Southwestern’s German extension commissions 40 graduates
Forty students graduated from Bibelseminar Bonn (BSB), Southwestern’s partner seminary in Bonn, Germany, during the institution’s graduation service, Oct. 7. These forty students included four graduates from Southwestern’s Master of Theological Studies program.
In honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the theme of the graduation ceremony was “Semper Reformada: Live.Reformation – What is Your Thesis?” Southwestern professor Friedhelm Jung, who teaches at the BSB campus, spoke during the ceremony and advocated for a reformation in the church. To accentuate his point, he nailed a copy of Martin Luther’s 95 theses to a door set up in the auditorium.
Furthermore, visitors were encouraged to write down their own “theses” and pin them to the same door. Andy Wiebe, student dean and lecturer at BSB, says the 600 guests at the ceremony provided a “good and encouraging” response to this activity.
Regarding BSB’s position as a training center for Gospel ministers in the land of the Reformation, Wiebe said in the summer 2017 issue of Southwestern News that they at BSB see themselves “as a movement that was directed by God to Germany, the land of the reformation of Martin Luther, to remind the people of Germany of the power of God’s inerrant and life-giving Word. It is a calling by God to use the spiritual legacy of Luther’s reformation to show through word and deed that faith in Jesus Christ is not a dead religion. We are ready for a new reformation that will bring the churches back to Jesus and God’s Word.”
This year, Wiebe says, BSB’s student body experienced strong growth. A reason, he suspects, is that BSB has a reputation as “a clear Bible-based” institution in confused times.
Many of this year’s graduates are already involved in preaching, teaching youth, church planting, and lay ministries, and they will now go forth better equipped for their God-given tasks. BSB President Heinrich Derksen encouraged them to be bold and faithful ministers of the Gospel wherever God places them.
Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost at Southwestern, was present at the ceremony and spoke on the biblical faith expounded upon by Martin Luther. “The Reformation brought attention back to the Gospel as presented in the Bible,” Blaising said. “And the Gospel is not calling for some kind of implicit faith; the Gospel is calling for a personal faith in Jesus Christ, and that personal faith is a personal trust in Him.”
Preaching from Ephesians 1, Blaising continued, “This faith of which we speak is no minor thing. Martin Luther said this is a big thing. If you don’t understand the faith that we’re called to in Christ Jesus, you don’t understand what it means to be saved. We begin by this faith, and this faith is focused on a hope that is coming.
“But this faith is receiving the working of God’s mighty power on a daily basis. And we receive that power in the same way we receive the forgiveness—by trusting in Jesus and walking with Him in accordance with His Word.”
Additional elements of the ceremony included a performance by the youth choir from a church in Lemgo, Germany, and the testimony of BSB alumnus Dadi Nombe, who planted an international church in Cologne, Germany. Furthermore, Southwestern professor Helmuth Pehlke, who will be retiring from his position at the BSB campus, was honored for his faithful service.