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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!

Jody Gunn
(MDiv Connections)

JodyIn the summer of 2006, I made a pact with a high school friend to make our fortieth decade significant. My goal was to complete my Master of Divinity degree before I turned fifty years old. Inside I asked myself and God, "How is this was going to be possible?" Eventually, I was willing to be open to it. My life seemed crazy enough without adding seminary to the mix. I am married to Eric and have two children 15 and 10, so I run a household. I serve a church half time and find many opportunities to volunteer in our community. In spite of the busyness of my life I said "Yes!" to Bethany because I really was at a point in my life where it made sense.