A Leap of Faith

 A Leap of Faith

Bethany Theological Seminary now offers six master’s-level certificatesEric Spangler For anyone wanting to see how their faith matters in real life Bethany Theological Seminary now has six master’s-level certificates that are a great way to start, says Steve Schweitzer, academic dean and professor.

The six certificates include Biblical Peacemaking, Intercultural Biblical Interpretation, Just Peace and Conflict Transformation, Theology and Science, Theopoetics and Theological Imagination, and Theological Studies, he says.

“The courses that go along with this are meant to connect people and their interests to real-world concerns,” says Schweitzer. The courses are a great way for individuals to get a taste of thinking theologically, he says.

The courses are also a great way for anyone to learn a new skill or learn about how theology and ethics can influence the way people conduct business, says Schweitzer. “Something like the Just Peace and Conflict Transformation [certificate] might be helpful,” he says. “It’s also for folks who are wanting to think theologically about the larger aspects of our culture and life.”

Although about half of the students taking the certificate courses are in the ministry, other professionals like writers, college professors and community organizers are just some of the business professions who are represented in the classes, says Schweitzer.

“We’ve had a number of students who have taken these as personal enrichment so they are really concerned and care deeply about these issues,” he says. “They want to … dive deeper into these areas and they believe it will make them a better person.”

Bethany Theological Seminary, one of eight institutions of higher education related to the Church of the Brethren, is the only school in the country that offers the Theopoetics and Theological Imagination certificate, Schweitzer says. Theopoetics is “seeing theology in the world around us—particularly through poetry and the arts—and thinking creatively about how we think about God,” he says.

And, starting next fall, students will be able to earn a master’s degree in theopoetics, says Schweitzer. “You can start with a certificate and move to a [master’s degree program] or you can start right away with the [master’s degree program],” he says.

In fact, all of the courses in the certificate programs are fully transferable to a master’s degree program, says Schweitzer, and all the certificates can be completed in one or two years. “It’s designed to work either as a standalone specialty focus or as complementary work towards a master’s degree,” he says.

The certificates are a great deal financially, Schweitzer says. “The financial aid around these things is simply amazing,” he says. “You could get through the coursework and you could get a master’s certificate for only $2,200 if you did it all in one year.”

Located in Richmond, Indiana, Bethany Theological Seminary’s six master’s-level certificate programs can be taken either at the school or online, says Schweitzer. The courses fit anyone’s schedule, with either weekly classes, one weekend a month for three months or every weekday for two weeks, he says.