Spiritual gifts in the church

Spiritual gifts – what are they?

By Beret Leone

Bethel senior Matt Velasco knows he has the spiritual gift of teaching because almost every time he preaches, a student will tell him they really needed to hear a specific line in the sermon. Often he’ll tell them he didn’t even plan on saying it – it just came to him.

Senior Matt Velasco | Photo by Maddie Christy

“It’s like it has nothing to do with me. It’s just a spiritual gift that God has given me, to operate in such a way that he’s called me to,” Velasco said.

The number is? up for debate among Biblical scholars exactly how many spiritual gifts there actually are. Assistant Dean of Campus Ministries Matt Runion says the number runs anywhere from five to 25, depending on how you translate the Greek. Runion suggests 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and Romans 12:6-8 as starting points of digging into what the scripture says about spiritual gifts. According to spiritualgiftstest.com – a website founded by a pastor in in Southern California in 2004 –  spiritual gifts fall into one of four categories: serving gifts, foundation gifts, revelatory gifts and manifestation gifts.

“So many people call them different things,” Velasco said.  “There are some people that say believers practice all the gifts. Then there are some people that will say believers should strive to practice all, but they are only given some – and I think that comes from a place where spiritual gifts are easier to explain.”

Coming from a background in youth ministries and currently working as an intern with youth ministries at Westwood Community Church, Velasco fosters spiritual gifts by making sure his students are aware of them first. Often he’ll lead his students through the LifeWay Christian Resources Spiritual Gifts Assessment. LifeWay is a nonprofit organization and one of the world’s largest providers of Christian resources – their products are used in more than 160 countries.

“It [the assessment] can tell you that you have the gift of faith, but until you actually practice that faith and have the church confirm the fact that you have faith, then it’s not true. It’s not true until it’s made true,” Velasco said. “If the gift was made for the church, then the church will confirm that.”

But, Velasco says, you can test for a specific gift, but if it’s not confirmed from the church community, it can’t be accurate.

Regardless of the debate determining what and how many spiritual gifts there are and how many someone can possess, one thing is certain: spiritual gifts are used for the betterment of the the church.  

Both Runion and Velasco agree that spiritual gifts are a personal testimony that you have to explore for yourself to determine what they are.

“The sort of investigative work we have to do is like, ‘What is God doing in putting me in this place and how can I participate with what God is doing?’ ” Runion said.

Runion compares the concept behind spiritual gifts to missions trips. He likes to emphasize to his students that it’s not their trip, it’s God’s trip. Runion uses that analogy in the same way towards spiritual gifts; they’re not yours, but God’s.

Runion recommends taking the  C. Peter Wagner assessment, “Finding Your Spiritual Gifts.” It’s the one of the first and most popular spiritual gift questionnaires that was originally created in 1976 by Dr. Richard Houts and later adapted by Wagner.  Runion also recommends talking to those who know you best, or a pastor. His door is always open.

“Spiritual gifts is one more way – one more input of that ultimate goal – what is God doing,” Runion said.  “It’s really God that does anything really in our lives. Again, that’s the faith that we have is to trust that God is at work and using us.”

Sufjan Stevens nominated for Academy Award

“Call Me By Your Name” film cover photo.| Sony Pictures Classics

Tune into  the 90th Academy Awards, showing on ABC at 7pm CT, Mar. 4.

By Lindsey Micucci 

Singer-songwriter, Sufjan Stevens is not new to Bethel listeners. From Discover Weekly playlists to singing his banjo-influenced rendition of “Come Thou Font Of Every Blessing” during chapel, and a nod to those indie-kids who have taken up their parents vinyl record players, Sufjan Stevens isn’t a new name around the block.

Within the past year, Stevens has been testing the waters in other territories of art aside from releasing albums – he has been dipping his feet into the film business.

Stevens has written three songs for two Oscar nominated films this past year. “I, Tonya” and “Call Me By Your Name” are both nominated by the Academy for Best Picture. “I, Tonya” tells the story of the 1994 incident in which ice skater, Tonya Harding, was under heavy speculation of the FBI and the public eye of being an accomplice in the plan to bash in fellow ice skating competitor Nancy Kerrigan’s knee months before the 1994 Olympics. After the 1994 Olympics, Harding was found guilty of withholding knowledge of the plot from authorities. She was ultimately banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

Stevens submitted his song, “Tonya Harding,” for the film, but the director couldn’t find a place for it. And rightfully so – the story told by director, Craig Gillespie, tells the story of Harding at an opposite angle that of which Stevens does. Gillespie holds Harding under the same harsh light that she has known for majority of her life.

