Why I am at AMBS
“The quality of the faculty was one of several factors in my decision to join the AMBS learning community in 2018. These passionate scholars and practitioners are dynamic as a team and as individuals, and I’m excited to collaborate with them as we design and implement good pedagogy and curriculum for theological education in the 21st century.
“I’m also here because the role of academic dean in a seminary setting uniquely brings together my interests. I’ve learned that I really enjoy academic leadership, and I’m grateful to do this work within a learning community with a mission I strongly believe in—that of preparing graduates to serve God’s reconciling mission in an increasingly polarized society and world.
“A third aspect of what I value about AMBS is the opportunity to integrate my vocation as an academic leader with my artistic identity. We live and breathe theology at AMBS; this not only infuses my work with meaning but also deepens my identity as a musician who loves Christ and the church.” —Beverly Lapp, EdD
Beverly Lapp brings more than two decades of experience in academic affairs, teacher development, curriculum design and intercultural exchange to her work in the Dean’s Office at AMBS. She is an active church music practitioner with a deep interest in the relationship between music and theology and in the spiritual power of congregational song. She previously served on the Goshen (Indiana) College music faculty for 23 years, where she chaired the Music Department, directed the Core Curriculum and led four Study-Service Term semesters in China, Peru and the Dominican Republic. A collaborative team leader, Beverly has a robust background in faculty and student recruitment, strategic planning and educational assessment.
How does the Bible shape your vocation as an academic administrator?
I’m delighted to be part of a community that integrates academic study of the sacred text with attention to community building and spiritual growth. In his book Anabaptist Essentials: Ten Signs of a Unique Christian Faith (Herald 2017), AMBS graduate Palmer Becker outlines three key Anabaptist commitments—Jesus as the center of our faith, community as the center of our lives and reconciliation as the center of our work. Keeping a focus on these three centers of my faith—rooted in the Bible—helps me stay grounded as an academic administrator.
How do you encourage students to hold together excellent academics with deep spiritual formation?
I encourage students to approach academics as a sacred endeavor that is meaningful and joyful. Education is becoming more contextual and experiential in nearly all settings, including seminary. This is good and important, as our learning needs to be relevant to the contexts in which we’re preparing to serve. I also want students to be able to lose themselves in the joy of the learning process. AMBS students can trust that building their intellectual, spiritual and communicative capacities through our curriculum will increase their effectiveness as pastors, teachers, leaders and more.
How does studying in your discipline prepare students to participate in positive personal, spiritual and social transformation?
I believe each of my three primary disciplines—music, pedagogy and administration—can inform the preparation of Christian leaders. First, the analytical, interpretive and performative tasks of musicianship are similar to the theological work that Christian leaders engage in. Second, all of our graduates will be teachers in one way or another. Tomorrow’s leaders need to generously and skillfully offer their expertise and ideas while remaining committed to learning from others. Third, if we look at administration as its own discipline, we can illuminate the skills, knowledge and dispositions that future leaders need in order to effectively support and empower others in the work of transformation and reconciliation.
“Beyond Pedagogical Orthodoxy and Geographic Boundaries: A Vision for Peer Evaluation” at New Directions and Vision (International Academic Forum on Music Education, in press).
“Becoming Better Specialists on SST” in The Goshen College Guide to Studying & Serving Abroad: Essays on Intercultural Learning (Goshen, IN: Pinchpenny Press, 2017).
“The Power of Hands” in Timbrel: Publication of Mennonite Women USA 16.3 (Summer 2013).
“The Art of Reflection in Music Learning” in American Music Teacher 62:1 (August/September 2012).
“The Star Spangled Banner” on To the Best of Our Knowledge Public Radio, July 2011.
Memberships and Associations