A New Academic Year Begins

Bethany Theological Seminary is opening the 2020-21 academic year with an increased overall enrollment, including many new residential students relocating to the Richmond area.

A total of 86 students are set to take classes this fall, including 30 students enrolling at Bethany for the first time. Sixty-three Bethany students are distance learners who benefit from the Seminary’s robust video conference and remote learning resources. The Seminary also has 23 residential students, including 15 who live in a group of Bethany-owned houses near campus known as “The Neighborhood.” Whether in Richmond, or at a distance, this year’s Bethany students join a vibrant learning community that offers exceptional coursework in biblical and theological studies along with opportunities to build practical skills. 

The Seminary has extensive measures in place to ensure that in-person classes can safely continue during the Covid-19 pandemic. Read about Bethany’s reopening plan here. 

“This is a time of incredible challenge and concern for people around the world,” notes President Jeff Carter. “We are gratified that so many wonderful students have decided that this is a time to seek an exceptional theological education. We know that our students and faculty discern ways to be a positive force in the communities they serve — so that the world flourishes.” 

The Bethany student body includes several students who recently completed certificates and are returning for master’s degrees. These include individuals who will seek ordination as pursue pastoral ministry as well as those who will engage in other forms of ministry. 

“We are very excited to welcome an exceptional new class of students to Bethany in both our certificate and degree programs,” says Academic Dean Steven Schweitzer.  They will bring a wide range of interests and backgrounds to the classroom, and the faculty is looking forward to the ways each of them will contribute new energy and vitality to our educational community.” 

In addition to the Master of Divinity (MDiv) program, Bethany offers a Master of Arts in Theopoetics and Writing (MATW) as well as Master of Arts (MA) concentrations in biblical studies, Brethren studies, historical studies, theological studies, and peace studies. Graduate certificates are offered in theological studies, biblical peacemaking, just peace and conflict resolution, theology and science, and theopoetics and theological imagination. 

About half of the credits awarded by the Seminary go toward the completion of Master of Divinity degrees, the degree traditionally earned by ordained ministers, while the rest go toward Master of Arts or certificate programs. The student body includes many members of the Church of the Brethren as well as those from other denominations. While many graduates go on to pastoral ministry, alumni pursue varied careers including advocacy, community organizing, non-profit leadership, writing, scholarship, and teaching.  

This year, Bethany has 34 MDiv students, 14 MA students, and 10 MATW students. An additional 28 individuals are pursuing certificates. Students come from several U.S. states, as well as other countries. Bethany offers its biblical peacemaking program through a presence in Jos, Nigeria. 

“It’s a joy to introduce these students to Bethany. This fall semester has brought a full residential neighborhood. Many students are relocating to the Richmond area, and overall, enrollment is very strong,” notes Lori Current, executive director for admissions and student services. We are happy to see a large and dynamic entering class of individuals who are ready to engage with all that the Seminary has to offer. “ 

The Seminary formally opened the academic year with a convocation on Thursday, August 27, 2020. Joelle Hathaway, an assistant professor of theological studies who came to Bethany this fall from Duke University, was the featured speaker.