sends forth disciples to proclaim the good news of Christ Jesus. I look forward to beginning this new adventure in mission and ministry.”
— Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.