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Johansen to Retire from Bethany Seminary

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Dr. Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president of Bethany, has announced her retirement, effective July 1, 2013. The announcement came in conjunction with the semiannual meeting of the Bethany Seminary board of trustees. 

Johansen began her tenure as the ninth president of Bethany Seminary on July 1, 2007, having most recently held the position of professor of literature and interdisciplinary studies and of a faculty fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. During her time at Bethany, she helped lead the development of a new mission and vision statement and a five-year strategic plan. Beginning

with her inaugural celebration, she established the Presidential Forum as the premier public event at Bethany, offering the Seminary's space and resources for denominational and ecumenical exploration, learning, and discourse on important issues of faith and ethics. Her presidency also saw the hiring of a new academic dean, three new faculty members, and a new director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

In a statement to the Seminary community, Johansen said, "Since July 2007, together the board and faculty have analyzed the challenges facing the Christian church, the Church of the Brethren, and most theological schools; re-examined the core testimonies of the Anabaptist-Pietist traditions and the Church of the Brethren for their relevance for theological education and the needs of the world in this time; and developed a bold mission and vision that is both faithful to the gospel and a prophetic call from Bethany to the church and the world. . . . I am grateful for the opportunity to work with wonderful colleagues, both as board members and employees, in higher education and in serving God, the church, and the world. I call us to continue to be faithful, as I will attempt to be during this last period, and as I expect the search committee and the board will be as well."

Dr. Carol Scheppard, chair of the board of trustees, reflected on Johansen's presidency: "As President Johansen transitions to the projects awaiting her in retirement, she leaves a rich legacy with Bethany. From the core foundations of the vision and mission statements and the comprehensive strategic plan to the focused, energized, and convicted operations of the Seminary community, Bethany is strong. We look forward with hope and confidence to Ruthann's leadership in the year ahead and to the growth and nurturing of the seeds she has planted under our next president."

Bethany trustee Rhonda Pittman Gingrich will serve as the chair of the Presidential Search Committee, with Ted Flory, former member and chair of the board, serving as vice chair. The additional members of the committee are trustees David McFadden, John D. Miller, and Nathan Polzin; at- large representative Judy Mills Reimer; faculty representative Tara Hornbacker; and student representative Dylan Haro.

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."