Interfaith Storytelling for a Vibrant Democracy

Congratulations to Prof. Amy Poppinga on the success of last month’s undergraduate leadership conference: Interfaith Storytelling for a Vibrant Democracy, which sought to help college students address inter- and intra-religious rifts in American society by “equipping ourselves to tell our own stories and learn to listen to the stories of others with clarity, charity, and hospitality.”

Amy PoppingaAlong with her Bethel colleagues Sara Shady (Philosophy) and Marion Larson (English), Prof. Poppinga helped coordinate the event, which drew about 80 students (15 from Bethel) to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. (Bethel and St. Thomas co-sponsored the event with Augsburg University.) The conference was the latest in a series of interfaith collaborations for the three Bethel professors — and an extension of themes from Prof. Poppinga’s research and teaching (in courses like HIS212U History of Islam, HIS328G Muslim Women in History, and HIS356 Modern Middle East). In addition to coordinating, Prof. Poppinga led a breakout session on Moving into One Another’s Stories.

“Because the conference was workshop-based, students were engaging with peers, not just listening to experts,” she told Bethel News. “They had the opportunity to connect shared experiences, concerns, commonalities, despite coming from multiple campuses.”

The conference was funded by a grant from Interfaith Youth Core, whose president, Eboo Patel, will speak at Bethel on Monday morning, April 9.


Prof. Goldberg Headed to Greece This Summer

Congratulations to Prof. Charlie Goldberg, selected from a national pool of applicants for “Traveling with Pausanias through Greece” — a faculty seminar sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Center for Hellenic Studies. (Prof. AnneMarie Kooistra participated in a 2012 CIC seminar at Yale University, on slave narratives in American history.)

Late medieval manuscript of Pausanias' Description of Greece
15th century European manuscript of Pausanias’ Description – Laurentian Library/Wikimedia

For a week this June, Charlie et al. will visit historic sites like Athens, Delphi, Olympia, and Argos, traveling in the footsteps of the 2nd century CE travel writer Pausanias. Through site visits and readings, the seminar “will provide a background on the development of Greek material culture, such as the evolution of sacred, domestic, and civic architecture, funerary practices, sculpture, and two-dimensional representations of traditional narratives and daily life in vase paintings.”

All of which is great news for students who will be taking courses with Charlie, like HIS310 Near Eastern and Greek Civilizations and classes in our new Digital Humanities major.

History Teachers at the 2018 Conference on Faith and History

This fall the Conference and Faith and History (CFH) will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as it holds its biennial conference (Calvin College, Oct. 4-6). One of the oldest Christian academic societies in North America, CFH describes itself as “a community of scholars exploring the relationship between Christian faith and history” and primarily aspires “to encourage excellence in the theory and practice of history from the perspective of historic Christianity.” Bethel has long had faculty participate in CFH, with Prof. Gehrz currently serving on the group’s executive board.

Conference on Faith and History logo

While most CFH members are college and university professors and graduate students, we want to echo program chair John Fea’s invitation for middle and high school teachers to consider attending the conference. The schedule is still taking shape, but John reports that there will be a special session just on the role of secondary school teachers in CFH, and that several such educators have already proposed papers. Plus it’s a chance to engage in some continuing education as you hear papers and talks from leading scholars in a variety of fields (not just church/religious history). We’ll share the full schedule once it’s set, but the list of plenary speakers includes Margaret Bendroth (author of The Spiritual Practice of Remembering) and Robert Orsi (History and Presence).

Oh, and you’d have the chance to spend a few days with Bethel faculty: Profs. Gehrz, Goldberg, and Poppinga have all proposed papers or sessions for this year’s meeting.

Hope to see you at CFH 2018!

Call for Proposals: The 2018 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

We’re looking forward to taking part in the 5th annual Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium — Saturday, April 21 at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in lovely Winona, MN.

(Saint Mary’s first participated in MUHS in 2016, when we were the hosts. The symposium has also been held at University of Northwestern, in 2014 and 2017; and Bethany Lutheran College, in 2015. We’re tentatively slated to host again next year.)

