And by now you may have heard about the seminarian at Andrews University who attacked evangelism professor Russell Burrill. As WNDU notes, a 28-year-old Andrews University Seminary student beat an Andrews University seminary professor, and later attacked a police officer. Monday, the seminarian reportedly locked the door of Professor Russell Burrill's office and began beating him, all the while yelling "repent." For some perspective here's Pastor Trevan Osborn, recent Andrews University Seminary graduate and evangelism corespondent for the Spectrum Blog. By Trevan Osborn On the same day the Virginia Tech shootings occurred, a bizarre event took place in the Seminary at Andrews University. A Seminary student locked himself in an office with Russell Burrill, Director of the North American Division Evangelism Institute, and choked and beat him in an apparent murder attempt. Luckily, other office staff eventually came to the rescue and the student has been arrested and charged with attempted murder. Dr. Burrill had minor injuries although he is obviously quite shaken by the whole experience. For more details see one report from the South Bend Tribune and a rumor-heavy blog post. I hesitate to analyze this situation, particularly considering how little good has resulted from the news networks and their punditry regarding the Virginia Tech shootings. However, since I just finished my 2 ½ years this last December, I do feel like I can provide some perspective. Dr. Burrill is a hard-nose, straight forward guy but he is also very fair and willing to dialogue. He gets along really well with the students and is probably one of the most liked Seminary professors around. Reports indicate that the student was on cocaine which had a part in this and it probably could have been any professor who was attacked. Honestly, my initial reaction was a big, "HUH?" followed by a few chuckles. Before you think I'm a total jerk for laughing at the situation, let me explain why. The initial "Huh," was quickly replaced by a whole assortment of reasons why it's not unbelievable. In fact, it almost makes sense which is why I had to chuckle. Seminarians have a less than stellar reputation at Andrews, which is justified. Seminarians have developed a reputation with the local police as notorious wife-beaters with frequent domestic violence spats in the married student housing on campus. The single Seminarians are notorious for preying on the undergrad girls and sleeping around with naïve victims. Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of Seminarians are good people, but there simply are way too many stories to not view it as a serious crisis. // <![CDATA[ // <![CDATA[ D(["mb","\u003c/p\>\n\n\u003cp\> \u003c/p\>\n\n\u003cp\>The stress is real. A full class load for MDiv students is\n6-7 classes a Semester which is a heavy burden to bear. Many students,\nincluding the one who attacked Burrill, are from overseas which means English\nis their second or even third language. The weather is severe in the Winter\nwith the few days (actually hours) of sunlight causing mass pandemonium because\nwe are so happy just to experience the bright of day.\u003c/p\>\n\n\u003cp\> \u003c/p\>\n\n\u003cp\>The greatest stressor is one all ministers face of not being\nable to authentically reveal who we are to others. We are afraid of admitting\nour doubts. Afraid of admitting that we struggle with the same sins we preach\nagainst every week. Afraid of not living up to the exceedingly high\nexpectations the church members place on us. Unfortunately, the Seminary has\nnot been able to create a safe environment where we are able to work through\nthe issues we all face.\u003c/p\>\n\n\u003cp\> \u003c/p\>\n\n\u003cp\>Am I justifying what he did? No. Do I understand some of the\nstressors that caused it? Yes.\u003cspan\>\u003c/span\>\u003cspan\> \u003cbr\>\u003c/span\>\u003c/p\>\n\n\u003cbr\>\n",0] ); D(["ce"]); // ]]> // ]]>
The stress is real. A full class load for MDiv students is 6-7 classes a Semester which is a heavy burden to bear. Many students, including the one who attacked Burrill, are from overseas which means English is their second or even third language. The weather is severe in the Winter with the few days (actually hours) of sunlight causing mass pandemonium because we are so happy just to experience the bright of day. The greatest stressor is one all ministers face of not being able to authentically reveal who we are to others. We are afraid of admitting our doubts. Afraid of admitting that we struggle with the same sins we preach against every week. Afraid of not living up to the exceedingly high expectations the church members place on us. Unfortunately, the Seminary has not been able to create a safe environment where we are able to work through the issues we all face. Am I justifying what what this student did? No. Do I understand some of the stressors that caused it? Yes. Trevan Osborn pastors the Patterson Avenue and Far West End Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Richmond,Virgina.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4279