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Student Story: Kristy Shellenberger (MA Connections)

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Kristy Shellenberger
(MA Connections)

KristyAs I enter my first year of study in the MA Connections program at Bethany, I find myself drawn to these two sets of words by Brian McLaren and Frederick Buechner. Being a woman who finds "deep gladness" in the combination of searching, struggling, and "questing" around the subject of the divine, I have found a home at Bethany: a home that provides the space and the people, the encouragement and the instruction

for the journey into the divine and for the vocational discernment essential for "a new kind of Christianity." About the people. I have found such a home in the professors and administrators that "people" Bethany--persons of Spirit and Wisdom who care not only about the academic success of their students but also about the students themselves, and who seek to nourish the Spirit and Wisdom of those who enter its doors. Finally, as a mother of three young children who finds "deep gladness" in solitude and silence, I have found my driving hours to and from Bethany (a total of six hours each Thursday) to be places of renewal and rejuvenation. I use my weekly driving time to sit in silence, to meditate, to enjoy nature, to listen to audio books, to catch up on the news, and to treat myself to coffee along the way. I find the solitary car rides to be food for my soul, and when I return home at the end of the day, I feel refreshed. The MA Connections program allows me the flexibility to create a learning environment tailored to all the various strands of myself, to all the facets of "gladness" in my life, a learning environment that is respectful both of my spiritual-academic pursuits and of my family and home life. I am hopeful that Bethany, my home-away-from-home, will continue to nurture my "deep gladness" in ways that will allow me to birth the "new kind of Christianity" for which I was born.

Nan Erbaugh
Emphasis in Peace Studies '08

NanBethany taught me so much. I didn't realize what a loner I had really been all my life until I opened myself to life within the Bethany community. I felt stretched, pushed, and affirmed in amazing, helpful ways. The importance of a close, supportive community cannot be overestimated, especially in light of the challenges faced living out the peace witness to which I feel called. At Bethany, I gained more courage to step into this crucial niche of the Church of the Brethren. Add the grounded, spiritual theological foundation and academic depth I gained through course work, and I feel transformed in a powerful, positive way to serve God.