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PC(USA) seminary news

A compilation of news from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and other seminaries

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

A compilation of news submitted to Presbyterian News Service by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminaries including Auburn Theological Seminary, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, McCormick Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, San Francisco Theological Seminary and Union Presbyterian Seminary; and other pertinent seminary news.

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

  • General Assembly Moderator Heath Rada to Serve as Speaker at Austin Seminary Commencement

Heath Rada, Moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), will be the commencement speaker for Austin Seminary as they celebrate the 2016 class.

Baccalaureate will take place at University Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas on May 21, 6:00 p.m. and Commencement is May 22, 2:30 p.m.

In addition to Rada’s speaking, Lewis Donelson, the Ruth A. Campbell Professor of New Testament Studies, is this year’s Baccalaureate preacher and Margaret Aymer, Associate Professor of New Testament, will preside at table.

  • Austin Seminary to partner with WJK on new commentary series

Austin Seminary and Westminster John Knox Press (WJK) have begun work on an ambitious new commentary series, Connections, that will follow the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Led by a stellar group of general editors, Austin Seminary’s W.C. Brown Professor of Theology Cynthia L. Rigby, homileticians Thomas Long of Candler School of Theology and Luke Powery of Duke University, and biblical scholar Joel Green of Fuller Theological Seminary, the series will begin publishing in 2019.

Connections will distinguish itself in the market in three ways. First, Connections will start with only the readings from the RCL, which is used by the majority of preachers across mainline denominations. Second, its guiding principle will be to open up a conversation between discrete biblical passages, larger stories, biblical books, the gospel, and the lived experience of the hearer. Third, and most important, it will place the reader in contact with the best in theological scholarship, accessing new interpretive tools and strategies not only from biblical studies, but also theology, church history, practical theology, and more. Its central goal will be to strengthen worshipers’ own connections to the biblical text and to God’s work in the world.

The first volume, for use in Year A, comes out in 2019; there will be nine volumes in total.

Columbia Theological Seminary

  • Executive VP to fulfill new role at Columbia Seminary

Columbia Theological Seminary President Leanne Van Dyk announced the creation of a new leadership position this week, Vice President of Intercultural Leadership Development and Diversity. Dr. Van Dyk further announced the appointment of current Executive Vice President and Dean of Faculty Deborah Flemister Mullen to serve in the new role. As part of the new leadership position, Dr. Mullen will create, plan, and implement comprehensive strategies to impact the culture of the Columbia Seminary campus.

Dr. Mullen will transition from her role as Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty this summer. She will then be on sabbatical from summer 2016 to summer 2017, at which time she will return to take up the new role. The Board of Trustees has authorized the formation of a search committee for a new academic dean, with plans to appoint an interim dean in process. Read more at

  • Upcoming events at the Center for Lifelong Learning

– Aug. 1-3 – Who Is Jesus? What a Difference a Lens Makes
     (2016-17 Horizons Bible Study Author Class)
Join Judy Yates Siker, author of this year’s study, as you explore nine different lenses referring to Jesus. Course participants will share with one another how they see and experience the various lenses and how these different perspectives impact who they understand Jesus to be, the implications for being his disciple, and how to facilitate learning in their study groups. Details and Registration

– August 8-Sept.30 – Readings in Christian Spirituality: St. Augustine’s Confessions
(Online class)
This online course is part of a series (“Readings in Christian Spiritual Classics”) for persons interested in learning more about the classic literature and writings that have shaped Christian spirituality over the centuries. Details and Registration

– October 3-28 – The Role of the Minister in a Dying Congregation
     (Online class)
According to several sources, approximately 3,500 to 4,000 U.S. churches close their doors every year. In our success-driven culture the topic of dying congregations is taboo, yet that is the reality many pastors and congregations struggle through with little guidance for discernment. This course will focus on helping clergy and laypersons explore the challenges of pasturing and leading in a dying congregation. Details and Registration

– Oct. 5-7 – Governance and Ministry: The Art of Cultivating Staff-Board Partnerships
Congregations thrive when lay and professional leaders lead as partners, and a fruitful partnership requires clear understandings about how decisions will be made. This course will help leaders develop administrative boards (councils, sessions, vestries, etc.) that delegate effectively, demand high performance, require sound stewardship, and reflect continually on mission and purpose at board meetings and in wider gatherings. Details and Registration

– Oct. 31- Dec. 2 – Contemporary Readings in Christian Education: Christian Formation
(Online class)
This course is part of the “Contemporary Readings Series” for persons interested in deepening their understanding of contemporary issues in Christian Education. This year’s focus is on the subject of “formation,” a popular phrase that has almost replaced “education” as an approach to educating in faith in congregations.

