AUSTIN, Texas ― Education Beyond the Walls (EBW) is the outward-looking educational face of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, providing lifelong learning and fresh, innovative, and expansive theological education for clergy, church leaders, congregations, and communities. Established in 2011, EBW sits at the intersection of church and academy, and draws upon the deep resources of both to craft creative responses to emerging needs of church leaders.

“As a school of the church, we seek to meet people called to ministry where they are, in their own journeys,” the seminary states in its promotional material for EBW, “and we invite them into communities of learning that will support their flourishing, as leaders of the church and as disciples of Jesus Christ. Many learners are formed explicitly and excellently through our degree programs(masters and doctoral levels) and the Certificate in Ministry. Other learners gather in settings beyond the degree-granting specifications of seminary curricula.”

Currently, EBW offers a range of opportunities for formation and learning:

Learning communities for practicing clergy:

  • The College of Pastoral Leaders offers financial support in the way of grants to self-selected groups of pastors so that they may pursue their own self-designed program for renewal, vitality, and pastoral excellence
  • Revaluing Money provides a deep dive into issues relating to money, possessions, and practical theology in a three-retreat experience for a cohort of pastors who are accepted to participate.

Short courses for practitioners (pastors and other leaders):

  • Christian Education events are offered each fall and spring.
  • Emerging Issues in Leadership are addressed each year. Topics have included bi-vocational ministry, storytelling as mission outreach, and developing diverse cultural capacities.
  • Targeted Populations is a new effort, recently launched with an event for women preachers with more than five years of experience.

One-day intensives (for pastors and other leaders):

  • Crossing the Border, a ongoing program, provides a day of Scripture, theology, and reflection led by prominent Hispanic professors to focus on the experience of Hispanic and Latina/o people in the Southwest.
  • Worship is the focus of one intensive each fall and each spring.
  • Innovative practitioners present a variety of topics, includes art, biblical storytelling, and other creative explorations.

EBW draws resources not only from the Austin Seminary faculty, but also from outside the seminary community. It currently have partnerships with SCRAPCE (South Central Region of the Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators), the Association of Presbyterian Tentmakers, Seminary of the Southwest, Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest, The University of Texas Office of Disability Studies, and The University of Texas School of Social Work Office of Continuing Education.

Lifelong learning events this fall include Art and Theology, Sept. 21; Developing Cultural Competence (leading in diversity), Oct. 3-5; Preparing for Advent, Oct. 12; Intergenerational Worship, Oct. 21-23; Ellipsis Conference for bi-vocational ministry, Nov. 1-3; and God's Miracles (in Spanish), Nov. 9.

CHICAGO ― Produced by Canamac Productions, Defamation, a play where race, religion, and class collide in a courtroom drama, will be presented on Monday, Oct. 21, in the McGaw Common Room at McCormick Theological Seminary. The performance, which begins at 4:00 p.m., is free and open to the public. 

Defamation is a twist on the he-said-she-said story. African American businesswoman Regina Wade, the owner of a small design firm on Chicago’s south side, brings a civil defamation suit against Arthur Golden, a real estate developer from wealthy, white Winnetka on the north shore. Wade is claiming Golden ruined her reputation and her business by accusing her of stealing his heirloom watch during the course of a business meeting.

During the course of the trial, lawyers on both sides elicit testimony regarding segregated neighborhoods and private club member-ships, racial and religious discrimination, and the hardships and privileges of class.

The play runs 70 minutes and is followed by 15 minutes of open jury deliberation. After a verdict is reached, the audience is encouraged to explore issues further during a Q&A session with the playwright and cast.

The Defamation Play is sponsored by The Center for the Study of African American Ministries and Black Studies and the Anti-Racism Committee at McCormick Theological Seminary and The Pero Multicultural Center at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

DECATUR, Ga. ― The Thompson Scholars program for 2014, A Different World: Evangelism for the Screen Share Generation, will take place April 29–May 2, 2014 on the Columbia Theological Seminary campus. This annual event brings together pastors and other church leaders with a special interest in evangelism. The program will be led by Ralph C. Basui Watkins, the seminary’s associate professor of evangelism and church growth.

The number one device in the world today is the cell phone.  How do we share the gospel with a generation that lives through a mobile device? The seminar will focus on defining the new world we live and how we share the gospel with a generation that lives via the small screen.  It will look at the generation some call the “the screen share generation” and consider how the church might effectively build relationships and foster discipleship with them from the virtual world to the face to face world.

Deadline for the application-based program is Dec. 1, 2013. Applicants will be notified of their status by Jan. 15, 2014. Preference will be given to applicants who have not participated in the Thompson Scholars program within the past 5-10 years. For an application form, click here.

