ULS MDiv Student Taylor Berdahl to Participate in 2020 Hein-Fry Book of Faith Challenge

Taylor Berdahl, M.Div., Senior Intern at ULS has been selected to participate in the 2020 Hein-Fry Book of Faith Challenge. The theme this year is "The Bible - Word Not Weapon." Taylor's presentation is entitled, Biblical Responses to COVID-19: Lament, Bodies, Breath, will be presented on Octoer 26 at 5:30PM EST. Register for the Zoom link.

Developed in the heart of an unprecedented global pandemic, this three-week biblical encounter, completed via live video conferencing, addressed some of the many effects with scriptural tools. In an ecumenical setting that included a Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregation, a Methodist (UMC) supervisory pastor, and a Lutheran (ELCA) seminarian, we expanded what is often a one-dimensional understanding of biblically appropriate responses to tragedy.The first session focused on Psalm 80, reframing the common emphasis on hope alone and exploring the concept of lament as another faithful means of relating to God. The second session focused on Mark 5:25-34 (the healing of the hemorrhaging woman), reframing the tendency to separate matters of the mind, body, and soul to understand and care for the holistic self. The third session focused on Ezekiel 37:1-14 (the valley of the dry bones), reframing the usual ways people of faith notice God's presence in the world to an acknowledgement of the history of the Holy Spirit's surprising, creative, and life-giving activity among humanity. This biblical encounter was an opportunity for connection and pastoral care through scriptural engagement and tool-building. 

"The Hein-Fry Book of Faith Challenge has been a great opportunity for me to concretize what I've studied in the classroom, especially in faith formation and Bible classes," said Taylor. "I was initially connected to Greencastle Presbyterian Church through Dr. Gil Waldkoenig and his Rural & Small Churchcourse in 2018, and I am grateful for how this congregation continued to be a patient and willing learning lab for me. Creating an encounter with scripture challenged my understanding of biblical themes and scholarship to a deeper level. Being able to truthfully say, 'I get it' is different than being able to explain or introduce a biblical concept to someone outside the seminary bubble. I believe the Bible is best encountered in community, and my experience with this project reinforced how powerful God's revelation is to our everyday lives."

Taylor is from Austin, TX where she graduated from the University of Texas with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Religious Studies and Psychology. After completing three years of course work, she is on a "capstone" internship with Bendersville Lutheran Parish in central PA. She completed her project in partnership with Greencastle Presbyterian Church, where she had been a regularly scheduled supply preacher. She loves singing, dancing, and crafting in her free time, lately with the "help" of her two kittens. 

Contact dwight.dubois@elca.org with questions.

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