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Academics

You’re that one

  • fascinated by church history or religious history
  • dedicated to discovering how we can live compassionately and responsibly – in other words, about ethics
  • eager to explore “the big questions” such as Who are we? Who is God? Why does it matter?
  • curious about the role of key religious writings, such as the Bible, in history, as well as life now
  • passionate about peace and peacemaking
  • maybe thinking about pastoral ministry as a career

Versatility

Bethel’s Department of Bible and Religion

  • offers the major or minor, either of which combine easily with other disciplines – for example, business, history, communication arts, social work, music or biology
  • includes the minor in Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies and the Youth Ministry certificate, also designed to mesh well with almost any major
  • is led by faculty who are interested in you and the path you want your studies to follow

A faith journey

Every other year, Bethel College offers the Jerusalem Seminar during the January interterm.

This trip takes you

  • to sites of deep significance to Christians, Jews and Muslims, and to places you might have read about in the Bible
  • but more than that, to visit people and organizations in Israel/Palestine working for peace and justice among all the people of that region
See where some of our graduates have gone with their degrees. Where will your journey lead?

Want to talk more with faculty and current students? Schedule a campus visit.

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The campus has an active spiritual life. Students are largely responsible for planning and leading a weekly (voluntary) chapel service for the whole campus community. You can be involved in religious organizations such as a Catholic Students group or the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, or help plan and carry out informal worship services or Bible study groups with other students.

Internships/research

If you’re interested in Christian ministry, consider taking part in the Ministry Inquiry Program one summer. MIP is open to students of any denomination. You’ll be placed in a Mennonite congregation where the pastor and people are willing to mentor you as you learn what it’s like to preach, lead worship, plan youth activities and visit members.

Seniors in the department are required to complete a year-long research project on a topic of their choice. Some recent senior seminars topics have included:

  • Principle and Process: The Call of a Church Document
  • The Lord’s Resistance Army and Religious Rhetoric in Uganda, 1980 to 2000
  • Fragile Bonds and Global Fellowship: The Ninth Mennonite World Conference in Curitiba, Brazil, 1972
  • Emplaced: A Personal and Scholarly Exploration of Sacred Space
  • A Church Divided: Fundamentalism and Bethesda Mennonite Church, Henderson, Neb., 1934-1950

Study Abroad

For more than two decades, Bethel College has offered a 3-week travel course to Israel/Palestine every other January called the Jerusalem Seminar. The seminar involves visits to archaeological and historical sites, meetings with Jewish, Arab Christian and Muslim spokespersons, and field visits to various organizations and projects.

The objectives of the seminar are:

  • to explore the biblical text in the context of the history and geography of Palestine;
  • to learn about the religions of the Middle East – Judaism, Islam and Eastern Christianity;
  • to develop an understanding of the conflict in Israel/Palestine by meeting with spokespersons from different perspectives;
  • to focus on personal spiritual renewal by experiencing the land and setting out of which our Judeo-Christian faith has come.

For more information about the next scheduled trip, contact Patty Shelly.

Vocation Seminar

The seminar is an informal gathering around a common meal of persons who want to explore the meaning of Christian vocation or calling. Who are we called to be—in relationship to God, ourselves, other persons, and the cosmos?

Students with all kinds of interests are welcome to join the seminar. The seminar is particularly designed for students:

  • With interests in religious studies
  • Committed to nurturing their Christian faith
  • Wanting to dialogue with persons with similar interests
  • Interested in serving in the life of the church as a lay person
  • Considering full time professional work in a church vocation
  • Bible and Religion majors or minors, or those considering a major or minor

Meeting time

Every other Monday evening during the supper hour (5:30–7 p.m.) in one of the seminar rooms in the Schulz Student Center.

Credit

Students receive 1/2 hour credit per semester. Auditors are welcome.

Some of our graduates have taken service assignments or community- and church-related jobs. Over the last 30 years, about two-thirds of Bethel graduates and alumni in Bible and religion have gone on for graduate study at Mennonite, United Methodist and other church-related seminaries, as well as widely known institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the University of Chicago.

Post-graduate careers include:

  • bankruptcy law, environmental law
  • director of international programs for Mennonite Central Committee
  • community organizing
  • human rights work with Muslim women in Afghanistan
  • pastoral ministry, including youth ministry
  • director of a Mennonite relief and service program in West Bank
  • teaching religion at the college and university level
  • principal of an international school in India
  • conflict mediation

Notable Alumni

Hannah Klaassen – ’06
Hannah was a refugee job placement specialist at Jewish Vocational Service in Kansas City for three years following graduation, working mainly with immigrants from East Africa. In fall 2009, she began working on a dual master’s degrees in theology (Chicago Theological Seminary) and social work (University of Chicago.
Joel Goering – ’05
After graduation, Joel worked for five years as a community organizer and program director in Kansas City, Kan. He spearheaded the effort to start a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School in his neighborhood and served as the school’s first project director. In 2011, he completed a master’s in business administration, with an emphasis in nonprofit management, at the University of Texas at Austin and now works as a charter school finance specialist for EdOps, an organization that provides business management services to charter schools, based in Washington, D.C.
Samuel Voth Schrag – ’04
Samuel came into Bethel not knowing what to study. He left Bethel prepared to go to seminary, choosing Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. He currently leads the congregation at St. Louis Mennonite Fellowship.
Alan Stucky – ’03
Alan knew from early on that seminary was his calling. He graduated from Bethel with a degree in Bible and religion, then Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary with a masters in divinity. Stucky currently works as the pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Wichita.
Major requirements for Bible and Religion:
30 hours (15 upper-level)
Minor requirements for Bible and Religion:
16 hours (6 upper-level)
Minor requirements for Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies:
17–19 hours, including 12 taken from required courses in Bible and religion and social sciences and completion of a research project, done either in conjunction with the seminar project in the major area or independently as Peace Studies Research (2 or 3 credit hours).

Two especially notable courses in the Bible and religion department are the Jerusalem Seminar, an interterm travel course to the Middle East, and the Vocation Seminar, a class that meets once every two weeks over dinner for a discussion of issues in contemporary theology. Follow the links to find out more.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.