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Elizabeth Keller, Master of Divinity '08

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Elizabeth Keller
Master of Divinity '08

ElizabethSaying “YES” to God can get messy. It did for me. In all my defiance and resistance to God’s call (maybe you can relate?!), I made a mess--and while I learned along the way to revel in the messiness, I give thanks to God who can make any crooked path straight. May my personal story resonate some with our universal story as the emerging generation of the church for the 21st century.

Even though I am a first-generation Brethren, for a time I felt enclosed and confined to the Brethren identity--that is, after attending a Church of the Brethren congregation during my formative adolescence and then attending a Church of the Brethren college during my developing adulthood, I wondered, had the Brethren imprint simply been stamped on my forehead without my truly wrestling with the wonder and wisdom of my personal faith in God? "What does it truly mean for me to be Brethren?" I asked. Might I learn more about being Brethren by not being Brethren for a while?

So then, when I felt a clear call into set-apart ministry, I chose not to attend Bethany Theological Seminary: the only graduate school for the Church of the Brethren. But instead, I chose a different seminary; and while I received the academic rigor, spiritual guidance, and community affirmation I sought, it never felt right--not for me. With a deepening depression, I prayed--actually, I screamed and shouted, wept and slept--until God awoke in me, spoke to me, a call to Bethany. As cliché as it sounds, it felt like coming home. I felt the Holy Spirit wrap its arms gently and tightly around me, holding me firmly in place, so that my defiance and resistance to being Brethren, to saying “YES” to the ministry and to the church, could be overcome by the grace, love, and JOY of a God who is alive at Bethany and in the Church of the Brethren!

Jeff Foster
(Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies)

JeffFor nine years I felt the leading of God to ministry. I began my academic journey thinking that I had God all figured out. This journey began at Moody Bible Institute for several semesters, where I gleaned perspective on missions and evangelism. Because of a full-time missionary role, I suspended Moody classes to concentrate on raising support. During that time God began to speak to me about the overall disunity in our Christian church. I came to the conclusion that unity within the body of Christ is the best way to reach lost souls with greater depth. I started exploring the Anabaptist teaching and specifically the way the Church of the Brethren strives toward this vision of unity and reconciliation.