A compilation of news from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminaries including Columbia Theological Seminary, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary and Union Presbyterian Seminary.

Columbia Theological Seminary – Decatur, Ga.

Seminary joins AJC Decatur Book Festival

Decatur, Ga., will be alive with activity during Labor Day Weekend when the AJC Decatur Book Festival returns Sept. 4-6. Columbia Theological Seminary will fully participate this year with an exhibit table and other opportunities to engage the wider community of writers, publishers and, of course, readers.

Featured Presentation by Sharol Hayner: Joy in the Journey

The headline event for Columbia Seminary will be a presentation by Sharol Hayner on Sunday, Sept. 6 at 1:15 pm in the Marriott Conference Center Auditorium. She will talk about her new book Joy in the Journey: Finding Abundance in the Shadow of Death (InterVarsity Press), co-authored with Steve Hayner, her husband and former president of Columbia Theological Seminary.

Course on Writing for Publication with a Spiritual Voice

The Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary is also offering a one-day seminar on Friday, Sept. 4 designed for those who want to understand and contribute to the conversations about spirituality and religious topics that are happening in print and on new media. Writing for Publication with a Spiritual Voice includes an optional writing workshop offered the following morning. This seminar and workshop will gather a community of pastors, theologians, and lay people who are drawn to writing as a part of their vocation and aspire to be more widely published or intentional about their published voice.

Common Ground, Holy Ground

The Spirituality Program at the Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary is celebrating its 20th Anniversary with the program Common Ground, Holy Ground. The program is scheduled on the weekend of Sept. 18-19, 2015. Workshop details and weekend schedule can be found at ctsnet.edu/common-ground-holy-ground .

The weekend celebration includes a Friday evening reunion dinner and conversation with former directors of the Spirituality Program. On Saturday morning, keynote speaker Rodger Nishioka will explore the current spiritual context that has emerged in the last two decades. Sharing research and current trends about the “spiritual but not religious” and the growing group of “nones” (those naming no religious affiliation), Nishioka will help listeners reflect on the implications for spiritual leadership, common and holy life together for the present and future Church.

Morning and evening worship sessions will be led by Kyle Matthews. Matthews spent two decades working as a recording artist and staff songwriter for BMG and Universal Publishing companies in Nashville, TN, during which time his songs were recorded by over 70 major artists of different genres and won the Dove, Stellar, GMA and numerous ASCAP and BMI awards. His song “We Fall Down,” recorded most notably on a multi-platinum release by Donnie McClurkin, won numerous music industry awards, including the Dove Award for Traditional Gospel Song of the Year, the Stellar award for Song of the Year, and ASCAP’s 2002 Christian Song of the Year.

Morning and afternoon workshops are designed for participants to experience the holiness of meeting on a common ground as they engage in interactive, experiential learning.

Register for Common Ground, Holy Ground here.

Lamin Sanneh to give 2015 Smyth Lectures

Distinguished scholar Dr. Lamin Sanneh, D. Willis James Professor of Missions & World Christianity at Yale Divinity School will present the Smyth Lectures at Columbia Theological Seminary on Oct. 13-15, 2015.

Details about the 2015 Smyth Lectures:

Dr. Sanneh will deliver the following series of three lectures offered free to the public each day in the Harrington Center Chapel on the Columbia Seminary campus located at 701 S. Columbia Drive, Decatur, Ga.

- Tuesday, October 13 at 7:00 pm
“The New World and Renewal of Mission: The American Revolution Recast”

- Wednesday, October 14 at 11:00 am
“The Dark Continent Breached: A Race Freed and a Society Formed”

- Thursday, October 15 at 12 noon
“Chains Removed, Hope Revived” 

The Smyth Lectures were established at Columbia Theological Seminary in 1911 by the bequest of the Rev. Thomas Smyth, pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The aim was to establish “a course of lectures on the fundamental principles of the Christian faith.”  The Smyth Lectures are presented to the seminary community each year and are open to all ministers, lay people and members of the community who wish to attend.

