FROM THE PRESIDENT
Welcome to a transitional issue of Campus View. With this installment of our newsletter, we are moving toward an all-electronic format. While this installment is being published both on paper and via email, future newsletters will be emailed only. All current and recent issues also will be archived online for your convenience.
We believe this new method of delivery is an improvement on several levels. Without the costs and lead time of printing and mailing, we’ll be able to bring you fresh news from our busy campus more frequently. Also, your full-featured Campus View email will be a convenient gateway to various areas of our newly redesigned website.
Finally, this move aligns with our effort to be stewards of a more sustainable campus, partly by consuming less paper. (For instance, you might find it interesting that the majority of “papers” our students write are now submitted electronically.)
Because we realize some things are good to simply hold in our hands and place on our coffee tables, The Story Magazine and Annual Report will continue to be published via traditional means.
Please enjoy this issue of Campus View, with its focus on campus life and events as our year comes to a close. Please watch your email for our next issue, in which we will be looking together toward the fall and all of its opportunities for learning, growth and service.
2011 grad earns Ph.D. fellowship
Three years ago, when Tejai Beulah’s beloved and accomplished grandmother died, she had little idea that their last moments together would inspire her to find her own calling.
Beulah, who will receive her Master of Theological Studies degree from MTSO May 21, plans to pursue her Ph.D. at the Drew Theological School, aided by a full-tuition scholarship from Drew and a $20,000 Doctoral Fellowship through the Fund for Theological Education.
These remarkable honors cap three years at MTSO, a time marked by Beulah’s persistence, flexibility and a rekindled passion for history.
Beulah is one of a growing number of MTSO graduates pursuing doctorates. Her fellow May graduate, Laura Pressley, has been accepted into Ohio University’s Counselor Education Ph.D. program. Three other recent graduates are currently engaged in doctoral studies as well.
Beulah’s studies begin this fall in the Historical Studies program within Drew’s Graduate Division of Religion.
“I’ll be looking at Christianity and race,” she says. “I’ll more than likely focus on 20th century studies in terms of looking at the Civil Rights movement.”
She wrote her MTS thesis on Vernon Johns, who preceded Martin Luther King Jr. as pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., and is considered the father of the Civil Rights movement.
“He is an unattractive character to talk about,” Beulah says. “Vernon Johns was a very angry man. This man was born in 1892, and he was tired of hearing the same stories about black men being beaten by the police and black women being raped.”
Beulah says the message Johns preached at Dexter Avenue in the late 1940s and early ’50s made many of those who heard it – black and white – deeply uncomfortable. He believed the well-to-do African-Americans in his congregation were nonetheless shackled by their reliance on majority whites for their prosperity. He challenged them, Beulah says, “to throw off the shackles of oppression through farming. This offended them because they didn’t want to have any semblance of anything that would make them look like slaves.”
Beulah’s study of Johns was enhanced by a trip to Montgomery on March, funded by MTSO’s Student Enrichment Program. In Montgomery, she located an out-of-print collection of Johns’s sermons. She eventually persuaded the owners to part with the book briefly, allowing her to photocopy the entire collection.
At Drew, Beulah says, “I will probably always try to blend my research within the areas of Civil Rights and religion.” And she hopes to add to the body of knowledge about Johns, about whom surprisingly little has been written: “I know my thesis with him is not the end of my interaction with him.”
Once she has earned her Ph.D., she says, “I would like to teach history in a seminary setting, and particularly African-American history.”
Beulah speaks with a clear sense of vocational purpose and direction – something she’s quick to point out wasn’t always the case. A native of Youngstown, she earned an English degree from Xavier University, with minors in history and in gender and diversity studies. She followed that with master’s degree in African-American and African studies at Ohio State University. But she was unsure what was next. In January 2008, not long after she earned her OSU degree, Beulah spent her 25th birthday with her grandmother, Ellen Young, a self-taught Baptist preacher.