This program is generously supported by an endowment in honor of Cecil Thompson, former professor of evangelism at Columbia seminary.

LOUISVILLE ― Tyler Mayfield was installed as assistant professor of Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament at the 160th Fall Convocation of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Sept. 5. He also gave the convocation address, “Raising Cain.”

Also welcomed to the seminary were three new employees: Greg Clark, director of seminary relations; Matthew Collins, director of the Ernest Miller White Library and associate professor of bibliography and research; and Caren Nichter, technical services specialist.    

President Michael Jinkins gave the opening remarks, with a nod to Rosh Hashanah coinciding with the beginning of the Seminary’s 160th academic year. Mayfield’s address was based on Genesis 4: 1-16, the story of Cain and Abel. His message encouraged the Seminary to go beyond being a diverse campus, by actively engaging with and learning from those who are different.

“Diverse environments do not automatically create an understanding of or an appreciation for difference,” said Mayfield. “If we are to become religious leaders with the capacity to connect with people of all backgrounds, we have to go beyond the diverse environment and talk to one another, learn from one another, truly engage with one another.”

Mayfield joined the Louisville Seminary faculty in 2012. In January, he will co-lead the Seminary’s Middle East travel seminar to Israel and Palestine.

Four awards honoring current students were given at convocation.

  • The E.L. Bell Memorial Prize went to Chelsea Guenther-Benham and David Wigger.
  • The Burton Z Cooper Prize in Theology was given to Lynn Hasselbarth.
  • The James A. Hyde Marriage and Family and Pastoral Counseling Theory & Practice Award was given to Jeni Strednak and Abbie Trowbridge.
  • Dean K. Thompson Prize in Practical Theology went to Karol Farris and Lynn Hasselbarth. 

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. ― San Francisco Theological Seminary will host a workshop called “Discerning Missional Leadership: Church Planters Assessment,” Sept. 29–Oct. 2.  The event is designed to help participants explore their leadership capacity for new and innovative expressions of “church” or some form of a new worshipping community.

Those with a desire to initiate a worshipping community or begin a congregation will experience the opportunity to assess the skills they have or will need to initiate successful new worshipping communities.

SFTS Alumni Council President, Jack Hodges said the workshop is a great opportunity for any individual or group of individuals to discover the gifts and grace that have been identified as helpful in church planting. “This will be a great experience for anyone from any denomination who has a desire to start something from the ground up,” he said.

In partnership with SFTS, the 1001 New Worshipping Communities program of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), will host the workshop. Craig Williams of the Presbyterian Centers for New Church Innovation will lead the event.  In March, Williams was on the campus of San Francisco Theological Seminary for “Get in the Game,” a one day workshop for those interested in creating new worship communities within the PC(USA).

The cost to attend the workshop is $675 for an individual, $776 for a couple.  For full time seminary students who are not Doctor of Ministry students, the cost is $325 for an individual and $425 for a couple.  This price includes the cost of the assessment, housing, and most meals.

PITTSBURGH ― Pittsburgh Theological Seminary welcomed 55 new students during its annual convocation Sept. 9. Of these students, 41 will pursue the Master of Divinity degree (including four joint degree), nine  the Master of Arts, two the Master of Sacred Theology, and three are non-degree students working in particular areas of study.

In the overall class, 76 percent of the incomers will attend classes full-time, with the majority enrolled in the day program. The breakdown of male and female students is 44 and 56 percent respectively.

As has been the case in recent years, more students are Presbyterian than any other denomination, with United Methodist following as the second most common denomination. Collectively, 17 denominations are represented in this incoming class. This year’s international student is from Malaysia. Among the 14 home states represented this year, 17 students are from out of the state of Pennsylvania.

While students have earned their undergraduate degrees from Presbyterian colleges, Pittsburgh universities, and other Pennsylvania schools, the majority have received degrees from out of state colleges and universities. One earned a bachelor’s degree in the country of Bolivia.

PRINCETON, N.J. ― Princeton Theological Seminary’s Department of History and Ecumenics and the new seminary library will co-sponsor a lecture by Peter Brown on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 7:00 p.m. in the Theron Room of the new library.

Brown, professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, will speak on the topic “Alms, Labor, and the ‘Holy Poor’: Early Monasticism between Syria and Egypt.” The lecture is open to the public free of charge.

Brown is a renowned scholar and historian, a graduate of Oxford University, and served on the faculties of the University of London and the University of California at Berkeley before joining the Princeton faculty in 1986. His principal concern is the rise of Christianity and the transition from the ancient to the early medieval world.

Brown is currently working on the problems of wealth, poverty, and the shift from an ancient to a medieval view of society.

The seminary’s new library, located on Mercer Street on the site of the former Speer Library, opened in summer.