Stevens’ song delivers a sorrowful ode to Harding, addressing her as his star in the songs’ first stanza, while the film’s soundtrack strikes the big screen with retro pop-rock hits from bands like Dire Straights and Fleetwood Mac. A quick comparison would show that Stevens’ compassionate song wouldn’t fit in the films’ repertoire.

As “The New Yorkers’” Richard Brody titled his review, “A Condescending Bio-pic of Tonya Harding,” he noted that the film doesn’t do justice to Harding as a person, only a subject and a character in her very own life story.

Stevens, contrary to the director’s voice, shows empathy for Harding and her life-long predicament. Stevens’s has explained his tribute to Harding on his website, writing, “I considered the wholeness of the person of Tonya Harding…and began to feel a conviction to write something with dignity and grace.”

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Stevens is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, “Mystery of Love.” |Photo by Jeannette Fleury

But for a different 2017 film, Steven’s music was accepted after it had been first requested. “Call Me By Your Name’s” director, Luca Guadagnino, spoke to Stevens first in hopes to cast him as a narrator for the film, and even mentioned the idea of having an onscreen appearance. Stevens declined the role and his shot at being on screen, but agreed to write songs for the film. Before attending a screening, Stevens said how Guadagnino told him, “I want you to know, in some ways this film is an homage to your music.”

“Call Me By Your Name” is based on the 2007 novel by André Aciman. Elio, a 17 year old living in Italy with his parents in their summer villa welcome a grad student, Oliver, into their home to work for the summer. Elio and Oliver become friends through the trials of flirtation that soon develops further into a love that all dream to have. They feel the presence of freedom and yet, lack of, in a world that seeks to only wish their feelings away.

Stevens, himself, is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, “Mystery of Love.” Steven was asked by Guadagnino, to write one song for the film, but instead, delivered two which Guadagnino used to the films’ advantage.

In fact, Stevens shows up a total of three times in the film, with a remix of his 2010 “Futile Devices.” “Mystery of Love” and “Futile Devices” plays mid-film. “Visions of Gideon” appears in the film’s ending scene and into credits.

All three of the songs deliver the life and young spirit of 17 year old Elio, capturing a breath of a summer in Northern Italy. From taking bikes rides on dirt paths to finding love over the course of three months that will last them a lifetime, the heartbreaking, soul renewing, journey of love leaves an audience in awe. Catch both films at nearby theatres.

I’ll be keeping my eyes out for Sufjan Stevens as he is set to perform “Mystery of Love” during the 90th Academy Awards, showing on ABC at 7pm CT, Mar. 4. My guess is he’ll be wearing a t-shirt under his black tux and bow tie, and maybe some avant-garde butterfly wings to go with that.  

Though Steven’s music is a golden beat on the film’s soundtrack and he’s getting more head nods from this, it doesn’t commercialize him to be expandable nor does it sell him out to Hollywood by any means. His choice in submitting a song that he is truly proud of, “Tonya Harding,” which went through a 27 year editing process, which got rejected yet he still put it out there as a single for the world to see, shows that he isn’t out there to make it big in the film industry.

Stevens being nominated for an Academy Award doesn’t suddenly put him on the map. Sufjan Stevens has been all over the map, quite literally – check out his past albums and wikipedia page for a glimpse into his life. He’s making music for people that he is passionate about. The most beautiful part about it, is that his empathy for others has yet to fail us as listeners.

Class review: Creative performance

The following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Clarion, its staff or the institution. If you would like to submit a response or an opinion piece of your own, please contact Editor in Chief Abby Petersen at ajp87848@bethel.edu.

It’s great to take a class just for fun, but for those of you who want a higher purpose, there is one.

By Beret Leone 

I took creative performance (THA100NA), first semester of my freshmen year—mostly because I had no idea what area of studies I wanted to pursue—and, to this day, it’s one my favorite classes I’ve ever taken at Bethel. I spent every other morning on my feet, playing games, being creative and laughing.

The course is a basic acting class and covers the motivation behind a character, how to warm up, what goes into reading a script and beyond. My favorite unit of the class was improvisation.  If you’ve ever watched “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” it gives you an opportunity to think on your feet and goof around like they do.

When I took creative performance, it was taught by theatre professor Brent Adams. However, the class itself goes through rotation between the three theatre arts professors. Adams has been on The Guthrie Theatre stage, is an original playwright, and is a big fan of silly voices.

It’s great to take a class just for fun, but for those of you who want a higher purpose, there is one. Creative performance knocks out two general education requirements: the artistic (A) tag, and the nature of persons (N) tag, all in one swoop.

