CHICAGO ― This coming academic year McCormick Theological Seminary will launch a new community initiative. Throughout the year, students, faculty, and staff will focus together on a common theme: Peacemaking in the City: A Faithful Response to Urban Violence.

The aim is to dedicate the McCormick community to becoming more aware of the causes of urban violence, more informed about effective responses to it, and more committed to living out these responses. Some of the ways in which students, faculty, and staff will explore this theme include reading a book together as a community, incorporating the theme as appropriate into the academic curriculum, addressing this topic in existing events and scheduled lectures, and developing and offering additional service and learning opportunities.

The book selected for the common reading in order to introduce this theme is There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America, by Alex Kotlowitz, a moving account of two boys struggling to survive on Chicago’s west side. McCormick will roll out this community study at the beginning of the fall semester with much more information about the theme, about the book and about opportunities to discuss it next fall, and about coming events and opportunities to study and respond to this issue in the year ahead.

A committee that has been working to shape this theme and plan its implementation ―  convened by Ted Hiebert, professor of Old Testament, dean of the faculty and vice-president for academic affairs ― says the topic was selected for several key reasons. Being in Chicago is a part of McCormick’s identity. In Hyde Park, McCormick is near many of the schools and neighborhoods that are plagued by gun violence. It is an issue that is close to home.

When King College Prep high school student, Hadiya Pendleton, a classmate of children and grandchildren of staff members, was shot and killed so close to the seminary, conversations began to explore faithful ways McCormick could be a part of the solution. The success of faith communities reaching out and planning events during the 2014 Memorial Day weekend to interrupt the violence inspired McCormick to continue these conversations and develop faithful ways McCormick can act to stem the violence in its community.

LOUISVILLE ― How do civil rights issues affect African American communities today, and how should African American churches appropriately and effectively respond? “The Black Church and the Continuing Fight for Civil Rights” is the focus of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s Sept. 2-3 2014 Black Church Studies Consultation

Nationally renowned author, pastor and civil rights advocate the Rev. Freddie Haynes will deliver the keynote address at this year’s event. “Rev. Dr. Freddie Haynes is a leading voice in the black church experience,” said the Rev. Lisa Williams, interim director of Louisville Seminary’s Black Church Studies Program. “His preaching style is mesmerizing as he interweaves history, theology and contemporary cultural issues into a message that makes the heart soar and the mind expand for those seeking greater impact for the Kingdom of God. He is truly a gift to the body of Christ, and it is an honor to have him as our keynote speaker for the 2014 Consultation.

On Sept. 3, Haynes will be joined by “Black Politics Today” host Kelly Mikel Williams and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary doctoral candidate and hospital chaplain the Rev. Kerri Allen in a panel discussion moderated by the Rev. Debra Mumford, LPTS professor of homiletics and associate dean for student academic affairs.

The panelists will cover such issues as:

  • Historical perspectives about the Black church and freedom movements (abolitionism, freedom struggle);
  • Liberating and anti-liberating traditions/practices/leaders;
  • How desegregation in the post- civil rights era affected black-owned businesses and institutions;
  • The decline and loss of civil rights gains. Is the dream deferred or denied?
  • The lie of the promised land (Eddie Long’s statement that blacks are in the promised land) and post-racial America and why Black America is in trouble;
  • The right to vote and the criminal justice system as critical issues; and
  • The state of the Black church and its involvement with the political system.

― Chris Wooton

PITTSBURGH ― Pittsburgh Theological Seminary will offer a Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry degree beginning fall 2014. This two-year program is designed for those who wish to develop a deeper theological and spiritual foundation and a broader cultural understanding for ministry in churches, nonprofit organizations, and other vocational settings. 

The program offers students the opportunity to choose one of three concentrations: Missional Formation: Evangelism and Mission, Spirituality and Worship, or Pastoral Care.

The seminary’s president and professor of homiletics, the Rev. William J. Carl III, said, “The program’s three concentrations draw on the expertise and passion of the faculty while deepening participants’ understanding of contemporary Christian life. Coursework that offers a strong foundation in core disciplines paired with a focus on particular areas of Christian practice will equip women and men to lead and participate more effectively in a variety of ministry settings.”

Applications are now being accepted and scholarships are available for those who qualify. Additional information can be found on the Seminary’s website at Contact the Admissions Office at 1-800-451-4194 or

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. ― San Francisco Theological Seminary is accepting applications now for its next Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction (DASD) program. Application deadline for priority admission is Sept. 15. The program consists of three three-week sessions in consecutive Januaries. The first session of the next program is Jan. 5-23, 2015.

