Carmichael-Walling Lectures

by   |  10.15.15  |  Announcements, Bible, Church History, GST Events

Please join us fCW2015or the 29th annual Carmichael-Walling Lectures at Abilene Christian University. Lectures are free and open to the public, and will take place in Room 114 of the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building on Thursday, November 12, 2015. For more information, contact Jeff Childers at ACU’s Graduate School of Theology:

Scripture & Women in the Apocalypse: Revelation’s Allusive Text

Dr. Adela Yarbro Collins
4:00 p.m. Intertextuality in the Book of Revelation
7:30 p.m. Women as Symbols in the Book of Revelation

The book of Revelation is rich in both Scriptural allusion and symbolic imagery.  The first lecture will provide an overview and critical assessment of scholarship on intertextuality in Revelation, highlighting the book’s use of Scripture.  The second lecture will consider female symbols in Revelation, particularly focusing on the symbolic woman of Revelation 17 often referred to as “The Whore of Babylon.”

About the Speaker:

Zurich photoDr. Adela Yarbro Collins is Buckingham Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation Emerita, Yale Divinity School. She previously taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, and McCormick Theological Seminary. She has served as President of the Society of New Testament Studies, regional President of the Society of Biblical Literature, and on a number of editorial boards. Her recent publications include King and Messiah as Son of God. Eerdmans, 2008 (co-authored with John J. Collins); Mark: A Commentary. Fortress, 2007; “Rewritten Prophets: The Use of Older Scripture in Revelation,” in Poetik und Intertexualität, ed. Stefan Alkier et al., 2015; and “The Transformation of Paul’s Apocalyptic Ideas in the First Two Centuries,” in Revealed Wisdom, ed. John Ashton, Brill, 2014.


CHARIS Lectures: Dr. Anthony R. Cross

by   |  10.10.15  |  Announcements, Church History

Oxford scholar, Dr. Anthony R. Cross, will be on campus October 12-13 for a series of lectures on baptism. “Knowing God through Experience: Insight into Baptist Baptismal Spirituality through Personal Testimonies,” will take place at Chapel on the Hill on Monday, Oct. 12 from 4:30pm-6:00pm. A response by Dr. Everett Ferguson, ACU Distinguished Scholar in Residence, will follow. Refreshments will be served.

“The Sacrament of Baptism Among the First Baptists,” will take place in the Biblical Studies Building, room 130 on Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 11:45am-12:45pm. A response by Dr. Doug Foster, ACU Professor of Church History, will follow. RSVP for lunch to

Broom Colloquium

by   |  10.08.15  |  Announcements, GST Events, Mission

‘Jamie, The Very Worst Missionary’ to speak

Posted October 07, 2015 Former missionary and popular blogger Jamie Wright will speak at this year’s Broom Colloquium on Oct. 28 and 29, hosted by ACU’s Halbert Institute for Missions.

Wright is perhaps best known for her blog, “Jamie, The Very Worst Missionary,” which she describes as a collection of “inappropriate remarks, embarrassing antics, and generally lame observations from an American missionary.” Through her blog and speaking engagements, she uses humor to honestly describe her life as a missionary and mother, and to discuss Christian culture.

Wright’s topic for the colloquium will be “Missions, Justice and Social Media: Can Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Really Change the World?” She will discuss how students can channel their compassion and social responsibility in the world of social media.

Sessions are scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 28 in Moody Coliseum and 7 p.m. Oct. 29 in Hart Auditorium. Both sessions are open to the public.

The colloquium, held annually since 2007, is a campus conversation that encourages the ACU community to relate global issues to God’s mission in the world. It is named in honor of the legacy of Wendell and Betty Broom. Wendell Broom was a longtime missions professor and one of the first Church of Christ missionaries to receive advanced academic training in missiology.

See Wright’s blog:

ACU Dallas by Mindi Thompson

by   |  08.21.15  |  ACU, Announcements, Distance Education

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.  

Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,

for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News

about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.  

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you,

will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:3-6


No one works alone.  We all need partners.  The Graduate School of Theology has a long history of faithful people partnering with us in the mission God has called us to do.  Whether it’s a church sending their minister for advanced training, a family donating scholarship funds for deserving students, or an alum providing an internship opportunity, every partner strengthens us and brings us both one step closer to fulfilling our purposes in the Kingdom of God.  

