M.Div., General Studies emphasis; M.A.B.C.
Will and Kelli Ross started their studies at Westminster in the summer of 2010.They are in two of Westminster’s most popular degree programs. Will is studying for a Master of Divinity with a general ministries emphasis, and Kelli is in the Master of the Arts in Biblical Counseling program. A few of Will’s professors at Grove City College were Westminster graduates who encouraged him to consider Westminster as an option for seminary as he began to consider that path. Because of Westminster’s positive influence on his college education , and because he is from the Philadelphia area, Westminster became the obvious choice.
Kelli was also intrigued by the teaching that Westminster had to offer. She says, “I was burdened with the question of what do I really tell people, how do I point them to Christ? I wanted to not just seem like a person who could help them, but actually be a person that could help them. So, as [Will] was looking at seminaries and Westminster was looking like the best fit for him, it also really looked like the best fit for me.”
Since they began their studies, both have benefitted greatly from them. Will comments, “There is an overall focus on preserving Scripture as our first authority, and I think that’s really crucial.” Kelli has also found the emphasis on Scripture encouraging: “I’ve really appreciated how true what I’m learning is to scripture. Last year the foundations were laid with systematic theology and biblical theology, a lot of stuff that I wasn’t particularly strong in. And now venturing into counseling, everything ties into that foundation of biblical anthropology, a proper view of the story and timeline of Scripture.”
Particularly in Dr. Ed Welch’s Human Personality class, Kelli has appreciated learning about a biblical anthropology. “Seeing Jesus as the perfect human, fleshed out in light of sin and struggles that people deal with, has been really helpful for me in seeing that we’re moving people towards something specific, and in Christ we are moving towards that daily. That’s been encouraging for me personally, to have a much bigger goal than just ‘how can I help you deal with your problems?’ It’s more about incarnating Christ to people, and I have found that to be both helpful and humbling.”
Will has also been humbled by the depth and richness of Scripture as it is taught at Westminster. He says, “Westminster wants to connect biblical exegesis and a robust systematic theology, and they do it through the redemptive-historical narrative of Scripture. It continually amazes me.” He goes on to say, “It’s amazing to see the coherence of Scripture and the whole narrative, the whole counsel of God coming together. I think one of the biggest revelations I’ve had in the last six months or so is realizing that the story is not over. It’s so easy to look at the Bible and say ‘Hooray! Jesus is Lord!’ and then you kind of forget that we’re still in this period of waiting, it’s the ‘time between the times’ idea. You can forget that there’s more to come. If you draw the chart of redemptive history, well, the chart’s not finished being drawn.”
The Westminster community has also provided a place here they can grow in friendships and learn with fellow students. Kelli is from North Carolina, so having a community to be involved with has helped her. She says, “Having the opportunity to dig into the Westminster community and build friendships has been a real blessing for me. I’ve found the people in my classes to be primarily the ones I get close to, and often they’re wives of guys in Will’s program. So I’ve really enjoyed the community here.”
They have also found the faculty welcoming despite their busy schedules. Will says, “No matter how busy they are, or how many stacks of books and papers they have on their desk, I’ve been welcomed, even to the point where I feel like I’m wasting their time and I want to go, but they’re still talking to me!”
Coming to seminary has been a commitment of time and effort, and both are willing to do what’s necessary to complete their programs. Will provides some words of wisdom for prospective students: “On the one hand you don’t have to ‘know’ your calling. You don’t have to ‘know’ beyond a shadow of a doubt that you want to be a lead pastor of a church. On the other hand, seminary is a ton of work. It’s stressful and it’s expensive, so you do want to make sure that it’s something you want to invest in, and that you want invested in yourself.”
Kelli notes about the counseling program, “if you’re interested in counseling, this is one of the only places where you’re going to get a very thoughtful biblical approach that is not afraid to engage with secular ideas….I’ve just found that to be really surprising at times, but really helpful in seeing that it’s not that we’re shutting out what’s going on in mainstream culture. We’re engaging it, but we’re engaging it with an eye towards biblical wisdom.”
Both are seeking God’s wisdom in discerning a call on their lives for the future. Will hopes to eventually get a Th.M. or Ph.D. and teach at the university level, while Kelli hopes to use her skills either formally or informally in a church setting. Please pray for this couple and the rest of the student body as they train to proclaim the whole counsel of God to a changing world.