Harrisonburg: Seminary opens with perspective on religion’s role in today’s society

Story by Laura Lehman Amstutz

“Seminary is a place where we can discover the meaning of God’s action in the world and respond with all the energy with which God infuses us,” said Eastern Mennonite Seminary Dean Ervin R. Stutzman at an opening convocation on Tuesday in Martin Chapel at the seminary.

Dr. Stutzman based his address, entitled “Living into God’s Grand Purpose,” on Romans 8:28-39. He encouraged students “to continue to seek and live God’s grand purpose for the world, even in the midst of hardship.

“The apostle Paul lived with a strong sense of being chosen by God, of being called into alignment with God’s sovereign purpose,” said Stutzman.

“Especially in difficult times, God’s purpose may be shrouded in mystery and seemingly impossible to discern or comprehend,” he continued. “Yet, we can rest assured that God is always at work for the good, in keeping with God’s grand purpose in the world.”

As is his custom, Stutzman included in his address the seminary purpose statement. However, he told the assembly that this may be one of the last times that statement is heard in its current form.

“This purpose statement has served us well,” said Stutzman. “But we are in the process of writing a new one.” He went on to say that the new purpose statement will reflect the new curriculum that seminary faculty will adopt in the next few weeks. The new curriculum will take effect next year and include new courses like “Formation in God’s Story.”

About 25 new students joined the nearly 70 returning students at EMS for convocation and the first day of classes Aug. 26.

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