Alumni, Featured Stories

Two TEDS alumni receive positions at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Trinity CommunicationsAugust 30, 2018

David Cramer (left) and Dr. Drew Strait.
Photos courtesy of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.

 

This past summer, two Trinity alumni who attended TEDS at the same time but never crossed paths were given positions at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana. Dr. Drew Strait, who received his M.A. in New Testament from TEDS in 2009, is now assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins at AMBS as of July 1; David Cramer, who received his MDiv in Cross-cultural Ministry (2008) and M.A. in Philosophy of Religion (2009) from TEDS, is now managing editor of the Institute of Mennonite Studies, the research agency of AMBS, as of Aug. 6.

Since their time at TEDS, both Strait and Cramer have delved into a variety of experiences related to the Christian mission.

Strait acted as interim pastor at Living Water Community Church for three years and taught New Testament for five years at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. He has also been associate editor for New Testament for Currents in Biblical Research since 2015. Additionally, he was named in the preface of Dr. Joshua Jipp’s book Saved by Faith and Hospitality along with several other influential editors and colleagues, published in 2017.

Cramer has worked in Christian publishing for more than a decade in a variety of capacities, serving as associate project editor at Baker Academic and Brazos Press in Grand Rapids, Michigan and editor of the Missionary Church historical journal, Reflections. He is also the teaching pastor at Keller Park Church in South Bend, Indiana.

While attending TEDS, Cramer took an internship with the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity as editorial assistant for Ethics and Medicine.

“The CBHD director at the time, C. Ben Mitchell, was my ethics professor,” Cramer said. “He said in class one day that he was looking for a new editorial assistant for the journal, and I jumped at the chance. Looking back, that decision set me on a trajectory that has led directly to my current position at the Institute.”

Both Cramer and Strait recall specific TEDS professors as being influential in their success as students as well as their paths to AMBS.

David Pao’s passion for the influence of Isaiah on Luke-Acts was revelatory for me; it set the agenda for my scholarly pursuits for the following eight years. Osvaldo Padilla taught me the power of being both pastor and professor,” Strait said. “Most significantly, Dana Harris, while preparing for her dissertation defense, graciously offered to advise my M.A. thesis. She taught me the mechanics of good research and ultimately pushed me to become a much better student of Scripture.”

“I can still remember particular lectures from Dennis Magary, Lawson Younger, Kevin Vanhoozer, Scott Manetsch, Keith Yandell, and others,” Cramer said. “Harold Netland provided an example of a scholar-practitioner with his prior missions work in Japan…I also had the good fortune of being in a formation group with Graham Cole, who has combined theological scholarship with ecclesial ministry. And I took courses for my MDiv in cross-cultural ministry with Craig Ott, whose church-planting work around the world was inspiring.”

In addition, both in some way claim their bi-vocational status as pastors and academics as having been affected by their learning at TEDS. Cramer did not consider becoming a Christian scholar in addition to a pastor until taking Tom McCall’s Analytic Theology and Philosophy class, and he especially noted the bi-vocational status as a common thread present at TEDS.

Ultimately, Strait and Cramer feel that their time at TEDS was formative to their present circumstances, beliefs and perspective on Christian ministry.

“TEDS taught me that being a follower of Jesus and scholar of early Jewish/Christian antiquity are not incompatible modes of being,” Strait said. “It taught me to unapologetically follow Christ both into and out of the ivory tower.”

“One of the most significant ways in which Trinity has made a positive impact on my life is in the way its faculty combine robust scholarship with Christian faithfulness and evangelical piety,” Cramer said. “I wish all pastors were required to undergo the kind of academically rigorous training, and that all Christian academics were required to undergo the kind of spiritually rigorous formation, found at Trinity. If they were, I suspect both our churches and the Christian academy would benefit immensely.”

Cramer did note one thing, though, that he would like to see change at TEDS in the years to come.

“One of the most significant Trinity professors for my theological outlook is the late Paul Hiebert. Unfortunately, he died of cancer while I was a student but before I was able to take any courses with him. But I was nevertheless drawn to his theological and missiological approach as an evangelical Mennonite,” Cramer said. “To my knowledge, he’s one of the only Mennonites to have taught at Trinity. That might be one thing I’d like to see change.”

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