This past year the GST added another partner to the list:  ACU Dallas.  Led by former GST faculty member Dr. Stephen Johnson, this new extension campus provides expanded recruitment and enrollment/student management services for our online degree programs:  the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, and Master of Arts in Global Service.  We are excited about the ways that this partnership will allow our Abilene recruiter to focus on residential programs while the Dallas student services advisors give greater attention to our distance students.  Everyone will benefit from this partnership.

Another benefit of the partnership comes in the form of course design and development.  The course format for ACU Dallas – which caters to the busy schedules of working adults – utilizes 7-week courses offered year-round to allow students to focus on one topic of study at a time while making consistent progress toward degree completion.  The new format requires our faculty to adjust their traditional semester-long classes to fit a compressed schedule while meeting the same learning objectives and outcomes for students.  ACU Dallas provides instructional designers to help with this daunting task.  The newly-designed courses utilize some of the best practices in adult learning theory.  Our faculty provide their expertise to ensure that the course content is exactly what our students need;  the instructional designers build the courses to ensure consistency and functionality.  This allows our faculty to spend their time providing feedback to students while the class is underway, confident that everything is already in the course site.       

Like all true partnerships, it’s taken time and effort to work out shared responsibilities.  ACU Dallas is starting their other online graduate programs from scratch while we’ve been serving nonresidential students for many years.  Group conversations have allowed us to share our experience while also discovering more efficient procedures.  We’re learning together.  And we’re growing together.  Like the Apostle Paul, I give thanks for this partnership in fulfilling the GST’s mission.  May God continue this good work and bring it to completion in Christ.          

National Festival Of Preachers

by   |  08.21.15  |  Announcements

Hello Texas Friends of the Academy of Preachers

I want to be sure and connect you with one of the finest Young Preachers in your state and in the history of the Academy of Preachers, Larry Terrell Crudup, AoP’10.  Terrell is hosting the 2015 Texas Festival of Young Preachers at his home church, Sweet Home Baptist Church, in Round Rock Texas on Saturday Oct. 24.

This is a new experience for the Regional to be hosted in a church and we couldn’t be more excited!  Won’t you join us for a one day experience like non-other?  We’ll begin at 10 a.m. and end by 7 p.m. all on Saturday October 24.  Abilene Christian University hosted the event in March of 2014.

Schedule and registration:

Encourage others by sharing the  AoP video:



Rev. Wyndee Holbrook

Executive Director

Academy of Preachers

150 E. High St.

Lexington, KY 40507

Preview YouTube video National Festival Of Preachers


Small Churches by Kester Smith

by   |  08.06.15  |  Church, Ministry

Ninety percent of churches in the world have fewer than 200 people. Eighty percent have fewer than 100. Of the two billion Christians in the world, half of them attend small churches. Yet, the vast majority of blogs, books, conferences, and websites made available as ministerial resources are designed for doing ministry in a big church context.

Which is why Christianity Today is introducing “Pivot,” a new blog by Karl Vaters, dedicated to equipping and inspiring ministers in small churches. GST faculty’s hope is that it will be a challenge and encouragement to any and all of you working in ministry, and especially those who serve in a small church context.

Introducing Kester Smith

by   |  06.29.15  |  ACU, Alumni, Announcements

The ACU Graduate School of Theology is pleased to announce that Kester Smith has joined our staff as the GST Recruiter.

Kester is a recent GST graduate, having completed his MDiv. in May. Prior to pursuing an MDiv, Kester worked as a teacher, youth minister, and, most recently, a bi-vocational church-planter and bookseller in Austin, TX. This combination of ministry and GST experience make Kester an invaluable asset for understanding the calling of those considering theological education and how the GST might best serve that calling.

Kester is married to Rachel Smith, who works as an Instructor and Clinical Supervisor in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Kester and Rachel have one son, Harrison, who will be a 6th grader at Craig Middle School this coming fall.

We asked for an informal interview with Kester, in order to get to know him a little better.