Columbia announces inauguration of tenth president

Columbia Theological Seminary has set the date for the inauguration of its tenth president. The Reverend Dr. Leanne Van Dyk was appointed by the Board of Trustees last April, and began work on July 1. She previously served as Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI.

Click here for the original announcement.

The inauguration service will be held on Wednesday, October 28 starting 10:30 am at the Columbia Presbyterian Church located at 711 S. Columbia Drive in Decatur near Atlanta, Ga.

Applications open for 2016 Thompson Scholars

Thompson Scholars 2016, Can They See Your Church? Evangelism in the Digital Age, will take place April 26–29, 2016 at the Center for Lifelong Learning on the Columbia Theological Seminary campus.

This is the visual age. The number one activity on the web is the posting of pictures and video. This workshop will empower leaders to rethink how we do evangelism in the visual age. The conversation and strategies will be deeply rooted theologically and sociologically as to why and how we might best engage the visual generation. Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins, the Peachtree Associate professor of evangelism and church growth at Columbia Theological Seminary, socio-theologian, photographer and visual storyteller, will lead this event along with the Rev. Dr. Keith Anderson, pastor of Upper Dublin Lutheran Church near Philadelphia and the author of The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World.

The deadline for online applications is Jan. 4, 2016. Applicants will be notified of their status by the end of January. Preference will be given to applicants who have not participated in previous Thompson Scholar seminars. For additional information, including a link to the application, click here.

A program fee of $150 covers all course-related fees, on-campus meals and refreshments, and access to the online course site. Pre-course preparation will include required reading and participation in online discussions. Participants are responsible for their housing and transportation; on campus housing is available. 

For more information, please contact Sarah Erickson, director of Lifelong Learning, at EricksonS@CTSnet.edu or 404-687-4526.

Conference on ‘Bible, Empire, and Reception History’

On Nov. 18-19, 2015, Columbia Theological Seminary will host a unique conference exploring the production and use of the Bible in various historical contexts of empire. It will consider the use of postcolonial criticism in interpreting biblical texts and its implications in modern contexts.

“We deliberately scheduled the conference before the gathering of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR) to be held in Atlanta,” said Raj Nadella, assistant professor of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary. “Originally, we hoped to have one or two well-known scholars interact with a small group of about 50 participants. As it turns out, more than half of the participants will be top scholars taking turns as panelists responding to the speakers!”

The Bible, Empire, and Reception History Conference consists of four sessions, each focusing on a particular geographical or historical set of contexts. In the first session, Carol Newsom and Richard Horsley will present papers on the production of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament in relation to ancient Near Eastern, Greek and Roman empires. Then, Yvonne Sherwood and Jaime Lara will analyze the reception of the Bible in the Americas, focusing on 16th century Mesoamerica and the Spanish Empire. In the third session, Kwok Pui-Lan and R. S. Sugirtharajah will discuss the use of the Bible in South and East Asia. Finally, Musa Dube and Hendrik Bosman will explore the use of the Bible in southern Africa in the 19th-21st centuries in the context of Dutch and British imperial influence.

A live stream of the conference and videos of presentations will be made available. A publication of the presentation will also be produced. For more information about the Bible, Empire, and Reception History conference, please visit http://bibleempireandreceptionhistory.net/.


Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary – Louisville, Ky.

• New Director of Women's Center named for 2015-2016 academic year

The Women’s Center at LPTS welcomes Sandra Moon as its Director for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Sandra was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, and did her initial academic degree at Vanderbilt University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude with a double major in political science and religious studies. She received her Masters of Divinity from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and her Juris Doctor from the Louis Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville in 2011.

At her graduation from the Seminary she received the Melanie Lane Preaching Award. Sandra is employed as an attorney for the Eddins Domine Law Group in Louisville.

