Byron focused on keeping Seminary program stabalized

Brayden Creveling, Reporter

As much as Dr. Jon Byron has a passion for the church and Ashland University, he doesn’t have a burning passion for anything else like making sure his students are ready to benefit the lives of people waiting to hear the word of the gospel.

Jon Byron, Seminary Dean and Professor of the New Testament, said the Seminary Program is “growing and looking to be a better version of themselves every year.”

Timing might not always be perfect as it seems. Byron stepped into the Seminary Dean position in the same year that students were leaving campus mid semester for COVID-19 pandemic. While other programs’ student body sizes were decreasing, the seminary program was growing.

“My goal when I stepped into the dean position was to put us on a road of stability where we can grow and thrive,” Byron said. “Our goal this year was to have a head count that was flat and we actually grew in new students and we’re excited about what God is going to do.”

Students in the seminary program come from their own respective church and have religious backgrounds that aren’t all the same between the program. Byron spoke about how much he liked the diversity in his classes and how it sparks respectful discussions between students.

“Many of our students come with us already with a commitment to faith or already working in a church setting but don’t have theological studies,” Byron said. “Our mission in this is to bring the gospel into the society around them.”

He also referred to his students as “modern day disciples” and hopes the seminary program gives them insight on other religions they aren’t accustomed to, but Byron assured they do not threaten anyone about their personal beliefs.

“We have over 35 different denominations represented within our program and they are all together in class in one place…we thrive off of our diversity,” Byron said. “We have mostly students around ages of 35 to 45. We have 50% of our students are females and 30% are African American….we do a great job learning from each other.”

Some great examples of the differences between religions on how people are baptized and what age they are. Students tend to not look to question one’s beliefs or make it wrong, but wonder why they do it that way.

Seminary students and programs struggle across the country because the media and not Christ-like people often raise the question, “Why is church relevant?”

Byron spoke out that his students are ready to make a religious impact on the world and ready to put faith in people’s lives.