  1. Food – When I was still eating meat, it was my mom’s chicken potpie. Now that I’m a vegetarian it’s either a spicy yellow tofu curry (Krua Thai serves a great one) or my chickenless version of my mom’s pot pie. My favorite “on the go” food is a potato, egg, and cheese breakfast taco.
  2. Song – People that know me will be shocked that it isn’t a Bruce Springsteen song, but they probably wouldn’t be considering my love for hymns. My favorite song is either “Amazing Grace,” “Come Thou Fount,” or “Be Thou My Vision.” Were Springsteen to record acoustic versions of any of those songs, my head would explode.
  3. Book – Not to give the obvious answer, but the Bible truly is my favorite book. With that as a given, my favorite novel is either Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov or Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. My favorite authors (besides Dostoevsky and Robinson) include Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Flannery O’Connor, Abraham Heschel, Toni Morrison, N.T. Wright, and pretty much every member of the Inklings. I’m also partial to the writings of Maximus the Confessor and Julian of Norwich. I like books a lot.
  4. Movie/television show – My favorite film is It’s A Wonderful Life. My favorite television show is probably The Simpsons, as long as we’re talking about the early seasons.
  5. Vacation spot – I was raised in Chicago and it is still my favorite place to visit, when I have the chance to travel. I’d like to visit Ireland, England, and Scotland some day, but haven’t yet been able to afford the trip.


  1. Kindle or bound book? – Bound. I like how it feels to turn a page.
  2. Indoors or outdoors? – Indoors. I’m a city kid. I don’t mind walking in the outdoors, but I don’t want to sleep or bathe in them.
  3. Coffee or tea? – Tea. Earl Grey. But a cold glass of ice water over either of them.
  4. Time with a group or time alone? Alone. I like to have time with people, but I have to have time to myself.
  5. Big city or small town? Big city, though small town has grown on me a bit.

Have you ever…

  1. worked in a restaurant? – Yes. Pizza Hut. First job I ever had and it led me to the conclusion that everyone should have to work in the service industry at least once.
  2. been horseback riding? – Yes. Once. Never again.
  3. climbed a mountain? – Yes. Twice. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, but I’d say it was worth it.
  4. performed on stage? Yes. I’ve performed in plays, as the lead singer of various bands, and as a stand-up comedian.
  5. run a marathon? – No. Though I imagine I’d feel about it the same way I do about mountain climbing.

What’s a particularly interesting skill or hobby that you have?

  • I used to be a pretty decent mimic and impersonator, back when I did stand-up. I’m probably still not half bad. I’ve got a head full of pop culture trivia. And I make amazing mix tapes. Unfortunately, no one listens to mix tapes anymore.

What’s something distinctive (or even weird) not many people know about you?

  • I can pop both of my shoulders out of joint. My right eye is prone to dryness and then squeaks when I scratch it. And Kester is a nickname I’ve had for just over a decade.

What excites you about your work in the GST?

  • I am very much a pastor more than a salesman, so it excites me to help students discern their calling and to introduce them to a program that is as committed to academic excellence, spiritual formation, and preparation for vocation as the GST is.

The Church according to Paul

by   |  06.02.15  |  Church, Ministry

thompson-bookJames Thompson continues his excellent series with The Church according to Paul. On May 26, 2015 it received the 2015 Book of the Year Award from the Academy of Parish Clergy. Read more here.

All three books are significant contributions to the field of ministerial and ecclesial formation. Dr. Thompson has always excelled in combining rigorous academic research and ministerial sensitivities. His love for the church is most evident in this latest work.

The other books in the series are Pastoral Ministry according to Paul and Moral Formation according to Paul. 

International Residential Opportunities

by   |  05.28.15  |  Distance Education, Learning, Students

This week Dr. Mindi Thompson, Director of Distance Education for the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University, wrote “Global Seminary Programs: Learning across Cultures Online, at Home and Abroad” for Colloquy. 

Read article here.