• Tuition-free master’s programs featured in InTrust magazine

In 2010, when Michael Jinkins arrived as the new president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, the school’s trustees wasted no time in giving him a challenging assignment. At their first meeting after his arrival, the board asked Jinkins to begin drafting a ten-year strategic plan that would be concrete yet visionary, would engage the entire campus, and would have a positive impact on the church at large. They wanted the plan to answer a key question: How can our seminary better serve the church? 

The document that emerged—called “Covenant for the Future”—was unveiled in 2011, but its centerpiece initiative will unfold this September when all students pursuing master’s degrees at Louisville Seminary, regardless of denominational affiliation, will begin receiving full-tuition scholarships. By 2021, the school plans to cover students’ living expenses as well. 

In Trust recently asked Jinkins to explain how the plan took shape, what it will cost to sustain it, and his advice to schools that would like to follow Louisville Seminary’s lead.

Read the full article on InTrust magazine's website.


Pittsburgh Theological Seminary – Pittsburgh, Penn.

Scott Hagley named assistant professor of missiology

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has named Dr. Scott Hagley as assistant professor of missiology. He began at PTS July 1, 2015.

“Scott Hagley brings to this teaching post a unique combination of pastoral wisdom and experience, scholarly acumen, an insightful classroom style and the ability to help students, pastors, and lay leaders discern their own missional gifts while at the same time understanding and interpreting their contexts from both a local and global perspective,” said the Rev. Dr. William J. Carl III, president and professor of homiletics.

Hagley currently serves as director of education at Forge Canada in Surrey, BC, and is developing curriculum for the formation of missional leaders in hubs across Canada. Additionally, he teaches at Rochester College and is teaching pastor of Southside Community Church, a multi-site church in the Vancouver metro area organized around neighborhood-based missional communities.

“At PTS we are very much aware that, wherever our students will go, they will serve in a missional context: whether it is in an existing congregation that has to re-think its identity, a new church plant, or a non-traditional ministry setting. As faculty we were deeply impressed by the ways in which Scott Hagley understands and engages the challenges and opportunities that come with all of this, and we are thrilled he has agreed to join us in helping prepare our students for the future of the church,” said the Rev. Dr. Edwin Chr. van Driel, Directors' Bicentennial Associate Professor of Theology and chair of the search committee.

Hagley is a graduate of Luther Seminary (Ph.D., Congregational Mission and Leadership), Regent College (M.Div.), and Bethel University (B.A.). His dissertation attended to the lived theology of an urban congregation in its public, evangelical, and missional dimensions.

Previously Hagley taught at Augsburg College, Rochester College, Bethel University, and Luther Seminary, and was a consultant and researcher with Church Innovations Institute. He has also lectured at a number of retreats, denominational meetings, and retreats on topics such as missional communities, faith, and spiritual formation. Beyond preaching, his service to the church has been in the areas of research and curriculum development.


Princeton Theological Seminary – Princeton, N.J

Grant received from the William A. and Eugenie H. Sullivan Trust of The Philadelphia Foundation

Princeton Theological Seminary has received a grant of $26,995.10 to its William Albert and Eugenie Hummel Sullivan Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund by the William A. and Eugenie H. Sullivan Trust of The Philadelphia Foundation. The scholarship endowment fund supports students who are preparing for ministry. The Sullivan fund is the oldest fund managed by The Philadelphia Foundation.

Unweavings exhibit: Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory

Princeton Theological Seminary’s Erdman Art Gallery is pleased to present Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory, Unweavings by Laurie Wohl, a solo exhibition that interweaves Muslim, Jewish and Christian poetry and spiritual texts from the period of the Convivencia in Spain (eighth through fifteenth centuries), and from contemporary Middle Eastern poets, particularly Palestinian and Israeli. The Seminary invites the public to attend the exhibition opening and meet and greet with the artist on Friday, Sept. 11, from 6:00–8:00 p.m.

“My Unweavings fiber art pieces convey spiritual narratives through form, color, texture, and calligraphy. My work alludes to the oldest traditions of narrative textiles, but in a completely contemporary idiom,” Wohl says. “The words within each piece and the unwoven form that suggests these words serve as visual interpretations of various biblical and poetic texts.”

