This article was originally published in the November 2013 issue of Northeastern Seminary’s ResOund Newsletter.
It is affirming to be named to the list of the 2013 Military Friendly Schools®, a list that honors the top 15 percent of colleges and universities in the country that “deliver the best experience for military students.” It is great to be recognized for “leading practices in recruitment and retention of students with military experience” and for “programs and policies for student support on campus, academic accreditation, credit policies, flexibility, and other services to those who served.” But we have to admit it. We have not singled out military students and provided them with special services. This is just how we treat all our students.
However, when we talked to a few students who have served or are serving in the military we found that Northeastern Seminary can be quite “friendly” and compatible with their ministries.
What impact has your military service had on your calling to ministry?
Levi: I didn’t feel the call to ministry until I entered the Army. As a logistics officer I worked alongside outstanding chaplains and each time I saw them meet the need of a soldier something stirred in me—I felt I was called to that work as well.
Pedro: My military service helped me to develop a servant mentality and to have global vision of the kingdom of God.
Kenny: My ministry helps those who serve our nation smoothly transition back to civilian life.
Seth: As the primary duty of leadership, soldier care is very important. There’s very little time for it and chaplains are in the best position to circulate, talk to soldiers, and get to know them. My first year at Northeastern has grown me as a leader of soldiers and increased my attentiveness to their ongoing care.
Weldon: The military chaplaincy helped to broaden my ecumenism and tolerance for persons of other faith traditions. I gained a special ability to minister to all races, generations, ranks, and individual troops as well as their families.
How do the ideals that characterize the military shape your ministry?
Levi: The Army values leadership, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. It seems to me that those are values any minister should seek to uphold.
Pedro: The U.S. Marine Corps helped me to believe in teamwork, fellowship, and the betterment of others; this has produced a better understanding for establishing the kingdom of God here on earth.
Kenny: The military emphasizes knowing procedure and protocol. Applying that same value to the call of God you get a clear picture of how important it is to get a strong theological background for ministry.
Seth: The foundation of virtues and moral behavior in the U.S. Army complement my participation in ministry.
Weldon: I am a well-rounded pastor through the extensive training and through sharpening my administrative skills in the Chief of Air Forces Chaplain Services office at the Pentagon.
Why should those who have served or are serving in the military attend Northeastern Seminary?
Levi: The work is rigorous and takes time but that time is at the discretion of the student. Professors strive to work with each student’s situation and they push you to shape your own theological base.
Pedro: Northeastern is for people who want to get a broader view of the kingdom of God and who want to understand the historical essence of the Christian faith. This exposure allows students to be stretched, producing better engagement in their own traditions.
Kenny: The theological mission is strong. It is flexible for working adults, and the professors are understanding.
Seth: The Seminary’s programs are extremely relevant to the story in which we find ourselves—deeply rooted and faithfully responsive is exactly what the world needs.
Weldon: I have added to my pastoral skills and have grown spiritually. Northeastern is for those who welcome a supportive academic community while developing a bond with students and faculty.
And what do these students suggest for making next year’s list of Military Friendly Schools®?
Pedro: Stay relevant with the times we live in so students can be effective in their own settings.
Seth: Offer a veteran-oriented counseling session for planning and benefits review.
Weldon & Kenny: Facilitate a forum for members of the military to share experiences and perspectives.
About Northeastern Seminary
Since opening its doors in 1998, Northeastern Seminary on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College has continued to grow in prominence as a significant resource for the church community in upstate New York. Northeastern Seminary is an independent, multidenominational seminary in its approach to theological education, leading to an academically and professionally accredited Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Theological Studies/Theology and Social Justice/Transformational Leadership, or Doctor of Ministry degree. The student body is comprised of more than 30 different Christian faith traditions represented among 148 students and 420 graduates ministering around the nation and world. For more information, visit www.nes.edu or call 1-800-777-4792.
About Military Friendly® Schools
The Military Friendly® Schools designation process includes extensive research and a data-driven survey of schools nationwide approved for Post-9/11 GI Bill funding. The school survey, methodology, criteria and weightings are developed with the assistance of an independent Academic Advisory Board comprised of educators from schools across the country. The survey is administered for free and open to all post-secondary schools who wish to participate. Criteria for consideration can be found on their website, http://www.militaryfriendly.com, and a complete list of schools can be found through our Schools Matchmaker tool on http://www.gijobs.com.