2015 Seminary Alumna of the Year
Kara (Eckmann) Powell—a 1994 graduate of Bethel Seminary San Diego—was honored as the 2015 Bethel Seminary Alumna of the Year. As executive director of Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, her research, writing, and teaching is transforming the way churches and leaders across the country approach youth ministry. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women to Watch," Powell speaks regularly in the media and at parenting and leadership conferences.
A core principle of FYI is making research-based observations about culture and ministry, and then releasing poignant resources, deploying a team of staff speakers, and developing cutting-edge degree and certificate programs that address the issues. One recent study found that 40-50% of graduating high school seniors walk away from their faith. Powell co-authored Sticky Faith in response, including research-based, practical tips that parents and leaders can apply immediately to help kids develop a faith that "sticks." The book received national acclaim and grew into a wider collection of resources bearing the same name.
Because of Powell's presence in ministry circles and interest in thinking progressively about how the church may better care for the next generation, she was a logical choice for the Seminary Aluma of the Year honor. "Kara has done amazing things for the areas of youth ministry and women in ministry," says nominator Heather Flies, junior high pastor at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. "I have 'known her' from afar for years and met her personally in 2003 when I did a writing project with her. She's consistent, godly, warm, driven, and intelligent... but never makes you feel stupid! She oozes the fruit of the Spirit and is a learner, always wanting to know more and help others do the same."
Jim Smith, professor of church history emeritus and faculty associate at Bethel Seminary San Diego, notes that Powell's personality and passion are contagious. "She's very energetic, having a heart for generations and especially young people," says Smith. "She's just a very good thinker, and she has a keen interest in the dynamic of story—it's served her well.
"I first came to know Kara when she team-taught a one-week intensive course-she did an amazing job and had a winsome smile and personality," says Executive Minister for Church Relations Ralph Gustafson. "She's got lots of energy and is an incredibly engaging person.