College Students Consider Diversity with Seminary Now

In 2020 Dr. Tom Bergler, Professor of Christian Thought and Practice at Huntington University, was looking for materials for several classes that would encourage discussion on issues of race and racism. “These are important issues for all Christians to think about,” he says. He wanted to include content that would help students attend to these topics and consider how the body of Christ should be seeking equality and inclusion for all people.

When Dr. Bergler looked at the offerings from Seminary Now, he was impressed by how strong they are in the areas of diversity, racial issues, and how the church should respond. He also appreciated that the video format of Seminary Now provides variety and interest for students beyond just reading textbooks.

So far, two groups of Dr. Bergler’s students have used Seminary Now courses in their classes.  First he selected Brenda Salter McNeil’s Roadmap to Reconciliation for a class in the fall. Dr. Bergler was already familiar with Dr. Salter McNeil’s high-quality work on the topic of reconciliation, and he thought her teaching would be helpful for his students who are studying to be pastors or other ministry leaders. “One study in Roadmap is specifically about building relationships across differences, which is essential for church ministry,” he says.

Then for a spring class on discipleship and evangelism, Dr. Bergler chose David Swanson’s Rediscipling the White Church. He wanted students to look at racial dimensions of discipleship, considering how disciples of Christ can have a biblical understanding of race.

These courses helped students see things from a different perspective, Dr. Bergler says. They particularly reinforced how people working in ministry and discipleship need to take issues related to race and reconciliation into account. He also appreciates the quality of the videos and the quizzes students can take to record that they’ve watched a video. “It’s valuable for students, instructors, and anyone who wants to learn in a video-based format,” he concludes.

From the fall class, some students reported that it was helpful to be addressing concerns around race straightforwardly, clearly, and positively. They found the course material challenging in a good way, especially during a time when the country has been in turmoil around such issues. Students appreciated the insights they gained in how to have healthy relationships with people in the body of Christ who are different from them.

“One thing I’m trying to do more and more is include material in courses by people who come from different ethnic and racial groups, nationalities, and backgrounds, both male and female voices,” says Dr. Bergler. “This lets students training for ministry see that they need to listen to diverse voices and consider diversity among the people they minister to—including how different people will hear and receive their ministry. Seminary Now courses make it easy to hear directly from diverse voices, which adds a personal dimension and brings it alive in a different way. It’s almost like they’re encountering the person more than just reading the book.”

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