To view Wohl's work, visit lauriewohl.com.

• Leading Scholar in African diaspora joins faculty

Princeton Theological Seminary is pleased to welcome Dr. Afe Adogame, the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Christianity and Society. Adogame is a leading scholar of the African Diaspora and will join the faculty in spring 2016.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Adogame join our Seminary community,” says M. Craig Barnes, president of Princeton Seminary. “He is a leading scholar of the African Diaspora who will help us stay relevant to a changing society.”

Adogame is editor-in-chief of The African Association for the Study of Religions e-Journal: Journal for the Study of Religions of Africa and its Diaspora, deputy editor of the Journal of Religion in Africa (Brill Publishers), and associate editor of Studies in World Christianity (Edinburgh University Press).


Union Presbyterian Seminary – Richmond, Va.

• Richardson named new director of libraries, Office for Institutional Effectiveness

Dr. Christopher Richardson (M.A.C.E '99, Ed.D.) will began as the new director for both Union Presbyterian Seminary libraries -- William Smith Morton Library (WSML) on the Richmond campus and the Charlotte campus library -- as well as the director for the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, June 15, 2015.

"Richardson brings a wealth of experience and a love for theological education that will translate into wonderful library leadership," said Union president Brian Blount. "I'm excited about his plans for the library as we strive to serve faculty, students, and the church."

"While a doctoral student in the late '90's, John Trotti, then WSML director and professor of bibliography, encouraged me in my interest to serve in a theological library," said Richardson. "Trotti explained that a combination of advanced theological study with library management would be ideal, and a rare combination. I'm now honored to be able to bring the knowledge and skills I've acquired in both of those fields to my new position at Union."

Eric Futterman honored for centennial documentary

Video producer Eric Futterman has received an award from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Richmond Chapter for his documentary on the 2014 Centennial Celebration of the Assembly's Training School (ATS), later the Presbyterian School of Education (PSCE). PSCE is now a part of Union Presbyterian Seminary.

Futterman was presented an "External Video" award at the 68th Virginia PRSA Awards for the ATS/PSCE centennial documentary "Crossing the Brook: 100 Years of Excellence in Christian Education."

"This three-year project was a real joy," Futterman said. "I love digging into history and thanks to the staff at Union we had a treasure trove of information and images to fill out the documentary. I'm really gratified that it brought a sense of healing and togetherness for the two entities that are now one strong institution."

Gench explores encountering God through tyrannical texts 

Union Presbyterian Seminary Professor Frances Taylor Gench is the author of "Encountering God in Tyrannical Texts" (Westminster John Knox Press, May 2015).

"Gench writes for those whom Scripture is still a living tradition or wish it could be," said Holly Hearon (DMin.'83) T.J. and Virginia Liggett Professor Emerita of Christian Traditions and Professor of New Testament. "A scholar with a deep love for the church, she fearlessly takes on some of the most terrifying texts for women in the letters of Paul and proposes ways to respectfully engage them that do not minimize their dangers nor overlook their insights."

The Bible includes any number of "tyrannical texts" that have proved to be profoundly oppressive in the lives of many people. Among them are Pauline texts that have circumscribed the lives and ministries of women throughout Christian history. What are people who honor Scripture to do with such texts, and what does it mean to speak of biblical authority in their presence? In "Encountering God in Tyrannical Texts," Gench provides strategies for engaging such texts with integrity and as potential sources of edification for the church. She also facilitates reflection on the nature and authority of Scripture.

Gench is the Herbert Worth and Annie H. Jackson Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Union Presbyterian Seminary. Her other published works include "Back to the Well: Women's Encounters with Jesus in the Gospels" as well as "Hebrews and James" in the Westminster Bible Companion series, all published by Westminster John Knox Press.  

