If just one word describes what brought Lindsay Bruehl to Perkins – at the age of 40 – it might be “trauma.” But that’s not the last word in her story.
In 2016, Bruehl says, her life fell apart. The presidential election, combined with some personal difficulties, sent her into a tailspin of negative emotions and left her struggling with the Christian beliefs she’d believed most of her life.
“I did not recognize the world I was in,” she said.
That triggered a spiritual quest which led Bruehl, unexpectedly, to a pastor on Twitter named Jonathan Martin of The Table, a Pentecostal church in Oklahoma City.
“I heard scripture in a new way,” she said. “I started asking questions. I started listening to a ton of podcasts. I wanted to hear everything: people from all faiths, people with no faith, people of color, people who had had different experiences in the church.”
In the Bible, she said, she discovered portrayals of pain she’d never recognized before. “I just fell in love with the Bible,” she said. “I wanted to live it, not just hear it.”
Her search eventually led her to her current church home, Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. Dr. George Mason, the church’s senior pastor, raised the possibility that Bruehl might be called to ministry. And that eventually led her to Perkins. Bruehl started full-time in 2019 and is now a second year M. Div. student.
The timing was fortunate, because Perkins had just launched the Baptist House of Studies, a program to nurture Perkins students from the Baptist and other Free Church traditions. Bruehl was offered a position as Baptist House Assistant, assisting the director, the Rev. Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles. Mason is Lead Advisor to the program. Jonathan Martin, the Twitter pastor, joined the Baptist House of Studies Board of Visitors.
Attending seminary was a significant midlife pivot for Bruehl, who spent many years working in the oil and gas industry. Her undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University is a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in finance. Now, she hopes to become a Baptist pastor who can serve from a trauma-informed approach.
“There are a lot of people who are traumatized by church,” she said.
At Perkins, Bruehl said, she’s rediscovering the divine feminine. Having grown up in the Church of Christ tradition, she says, women’s roles in the church were limited and undervalued.
“When we don’t value women, we don’t value wisdom, justice or truth,” she said. “How we think about the kingdom of God is how we should be living right now. Everyone is invited to participate. Not just men.”
In addition to her work in the Baptist House of Studies, Bruehl is serving as a representative in the Perkins Student Association. To keep herself grounded, she turns to yoga and meditation. Studying and reading Greek have also become an unexpected form of meditation. Family life keeps her busy, too; Bruehl has a daughter, 14, and a son, 12; her husband is a teacher in the Sachse, Texas school district.
Recently, Bruehl preached her first sermon, via Zoom, to Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., and received her first paycheck for a preaching assignment. She jokes that she plans to frame it.
The sermon focused on two stories from the Bible: the Exodus and the road to Emmaus.
“Both are stories that start with anxiety, but God shows up,” she said. “Both Moses and the disciples wanted to quit, but they saw God or Jesus and went back to work. Moses went back to work on the Ten Commandments, and the Disciples went back to Jerusalem.”
Those are stories that resonate with Bruehl in the path that brought her to Perkins.
“I feel like the spirit led me here,” she said. “The spirit is still working and leading me. We can go to God, and God will pursue us. We are never out of the reach of God.”