Debbie Skaggs had been wanting to attend grad school for a long time. But she and her husband were in pastoral ministry, and to top it off, there weren’t many graduate options in her area of California. Skaggs happened upon Multnomah’s website while exploring schools online, and she expressed some interest in a master’s program. But she didn’t expect it to go anywhere. “The MU admissions team kept calling me for two years,” she says. “I didn’t exactly choose Multnomah…Multnomah chose me.”
It soon became evident that Multnomah had made the right choice. When she was asked by a professor, “What do you want to get out of this education?” Skaggs’ answer lined up perfectly with an intense focus on the Bible. So Skaggs started the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies program as a hybrid student who took classes online and visited the campus one or two times each semester.
Then Skaggs and her husband decided to take a sabbatical from their ministry. They moved to Portland so she could become a traditional student. Skaggs thrived in the welcoming atmosphere. “The professors are incredibly diverse — they are pastors, educators and everything in between,” she says. “There are students from every walk of life! The combination makes for interesting discussions in class.”
For Skaggs, the biggest takeaway is the insight she’s getting into the Scriptures. “In the church, Bible study tends to be more subjective,” Skaggs says. “But in academics, you have to be objective. It forces you to think about what you believe and know.”
It’s also filled her with even more admiration for the Bible. “When I started seminary, I loved the Word of God, but I do even more so now,” Skaggs says. Her Greek and Hebrew studies have made each passage more meaningful — like when she found the words “way”, “truth” and “life” embedded in John 14:6. Skaggs is thrilled about discoveries like these. “When you study the original languages, you don’t know more — it just means more,” she says.
Once she graduates, Skaggs would like to pursue teaching and perhaps write her own curriculum. But for now, she’s already seeing the results of her biblical education. “As I talk about the Word, I feel more confident about what it means and says, and about who God is,” she notes. And that’s something she can take with her wherever she goes.