Kenneth J. McFayden appointed academic dean of UPSem Richmond campus

Kenneth J. McFayden, a widely recognized expert in leadership and change, has been appointed the next academic dean of the Richmond campus of Union Presbyterian Seminary.

McFayden began his new position July 1. He succeeds F. S. Royster Professor of Christian Missions Stanley H. Skreslet, who is returning to the faculty.

"Dr. McFayden is a superb administrator and is excellent in the areas of strategic visioning and planning," said President Brian K. Blount. "Upon my arrival at Union in 2007, his expertise in strategic thinking was of invaluable support and I look forward to seeing him put these skills to work through the administrative endeavors he will lead as dean."

McFayden currently serves as dean of the seminary's Leadership Institute and Professor of Ministry and Leadership Development, and teaches courses in the areas of congregational leadership and administration.

"I am deeply honored by the appointment to serve as academic dean," said McFayden. "This is a critical time in the life of the church, and therefore in the life of the seminary as we serve the church. I am looking forward to working with our faculty, staff, students, and trustees in this new capacity as our seminary continues to equip Christian leaders for ministry in a rapidly changing world."

Prior to joining the faculty in 2000, he was executive director of North Central Career Development Center in New Brighton, Minn.; a hospital chaplain in Louisville, Ky.; and an associate pastor in Alliance, Ohio. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Parsons Foundation grant to fund intercultural initiatives

The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation has approved a two-to-one challenge grant of $300,000 to Union Presbyterian Seminary for The Syngman Rhee Global Mission Center for Christian Education. The Parsons Foundation approved the challenge grant to help Union bring in the last half of the funds needed to complete the project. In addition, the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation has approved a $100,000 grant that will help Union meet the Parsons Foundation challenge.

Based on priorities outlined in Union's strategic plan that focuses on multicultural initiatives, the new Global Mission Center will be a generative resource for educators from other countries who seek support for their Christian education work.

"The center will prepare international students, along with students from the United States, for passionate and effective careers in their home nations or for mission work that will spread the Good News of God's Grace throughout the world," said Director of Foundation Relations Evelyn Terry.

Balentine finds contemporary model of patience in ancient Job

Samuel E. Balentine, professor of Old Testament and director of graduate studies at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, has published "Have You Considered My Servant Job?" (University of South Carolina Press, February, 2015)

"In this work Balentine is a provocative, generative, and discerning theologian," said Walter Brueggemann, Old Testament professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary, in Decatur, Georgia. "The book is a must reading for any who cares about the human crisis we now face, a crisis of our own making to be sure, but a crisis beyond our making hidden in the depths of evil, alienation, and excessive certitude."

'Seminary for a Day' scheduled Sept. 26

Union Presbyterian Seminary will host Seminary for a Day on Saturday, Sept. 26, on the Richmond campus at 3401 Brook Road. The event will include keynote speakers, a variety of workshops by seminary professors, and a taste of contemporary theological education.

"Seminary for a Day is one of the ways we can connect local churches and seminary resources," said Marilyn Johns (M.A.C.E.'94), program director of the seminary's Leadership Institute. "Our faculty members enjoy speaking and leading workshops in which they can share their knowledge and skills with church members and leaders, and participants are energized and challenged by the workshops and keynotes."

Keynote speakers include: Frances Taylor Gench, the Herbert Worth and Annie H. Jackson Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Union, who will present "Worshipping Doubters: The Church in Mission;" and Cleophus J. LaRue, the Francis Landey Patton Professor of Homiletics at Princeton Seminary, who will present "The Shape of Christian Preaching in the 21st Century."

Union faculty will lead 12 workshops on topics including:

  • How the New Testament Became the New Testament
  • Ethical Literacy: Understanding Earthly Stories with Heavenly Meaning
  • Recent Discussions in the Theology of Food
  • Hospitality and Gratitude - Signs of Christian Community: Lessons from the Early Church
  • When Sundays Come Quicker Than Sermons
  • Biblical Interpretation and Pastoral Responses for Contemporary Social Concerns
  • Faithful Discipleship in the Age of Social Media
  • Telling Her Story: Women in Christian Tradition
  • Why Evangelism?
  • Theologically-Educated Pastors: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Profession?
  • And You Thought the Book of Order was for Geeks!
  • Human Spirituality 101

Seminary for a Day offers people an educational experience which is relevant and applicable to daily ministry.