During their visit, “she prayed for me, and she took her oil out and anointed my head and hands. And that was our last visit.”
Young died that April, and as Beulah reflected on a regret of her grandmother’s, she chose the next step in her own life.
“My grandmother never thought that she was a very smart woman,” she says. “She never had the opportunity to go to seminary, so I said, ‘I’m going to go to seminary.’ I thought I was coming here to prepare for some sort of ministry, but I didn’t know what sort of ministry.”
Beulah earned a scholarship to MTSO and enrolled that fall as a Master of Divinity student. By the end of her first semester, though, she had serious doubts about the path she was on.
“I was preparing to leave,” she says. But she decided to make the most of her scholarship by finishing out the school year. Among her second-semester classes was Church History I, taught by Professor Diane Lobody. And quickly, within that classroom, Beulah realized she had found her calling.
“I had a light come on, and I realized, ‘Yes! History has always been it for me.’” She shifted her focus to the MTS program, and things fell into place.
“It’s been full speed ahead since then.”
Now Beulah looks forward to doctoral studies as she completes the seminary degree her grandmother never had the opportunity to pursue.
“Coming here was a way to honor her,” she says, “but then I actually ended up finding myself.”
MTSO ON THE ROAD
Reconnect at conference
MTSO will have a presence at many annual conferences, from California to New York and from Mississippi to Michigan. Get details about displays and gatherings at your conference here.
Kampen’s book makes Dead Sea Scrolls more accessible
MTSO Professor John Kampen, an eminent scholar on the Dead Sea Scrolls, has contributed a significant volume to the study of the scrolls with the publication of Wisdom Literature. The book, published in March, is the second volume of Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls, a 16-volume set that provides English translation and extensive commentary on many of these texts for the first time.
It’s the latest product in an expansive body of work by Kampen. He is the author or editor of four other books and contributor to reference works such as The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls and The Anchor Bible Dictionary.
Kampen, the Dunn Professor of Biblical Interpretation, served as MTSO’s academic dean from 2005 to 2009. His diverse educational background includes a BA in sociology from the University of Saskatchewan, an M.Div. from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and a Ph.D. from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
With expertise in rabbinic literature, Dead Sea Scrolls literature and the New Testament, Kampen is uniquely qualified to author not only Wisdom Literature but his upcoming book for Yale University Press, Matthew Within Judaism: The Changing Face of Jewish and Christian Origins. He describes this current project as “a book to place Matthew within the changing perceptions of Jewish history of the first century as influenced by the Dead Sea Scrolls.”
The texts covered in Wisdom Literature weren’t available for study until 1991. This is the first comprehensive collection of them in a format accessible to the non-specialist.
“For students of early Christianity, there is a text with a set of beatitudes similar to those of the Sermon on the Mount,” Kampen says. “Others portray wisdom as a female figure and call her opponent ‘The Evil Seductress.’”
He has relished the opportunity to contribute to the fresh understanding of these millennia-old but newly discovered resources.
“The Dead Sea Scrolls are the most significant materials available describing beliefs and practices at the time when two of the major religions of the present world began, Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity,” he says. “They’re also a significant cultural artifact for the development of some of the central ideas of the Western world.”
SAVE THE DATE
Tex Sample tapped for Schooler
The 2011 Schooler Institute on Preaching will feature Tex Sample. The well-known author and lecturer will speak about the work of Reinhold Niebuhr.
This year’s Schooler event will be held Sept. 19 and 20 on the MTSO campus. Watch for more information online and in future issues of Campus View.
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES GROUP
MTSO hosts international meeting of Christian leaders
Church leaders representing 10 denominations on four continents met at MTSO in March to revise a significant document of the World Council of Churches.
Members of the Ecclesiology Working Group of the WCC’s Faith and Order standing commission gathered to work on a revision of The Nature and Mission of the Church, a book identifying broad agreements between the 349 Christian churches that make up the WCC. The meeting was hosted by MTSO Professor Sarah Lancaster, who is co-moderator of the Ecclesiology Working Group.
