Seminary student combines love for Old Testament with youth work

Posted: April 11, 2012

Ellen Bargh has a passion for mentoring young women . . . and studying the Old Testament.

While a graduate degree in Old Testament might not seem to naturally fit with doing youth work, Bargh isn’t concerned.

“It’s not the obvious choice for sure,” she said with a grin. “But I wanted to do a degree that I was passionate about.”

Bargh graduated from Briercrest College and Seminary in 2010 with a BA in Christian ministry specializing in youth and counselling. She returned to graduate school a year later thinking she would pursue a one-year seminary certificate.  

An Old Testament course changed her plans.

“I took Eric Ortlund’s class Poetry and Wisdom,” she recalled. “It intrigued me and made me want to study further.”

As a result, the U.K. native plans to transfer at the end of this school year into an MA in Theological studies specializing in Old Testament.

“(The Old Testament) is hard to understand in some places and I just love the challenge about it,” she exclaimed. “Digging deep into what the Lord was like in the Old Testament and how that continues on in the New Testament.”

Bargh grew up in Lancashire, England about 15 minutes from Capernwray Bible School. Although she strayed from her Christian faith during her teen years, as the time for her high school graduation neared, she began searching for a change.

“I didn’t want to live that lifestyle–the partying and all that kind of stuff,” she explained. “I’d planned to go to university with my best friend and that just wouldn’t have been good so I decided that Capernwray was a good place to start fresh and actually know what it was like to follow that Lord and live for Him.”

It was at Capernwray that Bargh first heard about Briercrest.

“I decided to look into it and I ended up coming,” she said.

Bargh found her niche in working with young women during her college years. She served as a resident assistant (R.A.) in Bergren, one of the women’s dorms for three years.

“Ellen’s love for mentoring women could be seen from the first day she arrived here,” said Kathy Runnalls, one of the resident directors at Briercrest. “She came alongside numerous girls, and many sought her out.”

Now, as a graduate student, Bargh’s love for mentoring young girls is even more apparent. As an older student, she could live in her own place, but instead she chooses to live in the high school dorm. The dorm leaves several rooms available each year for more mature students who are willing to live there and be a helpful presence to the high school girls.

“I love young people,” she said. “I like hanging out in the office (and chatting) with them.”

Bargh builds on these relationships through a Bible study she leads for the high school girls. Each week the girls meet and study a different woman in the Bible.

“I think Ellen is a very nice person who has patience with others,” Jessica Chan, one of the high school Bible study participants said. “We share our lives with one another and she gives me advice. I am really thankful that I got to know Ellen.”

Bargh says seminary life allows her to be mentored as well.

“There’s a variety of ages and families,” she said. “I really appreciate that. Then you get to know people from different walks of life who’ve had more experience in ministry that they can pass onto you.”

Although Bargh isn’t completely clear on what her future ministry will look like, she knows the general direction she wants to take.

“I want to work with young people–probably women,” she said.

As for now, Bargh is enjoying building on the relationships she’s built at Briercrest.

There’s also a pretty tedious project the Old Testament student would like to tackle in her future.

“I really love the book of Leviticus,” she said with a smile. “I’d really love to research all the laws and sacrifices and the reasons behind them.”