Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary began the new academic year on August 24, 2020 with the opening service at Good Shepherd Chapel. For the opening service, Dr. Timothy Schmeling preached on 1 Samuel 3:1–10, with the theme “Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.” Beginning with the famous stoic proverb: “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we speak,” Prof. Schmeling preached about how failing to listen to the Word of the LORD and the needs of the neighbor resulted in the rarity of God’s Word in Samuel’s day. Pointing out ways we often do the same, he called for us to repent of our neglect of God’s Word and our spiritual deafness to others. Since we cannot initiate God’s Word by anything that we do, the LORD comes to us through Christ and says, “Ephphata, that is, be opened” (Mark 7:34, ESV). Only Christ can heal the spiritually deaf, dumb, and blind. Lest we put off repentance and stop listening to God’s Word, Dr. Schmeling exhorted us to make Samuel’s prayer, our daily prayer: “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.” Finally, he acknowledged COVID and other reasons for feeling unready to receive a pastoral call. And yet, it was pointed out that God didn’t wait for Samuel to feel ready before he called him. Instead God recreated him, justified him, and equipped him to take up the prophetic office. God made Samuel ready because he could not make himself ready. Grounded in God’s Word then, we too can confidently say, “Here I am, for you called me.”
The teaching staff for the seminary this semester is as follows: Brian Klebig, Joshua Mears, Nicholas Proksch, Timothy Schmeling, and Gaylin Schmeling. Professor Brian Klebig is teaching communication; Dr. Joshua Mears is teaching counseling; Professor Nicholas Proksch is teaching in the areas of New Testament, homiletics, and hermeneutics; Professor Timothy Schmeling is teaching Lutheran Confessions and homiletics; and Professor Gaylin Schmeling is teaching courses in church history and homiletics.
The seminary enrollment this year numbers seventeen. There are five vicars, five seniors, three middlers, three juniors, and one special student. The vicars are Adam Brasich at Resurrection Lutheran Church (Winter Haven, Florida) and Our Savior Lutheran Church (Lakeland, Florida), David Choi at Reformation Lutheran Church (San Diego, California), Roger Emmons at Grace Lutheran Church (Redmond, Oregon), Samuel Johnson at Our Saviour Lutheran Church (Lake Havasu City, Arizona), and Sean Scheele at Pilgrim Lutheran Church (Waterloo, Iowa) and Faith Lutheran Church (Parkersburg, Iowa).