A Lifetime of Learning

It is always amusing when a group of BTS graduates or students gather and, inevitably, the subject will come up of who has been in school the longest or took the longest amount of time to get a degree. I often believed I ought to be in the running but I now know I’m not even close. My degree was 7 years in the making and, like most, it was because of so many one-course semesters. Much of my study was done through cassette tape (before the days of the internet and distance learning). In those days I lived right outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and I still have memories of getting up early every morning to listen for an hour or more 6 days a week to those tapes – difficult but doable. Not only did I do that for my Masters degree but did pretty much the same for my DMin. (That took another 7 years). My point is that all that work was well worth the time and effort. I had originally, in the late 1970s, considered going full time to seminary. Those were my plans, not the Lord’s; therefore it did not work out. So my next option was Birmingham Theological Seminary and it was exactly what I needed. Not only that, it has prepared me extremely well for the ministry God has given to me. My calling was not as a full time pastor with a traditional church but first as a Ruling Elder, then as a missionary, then into local church work, and finally as a Chaplain for a large retirement community. The education I received from BTS was a tremendous start for a life-time of learning. I have learned we never know it all and we continually grow in wisdom and knowledge. But there has to be a starting place. BTS provided that for me and I believe did it well. As I reach the later years of my ministry, I find great satisfaction teaching at the Tuscaloosa extension and trying to pass on to the students the lessons I have learned and the idea that we are always learning. I also find satisfaction that Birmingham Seminary is not a stagnant organization but is attempting to stay on the cutting edge of teaching and presenting the truths of God’s Word to the world. My life has been deeply enriched by my association with BTS.


Dr. William F. Thetford
Tuscaloosa Extension

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