Saint Mary's University of MN

Bethel faculty and students will be well represented, with our Senior Seminar-ians giving initial presentations of their research projects — which tentatively run the gamut from dime novels about cowboys to evangelical marriage manuals to environmental thought in the Early Church. But other students are welcome to propose presentations as well. Just read the MUHS 2018 CFP and fill out the application form linked in it. And, of course, we’d love to meet up with any alumni who live down in that part of Minnesota.

How #Reformation500 Is Being Marked in the Twin Cities

We’re now just ten days away from the 500th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther is supposed to have nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church. Whether or not that’s actually what happened, or when, Oct. 31st, 2017 is being marked around the world as a moment to remember, celebrate, mourn, etc. the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

Luther's 95 theses on the Castle Church doors in Wittenberg
Luther’s theses (in Latin) are inscribed on the doors of the church in Wittenberg – Creative Commons (A. Savin)

So what’s happening around the Twin Cities for #Reformation500? A partial list of events: (not including Prof. Gehrz’s ongoing adult Sunday School class on “The Reformation at 500,” concluding tomorrow and Oct. 29, 10am, at Calvary Church in Roseville)

Concordia university st. paul

Next weekend our neighbors to the south will host a variety of events, including a festival worship service Sunday afternoon that features drama, music, dance, and a sermon by the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (Gangelhoff Center, 4pm, Oct. 29th). CUSP is also hosting a juried art show (“Reformation Reformed”) and an archival display (“Pen & Ink: Tools of Reform”) until November 14th.

Luther seminary Reformation festival

Next Friday and Saturday, St. Paul’s ELCA seminary will host a series of workshops and presentations by theologians and musicians. (Registration required) In addition, on Friday evening the National Lutheran Choir will debut a mass commissioned for the anniversary (Basilica of St. Mary, 7pm), and the following afternoon Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis will host a special worship service (4pm).

Other Musical Celebrations

November 2-4 the Minnesota Orchestra will perform Mendelssohn’s Reformation symphony, Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2, and the world premiere of American composer Sebastian Currier’s Re-formation. Mendelssohn’s work will also be featured in a free concert by the East Metro Symphony Orchestra next Sunday (King of Kings Lutheran, Woodbury, 3pm). That same afternoon, St. Paul’s Reformation Lutheran Church will host a Reformation liturgy featuring Cantata Vespers (4pm).

“martin luther on triaL”

On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 12th, Mt. Olivet Lutheran will host the debut of an original play that puts Martin Luther on trial for the complicated legacies of the Reformation (2pm, Pantages Theatre).

Now Available from Prof. Gehrz: The Pietist Option

Congratulations to Prof. Chris Gehrz, whose new book with Evangelical Covenant pastor Mark Pattie came out today!

Gehrz & Pattie, The Pietist OptionThe Pietist Option: Hope for the Renewal of Christianity (InterVarsity Press) is a 21st century version of a 1675 book that launched the German Pietist movement. While it borrows from the history of Pietism, it addresses present-day concerns. In his endorsement, Bethel president Jay Barnes says that Gehrz and Pattie “help us see how Christ-followers in past centuries faced challenging issues in ways that are relevant to current events… The Pietist Option has wisdom for the church, the academy, and the neighborhood. I’m thankful for this resource.” Messiah College history professor John Fea (author, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?) agrees: “In an age in which the church is badly divided by politics and culture wars, The Pietist Option offers a better way. Chris Gehrz and Mark Pattie invite us to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage defined by loving our neighbors, living in hope, and listening to God. It is indeed time to reconsider the Pietist roots of American evangelicalism.”

All are invited to a book launch party for The Pietist Option — Tuesday, October 10th, 7pm at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, MN. The authors will read excerpts and sign copies of the book.

Prof. Gehrz previously edited The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education: Forming Whole and Holy Persons (also InterVarsity Press) and The Pietist Impulse in Christianity (Pickwick). His next project is a spiritual biography of Charles A. Lindbergh, under contract with Eerdmans Publishing.

