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A double take of theology

Nilsa Marsh says she never saw herself studying theology until she did a double-take, suddenly realising it had much more to offer than she had imagined.

In 2019, Nilsa Marsh left the United States to study for a degree in humanities at Newbold. However, the sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 soon brought her studies to a standstill. “I absolutely loved being at Newbold, but then Covid happened,” said Nilsa, recalling her experience. “We were told we had a week to return home, and I thought, ‘Okay! Cool! Understood!’ So, we went home and continued studying online like the rest of the world.”

“About a month into the fall semester of 2020, Newbold informed us the College was shutting down all its programmes except theology,” continued Nilsa. “We had a few Zoom meetings with the president of the Trans-European Division to discuss the changes. He talked about his time at Newbold, working for ADRA and other things, and I think he did an unintentional elevator pitch for theology at Newbold. My interest spiked, and a little voice in my head said, ‘Hey! Maybe you want to do theology,’ but then I thought, ‘Okay, it’s 5 a.m. [in San Diego, California], maybe I need to sleep.’” Nilsa settled down with life in the United States, working as a nanny, looking after triplet three-year-olds, but the tiny voice at the back of her mind refused to go away. One day, she decided to return to Newbold.

“It’s truly the work of God that I’m here studying for a BA in Biblical and Pastoral Studies. It’s the last thing I thought I would be doing – the last thing anyone thought I would be doing!” exclaimed Nilsa. “I always loved Newbold, and I knew this was where I needed to be. Like the slogan says, ‘It’s life-changing, faith-affirming,’ plain and simple.”

“You have to come here to experience Newbold for yourself. It’s been faith-affirming, mainly because I came back to study theology. I got baptised recently, and that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t return. I never wanted to get baptised. Not only that, but I had decided that I would never get baptised under any circumstance, but clearly, something changed along the way – I think it was divine inspiration. It’s been an awesome experience.”

Nilsa describes studying for the BA in Biblical and Pastoral Studies as a long learning process, but she quickly points out that she appreciates its practical side. “I enjoy the practical applications of my studies. Last semester, we examined the history of the Church, Christianity, hermeneutics, and other topics, which was awesome because I love history and literature.”

“This semester, we’re learning Cross-cultural Ministry and Ministry in Context and more about real-life applications. You learn about things going on in the world outside the ‘Adventist bubble’. And yes, the ‘Adventist bubble’ is a real thing! That’s why I appreciate being here – people value other perspectives.”

“I am interested in human rights, so I’m focused on finding out about people on the outside. For instance, we learn about different religions from people who know or were part of those religions. People like Petras Bahadur, the Director of the Global Centre for Adventist Muslim Relations [at the General Conference], did a class with us yesterday; it was absolutely incredible.”

Reflecting on her experiences at the College, Nilsa maintains that she responded to God’s call to return to the United Kingdom to study at Newbold. “I definitely had a call, although not necessarily to be a pastor; instead, it’s a call to be here studying theology,” said Nilsa. “Many things you learn in theology apply to other occupations, especially in humanitarian areas.”

“No one ever said theology is an easy degree, but you learn a lot, and it changes you. It’s a more holistic approach to being a student because you learn to be disciplined and go on field placements, so you’re also active at church working with people. Sometimes it’s hard at times, but it’s so worth it!”

Nilsa Marsh Profile Photo

Nilsa Marsh

BA (Hons) in Biblical and Pastoral Studies Student

Nilsa Marsh is a multi-talented musician and a singer who is passionate about English literature and the performing arts. She says one of the ways she feels most connected to God is through music.

Connect with Nilsa directly at: [email protected]

If you’d like to learn more about our BA (Hons) in Biblical and Pastoral Studies course, contact us at [email protected]