Religion briefs

Dianne Hanley, executive director of the St. Joseph Spirituality Center
Dianne Hanley, executive director of the St. Joseph Spirituality Center

Bethany launching college in August

Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker is launching a college with classes starting Aug. 27.

Bethany College, described online as a continuation of Bethany’s education traditions through such as the Ministers Training Institute and the 220i internship program, will offer concentrations in church administration, creative media, worship and music training, live event production and missions.

Details about the college are posted online at

Students in their first year will complete 30 hours of coursework and participate in ministry and evangelism opportunities.

Students seeking continued ministry education would attend a second year with a possible third year internship.

$6,970 for one year includes tuition, housing, utilities, enrollment, conferences, guest speakers, weekend retreats and a $50 application fee, which is waved for those who apply before Aug. 1.

Women will live in houses on the Bethany North campus in Baker and men will live in dorms nearby.

Lake’s Whidden wins Wabash Fellowship

David L. Whidden III, assistant professor of religious studies at Our Lady of the Lake College, has been accepted for a competitive Wabash Center Summer Fellowship, given to support promising young teachers and scholars in religion and theology.

Whidden, who completed his doctoral work at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 2011, is a scholar in systematic theology with a particular interest in the medieval theology of Thomas Aquinas and Anselm.

The fellowship will allow him to finalize work on his first book, “Christ the Light: The Theology of Light and Illumination in Thomas Aquinas,” which has been accepted for publication in 2014 by Fortress Press.

In addition to supporting scholarship efforts, The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion in Crawfordsville, Ind., offers faculty the opportunity to reflect with colleagues about teaching as a vocation.

St. Joseph program mixes growth, justice

The St. Joseph Spirituality Center in Baton Rouge will use a $10,000 grant from the Congregation of St. Joseph Generous Promise Grant Fund to promote spiritual growth and social justice work, Executive Director Dianne Hanley announced in an email.

The grant funds will cover costs for the center to implement “True Fasting: Contemplation in Action,” a program to promote spiritual growth through the integration of one’s spirituality with social justice work in the community, Hanley said.

In awarding the grant, the Congregation Leadership Team wrote that “the St. Joseph Spirituality Center was chosen because the proposed program displayed a strong foundation, clear purpose, sustainability, and a potential for a wider application than the current situation,” Hanley said.

The St. Joseph Spirituality Center is a sponsored ministry of the Congregation of St. Joseph, a community of nearly 700 vowed women religious dedicated to bringing about a more just and peaceful world.

Together BR: Bible study still has room

Together Baton Rouge is seeing heavy interest in its “Our Faith in Action” Contextual Scriputre Study from “a true cross-section of the greater Baton Rouge community,” but is still signing up participants, lead organizer Broderick Bagert said in an email this week.

“Almost 300 people have signed up to participate, which is somewhat beyond our expectations,” he said.

About 400 people from 60 congregations attended a Pentecost Sunday gathering to introduce the study, he estimated.

The plan is for diverse groups of 12, including facilitators, to meet monthly, beginning in July, to consider applications of Bible passages in context with situations faced today in the Baton Rouge area.

Together Baton Rouge will be forming the groups and training facilitators in June.

To sign up online, visit

Catholic Charities’ Spruell helps in Okla.

Carol Spruell, communications coordinator for Catholic Charities Diocese of Baton Rouge, has deployed to Oklahoma to assist Catholic Charities of Oklahoma with disaster response to the May 20 tornadoes.

David Aguillard, executive director of Catholic Charities Diocese of Baton Rouge, announced the deployment in an email.

“Following both Katrina and Gustav, most of the CCUSA network agencies supported our response efforts here in Baton Rouge,” Aguillard said. “It’s an honor to reciprocate with the lessons learned following our work following Katrina and Gustav.”

During her stay, Spruell will assist with communications, social media, fundraising and publicity.

She served in a similar role in 2009 during her deployment to American Samoa after a tsunami and again in response to the 2010 Alabama spring tornadoes.

Compiled by Advocate staff