Bethany Theological Seminary Holds Inaugural Forum

“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″

(Feb. 8, 2008) — Bethany Theological Seminary will host an Inaugural Forum titled, “Hearing Scriptures of Peace,” on March 30-31 at the school’s campus in Richmond, Ind. The forum celebrates the recent call of Ruthann Knechel Johansen as president of the seminary, and celebrates the role of the seminary as a resource for the church and the world.

Johansen became president of Bethany Seminary in July 2007, and was officially installed and anointed at the October meeting of the Bethany Board of Trustees. The Inaugural Forum publicly marks the beginning of a new chapter at Bethany Seminary and celebrates the witness of the seminary and the Church of the Brethren to a world hungering for peace and justice.

The forum will include worship services, lectures, panel discussions, and small group sessions. Three plenary speakers and six Church of the Brethren panelists will represent various theological perspectives.

The plenary speakers will be Scott Appleby, historian of religion from the University of Notre Dame; Rachel Gartner, rabbi and campus minister at Earlham College in Richmond; and Rashied Omar, scholar of religions and a Muslim imam from South Africa.

Church of the Brethren panelists will include Scott Holland, associate professor of Theology and Culture and director of Peace Studies and Cross-Cultural Studies at Bethany; Craig Alan Myers, chair of the Brethren Revival Fellowship and pastor of Blue River Church of the Brethren in Columbia City, Ind.; Amy Gall Ritchie, director of student development at Bethany; Roger Schrock, pastor of Cabool (Mo.) Church of the Brethren and former mission staff for the denomination; Daniel Ulrich, associate professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany; and Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, associate professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany.

The forum will open on Sunday, March 30, at 1:30 p.m. with a plenary session featuring Dr. Appleby, who will speak about Christian scriptures of peace. President Johansen will share reflections on “Hearing Scriptures of Peace” at the Sunday evening worship service, which will include a performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.” On Monday morning, Rabbi Gartner will present Jewish scriptures of peace. Dr. Omar will interpret Muslim scriptures of peace at the Monday afternoon plenary. The forum will conclude with a worship service at 3:30 p.m. on Monday.

“The forum is an opportunity for educators, Church of the Brethren leaders, and members of other Christian communions to seek together to understand what it means to live Christ’s way of love in today’s world,” said Johansen. “What does the way of love, which demands that we love even our enemies, mean for how we treat creation, how we live interpersonally, how we handle conflict, and how we make hard choices about politics, economics, and ethics, as well as war and peace?”

The registration fee for the forum is $50, $65 after March 1. College and seminary students may register for a discounted rate of $25, $40 after March 1. Ministers may receive .7 continuing education units. Register at www.bethanyseminary.edu/forum. For more information contact coordinator Mary Eller at 800-287-8822 ext. 1825 or inauguralforum@bethanyseminary.edu.

–Marcia Shetler is director of Public Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.

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