Details and Registration

Contact information:
Sarah Erickson
Center for Lifelong Learning

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

  • Degrees conferred at 162nd commencement

On Sunday, May 15, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary celebrated its 162nd commencement. Degrees were conferred to 44 individuals. The Rev. Paul Timothy Roberts, Sr., president of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, was this year’s commencement speaker.

  • Two faculty named to endowed professorships

Dr. Tyler Mayfield was recently named to the A.B. Rhodes Professorship in Old Testament. The professorship is named for Arnold Black Rhodes, an alum of Louisville Seminary (BD ’41) who taught Old Testament at Louisville Seminary for three decades. Mayfield teaches introductory courses in Old Testament, Hebrew and exegesis as well as electives in violence in the Old Testament, Isaiah and ethical readings of Scripture.

  • Dr. Carol J. Cook, was recently named to the Harrison Ray Anderson Professorship in Pastoral Theology. The professorship is named for Harrison Ray Anderson, one of the great pastors of the Presbyterian Church during the 20th century and one of the pioneers of Presbyterian reunion. Cook is a marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical social worker, and a certified pastoral counselor. Her teaching interests include the integration of psychology and theology, exploration of gender issues in church and society, and utilizing literature and the arts in theological education.
  • Marcus A. Hong, who is currently completing his Ph.D. in Practical Theology and Christian Education at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) and serves as a lay pastor of two United Methodist Churches in New Jersey, has been named Director of Field Education and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Louisville Seminary. Hong, who also serves on the editorial board of The Weekly Forum for Princeton’s Institute for Youth Ministry, will begin his service with Louisville Seminary in July 2016.
  • Admissions deadline is June 1

The application deadline for fall admission to Louisville Seminary’s Master of Divinity and Master of Arts (Religion) programs is Wednesday, June 1. See for more information. For questions, contact Emily Miller at (502) 992-9371 or

McCormick Theological Seminary

  • Dr. Jennifer McBride named McCormick’s new Associate Dean of Doctor of Ministry Programs and Continuing Education

This July, McCormick will welcome to its faculty Dr. Jennifer McBride as Associate Dean of Doctor of Ministry Programs and Continuing Education, and Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics.

McBride brings to McCormick extensive experience in the intersection between theological reflection and the practice of ministry. Most recently, she held the Regents Chair of Ethics as Assistant Professor of Religion at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where she implemented and directed the new Peace and Justice Studies Program.

In her doctoral work at the University of Virginia, McBride focused on public theology in her dissertation on The Church for the World: A Theology of Public Witness (now published with this title by Oxford, 2011) and assisted in the Project on Lived Theology. Her second book, Reducing Distance: The Space of Radical Discipleship, will be published by Fortress Press.

  • The Black Church Studies Certificate at McCormick

McCormick’s new certificate in Black Church Studies brings together religious scholars and prophetic leaders from Black churches to guide students in rigorously studying the history, theology and heritage of the Church.

Under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Stacey Edwards-Dunn, Director for the Center for African American Ministries and Black Church Studies at McCormick Theological Seminary, the Black Church Studies Certificate promotes leadership excellence for this generation of ministers, activists and church lay-leaders.

The weekend course schedule offers flexibility for church ministers and lay leaders to gain new skills in Preaching, Leadership, Bible, Black Sacred Music, Administration, Pastoral Care, Ethics, History and Theology. For more information, please contact the Center for African American Ministries and Black Church Studies at 773-947-6310 or visit our website at

  • Increase philanthropic giving within your church or faith-based organization

McCormick, in partnership with the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, is offering a four-day Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising. The program, which runs July 25-28, focuses on the cultural, organizational, and religious practices unique to motivating donors of religious institutions. Customized training and tools will help you learn new ways to meet the growing needs of your church or faith-based organization. Plan now to attend. Space is limited. For more information or to register, contact Sharia Battle at or 773-947-6283.

