Worship Bethany Theological Seminary
Walking on main campus
Seminary Library
bethany theological seminary community

You are here

John Smith, Master of Divinity Connections

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

John Smith
(MDiv Connections)

classMy wife Barbara and I first visited Bethany in June 2009. After spending two days meeting with faculty and staff I returned home even more uncertain. Did I really want to devote the time this program required? Was I willing to learn computer skills that didn't even exist when I finished college in 1972? Was I willing to make the eight-hour drive that would occasionally be necessary? Was this really what God was calling me to do at this time in my life? From the very beginning, I came as I am, but went not as I came. Little did I know how this Bethany tag line would time and time again ring true for my educational experience.

I did enroll at Bethany in the fall of 2009 as a Master of Divinity Connections student. One of the most transforming experiences in my life came during this January's two-week intensive, a class entitled "Varieties of Christian Peace Witness," taught by Scott Holland, Professor of Theology and Culture and Director of Peace Studies and Cross Cultural Studies. I knew that the Church of the Brethren was a peace church, but did not observe it in the churches within my district. I was surprised by Professor Holland's statement that eighty percent of Brethren did not actively support the witness of peace.

Throughout this class, I came to realize that I belong within that eighty percent. Never before had I considered where I, or Jesus, stood on peace. I never took the time to explore the meaning of nonresistance, just war, or just peace, nor had I ever listened to stories of friends killed in war. Eventually, I began to more fully understand another tag line: "When Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies,' I'm pretty sure he meant don't kill them." While this class focused primarily on these aspects of peace, at Bethany, peace runs deeper than anti-war: it begins with our own awakening, our own transformation. That eight-hour drive back home felt like no time at all. Come as you are, Go not as you came. . . .

Brian Mackie
Master of Divinity '07

BrianSometimes it takes looking back to see God's leading in life. I graduated from Bethany in May 2007 and realized that God led my entire theological training. In the summer of 2002, however, it was a little tougher to see where it was going.

I realized my call to full-time ministry and knew it was to journey into the educational training part of my call. My campus pastor and I had several conversations about this next step. I fasted and prayed and sought the Lord but had no clear answer by the end of the fast. As I was preparing to break my fast, the Lord asked me, "What is the desire of your heart?" I replied, "Oral Roberts University."