On February 23, Southwestern Adventist University established its very own chapter of the Adventist Theological Society (ATS) at the final event in the three-day Trinity Conference. For students of Southwestern Adventist University interested in theology or ministry, this is good news. Although some students may have already been members of the ATS, a local chapter means a range of immediate, hands-on professional development activities: conducting scholarly research, planning community events, and presenting research in public forums.
The club is not just for students and it is not just for theology scholars, it is for “anyone with a passion for Adventist theology,” says Dr. Michael Campbell, Associate Professor and Trinity Conference organizer. “Our goal, ” says Campbell, “is that once a month, we will provide a lecture or public event for students, faculty, and the community.” The events, which could be presented by theology students and faculty, as well as visiting scholars, will be designed with laypeople and the local community in mind.
Southwestern Adventist University Biology Professor Amy McHenry is one example of a layperson who has joined ATS because of her “personal interest in theology,” and other non-research related goals. McHenry directs the Honors program at Southwestern Adventist University and, for her, involvement in the new chapter means helping students bridge theory with practice: “I feel very strongly that the partnership between scholarly research and pastoral care is really important for training our future pastors. Pastoral care provides relevance to scholarly pursuits and scholarly research enhances and deepens the impact of pastors in their ministry.”
As a case in point, the Trinity Conference was designed to respond to a real conversation that has been going on among local pastors. “I understand from pastors in the area that the understanding of the trinity has been an issue,” Campbell says. “That’s why we chose this topic. We want to scratch where the church itches.” Looking forward to future events, Campbell says, “The topics we want to cover will not be just esoteric, academic subjects. We want to address real issues that impact our local churches.”
As shared online at atsacademy.org, these local goals support the worldwide mission of the ATS, which exists to strengthen the faith of “Adventist leaders, pastors, theologians and lay people” by presenting “some of the best biblical scholarship in the Adventist Church in a format that is clear and easy to understand.”
In the words of sophomore Theology student Christopher Findley, “The ATS will be a blessing to us as theology students because we can create a community where we come together and seek a greater relationship with Jesus through events, experiences, and Christ-centered activities. I’m excited!”
The local chapter officially commenced on Saturday, February 23, in the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church, culminating with a business meeting. During this meeting, officers were elected. Michael Campbell was selected as chapter director, Tony Zbaraschuk was elected Secretary, and Peter McHenry was elected Treasurer.
For more information on the Trinity conference, visit www.swau.edu/TrinityConference. Photos from the even t may be viewed at www.flickr.com/southwesternadventist.
Celebrating its 125th anniversary, Southwestern Adventist University has offered Christian education since 1893. A small comprehensive university, the beautiful campus is located in Keene, Texas, about 20 minutes south of Fort Worth. Southwestern Adventist University offers personable professors, numerous programs including business, education, nursing, Senior Living Management Certificate, master’s programs, and many ways for students to get involved both on campus and abroad. With a diverse student body that includes international students from dozens of countries and an average student/teacher ratio of 11:1, Southwestern Adventist University offers a uniquely diverse and personal college experience.