With the support of a $1M grant from the Lilly Endowment, Bethany Theological Seminary is launching Bethany BOLD, a new initiative that will prepare students to lead congregations through issues of diversity and division. The rigorous and demanding program will challenge Bethany’s best and brightest students to apply their faith and education to address real-world problems, including poverty and racial injustice.
Students selected for Bethany BOLD will be required to engage in service in the Wayne County community, participate in educational activities (like lectures and training sessions) outside the seminary, and participate in purposeful reflection about their experiences in the program. In exchange, participants will receive full tuition scholarships, free housing, and a monthly living stipend.
“The world needs spiritual leaders who are ready to engage with the most pressing issues of the day with grit, faith, intelligence, and love,” notes President Jeff Carter. “Bethany BOLD represents Bethany’s commitment to prepare our students to lead others toward healing and unity — so the world flourishes.
“Bethany BOLD also underscores our commitment to the fundamental value of learning in community. Since 1905, Bethany students have not been content to confine their learning and growth to the four walls of a traditional classroom. That spirit continues today. Participants in this new initiative will forge strong relationships with one another and in the surrounding community as they answer God’s call to ministry and service and develop their gifts and talents for leadership.”
This competitive, immersive, residential program will invite students to commit to academic excellence, community living, and no new debt. By offering opportunities to learn and grow beyond the classroom, the program will provide students with unparalleled opportunities to gain self-awareness, develop deeper understanding of community structures, and engage in intensive service work.
Students will engage in community service through ongoing assignments and one-time events. These assignments will address real-world problems, including volunteering with underserved and at-risk populations in schools, shelters, and community organizations. Issues of poverty and racial injustice are the focus of these work assignments.
Students will grow to understand Wayne County, Indiana, by going to a wide variety of organizations and churches. They will also participate in a variety of educational opportunities like lectures and trainings.
There will be a variety of opportunities for students to put together what they are learning, such as coffee conversations with community leaders, weekly debriefing sessions, program leadership responsibilities, and journaling.
Building on the success of the promises of no-debt, academic excellence, and community living begun in PPRS, Bethany BOLD continues our commitment to transformational theological education. BOLD strengthens our Anabaptist and Radical Pietist witness to the community we live in, inviting our residential students more deeply into love of neighbor and peacemaking through intense experiences of community engagement.
“While serving dinner at the Bridges for Life’s Friday evening meal program, a guest told me, ‘I’m not used to being served like this.’ It’s such simple dignity to serve someone a meal, I wondered why we find it so difficult to do.” ——Sandra Reisinger, Bethany BOLD participant
“One thing I have learned from my volunteer activities is the importance of listening to someone’s story. The best first step for helping someone is to listen to their story because in doing so, you might learn about a need that may not have been expressed, even if that need is as simple as having someone to talk to.” ——Connor Ladd, Bethany BOLD participant
“Bethany BOLD is a chance for Bethany students to deeply engage in Wayne County, to put their faith and studies into action so that the world flourishes. It’s an opportunity for the student to grow in self-awareness and love while immersed with real people, dealing with real issues.” ——Dr. Maggie Elwell, assistant professor of peace studies and director of Bethany BOLD