Commenting on the article, Brad Carter, ACU alumnus with both a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry (2000) and Master of Arts in Religion (2003), states,

Some of the lessons learned lead to an idea I’ve been tossing around with folks for the past 18 months. Situations like these may need for an African “guide” or “translator” that is on-the ground assisting African students and the professor in making the cultural connections, assisting with appropriate communication (like the email greetings as mentioned), translating cultural metaphors and colloquialisms, and helping African students make the relevant cultural application to the material that is often difficult for a Western lecturer to do — at least at first. This may be another area that is worth exploring in having someone in Swaziland that can communicate, participate in the courses as a guide, and play the role of translator/guide alongside the lecturer — much like the recruiter or person who was the original point of contact that serves as the go-between. –Brad Carter, President of African Christian College, Swaziland,

The GST is exploring other options for expanding our service to the continent of Africa. We are having extensive conversations with the good work at African Christian College. Once we figure out some logistics, the GST expects this site to be the third residential site for graduate theological education. The primary hurdle that faces us is the funding needed to scholarship African students is much higher than American students (90% scholarships or $1620/course). However, the GST’s commitment to serve out weighs these financial issues.

With the exception to offer residential courses in Zagreb and Accra approved by the ATS Board of Commissioners in 2013, ACU has the opportunity to be a leader in international theological education. Thanks to Dr. Mindi Thompson for her role in directing the GST’s distance education program and making these dreams realities.

Differences that Shape Us–Becca Kello

by   |  05.23.15  |  ACU, Interfaith Dialog, Mission of God

It was around a Panera table that I realized that I needed to pursue ministry. We were sitting around the table, sharing our stories, our lives, our beliefs and doubts discussing national and global events, how our faith shapes our worlds, and how our wounds, particularly our religious scars, make us better people. We met once a week to have a meal and a conversation, but this was about the only thing we had in common. This table in Panera, just outside of Nashville, was where an agnostic Muslim, a practicing Daoist, a few non-religious folks, an atheist, a secular humanist, and a handful of Christians became my community; the unlikely community that helped me discern my call.

Around this table I experienced the good in humanity; we regaled each other with beautiful, and occasionally horrific, stories of our faith communities as we tried to figure out how to live life and be people of faith and integrity. Around this table I saw vulnerability and openness that was tender and inspiring, and I laughed at stories that were comical and too bizarre to be made up. And around this table I first came to fully know the rewards and challenges of interfaith dialogue as I was beginning to shape my ministerial identity.

While some of the challenges are obvious, occasionally they are quite subtle. Generally, we define and understand God differently, religious garb seems unfamiliar and perhaps unnecessary, and we have a different religious vocabulary and often different cultures, but to let these overt differences be the sole focus of our understanding of interfaith dialogue is to see it dimly, through a glass.

Around this table, with these people, I learned what it looks (and feels) like to firmly hold a belief in conversation with someone who firmly holds an opposing belief. This, especially in our social climate today, is incredibly invaluable. The skill of being able to not only articulate what you think and believe and why, but also to hold a real conversation with someone who doesn’t automatically agree with you because of the shape of your religious necklace is sharpened through interfaith dialogue.

Interfaith dialogue is important to me and to my call not simply because I like people and diversity, but because it makes me a better Christian minister. It teaches me compassion and grace; it teaches me what aspects of my faith are central to who I am as a Christian, which aspects are central to the institution of the Christian religion, and which are matters of opinion and tradition. Interfaith dialogue teaches me conflict resolution in some very real and concrete ways. It teaches to me to see people and stories first, labels and dogmas second.

IMG_3759_2Here in this photo, I am with my friend Manel, who also serves with me on the Abilene Interfaith Council Board. Manel, along with many others in my work with the Abilene Interfaith Council, has taught me so much about being gracious in the face prejudice. Through hearing her story, I learned that she was inspired to start wearing her hijab by seeing the faith of Christians in our community, and I’ve been reminded that, in this largely Christian nation I will rarely, if ever, be treated the way she does for faithfully living out her beliefs and moral convictions. Truly, I have seen the embodiment of kenosis because of my friendship and partnership with her in our challenging work of pursuing interfaith dialogue.

There have been many things that have, and will continue to, shape my formation both as a Christian and as a minister, everything from the flannel graph VBS lessons to the friends and family who fostered in me a discerning and inquiring heart. The one that stands out, though, as I’m on the cusp of beginning my life’s work, is how I have been shaped by those who look and act differently than me and all the lessons that we have learned from each other as we seek the betterment of our community while being continually shaped by our differences.


Becca Kello is a third year M.Div. student and is serving as the President of the Abilene Interfaith Council.