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Trustees Fall 2010 Report

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The Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees gathered at the Richmond, Indiana, campus for their semi-annual meeting October 29-31, 2010. The Board celebrated several significant accomplishments, including receipt of two grants, acceptance of a proposal for a distributed education track for the Master of Arts degree, and ongoing partnerships with the World Council of Churches related to the Decade to Overcome Violence initiative.

Grants

The Seminary recently received a $200,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for financial support of the Seminary's Presidential Forum. The grant will be used to establish an endowment to create perpetual funding for this event. The Presidential Forum, established by current president Ruthann Knechel Johansen at the beginning of her tenure, brings noted speakers to campus for in-depth study and discussion on current topics. More than 150 persons have attended each forum, including students, faculty, pastors, church leaders, alumni/ae, and interested persons from the Richmond community and surrounding areas. President Johansen noted that in awarding the grant, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations board recognizes the excellent education that is carried out at Bethany and the high quality of the Forums that already have been offered. "This gift will permit Bethany Seminary to carry its witness to the church and society forward for years to come," she said.

The Seminary also has received a $25,000 grant from Barnabas Ltd. to reactivate Bethany's Exploring Your Call (EYC) program for high school juniors and seniors. More than fifty youth attended EYC events during the first half of the last decade, and several current Bethany students report that EYC was an important catalyst in their decisions to pursue ministry. Russell Haitch, associate professor of practical theology and director of the Institute for Ministry With Youth and Young Adults, will direct and staff the program. EYC 2011 is scheduled for June 17-27. EYC participants will explore how God is calling them through discernment activities in the seminary classroom, "shadowing" local pastors and assisting in their ministries, and by forming friendships with peers. Barnabas Ltd. is an Australian foundation, founded by the parents of current Bethany Board of Trustees member Jerry Davis. "The Barnabas Foundation was named for the Barnabas of the New Testament, who encouraged, recruited, and trained ministers while serving in ministry himself. Bethany Theological Seminary is recruiting and training individuals to serve in ministry in our day. Bethany's 'Exploring Your Call' for youth is a great program that Barnabas Ltd. is happy to support," Davis said.

MA Connections Program

The Association of Theological Schools has approved Bethany's proposal to launch MA Connections, a distributed education track for the MA degree. Like MDiv Connections, the Seminary's distributed education track for the Master of Divinity degree, MA Connections will offer courses in formats that are more conducive to the needs and desires of students who would enroll in a distributed education program, such as weekend and two-week intensive classes and online and hybrid classes. The Seminary will officially enroll students in the track in the Spring 2011 semester.

Decade to Overcome Violence

Current and emeritus faculty have been significantly involved in the World Council of Churches' Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) project. Three international conferences, initiated by Professor Emeritus Don Miller and Scott Holland, professor of peace studies and cross-cultural studies, and sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Church of the Brethren, Quakers, Mennonites, and Bethany Theological Seminary, have taken place. Books have been published chronicling each conference's papers and testimonies. The first volume, entitled In Search of Peace, edited by Scott Holland, profiles the European conference; the second, Seeking Peace in Africa, edited by Don Miller, profiles the African conference, and the third, Overcoming Violence in Asia, edited by Don Miller, profiles the Asian conference. President Ruthann Johansen will represent the Church of the Brethren in the United States at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation to be held in May 2011 in Kingston, Jamaica. This event will celebrate the efforts of member communions around the world during the DOV, which draws to a close at the end of the convocation. She was named by Brethren who have worked closely with the US DOV Committee, Brethren advisors to the various Historic Peace Church gatherings around the world, and by Stan Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren General Secretary and ex-officio member of the Bethany Board of Trustees. "Ruthann's voice of God's shalom and Christ's peace within the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary has encouraged us all to seek the roots of our peace church heritage," he said. "Her articulation of the theology of peace through Brethren eyes and experience will be critical, as this convocation will be considering an alternative voice to the Just War theory to which so many Christians subscribe. This gathering will explore what many have come to believe is a more appropriate Christian response in a Just Peace Declaration."

Other business of the board included:

Strategic Plan and Assessment Process

The Board heard a progress report on the initiatives of the Seminary's 2010-2015 strategic plan, including curriculum review, marketing recommendations, and development of a comprehensive assessment plan. The Board also reviewed Bethany’s Comprehensive Assessment Plan, which lays out a schedule of regular review of all seminary units and policies as well as its educational mission and strategic priorities.

Tuition and Finances

.The Audit Committee reported that Bethany again received an unqualified audit opinion from their auditors. Financial statements are available by contacting Brenda Reish, Executive Director of Student and Business Services and Treasurer. The Board approved a 2.38 percent increase for tuition for the 2011-2012 academic year to $430 per credit hour. The Investment Committee reported that Seminary fund managers continue to meet the required benchmarks, and that investments continue to regain lost revenue from previous stock market declines.

Special Program

The Board and many others from the Bethany and ESR communities and surrounding area attended the program "Making Peace Where the Wild Things Are: From Bogota to Beirut to Bethany", presented by Scott Holland in recognition of his promotion to full professor. The lecture focused on Holland's work with the World Council of Churches' Decade to Overcome Violence initiative and was an invitation to individuals and churches to face into places of fear, conflict, and violence for the peace and well-being of God's world. A digital recording of this presentation is available. Contact Enten Eller, director of electronic communications.

Katie Shaw Thompson
Master of Divinity

BethanyI have to admit I had no idea how much my cross-cultural trip to Marburg, Germany, would broaden my perspective. By immersing myself in German culture, I learned more about hospitality, theology, global politics, my neighbor, and myself than I thought possible in two weeks.

I was overwhelmed by the hospitality shown to us by the parish church and our host families. I will forever be grateful for those conversations across the table, across cultural differences, and across language barriers about the things that matter deeply to us all.