Bethany Holds Commencement

Class of 2018

Sixteen graduates were honored at Bethany Theological Seminary’s 2018 commencement on Saturday, May 5, in the presence of family, friends, and the Bethany community. The following degrees and graduate certificates were awarded:

Master of Divinity
Steven P. Fox – Farmersville, Ohio
Mycal C. J. Gresh – Denton, Maryland
Katelynn E. Heishman – Keezletown, Virginia
Timothy S. Heishman – Keezletown, Virginia
Patricia A. Kapusta, ministry focus in pastoral care – Corning, New York
Sarah M. Neher, ministry focus in youth and young adults – Overland Park, Kansas
Shayne (Chibuzo) T. Petty, emphasis in intercultural leadership – Shreveport, Louisiana
Susan L. Smith – Lutz, Florida

Master of Arts
Karen M. Duhai, concentration in theological studies – Richmond, Indiana
Charlotte D. Loewen, concentration in Brethren studies – Mountain Lake, Minnesota
Jonathan A. Prater, concentration in theological studies – Rockingham, Virginia
Brody Rike, concentration in biblical studies – Eaton, Ohio
Rudolph H. Taylor III, concentration in biblical studies – Blue Ridge, Virginia

Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies
Kyle A. Remnant – Cincinnati, Ohio

Certificate in Intercultural Biblical Interpretation
Shayne (Chibuzo) T. Petty – Shreveport, Louisiana

Certificate in Theopoetics and Theological Imagination
Martin Jockel – Giessen, State of Hesse, Germany
Kindra S. Kreislers – Saginaw, Michigan
Jonathan A. Prater – Rockingham, Virginia

Professor Tara Hornbacker anoints Steven Fox.
Professor Tara Hornbacker anoints Steven Fox.

The weekend’s activities began with the traditional worship service planned and led by the graduating class on Friday, May 4. Patricia Kapusta welcomed those gathered and presented a call to worship. Jonathan Prater, Sarah Neher, and Kyle Remnant each offered personal reflections on the themes in Psalm 46, following readings of the psalm in different versions. Faculty members then anointed each of the graduates as a blessing and ritual of sending. Graduates and families were joined by members of the Bethany community for an evening banquet, during which faculty members offered personal tributes for each graduate.

The speaker for Saturday’s academic ceremony was Bethany alumnus Russ Matteson. In an address entitled “Embodying Radical Obedience to the Spirit of Christ,” he drew on Romans 8:5-17, which calls for trust in the workings of God instead of reliance on oneself. “When we give God that kind of attention, when we can allow our lives to be filled with the living and breathing God, then God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. . . . I think that that is what the invitation to life in Christ is really all about.” Reminding the graduates of the radical obedience of the first Brethren in the face of oppression, Matteson stated, “I believe that that is the true genius of the Brethren movement: gathering a people who meet together in committed communities to search the scriptures and to pray about the word and the world and to trust and test the nudgings of the Holy Spirit . . . even as it may upset the settled order and understandings of the church or the world around them. It is my deepest hope that some of this has rubbed off on your faith during your time here at Bethany . . . and that you will continue to be challenged and encouraged by the witness that is behind the tradition of your seminary.”

Speaker Russ Matteson
Speaker Russ Matteson

Matteson is the district executive of the Pacific Southwest District in the Church of the Brethren and lives in Modesto, California. Prior to this call, he and his spouse copastored two California congregations: Fellowship in Christ in Fremont and Modesto Church of the Brethren. He also served as director of marketing and sales for Brethren Press from 1999 to 2003. Matteson earned an MDiv from Bethany in 1993.

President Jeff Carter addressed the class as one of “high academic quality: nine designations of honors for work completed with distinction. . . . You have grown in your confidence, you have found voice for your passions, and you have moved your thinking and your discovery in some familiar and new ways. You have tackled tough topics in scripture and ministry. And you have been brave. . . . I have confidence that bravery will continue.”

Video recordings of both the worship service and ceremony are available for viewing.