SAN ANSELMO, Calif. ― San Francisco Theological Seminary has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Silliman University Divinity School in the Philippines to facilitate the promotion of common areas of interest between the two educational institutions, including faculty and student exchanges, the sharing of resources, and research collaboration.

SFTS President Rev. Dr. James McDonald and Silliman President Dr. Ben S. Malayang III formalized the new relationship last week on the Silliman campus in Dumaguete. 

“Today we are beginning a new partnership between two historic institutions with deep roots in the Presbyterian church,” said McDonald. “This is an incredible opportunity for both the Silliman and SFTS communities. The cross-cultural exchange facilitated by this agreement today will provide students from both settings with even broader opportunities to grow and serve in God’s world.” 

Silliman University Divinity School offers a variety of programs, including a revised Bachelor of Theology and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program; two-year M.Div. thesis tracks with majors in Biblical Studies, Theology, Pastoral Ministry, Christian Education, and Spiritual Care; and a Master of Arts in Peace Studies. 

In recent years, Silliman designed and implemented a Continuing Calamity Response Program, which is now serving the communities affected by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan last November. The typhoon was the strongest ever recorded and wreaked massive devastation across the central islands of the Philippines. 

Joining McDonald at Silliman were the Rev. Jana Childers, SFTS dean of the seminary and vice- president for academic affairs; Adlai Amor, member of the SFTS board of trustees and communications director at Bread for the World; and SFTS alumnus and former PC(USA) General Assembly Moderator the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow.

RICHMOND, Va. ― Union Presbyterian Seminary’s Black Alumni/ae Association hosted its third annual Trailblazers Award ceremony and banquet on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, at C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Jerry Cannon, served as keynote speaker.

“Each of this year’s honorees has forged new paths in education and ministry,” said the Rev. Lynn McClintock, director of alumni/ae development. “They have inspired all of us to claim visions, to see challenges as opportunities, and to celebrate God’s good grace.”

The honorees for the 2014 Trailblazers Awards were:

  • The Genesis Award honoring the first two African American graduates from UPSem’s Charlotte campus were given to the Rev. Veronica Cannon (M.Div.’06) and Brenda Foster (M.A.C.E.’06).
  • The Vanguard Professorship Award to Katie Geneva Cannon, professor of Christian ethics, and the first African-American woman ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
  • The Faithful Servant Award  to Samuel K. Roberts, professor of theology and ethics, in celebration of his nearly 13-year tenure at Union Presbyterian Seminary as well as his outstanding contributions in the fields of methodological approaches to ethics, theological ethics, public theology, church and state issues, Christian virtue ethics and the theological ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr. Roberts will retire from UPSem in May with a conference  held in his honor: "Faith Seeking Virtue: Contexts, Commitments, Causes” on the seminary’s Richmond campus.
  • This year’s Trailblazer Award was given to Ophelia Garmon-Brown (M.Div. ‘08),who after serving as vice-president of business & community partnerships with Novant Health (Presbyterian Hospital), as well as Novant’s Community Benefit Department, became senior vice-president of physician services in 2012.

CHICAGO ― The Center for Faith at McCormick Theological Seminary has launched “Service Programs that Change the World,” a new initiative that recognizes exemplary faith-based service organizations that offer year-long service opportunities for young adults. As part of this effort, a website has been launched to help interested individuals discover these organizations, learn about their service opportunities and navigate the application process.

Twenty faith-based service programs have been selected for this honor. They include programs that are varied in their program design and affiliations. They share a common commitment to change the world by integrating faith with service. Some are run out of the national offices of denominations, while others are stand-alone non-profits that have affiliations. Some of these programs are connected to Catholic orders like the Lasallians and the Jesuits, while others are linked to historic peace churches like the Quakers, Brethren and the Mennonites. Each program has its own unique way of operating and distinct ways of connecting faith and service.

Service Programs that Change the World is part of a movement to reclaim the important historic role that faith communities have played in promoting community and justice while offering meaningful opportunities to engage in the world. Each program offers participants the opportunity to work with agencies and organizations on the front line of building community and fighting poverty. 

The Rev. Wayne Meisel, director of the Center for Faith and Service selected the programs based on a decade of work with these kinds of organizations. In his view, organizations on the 2014 list of Service Programs that Change the World have demonstrated a common commitment to invite, welcome, support, train and launch individuals into the world as community leaders.

