At Bethany, students build strong relationships with one another and join in generative conversations with those with very different backgrounds and viewpoints. A Bethany class is likely to enroll politically progressive recent graduates of the Church of the Brethren related colleges and university, as well as classmates twice their age who are bivocational pastors serving churches in conservative parts of rural America or peace activists from major cities. The students at our predominantly white institution seek opportunities to engage with communities of color, particularly through shared courses with other seminaries and by connecting with students who attend classes at our technology center in Jos, Nigeria. Strengthened by diversity, Bethany students share an interest in innovative and creative approaches to biblical and theological education, and they enthusiastically engage with one another, thoughtfully — and even joyfully — seeking common ground with those who have very different perspectives on the world.
Bethany has made it a high priority to offer hospitality to a diverse group of students. Whether they move to Richmond, Indiana, where they live in a community of houses we have renovated, or they join us online via Zoom from other states (or continents!), we provide a welcoming and inclusive community for all. And our students extend that same sense of welcome to one another, knowing each individual has been beckoned by God to ministry and service, and that everyone has much to teach and plenty to learn.
The Seminary is also committed to removing every obstacle — including financial ones — that might impede students from answering their call. By reducing debt, we give students confidence that student loan payments won’t keep them from responding to the world’s great needs with ministry and service. They have hope that they will be able to make a difference in their own communities and are free to serve wherever God calls! Such generosity with our students is extended to our partnerships and allows us to dream dreams and explore visions of greater unity and collaboration among schools of different Christian denominations in the United States and throughout the world!
It is remarkable and moving to see our students meet the challenges of the present moment with a sense of adventure and an abiding hope. These seminarians truly embody a central theme affirmed by our denomination at its 2021 Annual Conference — to be Jesus in the neighborhood. By discovering creative and innovative ways to serve God and our neighbor, responding to the unique needs of those around us, I have faith that our graduates will navigate their way through the churning waters of church schism and societal turmoil — so that the world flourishes.