Ongoing Journey of Faithfulness: BethBC Academic Deans
As we continue to celebrate the legacy of BethBC over the past 40 years, this month features some of our past and present academic deans of the College. We have been very blessed to have these leaders at BethBC over the duration of our existence.
When the College started, the first academic dean was Rev. David Teeter. He helped with laying the groundwork for BethBC and served in the position of academic dean for nine years. He and his wife Willow were faithful and steadfast in their commitment to serve the local community. Rev. David has since passed away, and we remember him fondly and are proud to have been graced with his presence here at BethBC in our early days.
Dr. Salim Munayer
Dr. Salim Munayer started off at BethBC as one of the first local professors in 1986. By 1989, he was offered the position of academic dean. He spoke of the major changes that were taking place during his time as academic dean in order to bring the College to a higher level of quality education and accreditation. Much of the focus was to bring in, train and empower local leaders from Palestine, especially women, to be professors who could better serve the local community.
Dr. Munayer recalled the expansion of BethBC to Nazareth and Gaza, and the growing credibility of the College within the local community. When asked about a memorable time during his time serving as academic dean, he said:
“The ability to continue teaching and assisting during the 1st and 2nd Intifada stands out to me. There were curfews and shooting, yet we would continue to teach in spite of everything – even when it seemed impossible.”
When asked what words of wisdom he would give to those that are involved at BethBC, he responded,
“Difficult times are a time of character formation not only for individuals but also for institutions. Stick to the vision – to the dream. Try to do your best not to compromise on quality or take short-cuts.”
Rev. Dr. Yohanna Katanacho
Following Dr. Salim Munayer in order of academic deans at BethBC is Rev. Dr. Yohanna Katanacho. Dr. Katanacho served from 2007-2014. Having also been an instructor and involved in teaching and writing, Dr. Katanacho reflected on his time in this position at BethBC. He recalled those that came before him and laid the foundation, but also those that were to come after and take up the mantle to continue on in the faithful work of BethBC.
“When I think of Bethlehem Bible College I usually think of Drs. Bishara and Alex Awad. These two wonderful people have been a great model of godliness that inspired me to love Jesus and to serve him. I also think of Dr. Jack and Dr. Munther, two wonderful, gifted leaders whom I had the privilege to impact in more than one way.”
Dr. Katanacho echoed what Dr. Munayer stated above about serving during the difficult times of the Intifada, and carrying on with the teaching of Jesus even in the midst of hardship.
“We were going to work while the Israeli tanks were outside the College. We were studying under a great threat; bullets were flying in the air, and we truly loved serving Jesus even if it meant putting our lives and families in danger.”
Dr. Katanacho and Munayer recall these times of teaching and leading during difficult circumstances and suffering. Following in their footsteps and having assisted them both in their time at BethBC is our current Academic Dean, Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac.
Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac
Dr. Isaac joined BethBC in 2005 as a new graduate from seminary. He sang in the College’s choir and served as an assistant to Academic Deans Munayer and later Katanacho. Both men became mentors to Dr. Isaac, and in 2015 he became the newest academic dean at BethBC.
“I learned a lot from both of them (Drs. Munayer and Katanacho), and I consider them both as mentors to me. I have so many memories, and still continue to create memories, from my time with the students here at BethBC. Seeing the impact of the teachings of the Bible on the lives of my students never gets old.”
Dr. Isaac also serves as the reverend of the Bethlehem Evangelical Christmas Lutheran Church, where he sees the importance of the Christian community here in the land and the education it takes to maintain and grow the Christian presence here. In tandem with these two roles, Dr. Isaac is also the director of Christ at the Checkpoint Conferences, and when asked about his role at BethBC and for the Christian community he said,
“We are part of something special! In these very challenging times, when the mere survival of Christianity is being discussed, I believe we are building something really special for the future of Christianity in Palestine.”
Continuing in the Ongoing Journey
Indeed we are part of something special here in this land. BethBC finds itself in a unique position in history and in our context, and it is with humility and honor that we continue to persevere in the midst of difficulty. The devotion and steadfastness of our leaders is woven into the legacy that they’ve lived and passed on to future generations. We are grateful for those that have served through BethBC, and for these men who have been a part of leading our students and serving as academic dean. May we take their words of wisdom and continue walking in the faithful journey of following Jesus.
Kamila is volunteering full-time with Bethlehem Bible College in the Communications Department. In addition to her love for writing and sharing stories, her endeavors in Bethlehem and greater Palestine involve facilitating cultural immersion programs for young adults from North America to see first-hand the realities that those living here encounter. At times deemed the “eternal optimist,” Kamila holds fast to the future hope of restoration and reconciliation of all things back to God. When she’s not writing, or organizing trips, you’ll catch her training and competing with the Ultimate Palestine frisbee team.