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness – NAMI

First-year McCormick student Violet Ricker partnered with NAMI to establish a student organization focused on mental health at McCormick Theological Seminary. “One out of every five people across the nation experience a mental health issue each year. People of faith have untold opportunities to speak up, affirm support and extend the radical love of Christ to those with mental illness,” says Violet Ricker, a Center for Faith and Service Fellow. To provide information and resources for seminarians studying for ministry, Violet brought together practitioners, educators, clergy, community leaders, and individuals impacted by mental health conditions to raise awareness and broaden support for families and individuals managing mental health conditions. Violet’s commitment to growing student participation in NAMI opens a platform for sharing information and resources on mental illness with students at McCormick Theological Seminary and church communities. If you have mental healthcare information and resources that would be useful to churches, please forward them to

  • McCormick Days 2016: Toward a Flourishing City: Church, Community, Society – October 20-21, 2016

McCormick is excited to announce our keynote speaker for McCormick Days: Rev. Dr. Allan Boesak, Desmond Tutu Chair of Peace, Global Justice and Reconciliation Studies at Christian Theological Seminary. Rev. Dr. Boesak helped organize the United Democratic Front in South Africa which became the largest non-racial, non-violent anti apartheid movement in the history of his country.

McCormick Days are filled with dynamic preaching, engaging ministry information, networking opportunities and gatherings of alumni/ae and friends from across the years. Inspiring events include: opening worship led by Pastor Felisa Roman, MDiv ’98, a film-screening and conversation about Locked in the Box: Immigration Detention, and a special address by the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Rev. Dr. Leon Finney, pastor of Chicago’s Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church. McCormick Days 2016 is open to all who wish to be inspired and engage in critical present-day issues. For more information visit

  • McCormick’s Class of 1991 and Class of 1996

McCormick will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Class of 1991, and the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1966 with an Alumni/ae Luncheon on Thursday October 20, 2016 at McCormick Days. Please read the milestone letter and complete the form and send it to McCormick Days are filled with dynamic preaching, engaging ministry information, networking opportunities and gatherings of alumni/ae and friends from across the years. We hope you will return to McCormick and join the festivities.

  • 한국어 목회학 박사 과정 Korean Doctor of Ministry Program

McCormick Theological Seminary is excited to offer the McCormick Doctor of Ministry in Korean. The Korean Doctor of Ministry integrates academic inquiry with a student’s on-going ministry work. Courses and thesis projects are grounded in actual ministry setting and objectives, promoting both theological depth and practical application.

Program begins September 2016, applications are due August 1, 2016

For more information, contact, Coordinator, D. Min Korean Program, Dae Sung Kim, Ph. D. 847-644-5431,

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

  • Ordinary Time Resource Kit

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is committed to being a resource to the wider church. The newest online resource is the Worship Planning Workbook. It covers Pentecost Sunday through Christ the King Sunday. The Planning Pages include the name of the Sunday, Scripture readings based on the Revised Common Lectionary Passages, some thoughts on one of the passages from a member of the PTS community or a historical figure, and a spot for a “To Do” worship planning list. There is also space for free writing. Additionally, the kit includes the video “What is Ordinary Time?” and accompanying lesson plan. Download the kit online:

  • Being Church Conference with Nadia Bolz-Weber, Rachel Held Evans and Eric Law

Over the course of one week, June 5-11, 2016, the Being Church Conference will join together in community to consider church. Eric H. F. Law of the Kaleidoscope Institute will be here June 5-8 to offer certificate training in Gracious Leadership. On June 10-11, Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans will join us to further the conversation of being Church. This event celebrates the 75th Summer Leadership Conference and the 20th Summer Youth Institute!

  • Archaeology Lecture Addresses Ancient Olympics

Neil Faulkner, research fellow at the University of Bristol will present “A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Greek Olympics” Thurs., May 26 at 7:30 p.m. This is a free event open to the public. The Olympic Games are coming up this summer, but what was it like going to the Olympics 2,400 years ago? This lecture will use written, artistic, and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the experience of the Ancient Greek Olympics. The result is an exercise in time travel. The book on which the lecture is based was, in fact, written in the present tense in the form of a travel guide—a device designed to transport the reader to the time and place in question, rather than offer a scholarly weighing of evidence. The Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology will be open from 6:30-7:15 p.m. and after the lecture. Learn more online:

San Francisco Theological Seminary

  • SFTS Diploma in Executive Leadership Program 

San Francisco Theological Seminary congratulates its first two gradates in the Diploma in Executive Leadership Programs (DELP.)