DECATUR, Ga. ― Some think the Bible concerns only humans and God. Yet, for the first creation story to the end of Revelation, scripture imagines a larger universe inhabited by other creatures besides ourselves. As we come to terms with our ecological limits, we can reignite the imagination to see more clearly our place in creation’s intricate web, to cherish more actively its delicate beauty, and to relish our responsibilities to treat life — human and other — with respect and awe.

These and other related topics will be explored at “Inhabiting Eden,” an April 24-27 seminar at Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina sponsored by the Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary.

“Enjoying the Eden of Montreat and listening to Scripture, we will explore a spirituality of grateful care and of realistic hope for facing our generation’s ecological crises,” states promotional material for the conference.

Instructor for the course is Patricia K. Tull, professor emerita of Old Testament at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and author of Inhabiting Eden: Christians, the Bible and the Ecological Crisis (Westminster John Knox, 2013).

PRINCETON, N.J. ― Princeton Theological Seminary’s Department of Speech Communication in Ministry will present Aeschylus’s The Oresteia on Thursday through Saturday, April 10 through 12 at 8:00 p.m., and on Sunday, April 13 at 3:00 p.m. The performance will be in the Gambrell Room of Scheide Hall on the Seminary campus at 64 Mercer Street in Princeton. 

One of three still-performed ancient Greek tragedians, Aeschylus (525–456 B.C.) was born and grew up in Eleusis, a city dedicated to Demeter, matriarchal goddess of fertility. As a teenager he was accused of sneaking in to watch the women’s Eleusinian rites, forbidden to men. He began work as a boy in vineyards and legend has it he dreamed of Dionysus, god of wine and theater, telling him to write plays. Aeschylus produced more than seventy plays, only seven of which survive.  

Greek tragedies were performed as trilogies; three plays performed successively on a single day. According to director Robert Lanchester, The Oresteia is the only complete trilogy “that we have, and [it] demonstrates the need for humanity to evolve from tribalism to a larger awareness of a divine order. On stage, Aeschylus shows us gods, Apollo and Athena, who are humanized to some extent, while Zeus, ‘that Great Third,’ remains distant and all-powerful. The play depicts archetypal family dynamics and domestic violence morphing into a larger world of justice with mercy and redemption.”             

The drama has been adapted for the stage by Lanchester, the Seminary’s assistant in speech. Seminary students make up the cast. The production is open to the public and free of charge, but seats are limited and must be reserved in advance. For reservations and/or information, contact Marija DiViaio at 609-497-7963.

AUSTIN, Texas ― The inaugural HESED lectureship ― sponsored by the African American Student Group and the Hispanic Student Association at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary ― will focus on “Youth Violence in Urban Centers.” The event is scheduled Monday, March 17, from 6:00-9:00 p.m.

The purpose of the HESED lectureship is to promote awareness and church involvement in the area of social justice, thus enabling “hesed,” which in Hebrew means justice, lovingkindness and mercy.

The March 17 event will feature a screening of “The Interrupters,” an award-winning documentary about a group of Chicagoans called “violence interrupters” who with bravado, humility and humor try to protect their communities from the violence they once employed.

Present to speak about the issue of violence prevention in urban settings will be Eddie Bocanegra, one of Chicago’s “violence interrupters” who was featured in the film, and Sergeant Rick Randall, an Austin Police Department Chaplain, who in 1999 helped found the police chaplains program ― which trains and utilizes local Austin pastors as police chaplains in the city.

DUBUQUE, Iowa ― The Doctor of Ministry degree at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary is designed to help pastors revitalize their own ministry for the renewal of the church.

The 2014 cohort will be led by Bradley Longfield, dean and professor of church history, and the Rev. Jerry Andrews, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.

During the three consecutive years of the program the cohort will:

  • Engage in a close reading and prayerful study of Paul’s letter to the Romans and discuss significant theological commentaries in order to listen to God’s word to us.
  • Engage in a close reading and prayerful study of the Psalms and discuss theologically significant reflections on prayer in the church in order to form our response to God’s word.
  • Engage in rigorous theological study and vigorous communal reflection on what it means to be the church, the people of God.