Since 1964, a group of around forty Wesleyan and Free Methodist scholars and graduate students gather to rub elbows at the Graduate Student Theological Seminar. Consistently, the conference has served individuals pursuing theology and biblical studies as a place to learn and showcase what they have already learned.

In September around forty Wesleyan and Free Methodist scholars and graduate students gather under the same roof to rub elbows at the Graduate Student Theological Seminar. The two-day seminar begins with a dinner at small round tables where scholars and students can network and informally mentor one another. Through conversation and good food, the graduate students have the opportunity to glean some insight from some of the brightest minds in their respective disciplines. Connecting young minds with wiser ones is the ultimate goal of such an event. Another treasured moment of the seminar occurs typically following the meal–those in attendance worship together on the evening before the event’s main attraction.

In the morning, students get the opportunity to test the waters of academia. Three to four students present their papers to the crowd gathered. Following their presentation, one of the scholars in attendance offers praise and criticism to the student–who is allowed to respond. Everything about this event is geared towards the enrichment of the students’ experience. The Graduate Student Theological Seminar is a remarkable opportunity to bless and highlight the hard work of diligent scholars-to-be.

One of the highlights of the Graduate Student Theological Seminar is the keynote speaker. In recent years, the trend of excellence has continued. In 2013, Dr. Randy L. Maddox, Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist studies at Duke Divinity School, spoke on Wesleyan views of eschatology and the redemption of creation. The following year, Dr. Richard Mouw–theologian and philosopher and president at Fuller Theological Seminary for 20 years, gave a lecture entitled: “Wesleyan Scholarship: Nurturing a Worldly Holiness.” In 2015, the Free Methodist Area Director for Latin America, Dr. Delia Nuesch-Olver, spoke on the place and value of missiology. She described missiology as “an integrated discipline bringing together faith and practice, intellectual understanding and spiritual life, secular scholarship and theology.”

This year’s Graduate Student Theological Seminar will be held on September 16th and 17th. Renowned theologian Daniel Bell, Ph.D., Professor of Theology and Ethics at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC will deliver the keynote address at the event. Bell has authored several books and speaks on a broad gamut of topics from Just War Theory to the mission of the Church today.

The Graduate Student Theological Seminar is a powerful and unique experience. An opportunity to network and grow in relationship with this type of a crowd does not present itself often. This coming September, the tradition of excellence continues.