Don’t let fear or lack of theatre knowledge hold you back. In my class alone, there were a variety of majors; from business, education and yes, some like me, undecided. It’s not going to be the first or the last time you’ll have to speak (or in this case, act) in front of group of people, so why not get practice for it in a creative and judgement free environment?

In all honesty, it’s a class that won’t break the GPA, hits two birds with one stone and a has a guarantee of laughter at some point in the semester—even if you have a little stage fright.

A “Long Ebb” of Declining Interest Worries Theater Department

A decline in Bethel University’s Theatre Department raises questions.

Janice Collova | For the Clarion 

On the night of Nov. 2, a handful of students gathered outside the choir room, shuffling through sheet music and chattering in hushed voices while listening to a broadly built freshmen fill the choir room with a belting showtune. A week later students will scramble to the bulletin board outside the theater classroom to see what parts they got in The Music Man, set to perform in Benson Great Hall the first weekend of February.

As excited as these students have been about the process, one thing is unnerving: only thirty people auditioned for the musical. As a result, Bethel alumni and faculty have been casted in roles that could have been offered to students.

Meg Zauner, the theater professor who will direct and choreograph The Music Man, is stunned. She recalls that when Bethel produced West Side Story back in the early 2000s, at least 120 students auditioned.

The Music Man is not the first Bethel production to have a low turn-out at auditions. Brent Adams, theater professor, says that the turn-out for auditions has fluctuated over the years. He notes that “this ebbing has been longer than other ebbs,” Adams said.

A declining interest

Adams offers two reasons for a declining interest in theater within the Bethel community: a lack of exposure to theater in secondary education, somewhat due to budget concerns, and a cultural emphasis on portable devices, or “the small screen.”

Adams says the focus on popular technology makes people “less comfortable with live arts” and “less likely to participate [in] performing, engaging with others to build a show.”

Zauner believes some students lack interest in theater because they believe theater is irrelevant to their college education. For instance, a business major might not sign up for a theater class because theater seemingly has nothing to do with business. But Zauner argues that theater is “helpful for so many majors.”

Zauner uses nursing and history majors as examples. She says nurses need to empathize with their patients. If nursing students participate in theater, they can learn how to empathize, because part of theater is pretending to be someone whose perspective and experience is different from one’s own. History majors can learn more about a particular time period and engage in its fashion and décor by being in a play that takes place during that period.

On a more general note, citing theater involvement on a resume is attractive to employers, in any field, as employers “need someone to talk to people.”

“You can know a lot about technology,” Zauner said. “But if you don’t know how to work with people – what’s the point?”

“The point of college isn’t to get a job,” Zauner said. “It’s to get educated, get well-rounded … here at Bethel we talk about becoming whole and holy persons.”

Zauner says that when she attended college, it was more common for students to take classes in a variety of disciplines. Now she believes students are so focused on taking classes related only to their majors.

“You don’t have to love everything, but if you don’t expose yourself, you become very narrow,” Zauner said. “Just look at our society.”

Professors aren’t the only ones who notice a decline in interest.

Senior theater major Carlie Abel feels that one reason for the decline is how admissions tour guides present the theater department to prospective students. She says that tour guides are more likely to elaborate on details with the science departments, and in turn be dismissive of the arts, only sharing brief information.

“It’s an us versus them thing,” Abel said.

A budding curiosity

Throughout her whole college career, Sara Caldwell has always wanted to do a play. However, there is one thing that keeps the senior English major and self-proclaimed Shakespeare-lover from auditioning: time.

“There’s so much stuff you have to do, so much practice time … it’s not an option [for me],” Caldwell said. “Which is sad, because it would be so fun.”

Caldwell, who has no theater experience, has managed to find some time to see Bethel productions; she enjoyed seeing As You Like It last spring.

Students with lots of previous theater experience also face the obstacle of time. Some students can’t commit to theater while at Bethel because of labs; others, because they’re working to pay off school; still others, because of sports. Stage fright and lack of talent is another issue.

Even if students never participate in theater, the department encourages students to take theater classes.

Adams recommends to anyone and everyone to take Creative Performance, the department’s most basic acting class. “You get a stronger sense of comfort in front of people,” Adams said. “It makes you more engaged with the world around you.”

Adams says that at a basic level, everyone can act. In everyday life, we interact with different people in different ways; how we interact with our professors varies from how we interact with our friends. Theater, Adams says, is just taking that basic skill of social adjustment and transferring it to telling a story and engaging with an audience.

Zauner also encourages students to take classes, pointing out that many of them have an “A” tag, an Artistic Experience course that’s part of the general education requirements for graduation.

