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New Name for Department of Religion

Larissa Church, July 19, 2016
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As of July 1, 2016, Pacific Union College’s department of religion has been renamed the department of theology. The change was made to more accurately represent the department’s mission and scholarship focus.

Dr. Ross Winkle, chair of the department, says, “We’re excited about the change in our name since it more accurately conveys the type of majors we have and the confessional stance of our department.”

Winkle explains that an academic department named “religion” typically offers a neutral approach to the teaching of religion and of global faiths and religious traditions, not prioritizing any particular religion above others. By contrast, a department named “theology” conspicuously focuses on Christianity, and seeks to educate future ministers and students majoring in various disciplines to be intelligent, informed, and faithful disciples of Jesus.

“We’re also excited to have an excellent departmental faculty, including a new faculty member that will bring our full-time teachers up to seven in number—more than we’ve had in over a decade,” shares Winkle. “Students who come to PUC to take either theology or religion will continue to graduate with a strong background in biblical studies, along with a strong exposure to theology, ethics, and Christian history, as well as biblical languages and practical theology.”

Over the past few years the department has undergone many exciting changes, including the hiring of three new faculty members: Dr. Stéphane Beaulieu, who taught at the Andrews University Theological Seminary and Southwestern Adventist University; Dr. Reimar Vetne, who worked as a teacher at the University of Montemorelos in Mexico and as a pastor and conference president in his home country of Norway; and Dr. Christine Vente, who has also worked at the University of Montemorelos. These new faculty bring a variety of expertise within various disciplines in religion and significantly enrich and enhance the new department of theology.

For the 2015-2016 school year, the department had 56 majors: 35 theology students and 21 religion students with varying emphases. In June, eight religion students graduated, along with five theology students.

Strengthening its commitment to training future pastors, PUC created the Adventist Mission Scholarship, a special $3,000 scholarship available for theology majors. For more information, call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email enroll@puc.edu to talk with an enrollment counselor.