Princeton Theological Seminary’s School of Christian Vocation and Mission will hold a weeklong summer educational program titled “Perspectives on Vocation for the 21st Century” July 18-22.

The Institute of Theology, the seminary’s original continuing education program, which began in the summer of 1942, will focus on the “vocation” theme by offering morning programs and afternoon electives that discuss this important facet of Christian life. Participants will also enjoy daily worship services, opportunity to attend several workshops, time to reflect quietly, and a chance to explore the Princeton area.

Institute leaders include the Rev. Joseph Small, former director of theology, worship, and education ministries, Presbyterian Church (USA); Sally Peters, director of the Center of Lifelong Learning at Luther Seminary; the Rev. Christian Andrews, pastor of Outreach Red Bank and a member of the Lilly Foundation’s program on vocation; Princeton Seminary emeritus professor of Reformed theology and public life Max Stackhouse; Elsie McKee, professor of Reformation studies and the history of worship; and the Rev. Ruth-Aimée Belonni-Rosario, associate director of admissions.

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. ― As San Francisco Theological Seminary prepares to welcome its 11th president ― the Rev. Jim McDonald ― next month, interim vice-president of institutional advancement the Rev. R. Scott Sheldon has hit the ground running since coming on board in May. Sheldon brings a wealth of management, fund-raising and nonprofit experience to SFTS.

Sheldon, who earned an MDiv degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, returned to his alma mater from 1997-2005, serving as program director for the Center of Continuing Education and then working as director of development for four years. Among his many accomplishments in this role, he authored A Tradition of Generosity: Two Hundred Years of Major Gift and Capital Campaign Support at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Sheldon came to SFTS from D&R Greenway Land Trust in Princeton, NJ. Following an earlier career in architecture, Sheldon was associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Northport, NY, in the 1980s. After nearly a decade at Princeton, Sheldon was chief development officer at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. He served the Association of Theological Schools from 2002-07, providing leadership as chair of its Development and Institutional Advancement Program. He was executive presbyter and stated clerk of the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse (1993-97) and associate executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Long Island (1989-93).

LOUISVILLE ― Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary will sponsor an intensive five-day workshop entitled “Emotional Intelligence & Human Relations: Leadership Skills for Congregational Life,” Aug. 22-26 on the seminary campus. 

The EQ-HR workshop is for seminarians, clergy and religious leaders, designed to enable participants to learn about, build, and practice emotional intelligence skills in a small group setting. A team of skilled facilitators, led by Roy Oswald and David Sawyer, provide tools and feedback to enable participants to learn about themselves and to immediately practice emerging skills.

As group life unfolds, participants give and receive feedback regarding the impact they have on others in the group. Participants will learn both interpersonal and intra-group communication skills. The content of the workshop revolves around the five areas of emotional intelligence as keys to improving leadership effectiveness for faith-based leaders.

As part of the event, workshop participants complete a comprehensive self-assessment of their emotional intelligence. They also identify up to 20 people who know them well and are willing to complete the same assessment in order to provide valuable feedback. What results is a detailed report of one’s emotional intelligence strengths and development needs. Participants may elect to have a one-to-one session to discuss their report with a facilitator.

DECATUR, Ga. ― “KNOWING Our Neighbors: A Purposeful Interfaith Encounter” ― designed to help Christians engage in interfaith cooperation, not just political discourse, with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists ― will take place July 18-21 on the Columbia Theological Seminary campus here.

The event offers the opportunity to talk with leaders from other faith communities, visit their houses of worship, and learn how to initiate interfaith cooperation within one's own congregation or community.

“Increasingly, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and other communities of faith are engaging with one another,” says co-keynote speaker David Fraccaro. “These encounters can lead to conflict or cooperation. What direction will your congregation go?” Rev. Fraccaro, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, heads the Interfaith Youth Core’s Stranger to Neighbor  program, training congregations and diverse communities to build interfaith coalitions committed to welcoming the stranger in our midst.

“We will visit a Muslim mosque and a Jewish synagogue, and reflect together on those experiences,” says Ben Campbell Johnson, the other keynote speaker for this event. An ordained Presbyterian pastor, he is author of the book Beyond 9/11: Christians and Muslims Together ― An Invitation to Conversation.

PITTSBURGH ― The Rev. John Burgess, professor of systematic theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and a Luce Fellowship to travel to Russia this fall where he will teach at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Humanitarian University and research the Orthodox Church’s resurgence in the country.

Burgess is one of 25 Fulbright scholars who will spend time in Russia during the 2011-2012 academic year. The Luce Fellowship, awarded to seven scholars, will provide Burgess with the financial resources to extend his stay in Russia for six additional months and continue his research into the Orthodox Church and contemporary Russian culture.           

Russia spent almost 75 years under Communist rule. The Orthodox Church (and other churches), faced severe persecution. Though the Church was never destroyed, Russia became a secular society. Since the fall of Communism in 1991, however, the church has experienced enormous growth, new wealth, and political influence.

Burgess’ research will investigate the efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church through its narratives, symbols, and rituals to shape Russian national identity in the wake of the fall of Communism. Specifically, Burgess will examine Patriarch Kirill’s program of re-Christianizing Russia (votserkovlenie—literally, “in-churching”) and how major institutions in the Orthodox Church, including monasteries, church publishing houses, church-related universities, and parishes advance it. He will assess whether and in what respects “in-churching” will succeed and what the Russian experience teaches North American scholars about the role of religious revival in shaping national identity even in secular states.

Burgess has taught at the seminary since 1998. Previously he was professor of religion at Doane College and associate for theology in the Office of Theology and Worship, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He was awarded his M.Div. from McCormick Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D. in Christian theology from the University of Chicago.