Today we’re starting a new series called “From AC 2nd to…” It profiles former History majors who have followed a variety of professional and educational tracks in their post-Bethel careers.
We’ll kick off with Seth Rima (‘09), M.Div. student in Pastoral Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Why (and at what point) did you decide to major in History?
I bounced from major to major my Freshman and into my Sophomore year. After taking some of the intro classes for each, I was frustrated because it seemed like none of them sparked a passion in me. I just had no interest in the busy work, and someone had told me that a big factor in deciding what your future was going to look like was recognizing what grabs you that is tedious to others. Growing up my two favorite books that I can really remember were biographies of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison. I had always been intrigued by the characters of history, and found myself looking at old maps and reading old stories and trying to picture myself in them. History was something I always loved getting lost in as a kid, and that continued into college, so I decided in January of my Sophomore year (2007) to change my major to History.
Did you consider a double-major?
I actually only had the single major, although in hindsight I wish I had done more. I did hold a minor in Reconciliation Studies for around a year, but I didn’t really feel like I was as committed as I should be to the classes, and in History I felt that I was getting thrice-weekly case studies in why reconciliation is important through all of my history classes. But like I noted above, if I could go back, I would have double-majored in either Biblical & Theological Studies, or I would have created a major that drew from Philosophy, Political Science, and Theology.
Can you talk about your experience studying abroad? How did it complement or supplement your Bethel education in general, and the History major in particular?
My experience studying abroad was something that is almost impossible to not take for granted, if that makes any sense at all. The opportunity to study abroad, particularly for a History major, is something that just has to be taken if it ever becomes possible. For me, studying in Florence and Rome was an opportunity to really gauge where my life was at and where it was going. Extenuating circumstances at home meant that I longed to just be outside wandering the city, seeing every possible site and soaking it all in, and my love and appreciation for history really helped keep me sane. It also made it an unavoidable time of growth in many areas. When I came back, it was both a spring and a pit in that I was so much more energized and participative in my classes, but also struggled with the distance between myself and the characters and places I was studying, when for so long I felt like the world was my classroom.
More than anything, my experience in Rome really marks an incredible turning point in my walk with Christ, because just from an everyday living standpoint, you never know how much it costs to follow Christ until you are surrounded by those who you love, but don’t follow Him. I learned a lot about myself, like areas of temptation, and areas of strength in my faith, that I never would have learned while in college otherwise.
At what point (in college or after) did you first consider going to seminary?
I grew up with horror stories from life in ministry echoing in my mind, not because my parents (my Dad was and is again a pastor) talked about it around us a lot, but because those grotesque stories of hypocritical Christians are the ones that stick with you when you are a kid that is wrapped up in yourself more than anything else. I was always going to be “better” than those Christians that didn’t live it out, and it wasn’t until late in my Senior year that I really started to think seriously about ministry. Even then I wasn’t sure about seminary until after I got married in June after graduating in December of ’09. I started to realize that the body of Christ is the body of Christ, no matter how broken it seems, and to have the honor to minister to it and hopefully assist people as they search for their part in that Body was something I really felt drawn to. There was a distinct call that I felt to grow in my knowledge of the Word and the Church’s history, and to help convey the importance of those things to others who have distinct occupational callings outside of our usual definition of ministry.