Religion Seminar

Bible teachers learn at Bluffton

BLUFFTON, Ohio—Eight Mennonite high school Bible teachers from across the nation spent March 17 and 18 at Bluffton University to learn about its curriculum and to attend seminars led by Bluffton religion department faculty.

Seminar topics included religion curriculum, adolescent development and youth ministry, and church history.

Dr. Randy Keeler, an associate professor of religion at Bluffton, led the religion curriculum seminar, where he shared the department’s mission for Bluffton students pursuing a degree in biblical and theological studies or in youth ministries.

Two current Bluffton seniors engaged in the discussion, one from each major—Sam Griffith, a youth ministries major from Greensburg, Pa., and Chris Pedersen, a biblical and theological studies major from West Salem, Ohio.

“I didn’t come in from a Mennonite background,” Griffith said, “but coming here, I’ve really learned to appreciate Mennonite beliefs.”

Keeler suggested that Bible teachers at Mennonite schools can particularly learn from the unique way the department teaches its introductory Bible course, called “Introduction to Biblical Worldview.”

“It looks at the Bible,” Keeler said, “but also at spirituality, ethics and theology.”

Elwood Yoder, who teaches at Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, Va., said the benefits of the conference are two-fold. “I get ideas for my classroom and, secondly, I meet people,” he said, noting the opportunity to network.

Keeler also led a seminar on the changing face of adolescence, which taught that youth ministry must adapt to ever-changing youth. “You can’t assume the world of adolescence is the same as 20 or 30 years ago,” he said.

Dr. Alex Sider, also an associate professor of religion at Bluffton, led the discussion on church history.

Aside from the formal parts of the conference, participating teachers and Bluffton faculty had the chance to engage in fraternal fellowship with other Mennonite educators. “I feel like we’re all in this enterprise together,” said Keeler.

“It’s good for them to see what our curriculum is,” he added about the visiting teachers. “Conferences such as this prepare Mennonite educators to inform their students about Mennonite colleges and universities.”