Q&A with Ministry Scholar Daniel Parkin ’18, S’21

Daniel Parkin ’18, S’21 is on track to be the first Ministry Scholars student to earn his Master of Divinity. In his final year of this dual-degree program, he reflects on his journey, the challenges, and some of the most “transformative experiences of his life.”

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, content specialist

October 28, 2020 | 8 a.m.

Daniel Parkin, Ministry Scholar at Bethel University

Daniel Parkin ’18, S’21

Daniel Parkin was in his junior year at Bethel studying economics and finance when he realized he wasn’t satisfied with his career trajectory. He found himself wanting to work with people more than he wanted to work from behind a spreadsheet, a shift he credits to his experience serving as a freshman resident assistant (RA) in Edgren Hall. Changing his major didn’t feel like an option—but the Ministry Scholars Program, which allows students to complete a bachelor’s and seminary degree in five years, provided a viable solution.

In this Q&A, Parkin shares about his decision to enroll in the Ministry Scholars Program and how it’s holistically equipping him to serve God and others, wherever his vocational path leads.

Why did you choose the ministry scholars program? 

In addition to my experience as an RA, I was auditing and enrolling in Bible and theology classes throughout my undergraduate studies because I enjoyed them so much. With the Ministry Scholars Program, I could still graduate with my degree in economics and finance while getting a head start on an M.A. in Ministry. It seemed like a perfect fit. So I joined the program, loved seminary, and ended up staying longer than anticipated to complete a full Master of Divinity rather than the shorter M.A. in Ministry.

How does your degree in economics and finance partner with your seminary degree?

I still have absolutely no clue where God is leading me vocationally. The Ministry Scholars Program appealed to me partly because it gave me a space to further explore that question. I wasn’t passionate about economics and finance, but I also knew that it was a valuable degree to hold. After graduating this spring, I may end up in a finance role, I may end up in a ministry role, I may end up doing a blend of both, or I may end up doing something else completely. Regardless, the Ministry Scholars program has taught me to look at vocation more holistically. If I go the strictly finance route, my M.Div. will have equipped me to do finance missionally—to participate more directly in how God is using finance to build His Kingdom on earth.

What lessons will you walk away from the program with?

Throughout the various discipleship one-on-ones, coffee shop gatherings, and retreats that the Ministry Scholars Program offers, I’ve noticed a continuous call to listen and respond to what God is doing in our lives now. The nature of the program itself often leads us to think about the future. “What will seminary be like? Where is God calling me to serve?” These are good questions to ask. But oftentimes I tend to ask those questions at the neglect of asking, “What is God saying to me now? How does He want me to respond now?” Program faculty and staff have done a good job of reminding me (and others) that God is actively working today, and He is inviting me to join Him in His work today.

How have you been challenged throughout the program?

Ministry Scholars Program Director Bryce Johnson likes to watch people step into uncomfortable situations in the name of discipleship. Most days I think he does it for his own entertainment, but it’s also because he genuinely cares about our spiritual formation. His push for us Ministry Scholars students to courageously step out of our comfort zones has been challenging, but fruitful. For me, this challenge played a role in my decision to live in Utah with Mormons for a summer. 

Can you tell us more about that?

In early 2019, I decided to do a deep dive into Mormonism. I read all the Mormon scriptures and several books on Mormonism, which led to me wanting to live in Utah for the summer. The goal was to learn Mormonism from the source while seeking opportunities to engage in interfaith dialogue with Mormons. My daily journal topped off at about 23,000 words, so I had many thoughts, emotions, and experiences that I could go on about. To sum it up, though, this trip was one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences of my life. I had to learn how to navigate living in a minority-Christian culture surrounded by people who genuinely loved me and wanted to see me to get baptized into the Mormon church. I built a lot of friendships along the way and, naturally, had some pretty difficult conversations about our respective faiths.

Who would you recommend the Ministry Scholars Program to and why? 

Anyone who wants to enter ministry should 100% apply to the program. However, I would also recommend the Ministry Scholars Program to people who are seeking to live into God’s purpose for their lives but are maybe unsure of where God is leading them. This program allows you to explore vocational questions and become more whole along the way. I would also add that joining the Ministry Scholars program is not at all a commitment to an explicitly ministry role after graduation. Rather, through the program, students learn how their undergrad degree and the Kingdom of God converge.

Anything else you'd like to add? 

I’m a completely biased fan of this program, but honestly, choosing to be a part of the Ministry Scholars Program has led to some of the most transformative experiences of my life.

Earn an undergraduate and seminary degree in five years.

The Ministry Scholars Program was launched in spring 2017, giving undergraduate students from most majors an accelerated pathway to a seminary degree. In addition to classroom experiences, Ministry Scholars offers unique co-curricular opportunities to expand students’ networks, expose them to different ministry settings, and help them discern God’s unique calling for their lives.

Learn more


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