For a detailed description of this event, and to register, please visit: www.upsem.edu/sfaday. Advance registration by Sept. 18 is required.

Praise for ‘Invasion of the Dead’

"Invasion of the Dead" by Union Presbyterian Seminary President Brian K. Blount has been included in the Academy of Parish Clergy's Top 10 Books for 2014.

"The word 'apocalyptic' sends many readers of Scripture into flight. Not so with Blount, who knows both that apocalyptic theology is central to the New Testament and that popular culture reveals an obsession with apocalyptic scenarios," said Beverly R. Gaventa, distinguished professor of New Testament Interpretation at Baylor University. "Blount takes up the Book of Revelation, the letters of Paul, and the Gospel of Mark weaving a provocative conversation with secular culture and American Christianity. The result is convicting, energizing, and profoundly hopeful. This goes on the required reading list!"

"Invasion of the Dead" proposes that our world and our churches are neither sinful nor lost, they are dead. This dead world is the one that God engages and into which Jesus invaded with a radically different vision of life. In this groundbreaking work, based on his 211 Yale Beecher lectures, Blount helps preachers effectively proclaim resurrection in a world consumed by death. Recognizing that both popular culture and popular Christianity are mesmerized by death and dying, He offers an alternative apocalyptic vision for our time—one that starts with a clear vision of life that obliterates death and reveals life's essence. Blount explores the portrait and meaning of resurrection through the New Testament and explores how to biblically and theologically reconfigure apocalyptic preaching for today. With three illustrative sermons, this book is an ideal resource to help preachers proclaim the power of resurrection.

Blount, a professor of New Testament at Union and a fan of AMC's zombie apocalypse drama "The Walking Dead," has also authored "Revelation: A Commentary, Can I Get a Witness?: Reading Revelation through African-American Culture" and "Preaching Mark in Two Voices."

Congolese pastor and activist Marthe Nzeba to speak

Union Presbyterian Seminary will host the Congo Mission Network (CMN) annual meeting in Richmond, September 18-20 with Congolese pastor and activist Rev. Nzeba Kalombo Berthe, general secretary of the Women's and Families Departments for the Church of Christ in Congo (ECC), as the keynote speaker.

Pastor Nzeba will address issues centered on women and their families. Under her leadership, women from over 60 denominations federated under the ECC are united to address sexual violence against women and children in conflict-ridden eastern Congo. Since the influx of refugees following the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, the area regularly suffers violent attacks by roaming militia, which are funded by revenues from mines they control. Rape has proliferated from a barbaric war tactic into an epidemic social ill. Pastor Nzeba accompanies local women's groups who offer sanctuary to rape survivors and ensure that they receive full medical attention. Increasingly aware of the intricate connections between mineral wealth, armed conflict, and sexual violence, she has become an outspoken critic of foreign companies involved in trading conflict minerals.

Pastor Nzeba also serves as the Women's President for the West Kinshasa Synod, Presbyterian Church of Kinshasa (CPK). She has been invited by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program to be a 2015 International Peacemaking speaker.

The Congo Mission Network is a grassroots organization affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A (PCUSA). In addition to the keynote address, the conference will provide updates from mission co-workers and various partner organizations on recent work in Congo, as well as discussions on education, health, and spiritual programs.

This year's conference will include worship and workshops, including presentations by Jeff Boyd, regional liaison for Central Africa, Presbyterian World Mission, Dr. Lawrence Sthreshley, health consultant, PC(USA), and Inge Sthreshley, agricultural consultant, PC(USA.)

For more information and to register, visit: www.regonline.com/cmnc15.