Keep up with all the stories and opinions of students. Opinions published are not necessarily those of MVNU, the Church of the Nazarene or Viewer advertisers. The Viewer does not necessarily uphold or advocate opinions published.
Justice Talk Highlights Various Perspectives on Masculinity
By: Faith West
Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s Justice Project aims to discuss prevalent social issues from a biblical perspective and never shies away from tough topics. This year, discussions have ranged from food insecurity to pornography and, most recently, biblical manhood. While explaining the selection process for this topic, Justice Project student director Kiera “KJ” Jones mentioned that the original discussion was meant to center around gender roles, but the Justice Project leadership team ultimately decided to focus on biblical manhood due to the prevalence of the term “toxic masculinity” in the media today. Jones also emphasized that the team wanted this talk to be different than those in the past, so they set out to select a unique panel.
Jones recalled that while selecting the panel, the team sought to answer the question, “Who would we know through campus relations that would have different ideas about the topic?” Hank Spaulding, director of the Justice Project, suggested that the panel include a coach or representative from athletics to appeal to student-athletes. Jones also stated, “We always desire to have someone from the School of Christian Ministries to give biblical evidence or add to the conversation in a theological sense.” With these parameters in mind, the team developed a panel consisting of David Schrappe, Doug VanNest, Jeff Styer, Kyle Meyers, Zach Ganzberg, and Tommy Lobdell.
“It was just cool to have such different perspectives on what manhood can look like,” Jones remarked. This wide variety of opinions also drew in many students from various areas of campus. Jones explained that even if people only attended to see one person, it was great to have them in that space, adding to the conversation. “I think having the different perspectives also accomplished the goal of just widening people’s horizon of the topic,” Jones stated, “Even if they don’t agree with a certain point of view, they were able to hear a different point of view.” This, she explained, is the ultimate goal of the Justice Project.
Encountering our Faith
By: Morgan Mills
With the spring semester coming to an end, it is not surprising that many students are on the receiving end of a never-ending to-do list. One event on campus that continues to relieve students of their burnout is the annual student revival. This community- and Christ-centered celebration focuses on both new and returning students and their walk with God during a stressful period in the semester. For many, this is a time to rest in the knowledge that our God is guiding us through our toughest moments. Joseph Hurst recounted his past years attending student revival as well as his senior year, saying, “Each service has brought something different, but each of them has been filled with the peaceful and faithful presence of Christ in some of the most beautiful ways.”
Multiple students have shown courage by sharing how God has been in their stories as well as other powerful messages, such as learning how to find wonder in Christ. The student revival also teaches students how to incorporate God into their daily life, even for just an hour or two. “I have learned that when I don’t make space for God during my day amid even the most stressful of semesters, then I begin to find myself drowning, and only God can pull me up, dry me off, and fill my cup fully,” Hurst confided when asked how the revival fortified his faith.
Hurst also explained the factor he thought made the revival successful each year during his time here — our community. “Many supportive students and faculty and people love to show fellowship and worship together. There have been reflections of that all week with large groups praying together during the services and many people congregating afterward in fellowship.
MVNU is a space where students can create and foster connections that will last a lifetime. Student revival works towards this goal while creating space for Christ to join them as well. The revival services featured invigorating musical performances, and the discourse detailed forging a personal relationship with Christ. Afterward, the community came together in a stirring display of renewed fellowship.
Two Beloved Professors Prepare for Retirement from Traditional Teaching
By: Cat Dugan
The students and faculty of the School of Christian Ministry at Mount Vernon Nazarene University fondly look back on the years dedicated to scholarship by Dr. Jeanne Serrao, Professor of Biblical Literature and Intercultural Studies, and Dr. Michael VanZant, Professor of Biblical Literature, as they prepare to retire from their full-time faculty roles.
Specializing in the New Testament, Dr. Serrao began teaching in August 1999. In her perspective, some of her most significant contributions to MVNU were the opportunities to mentor her students — especially her female students called to full-time ministry. Over the years, she developed the Intercultural Studies program, collaborated with students to publish projects in the New Beacon Bible Commentary, founded women’s leadership conferences and more.
She finds that MVNU enriched her life, saying, “They have allowed me to live fully into the life God gifted me and allowed me to see fruits of my work in the lives of my students as they have developed their own lives and ministries.” She looks forward to continuing this work through writing, teaching, presenting and hosting one more MVNU Bible trip to Israel and Egypt during the 2024 spring break. Entering into this new stage of life, she is thankful to the faculty, staff and students who worked alongside her and poured into her life over the past 24 years.
Dr. VanZant, an Old Testament scholar, taught at MVNU for more than 10 years following his 24 years as a pastor and professor elsewhere. He found his teaching ministry to be similar to pastoral ministry saying, “A group of people depended on me to give them the information, encouragement and push they needed to successfully navigate faith and the world around us.” He has found immense joy in watching graduates of the SCM succeed in their ministries and personal lives.
While he has appreciated the God-given opportunity to pastor, teach and excavate, Dr. Vanzant looks forward to retirement from his full-time, on-campus role at MVNU. He and his wife, Julie, will soon move to Kentucky to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Loving his craft, he plans to finish a book that is eight years in the making, to continue teaching for MVNU Online (formerly known as MVNU GPS), to lead tours to Israel and to preach wherever he can for as long as he is able. In the midst of his excitement, he notes how he will miss walking the sidewalks with the students, worshiping in the chapel and even participating in committee meetings.
Share encouragement to each professor at Michael.VanZant@mvnu.edu and Jeanne.Serrao@mvnu.edu.