For the third consecutive year, Bethany Theological Seminary has been recognized as a Seminary That Changes the World by The Center for Faith and Service. Each year, Seminaries That Change the World identifies a select group of seminaries and divinity schools offering innovative courses, programs, and opportunities for students seeking to engage in social justice and service work while in seminary. Recognition as a Seminary That Change the World reflects the education Bethany is providing to prepare spiritual and intellectual leaders for ministry in the church and world. For more information about Seminaries That Change the World and to read Bethany’s profile, visit www.STCTW.org.
“It is a privilege and joy to be named among Seminaries That Change the World,” says Jeff Carter, president of Bethany. “Joining peer schools with shared values, Bethany seeks to support our students as they plan and dream about the difference they are called to make in the world and the passion with which they engage in this endeavor.”
The integration of faith and service has been part of Bethany’s mission since its founding in 1905. Today this is evidenced throughout the programs of study at the Seminary and in extracurricular opportunities as well. MDiv students are able to earn a ministry focus in conflict resolution, while MA students may focus their coursework in peace studies as an area of concentration. The Seminary also offers a five-course Certificate in Conflict Transformation, one of three specialized graduate-level certificates.
All students must take at least one of the eleven courses offered in peace studies, which encompass social justice themes in the study of conflict resolution, peace and violence in scripture, restorative justice, peace witness, mediation, public theology, and just peace. To gain an awareness of different worldviews and ways of being, each student is also required to complete an intercultural experience along with the preparatory Intercultural Theory course. The new courses Environmental Ethics in Theological Perspective and Ecological Theology and Christian Responsibility encourage the inclusion of our relationship with the physical world in students’ concept of social justice.
Bethany’s Pillars & Pathways Residency Scholarship, launched in fall 2017, incorporates traditional Seminary values as it enables eligible students to complete their education without incurring additional debt. Recipients commit to live in community, residing in the Bethany Neighborhood, and to volunteer eight hours a month for a local nonprofit. The scholarship also provides instruction in financial stewardship and a simple lifestyle. In addition, students preparing for a vocation that will serve the church may apply for the Church Service Covenant Grant.
Outside the classroom, students can engage in events that encourage action for the well-being of others and of oneself through Peace Forum. Green Circle, Bethany’s chapter of Seminary Stewardship Alliance, promotes a culture of creation care through information and activities. Giving its witness a wider circle, the Seminary sponsors the annual Bethany Peace Essay Contest for students at all levels, generating a full spectrum of creative responses on the many manifestations of peace and social justice.
“Seminaries and divinity schools are uniquely positioned to provide the most relevant, fast-paced, and innovative degrees in all of higher education. The schools named in this year’s Seminaries That Change the World are helping to redefine what ministry looks like,” remarked Wayne Meisel, executive director of The Center for Faith and Service and founder of Seminaries That Change the World. “Their alumni are involved in some of the most innovative and engaging work going on in our churches, communities, and world.”
The list of Seminaries That Change the World is published by The Center for Faith and Service, an organization at McCormick Theological Seminary that works to help the church be present and relevant in the lives of young adults. Through a variety of initiatives, including Seminaries That Change the World, the Center partners with seminaries, service programs, summer camps, colleges, youth corps, denominations, and congregations to create programs and resources that help young people connect their passions for service and justice with their faith. For more information about The Center for Faith and Service, visit www.FaithandService.org.