AUSTIN, Texas ― The Congregational Resource Guide (CRG) ― produced by the Alban Institute ― has named Good Mourning: Getting Through Your Grief (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), written by Allan H. Cole Jr., academic dean and professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and Losers, Loners, and Rebels: The Spiritual Struggles of Boys (Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), co-written by Cole, Robert C. Dykstra, and Donald Capps, as best resources for congregational leaders.

The CRG, a project of the Alban Institute and funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., sifts and mines available resources for congregations and their leaders, and identifies the best resources available over six areas of congregational life — caregiving, engagement, discovery, management, leadership, and worship.

“Allan Cole is a thoughtful pastoral theologian whose work is grounded in pastoral life,” said Austin Seminary’s president, Theodore J. Wardlaw. “On behalf of Austin Seminary, and especially on behalf of those who grieve, I am so pleased and grateful that Allan’s books have been named best resources by The Congregational Resource Guide.”

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. ― San Francisco Theological Seminary is hosting a free workshop entitled “The Virgin Birth: Truths and Myths” on Nov. 30 in Scott Hall on the seminary campus.

Every Christmas we hear or preach about the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Why is this idea so important in the gospels of Luke and Matthew? What ideas are connected with it in history and what can we do with it today?

Four SFTS professors will explore exegetical, historical and theological perspectives on what is true and false about the virgin birth. The panelists include experts in African-American Christian experiences, church history, the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The professors are the Rev. James Noel, professor of American religion and African American Christianity; Christopher Ocker, professor of church history; Annette Schellenberg, associate professor of Old Testament; and Annette Weissenrieder, associate professor of New Testament.

PRINCETON, N.J. ― The Rev. Robert C. Dykstra gave his inaugural lecture as Princeton Theological Seminary’s Charlotte W. Newcombe Professor of Pastoral Theology on Nov. 14.

Dykstra joined the Princeton faculty in 1997 as assistant professor of pastoral theology. He was promoted to associate professor in 2000, to professor in 2007, and assigned the Newcombe chair in 2009. He earned his Ph.D. and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his B.A. from Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. Before coming to Princeton he taught at The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary as assistant and then associate professor of pastoral theology and congregational care.

His lecture was titled “Unrepressing the Kingdom: Pastoral Theology as Aesthetic Imagination” and envisions theology as an urgent reclaiming of intuitions of the beautiful often lost to childhood. How might adults recover childlike attunement to the wonders of God’s kingdom?

“If the kingdom of God is within us, and especially within children, as Jesus claimed,” Dykstra says, “that kingdom within us may be in the form of a child’s interest in the beautiful around him or her, and in the artistic abandon which children tend to exhibit and that adults tend to lose track of.”

Charlotte W. Newcombe nee Wilson, a philanthropist, was born in 1890 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  A lifelong supporter of students pursuing degrees in higher education, Newcombe was a faithful Presbyterian who made substantial gifts to Princeton Seminary and established The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation to continue her scholarship gifts.

PITTSBURGH ― The Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Office of Continuing Education will sponsor a study trip to Greece, Turkey, and the Greek Isles May 16-29.

The trip will be led by the Rev. James Davison, the seminary’s director of continuing education PTS; Reeny Davison, retired executive director of ASSET Inc.; and Nancy Lapp, curator emerita of the seminary’s Kelso Bible Lands Museum

The tour will focus on archaeological and historical sites of importance especially to Christian faith. Sites in Turkey will include Istanbul, Troy, Izmir (ancient Smyrna), and Ephesus. Mainland sites in Greece will include Corinth, Olympia, Delphi, and Athens. A three-day cruise in the Aegean will feature Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini.

LOUISVILLE ― Susan R. Garrett has been elected to be the next dean of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, beginning June 1, 2012. She will succeed David C. Hester, who will be honored in the spring for his seven years of service and leadership as seminary dean.

"I am profoundly grateful that Dr. Garrett has discerned a call to serve as Academic Dean of our Seminary. The Dean is the principal advocate and supporter of the school's core educational mission, the hinge position upon which the most vital aspects of the school turn. I am confident that Sue Garrett has the gifts, abilities, and character to be a superb Dean,” said seminary president Michael Jinkins, who recommended Garrett’s appointment to the board of trustees with strong faculty nomination and support.

Garrett is currently in her 17th year as professor of New Testament at Louisville Seminary. She previously taught New Testament for seven years at Yale Divinity School and for one year at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.

She earned her degrees at Duke University (B.A.); Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.); and Yale University (M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.). She studied as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Tübingen in West Germany, and has been the recipient of a Henry Luce III Fellowship in Theology.

RICHMOND, Va. ― Union Presbyterian Seminary will sponsor a travel seminar to “the lands of faith and history,” May 10-29, 2012

The seminar will be led by seminary professors Rebecca Weaver, Andreas Schuele, and Rodney Sadler.

Participants will visit the citadel in Amman, Jordan; the breathtaking city of Petra; the ancient settlement of Qumran; and many other sites of antiquity.