Students say they are more likely to see a show if they are familiar with the story or have friends in the cast.

“If I don’t know what [the play] is,” Caldwell said. “It’s not my first instinct to see it.”

Adams says one reason why students should attend productions to support those participating, “which is no small thing.”

Some more basic reasons Adams gives are that it’s cheap (or free, if you get to the box office soon enough) and easily accessible.

For other reasons, Adams returns to the importance of theater in education.

“This is a Christian liberal arts university. If you’re not engaging in the liberal arts, you’re throwing away opportunities … you always have a screen, but the beauty of live theater is that it’s present … watching [theater] you can find out maybe that’s something you want to do,” Adams said. “This is a great time in your life to explore.”

For Adams, theater is derived from a more spiritual perspective.

“God is the Creator,” Adams said.  “If we’re going to get closer to the Creator, we need to get closer to engaging in the creative arts.”

Spreading the word


Nathan Strecker, who has acted in and built sets for productions, suggests that the department could use “more than posters” and set up a booth in the BC.

“Many people don’t even know [theater] is an option,” Strecker said.

The theater department advertises upcoming productions primarily through posters taped in stairwells and by the DC, and tacked to bulletin boards in the BC. The department also advertises through E-Announcements, manages a Facebook page, and occasionally puts a poster on a stand in the Egg.

Zauner wonders if people are actually looking at any of these mediums, and if there’s a better way to get the word out.

“We can only do so much,” Abel said. “We need people to take an interest, take a chance.”


What now?

Professor Laura Sanchez Gonzalez and dean of student life Leah Fulton embrace at Sept. 28 morning protest. | Photo by Abby Petersen

The Bethel community discusses the future of Kresge rock.

By Beret Leone | Features Editor 

On the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 30, Leah Fulton is tired, the typical response for Bethel’s Associate Dean of Intercultural Student Programs during homecoming week. However, Fulton’s exhaustion doesn’t come from Cheer Night or the PowderPuff game.

No, her exhaustion is the result of an event she predicted the moment she found out students had painted Bethel’s “spirit” rock with an message in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In fact, she emailed administration her suspicion of backlash.

Racial tension has been prevalent at Bethel for the past week. But for some, racial tension has been prevalent since they first stepped foot on campus.

“Do I think that there is racial tension? Absolutely,” Fulton said. “While Bethel is certainly making strides, it is not a place that was created for people of color. It is made for Swedish immigrants.”

Senior Will Kah stands in front of a growing group gathering around Kresge courtyard, leather bound Bible held above his head.

“Black lives were not the only lives that God created,” Kah says with an upward reach of his Bible. “But black lives were also created by God.”

The graffiti on the Kresge rock read messages such as “BLM=RACIST” and “Double Standard” earlier this week, in response to the previous painting of the rock showing support of both the BLM movement and incident at Northwestern the week prior.  On Thurs., the rock was repainted with the words “Us for Us.” Campus Pastor Laurel Bunker and President Jay Barnes took part in repainting and praying over the rock alongside Kah and sophomore Taz Song’ony.

What happens next?

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Students hold hands in prayer over the rock.

Since the “spirit” rock came to Bethel, it has continually been a form of positive expression amongst Bethel students, mostly sparking playful competition between dorms during homecoming week.

In Nov. of 2005, the rock was buried by five students. Their goal was to stop the painting war that had ensued since the end of homecoming that year.

For alumni and now Bethel faculty member Jenny Hudalla, the rock sparked controversy during the ‘Vote Yes/Vote No’ debate during her sophomore year. Someone had painted the gay pride flag on the rock with the words “Vote No.” Voting “Yes” to the bill in question would have defined marriage as a union strictly between a man and a woman in Minnesota.

Fulton suspects that in attempts to be respectful, the newest painting of the rock will stay for a period of time but will eventually return to its previous role of weekly paint expression. Some students suggest keeping the rock as a memorial while others think that there shouldn’t be a memorial on a rock that is continually changing, and like the idea of creating a separate memorial.

“I think if anything, I’m going to put that rock in the bed of a truck and just dump it off,” senior Robbie Stromme said. “I think it’s the rock that people hide behind.”

Fulton suggests that the next step for Bethel is thinking about concrete change and pairing rhetoric with action. Song’ony encourages students and staff to utilize the Cultural Connections Center’s resources and speakers. She urges anyone with questions to introduce themselves and start dialogue.

Bunker hopes that the rock will remain for positive and thoughtful free expression.

“I do hope that we remember all the layers that are underneath that paint,” Bunker said. “That we remember the stories underneath-whatever we put on top-that there are stories underneath.”