Under the theme “Listen for the Spirit, Discern your call, Grow in the presence of the Holy,” the DASD program “prepares students to honor the heart as well as the head; to attend to the body along with the soul; to probe the psyche in the context of the spirit; and to deepen contemplative awareness of the presence of God in all things.”

As one of the first Protestant seminaries in the country to offer coursework in Christian Spirituality, SFTS remains a leading partner in spiritual formation. With its January intensives and year-round, home-site supervision, the DASD program offers an inviting opportunity for prayer, study, and practical experience focused on the nature and practice of spiritual direction. 

DECATUR, Ga.― Ronald Richardson has been added to the list of Leadership in Ministry (LIM) instructors for the November 2014 session at Columbia Theological Seminary’s Center for Lifelong Learning. Richardson, best-selling author and healthy church expert, will join Robert Dibble, James Lamkin and Israel Galindo in offering this unique leadership development experience for clergy and ministry leaders. Richardson will present the topic “Pastoral Care of Congregations.”

The LIM workshop will apply Bowen Family Systems Theory as further developed by Edwin Friedman, author of Generation to Generation and A Failure of Nerve, to leadership in ministry and organizations. As a pastoral counselor, Richardson has written extensively on Bowen Family Systems Theory.

LIM participants will spend a majority of workshop time in small group case studies led by Dibble, Lamkin and Galindo. As such, participants work to apply the theory to the “real world” realities of their ministry context.  Each annual workshop meets for two sessions (fall and spring) but the program is, by design, an ongoing leadership development program. Some participants have attended for several years, with some participating for almost a decade.

The dates for the Atlanta workshops are November 17-19, 2014 and March 9-11, 2015. For more information or to register, visit or to learn more about LIM, visit

PRINCETON, N.J. ― The Frederick Buechner Center and Princeton Theological Seminary have announced the inaugural Frederick Buechner Writer’s Workshop, which will be held June 9-12, 2015 on the seminary campus. Best-selling author and theologian Barbara Brown Taylor will headline the event.

The workshop is named in honor of Buechner, a writer and theologian who has authored more than 30 books during his 60-year career. Slated for June 9–12, 2015 at Princeton Seminary Registration information is forthcoming and will be available on the web sites of both organizations.

“This event is designed to appeal to writers who, like Buechner, think honestly about their Christian faith and are not afraid of where that thinking will take them,” said Brian Allain, Buechner Center spokesperson.  

“Princeton Seminary has always been committed to nurturing writers who can guide us on the very dramatic journey toward knowing God. We are honored and excited to partner with Barbara Brown Taylor and the Frederick Buechner Center to launch this new initiative,” said M. Craig Barnes, president of Princeton Seminary.

For more information about the writer’s workshop, contact Brian Allain at 617-234-2870, or Dayle Gillespie Rounds at 609-497-7990.   

RICHMOND, Va. ― Union Presbyterian Seminary Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA, and Westminster John Knox Press announce the appointment of Union faculty member Samuel E. Balentine as the new editor of the book series Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church.

Launched in 2009, the Resources series builds on the foundation laid nearly seven decades ago by the founding of Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology. The quarterly journal has been published by Union Theological Seminary since 1947. Resources also continues the vision of the widely used Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching, published between 1982 and 2003.

Balentine, who came to UPSem in 2004 and is professor of Old Testament and director of graduate studies, regards his appointment as a way of continuing the distinguished legacy of longtime Interpretation editors James Luther Mays and Patrick Miller. “They are the creators of the vision and I am the steward,” he says. “I’m deeply honored and grateful for their trust in me to sustain their vision and build on it.”

Mays, who is now 93, taught Old Testament and Hebrew at Union for 34 years and served as editor of the Interpretation journal from 1963 to 1983. It was Mays whose vision led to the launch of the Interpretation commentary series in the late 1970s.

“When I was in the pastorate,” Mays says, “I was constantly frustrated by resources because they didn’t seem to help with the complete process of interpretation.” For example, many commentaries offered notes by various scholars on linguistic and historical background but stopped short of proposing a reading of the text as Scripture. “Developing commentary that proposed an interpretation that incorporated exegetical work and theological reflection became a kind of pilgrimage for me,” Mays says.

Miller was a student of Mays’ at Union and describes him as a mentor: “He’s why I’m in biblical studies.” In 1966, Miller joined Mays on the faculty at Union. As Old Testament editor for the Interpretation journal, Miller quickly caught Mays’ vision for a commentary series. He says the vision for Interpretation “grew out of our experiences as pastors needing regularly to have the text interpreted for a community of faith in a way that spoke to the life of that community and made the text accessible.” ― Eva G. Stimson