The following members of the Ecclesiology Working Group attended the meeting, held March 16-21:
- Rev. Gregory J. Fairbanks, Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Roman Catholic Church
- Canon Peter Fisher, Church of England
- Rev. Canon John Gibaut, Anglican Church of Canada
- Rev. Dr. William Henn, Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Roman Catholic Church
- Very Rev. Professor Dr. Viorel Ionita, Romanian Orthodox Church
- Sarah Kaulule, United Church of Zambia
- Rev. Dr. Sarah Lancaster, United Methodist Church
- Professor Dr. Ulrike Link-Wieczorek, Evangelical Church in Germany
- Rev. Dr. Odair Pedroso Mateus, Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil
- Right Rev. Nathan Ohanisyan, Armenian Apostolic Church
- His Eminence Metropolitan Dr. Vasilios of Constantia-Ammochostos, Church of Cyprus
The ongoing responsibility of the Ecclesiology Working Group is to produce a statement about the church for the WCC that will reflect as closely as possible the agreement of its member churches about what the church is. Two versions of such a statement have already been published under the titles The Nature and Purpose of the Church (1998) and The Nature and Mission of the Church (2005).
The current work of the EWG is to revise the 2005 statement in light of responses from the churches that have reviewed it so that a new version will reflect even more adequately where understanding is shared and where it differs.
Before this meeting in March, a smaller drafting group had met in Geneva in October 2010 to produce a revision of the document that could be circulated to all working group members for review and refinement. The meeting held at MTSO gave all members a chance to suggest changes to this revision.
Lancaster said while progress was made, some issues required such substantive discussion that the EWG did not fully complete its review of the document during the time allotted for the meeting. Before dismissing, the EWG developed a plan for finishing a revision using electronic communication in the hope that a new version may be presented to the entire Standing Commission at its meeting in Italy this July.
The World Council of Churches’ website is www.oikoumene.org.
49TH COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY
UCC Ohio leader Molsberry
Methodist Theological School in Ohio presented graduates with master’s and Doctor of Ministry degrees in a sun-drenched ceremony in the campus’s Dickinson Courtyard May 21. The schools’ 49th commencement featured an address by Rev. Robert Molsberry, Ohio Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ.
Molsberry drew laughs by sharing bad news and good news with graduates. “The bad news is: When you wake up tomorrow, there may not be a tomorrow,” he said, referring to a widely reported prediction that May 21 would be Judgment Day. He also warned them that the predicted rapture could quickly render their degrees worthless, before adding, “The good news is: You may not have to pay for them.”
He then spoke about “my own personal apocalypse 14 years ago,” when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while bicycling. He was comatose for six weeks, was hospitalized for four months and remains paraplegic. He has since written two books about disability and last year completed an Ironman-length triathlon by swimming, hand-cycling and propelling a wheelchair a combined 140.6 miles.
In reference to his book Blindsided by Grace, Molsberry said, “I was reflecting on the fact that I was not only blindsided by a pickup truck, but I was blindsided by God’s presence through all of this, opening doors, making opportunities possible, experiencing a journey through a cross-cultural adventure of disability.”
“As God is with me, God is with you all today and into the future,” told the graduates, “not for complacency…but for confidence.”
After diplomas were awarded, MTSO President Jay Rundell invited the graduates to visit the school in the future, adding, “I pray that when you come back, we will not recognize all of you in your entirety, because if we have done our work well, you will be something you have not yet been, and – believe it or not – you will believe things you do not now believe. You will see the world in ways you have yet to see it.”
“If we have done our work well,” he said, “you will change in ways that surprise us.”
Selected high-resolution photos of commencement are available for viewing and downloading on Picasaweb.
In addition, more than 400 photos, including the presentation of each diploma, are available for viewing and purchase on a variety of media via Shutterfly.
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