Teresa Perez-Martinez, a lay minister in the Bay Area, and Carol Taylor, minister and ordained deacon at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, received their diplomas this spring. The inaugural program was comprised of 10 students representing six faith communities and a range of ethnic backgrounds.

Said Carol Taylor, “A lens of leadership is needed that flips traditional models of leadership on their heads, and that is what DELP did, both in me and for me. The impact it has had on my current ministerial role has been immeasurable.”

DELP is open to applicants who have completed similar church leadership development programs offered by other theological institutions. For the 2016-2017 academic year, this program will also be open to Doctor of Ministry students. Applications for admission are due June 30. For more information, click here.

Union Presbyterian Seminary

  • Congregations awarded for leadership in creating effective ministries

Four congregations across the United States have received Union Presbyterian Seminary’s Congregational Leadership Awards. Since 1991, 121 churches in 29 states and the District of Columbia each have received $1,000 awards for showing leadership in developing new and effective ministries.

Coastal Community Church in Grover Beach, California, received this year’s James Goodpasture Award for excellence in ministry to persons with developmental disabilities and their families. “Sundays are celebrations. If you were to visit our church for the first time, you would be greeted by one of our friends with disabilities,” said Pastor Andy Rock. “They would pass you a bulletin and welcome you to worship. You would immediately notice a row of wheelchairs in the front of the sanctuary with children and adults in them, dancing to the music. You would see a blind man, Jason, playing the piano along with a full worship band. You would notice everyone in the congregation smiling, greeting, and embracing our disabled friends – it would feel like a celebration.”

Coastal Community Church’s outreach to people with disabilities includes specific efforts tailored to children, youth, and adults, and over 40 church members are regularly involved in the ministry efforts as the church has worked to integrate people with disabilities into their worship, Christian education, and fellowship activities. Programs emphasize the importance of providing agency and leadership opportunities to individuals with special challenges.

First Presbyterian Church in Staunton, Virginia, received this year’s W.T. “Tolly” Thompson Award for ministry in the field of Christian education. First Presbyterian’s Helping Hands Day Camp is a cooperative Vacation Bible School supported by four downtown churches in Staunton—First Presbyterian, Central United Methodist, Emmanuel Episcopal, and Trinity Episcopal. More than just an ordinary Bible School, its goal is to reach out and share the Gospel with families in the community and provide programming for those not able to afford a full week of traditional camp offerings by other agencies and organizations.

At a low price to parents that is subsidized by donations from each church, the weeklong camp features daily Bible study, music, arts and crafts, and a community service project by campers. Judging panelists described Helping Hands Day Camp as an “impressive effort in the field of Christian education, focused on the needs of those who may be unable to afford other opportunities for summer camps and childhood development opportunities.”

Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, received this year’s Elinor Curry Award for its ministry of outreach and social concern that addresses the call of the church to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God,” and in so doing changes the congregation. Mount Pleasant’s Hope House and Hope Cottage provide free housing for adults with a family member in a local intensive care unit. Since opening, the three bedrooms at Hope House and one in Hope Cottage have provided comfort for approximately 550 family members of trauma patients. At Hope House they find an inviting home-like environment, a quiet place to pray, comfort in the company of the other guests and caring volunteers, food in the refrigerator, and a washer and dryer to do their laundry.

Guests are referred by social workers at the Medical University of South Carolina, where they know the family members will be welcomed and offered physical as well as spiritual and emotional comfort. “This ministry fulfills an important role that combines outreach and pastoral sensitivity. Mount Pleasant has acted innovatively to cover a missing gap in services to people experiencing tremendous stress and pain as they hope for the healing of their loved ones,” said the judging panel.

The Federated Church (PCUSA/UCC) in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, received this year’s Katherine Hawes Award for its effective youth ministry that engages youth in all areas of the church’s mission, extending beyond the church into the community and the world. The Federated Church’s Timothy Fellowship is designed to mentor young men and women who have recently graduated from high school and are considering a career in ministry by providing them with an opportunity to work in a congregational setting as they discern their call from God.

The two-year, part-time internship consists of multiple phases intended to deepen the individual’s faith, expose the Timothy Fellow to practical experience in congregational life, and explore options for future education and development. “An innovative approach toward fostering young men and women in their initial period of discernment of a call to ordained ministry or Christian education,” said the judging panel. “The congregation is to be commended for its active, systematic approach to supporting the discernment process.” Current Timothy Fellow, Jordan Schiefert, has not only benefited from the program but added significantly to the mission of the congregation.

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