It only takes a spark: Brian OLeary”

Published: April 22, 2016

Annette Brill Bergstresser

This year, 10 of the 33 first-year students at AMBS share a common background as staff members at Mennonite camps and retreat centers. Meet one of the 10: Brian O’Leary of Seattle, Wash.

Home congregation
Seattle Mennonite Church

Education and program of study
I have a bachelor’s degree in Bible and religion from Goshen College, Goshen Ind. At AMBS, I’m in the Master of Divinity program with an emphasis on biblical studies.

How did your camp staff experience play a role in bringing you to seminary?
I was program director at Camp Camrec in Leavenworth, Wash., and camp counselor and co-program director at Drift Creek Camp in Lincoln City, Ore.

I first became interested in studying the Bible at camp. I co-counseled with a recent theology graduate of Seattle Pacific University who piqued my interest, and the next year I decided to switch my major. When I was directing, it was also very helpful and useful to have studied the Bible at Goshen College as I could help counselors with how to run their devotional sessions for the campers.

Are there any specific stories you could share?
There aren’t any particular stories, but the sense of accomplishment I felt when talking to campers who actually began to get interested in why camp was about more than just games was something that pushed me towards teaching. The moment when a middle schooler starts to talk about Moses with an interest instead of just looking dejected every time devotional time comes around is a very special one.

What are your thoughts about the future?
I really enjoy studying the Bible and I want to pass that interest on to more people, which is why I’m thinking of going on to teach.

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