Letters from Paul Matheny and Mary Nebelsick
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Rev. Paul Matheny and
Rev. Mary Nebelsick
Mission co-workers in the Philippines since 2001
Serving at the invitation of the United Church of Christ in the
Philippines, at Union Theological Seminary
Mary and Paul will next be in the USA in Summer 2014. Email them or the Mission Connections office (Rachel.Anderson@pcusa.org) to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Paul Matheny and Mary Nebelsick's ministry
Paul Matheny and Mary Nebelsick were appointed as mission co-workers in January 2001 to serve at Union Theological Seminary (UTS) in Dasmariñas, near the capital city of Manila. The seminary serves the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP), the PC(USA)’s partner church. Mary teaches biblical studies, especially the Old Testament, and Paul teaches Christian theology, the philosophy of religion, and ministerial studies. In addition to teaching basic courses within the seminary curriculum, both Mary and Paul are involved in the program of the seminary to develop future leaders in theological education. Mary coordinates the M.Theol. program offered at the seminary, and Paul coordinates the Ph.D. program, while helping with the D.Min. and D.Theol. programs.
More than 7,000 islands comprise the Philippines. However, its population of more than 90 million is concentrated on about 11 of these islands. Forecasters predict that the population of the country could double in three decades due to its high birthrate. The Philippines was a Spanish colony for more than 300 years until the United States took over the country in the early 20th century. It gained self-rule in 1935 and full independence in 1946. Though a democracy, the country has had little political stability. More than 80 percent of the population of the Philippines is Catholic, nearly 3 percent is Protestant, and about 5 percent is Muslim.
About Paul Matheny and Mary Nebelsick
“I grew up in the arms of the worldwide church,” writes Mary, “and was nurtured by the church’s diverse cultural environment. My parents served the Presbyterian Church as missionaries in Berlin, Germany, and Beirut, Lebanon. Their service introduced me to the church’s rich linguistic and ethnic tapestry. English, German, French, Arabic, and Hebrew were the languages of my childhood. My father’s students and colleagues at the Near East School of Theology came from all over the world and brought their vibrant traditions with them. Sonorous voices spoke of the life-giving presence of Jesus Christ and their commitment to authentic discipleship.”
Download a prayer card that lifts up the couple's work in the Philippines
Paul’s passion is theological education in an international and ecumenical context. “I have found UTS to be a very exciting place to teach. We have students from around the world, from Myanmar, Korea, Malaysia, India and Kenya as well as from the many islands of the Philippines. Our students have a deep faith in God and strong commitment to serve God’s mission in the world no matter what that might mean. It is inspiring to be with them and serve as a mentor for them along their journey of faith and service.”
Prior to accepting the call to teach in the Philippines, Paul served from 1991 to 2000 as senior minister at two churches, First Christian Church of Conroe, Texas, and Westhampton Christian Church in Roanoke, Virginia. Throughout his pastorates Paul was active in his community, organizing interfaith and ecumenical celebrations, and he was active in the leadership of his denomination. Paul taught religious studies, Christian theology and philosophical ethics as a full-time professor at Barton College, in Wilson, North Carolina, and at the Houston Graduate School of Theology, Houston, Texas. He also taught courses at Bellarmine College in Louisville, Kentucky, the University of St. Thomas in Houston and the Melanchton Institute in Houston. Prior to his marriage with Mary, Paul served as chaplain at Rutgers University (1983–1984) while Mary completed her work at Princeton Theological Seminary. He also worked as a hospital chaplain during his clinical pastoral education (CPE) training at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
Paul has been involved in a number of important scholarly projects. He participated in the Pastor-Theologian program of the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1998 to 2000 and supported the work of the Karl Barth Society of North America and the International Bonhoeffer Society through his involvement in publication and translations projects focusing on the work of these theologians, both of whom have contributed greatly to our current understanding of missionary work.
Mary served as a campus minister at Montgomery College in Houston, Texas, from 1998 until December 2000. “In effect,” Mary writes, “I was a missionary to the Montgomery College campus community and represented God’s presence to the students, faculty and staff.”
Mary also served as director of Christian education at Second Presbyterian Church in Roanoke, Virginia, from 1995 to 1997 and at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Wilson, North Carolina, from 1990 to 1991. Mary was honored to hold the position of professor’s assistant in the Institute of Assyriology from 1985 to 1989. She has worked as well as a translator for the ninth volume of the International Bonhoeffer Society’s translation of Young Bonhoeffer, the same volume on which Paul served as editor.
Paul received his doctorate in theology, magna cum laude, from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, in 1989. His dissertation, “Dogmatics and Ethics: Theological Realism and Ethics of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics,” was published by Peter Lang in 1990. He holds a master’s in sacred theology from Yale Divinity School (1983) and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary (1982). In addition, he earned a Master of Arts in philosophy from Goddard College. He studied theology and ministry at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago and at Tubingen University in Germany as well. Paul’s father served as a pastor and an ecumenical leader for more than 40 years.
Mary holds a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Old Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary (1984) and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. While studying for the Doctor of Theology degree in Old Testament at Heidelberg University, she earned a degree in Assyriology from Heidelberg. Mary’s parents, Professor Harold and Melissa Nebelsick, were Presbyterian missionaries in Berlin, Germany and Beirut, Lebanon.
Mary was ordained to her position in the Philippines as a minister of Word and Sacrament on February 25, 2001, at Second Presbyterian Church, Louisville, Kentucky. She is a clergy member of the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky.
Paul was ordained on June 20, 1982, at Oaks Christian Church in Houston, Texas. Several members of his family have been ordained ministers in the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ tradition, and the Presbyterian tradition.
Paul – July 13
Mary – April 30
Rachel – December 19