Rev. Dr. Amanda Stein, known during her Master of Divinity years at Wesley Theological Seminary as Mandy Samuelson, has become a Wesley regular. She received the M.Div. in 1998, was a Lewis Fellow in its inaugural year, and graduated with her Doctor of Ministry in 2016.
Wesley Theological Seminary is one of 13 The United Methodist seminaries supported by the Ministerial Education Fund.
Throughout the years, she has focused on women's ministry, a passion she brings to her roles as pastor for Bashford United Methodist Church in Madison, Wis., and to the Wisconsin Annual Conference's Board of Ordained Ministry.
Stein first came to Wesley at the suggestion of her mentor Harvey Stower, a pastor, state assemblyman and Wesley alumnus. While working on Stower's unsuccessful bid for Congress, she was encouraged by her mentor to make the move to Washington on her own.
It proved to be a life-altering experience, especially when Stein chose to move out of the dorms during her second year and live in intentional housing.
"I was in Esther House, which was down on New York Avenue in Southeast," she said. "It was for women who were more affluent or of a higher socio-economic status and who wanted to live in the city in an all black neighborhood."
For Stein, the notion of "intentional" living became a daily experience. "We tried to make connections with our neighbors," she said. "We tried to be bridge builders with that completely different world three miles away where we were at school."
Returning to Wisconsin after graduation, she pursued her interest in the role of women in the church. "A lot of women who are going into ministry are turning away from the local church and going toward non-profit leadership, or just dropping out of ministry altogether," she said.
She calls the situation "heartbreaking," and noted that a new understanding of ministry itself is needed. "We have to understand that the lives of women, and of families, come in different shapes, sizes, and variations nowadays," she said.
Stein's work on Wisconsin's Board of Ordained Ministry gives her an outlet to encourage women seminarians and to guide congregations toward more supportive practices.
She found ample cause for hope on Wesley's campus. "You just need one class with Denise Dombkowski Hopkins to be inspired," she said. "She's a great feminist, a great professor, and theologically so sound."
Dr. Dombkowski Hopkins also proved a welcome leadership model. "Her energy gives me so much energy and hope as a woman," Stein said. "You can be passionate, you can be fervent about your faith and about your ministry, whether it's teaching or local church ministry."
Having earned two degrees at Wesley, Stein is ready to return the favor. "Wesley has been really good to me," she said. "I've tried to give back, with gifts and with time. Coming back for my D.Min. is a way of saying that I value the education here. It's pertinent for the local church and for modern-day ministry."
Sheila George, Director of Communications and Marketing, Wesley Theology Seminary
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Ministerial Education Fund is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The 13 United Methodist seminaries help students to discover their calling through the challenging curriculum. The fund enables the church to increase financial support for recruiting and educating ordained and diaconal ministers and to equip annual conferences to meet increased demands. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100 percent.