Faculty Excellence Award for Service: Sam Mulberry

It is the first day of the Minnesota State Fair, so clearly the end of summer is in sight.  Fall semester classes begin Monday.  That means that this week faculty have been busy putting the final touches on course syllabi, preparing to meet new students, arranging calendars to accommodate a full slate of meetings and other obligations, and attending faculty retreat. Phew.

Faculty retreat isn’t necessarily everyone’s summer highlight, but it is the event where we have a chance to honor a trio of outstanding colleagues in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service.  This year, Sam Mulberry received the Faculty Excellence Award for Service.

Sam Mulberry receiving the Faculty Excellence Award for Service from Ruth Nelson.  (Faculty Retreat, 22 August 2017) Note the standing ovation!

Ruth Nelson, who serves as Co-Director of the Academic Enrichment and Support Center with Sam, led the nomination effort.  Because Sam’s service to Bethel is so multifaceted, however, a variety of folks including Christianity and Western Culture colleagues, Patrice Conrath (advising), and Kent Gerber (library) joined Ruth to help provide a glimpse of all that Sam does for this university.  Together, these colleagues spoke of how Sam “produces innovative media that enhance student learning,” “builds community and mentors students,” “provides presence, voice and actions to support multiple committees and task forces,” and “pursues programs and practices that support student success.”

Former students, too, spoke of Sam’s impact on their lives:

“Sam Mulberry’s support and encouragement for his T.A.’s was never in question. From my first weekly planning meeting as a teacher’s assistant for Christianity and Western Culture, I was already caught up in the infectious laughs and sincere discussion of fellow T.A.’s and Professor Mulberry. Opening up his home to T.A.’s for team development and bonding, providing himself as a main contact we could access for academic concerns – all the while insisting we call him “Sam” – Professor Mulberry’s personal devotion to creating a unique and cohesive community for teacher’s assistants proved to be a great success. In an unsure time of all undergraduate students’ lives, when we easily felt weighed down by concerns of the future and insecurities of the present, Sam drew out and uplifted our skills and characters.

…Oftentimes there is a distinction between teachers who have a passion for their content and teachers who love their students. Professor Mulberry fits the mold of both, displaying his deep dedication to the discipline of history while continuing to enrich the lives of students through authentic relationship-building.”

Sam is extraordinary.  He is truly ecumenical in his service—willing to help all: students, staff, professors, administration.  Sam’s colleagues have noted that “Sam recognizes that his gifts . . . are all from the Lord and he generously gives back to see students succeed. A number of us are extremely thankful that Sam serves and works alongside us at Bethel University.”


Michael Beschloss Coming to St. Paul

If you’re a presidential history buff — or if current events have you interested in the development of the presidency — consider attending a free lecture by presidential historian and NBC/PBS contributor Michael Beschloss: Sunday, May 21st, 2pm in the sanctuary of House of Hope Presbyterian Church, on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Most recently the author of the American Heritage History of the PresidentsBeschloss will appear at part of the church’s Sunday Series of talks.

Now Hiring: History Department TAs for 2017-2018

While our students are getting set to register for fall courses, our faculty are also looking ahead to next year and preparing to hire teaching assistants (TAs). Typically, each of our professors works with one or two TAs. While several current TAs will returning, we will need some new TAs for part or all of the 2017-18 academic year.

Students: if you’re interested in serving for the first time as a TA, start by clicking here to read the job description and requirements. Then to be considered for a TA position, complete this Google Form no later than April 18th.

To get some personal insight into what it’s like being a TA, skip ahead to 12:45 of this video for a 2016 interview with then-TAs Micayla Moore and Julia Muckenhirn.

Next Tuesday: Learn More about Digital Humanities at Bethel

We’re happy to report that our much-anticipated Digital Humanities program is moving forward, with the new DIG200 Intro to DH course debuting next fall. It’s being taught by Prof. Charlie Goldberg, who coordinates the DH program.

To learn more, plan to join us next Tuesday (April 4) at 10:20am in the Bethel Library. Charlie and digital librarian Kent Gerber will give an overview of DH, DIG200, and the new program. Bring a laptop or tablet to take part in a hands-on demonstration of one digital tool from the new course!