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Matt Wollam-Berens, Master of Divinity Connections

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Matt Wollam-Berens
(MDiv Connections)

MattIsaiah 55:1-3
"Everyone who thirsts,
come to the water . . .
Why spend your money
for what is not bread,
and your labor for that
which does not satisfy?"

For me, discovering Bethany was like finding a stream of living water in the desert. Jesus walked out of the desert after being baptized by his cousin John and proclaimed, "Reform your lives, the Kingdom of God is here!" And then he called his first disciples. He did not first make them recite a creed, he did not give them dogma, or theology. He simply said, "Follow me."

At Bethany, I found that same Spirit. There is openness to those of any faith, with a vision large enough to embrace any approach, any person who has been called to God to follow the way of Jesus. At Bethany, I found people who follow, teach, and live that way: people such as the Church of the Brethren and the Quakers. They are a living witness to the way of Jesus: they practice patience, love of one's enemies, forgiveness, humility, hospitality, and community.

Just as at Bethany in the Bible, Jesus calls us to not be so busy in the world (story of Martha) that we forget to pay attention to what is truly important. So I will be leaving my old job (that paid very well!) to follow after this Nazarene. I don't know where that journey will end, but I know now where it begins.

Coming to Bethany, after years of wandering in the desert, is like finding a stream of living water in the desert. I intend to drink deeply from these waters!

Larry Taylor
(MDiv Connections)

LarryOriginally, I was ordained to ministry by the Lewiston Church of the Brethren (Minn.) and later went on to earn a PhD in psychology, and am now a third year Master of Divinity (MDiv) student at Bethany. Having been a church planter for several decades, a Bible college director for a half-dozen years, and a pastoral psychotherapist for a lengthy season, I felt attracted to explore the possibility of hospital chaplaincy because of the challenges afforded me in Bethany's ministry formation classes, which were the catalyst to deeper understanding, broader theological reflection, and openness to the call of God.