SAN ANSELMO, Calif. ― This June marks the third summer San FranciscoTheological Seminary professor Eugene Eung-Chun Park is spending in Hong Kong to mentor junior scholars through the Institute for Advanced Study in Asian Cultures and Theologies (IASACT). As a mentor in this six-week competitive program, which accepts junior scholars who are conducting research on a variety of topics in humanities and social sciences in the Asian context, he will help the scholars refine and publish their articles.

Each day, one scholar presents their work in progress in a seminar format for comments and discussion with peers and mentors. Outside of these scheduled seminars, scholars spend their time conducting individual research, writing, and meeting with their mentors.

Park first attended the Institute as a participant in 2004, and was connected to the program through Phillip Wickeri, a former professor of World Christianity at SFTS and a founding mentor of the IASACT. In 2009, Park was invited to present an article at the Institute’s five-year reunion conference with the theme of Religion and Violence.

PRINCETON, N.J. ― Princeton Theological Seminary has appointed Dale C. Allison Jr. as the Richard J. Dearborn Professor of New Testament Studies, effective July 1, 2013. Allison joins the faculty in the Department of Biblical Studies.

Allison holds a Ph.D. in biblical studies from Duke University and comes to Princeton from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where he has served as professor of New Testament and early Christianity since 1997. Allison’s areas of expertise include the historical Jesus, early Jewish and Christian eschatology, Second Temple Judaism, the canonical Gospels (especially Matthew) and the Q source, and the history of the interpretation and application of texts.

He recently completed a full-length commentary on the Book of James, and is the author of The Luminous Dusk, a book on religious experience in the modern world. His recent books include Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History, which was named the Best Book Relating to the New Testament in 2011 by the Biblical Archaeology Society, The Love There That’s Sleeping: The Art and Spirituality of George Harrison, and The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus.

DUBUQUE, Iowa ― The British organization Christian Resources Together has announced that University of Dubuque Theological Seminary associate professor of church history Gary Neal Hansen has won its “Devotional Book of the Year” award for Kneeling with Giants: Learning to Pray with History’s Best Teachers (InterVarsity Press, 2012).  with their award for   Hansen is associate professor of church history at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.

“I am thrilled to have my book recognized in this way,” Hansen said. “The book has a mission: to help people take prayer far more seriously than they ever have before, finding ways to pray that are authentically Christian and that really fit. This affirmation from the U.K. is very meaningful to me ― it is a great honor and it helps people find what I hope is a really useful resource.”

Kneeling with Giants introduces readers to ten ways Christians have practiced prayer across the centuries. Each of the ten is distinctly different from the others, providing readers a wide range of possibilities to grow in the life of prayer. Each of the practices is rooted in a major branch of the Christian faith, including Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Evangelical, and Charismatic. 

PITTSBURGH ― Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has named Helen M. Blier as director of continuing education and special events. She will begin her service Sept. 1, 2013.

“Helen Blier brings a wonderful combination of rich experience and wisdom as well as national notoriety to the leadership of our ministry of lifelong learning,” said seminary president and homiletics professor William J. Carl III. “We are truly exited to welcome Dr. Blier to our team.”

Blier holds advanced degrees from Emory University and Boston College. She is currently the directof of student information and organizational evaluation at the Association of Theological Schools. She has also conducted research at Auburn Seminary’s Center for the Study of Theological Education and Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. She has previously taught at Boston College, Duquesne University and Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

DECATUR, Ga. ― The role of religion and race is the topic of the week during Columbia Theological Seminary’s  Presbyterian History and Reformed Theology Lecture Series, July 15-17 at Montreat Conference Center.

“This year promises to continue to challenge our thinking about how faith and life, race and religion play out in U.S. politics,” says Charlie Raynal, director of the Presbyterian History and Reformed Theology Program (PHRT) at the seminary. “We are fortunate to be able to explore these with three such distinguished scholars and contributors to this important conversation. Participants will be challenged to consider and confront the implications religion and race in U.S. politics.”

The series will take place from 9:00–11:30 a.m. in Convocation Hall in Assembly Inn. Paul Huh, assistant professor of worship will lead a time of worship from 9:00–9:30 using music and liturgy associated with the topic of the day and conference as a whole. He will be assisted by Eric Wall, director of worship and music at the conference center.

Presenters include Johnny B. Hill, professor of philosophy and religion at Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C. and author of The First Black President: Barack Obama, Race, Politics and the American Dream; Julia M. Speller, professor of American religious history and culture at Chicago Theological Seminary; and Mark Douglas, associate professor of Christian ethics and director of the Master of Arts in Theological Studies program at Columbia Seminary.

The event will also include a panel discussion at Noon on July 17. Panelists include the Rev. Joe Harvard, recently-retired pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Durham, SC, the Rev. Shannon J. Kershner, pastor at the Black Mountain (N.C.) Presbyterian Church, and the Revs. Carolyn and Charles Heyward, clergy leaders at St. James Presbyterian, Charleston, SC .

CHICAGO ― The Rev. Michele Y. Edwards, communications coordinator for McCormick Theological Seminary, died June 15 of complications related to her recently diagnosed cancer.

Edwards graduated from McCormick in 2011 and joined the staff in February 2012. While a student, she served as co-moderator of the Pan African Student Organization and on the search committee that called the Rev. Frank Yamada as president last year.

Prior to ordination as a teaching elder in the PC(USA), Edwards had served as lay leader of Plymouth United Church of Christ, and in addition to her seminary duties served as associate minister of University Church in Hyde Park, the Chicago neighborhood where the seminary is located.

Memorial service arrangements are pending.

AUSTIN, Texas ― Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has received a $2.5 million pledge from Anne Vickery Stevenson of Sugar Land, Texas, to establish the Edward D. Vickery Sr. Distinguished Chair of Christian Ethics, in memory of her father, a well-respected maritime attorney and long-time supporter of Austin Seminary. This is the third distinguished faculty chair established as part of the Seminary’s $44 million capital campaign.

“Anne’s commitment to fund this chair memorializes the importance of ethics and public theology as a discipline in the life of this institution in perpetuity,” said Seminary President Theodore J. Wardlaw. “I am so pleased, and deeply grateful, that Austin Seminary now gets to draw the self-evident and appropriate association between the field of ethics and the name of Edward Downtain Vickery Sr., who epitomized by his life and work the very character of an ethical life.” 

The Vickery family has long supported Austin Seminary. Stevenson, like her father from 1975-1995, now serves on the Austin Seminary Board of Trustees. Together with her father and brother Edward D. Vickery Jr., Stevenson established the Dorothy B. Vickery Chair of Homiletics and Liturgical Studies, in memory of their mother and wife. The Dorothy Butler Vickery and Edward Downtain Vickery Endowed Scholarship also honors them, along with the Vickery Atrium of the McCord Community Center where the Seminary hosts many social gatherings. Throughout and beyond his lengthy service on the Austin Seminary Board, Ed Vickery completed funding for the C. Ellis and Nancy Gribble Nelson Chair of Christian Education in January 2002.

Anne Stevenson has served as a community advocate in women’s health and faith studies. She served as a member of the board and also president of the Fort Bend County Family Health Center for 10 years and has served as a Bible study leader at The Women’s Home in Houston since 1997. She was a member of First Presbyterian Church in Houston for thirty-four years and currently attends Memorial Drive United Methodist Church.

Edward D. Vickery Sr. was committed to providing scholarships and education to others, as he was the recipient of scholarships that enabled the completion of his education at the University of Texas. He was a partner in the Houston law firm Royston, Rayzor, Vickery & Williams,  and was an elder and deacon of First Presbyterian Church of Houston for 40 years.