The Committee on Theological Education (COTE)—which was hosted by Princeton Theological Seminary and its president Craig Barnes February 24–26—opened its February meeting by recognizing the departure of several committee and staff members, while also welcoming a new Presbyterian Mission Agency staff member in support of its mission.
Members of COTE began their full agenda by celebrating the service of elected member Max Sherman, of Austin, Texas, who resigned from the committee, and institutional representative the Rev. William J. “Bill” Carl III, president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, who will retire in June after a decade of service to the seminary.
“Bill Carl has been an outstanding president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary,” said the Rev. Chip Hardwick, director of the Theology, Worship, and Education ministry area. “He has guided that institution admirably, while still finding time for individual investment in the students. I’m particularly grateful for his contributions to the Company of New Pastors at the school.”
COTE also remembered—and mourned the loss of—the Rev. Dr. Stephen A. “Steve” Hayner, president emeritus of Columbia Theological Seminary, who died of pancreatic cancer on January 31.
In other business, COTE welcomed its new Theology, Worship, and Education staff liaison, the Rev. Michelle J. Bartel, coordinator for theological education, while celebrating the ministries of the Revs. Lee Hinson-Hasty and Nancy Benson-Nicol, as their former positions transitioned to the Presbyterian Foundation following the move of the Theological Education Fund from the Presbyterian Mission Agency to the Foundation on January 1, 2015.
Bartel, who attended the meeting, will start her new position on a half-time basis effective March 9. She will begin her responsibilities full time on May 18.
COTE spent a considerable portion of its agenda learning the history of the denominational funding of seminaries—particularly through the Theological Education Fund—and engaged in significant discussion around both the history and the present realities.
“Although the funds received and distributed by the Theological Education Fund have declined fairly significantly in recent years,” observed Hardwick, “the fund remains one of the most important connections between local congregations and the PC(USA) seminaries, both tangibly and symbolically. COTE’s work to discover both how to raise more financial support and how to distribute the funds among the seminaries most faithfully will be important conversations in the coming months.”
During the meeting, COTE members also took advantage of the opportunity to join the Princeton Theological Seminary community for student-led worship in the Miller Chapel on the seminary campus.