PC(USA) seminary news

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

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE – A compilation of news from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminaries including Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, Johnson C. Smith 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.

Columbia Theological Seminary

CLL receives Wabash Grant for design of classroom and online teaching methods
The Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL) at Columbia Theological Seminary announced the award of a small project grant to form a teaching and learning collaborative to explore teaching methods in classroom performance and design of online education. The project was made possible by a grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, which is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and located at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

The following six faculty members from Columbia Theological Seminary have been selected for the program: Dr. William Yoo, assistant professor of American religious and cultural history; Dr. Brennan Breed, assistant professor of Old Testament; Dr. Bill Brown, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament; Dr. Jake Myers, assistant professor of homiletics; Dr. Raj Nadella, assistant professor of New Testament; and Dr. Anna Carter Florence, Peter Marshall Professor of Preaching.

“Dr. Israel Galindo and Ms. Kris Veldheer, our instructor of interactive teaching, have developed what we are certain will be a significant, fruitful and highly needed opportunity for faculty development in classroom and online pedagogies,” Christine Roy Yoder, interim dean of faculty and vice president for academic affairs, said in a statement. “Motivated by the vision of President Leanne Van Dyk, and alert to the potential and possibilities afforded by robust and high-quality online education, there is rising interest among our faculty in offering online degree program and certificate options for our students.”

The grant project will run through academic year 2017–18.

Douglas receives Nohria Grant for ‘War In A Warming World’
Dr. Mark Douglas, Columbia Theological Seminary’s professor of Christian ethics, has been awarded a grant from the Nohria Family Charitable Fund for $70,000. He will use the grant to write the second of three projected volumes, tentatively collectively titled War in a Warming World. The project explores the impact of climate change on war and how Christian traditions of pacifism, just war and just peacemaking may shed light on climate-shaped conflict in an Environmental Age. The grant also makes it possible for Douglas to travel and do research with institutions that are at the forefront of environmental security studies.

“Climate change is certainly the most dramatic global threat since the advent of nuclear weapons. It may be the greatest threat to human flourishing that we’ve faced in eons,” Douglas said. “Not only is it beginning to have enormous and far-reaching effects on the natural world, it will increasingly shape and drive political conflicts and cause widespread violence. In a world drenched with religion, faith traditions are being asked to offer their own perspectives on and resources for addressing such violence. I’m deeply grateful to the Nohria Family Charitable Fund for this grant that makes it possible for me to continue my own work in interpreting and shaping Christian responses to War in a Warming World.”

Douglas will continue to work on this project through January. His most recent book is titled Believing Aloud: Reflections on Being Religious in the Public Square.

Dawson and Moore-Keish approved to faculty chairs at Columbia Seminary
During the spring meetings for the Board of Trustees of Columbia Theological Seminary, recommendations were approved to appoint Dr. Kathy Dawson and Dr. Martha Moore-Keish to faculty chairs. Dawson is now the Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education, a position previously held by Dr. Rodger Nishioka. Moore-Keish is now the J.B. Green Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, a role previously held by Dr. George Stroup.

“Faculty are appointed to these chairs as an acknowledgement of the outstanding contributions made to their field of research and to the seminary,” said Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, president and professor of theology at Columbia Seminary. “Professors Dawson and Moore-Keish have consistently distinguished themselves as denominational leaders and effective mentors to the students we serve.”

Dawson was chosen as the 2015 Educator of the Year by the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators. She holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, a master’s degree from Presbyterian School of Christian Education, a master of divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary. She is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and has created a number of denominational resources including Confessing Faith: A Guide to Confirmation for Presbyterians.

Moore-Keish is also ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, a master of divinity from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia (now Union Presbyterian Seminary), and a doctorate from Emory University. She is currently co-editing a book with Christian Collins Winn called Karl Barth and Comparative Theology. She is also working on a commentary on James in the series Belief: Theological Commentary on the Bible (Westminster John Knox Press). 

Graduation, awards for class of 2017 celebrated at Columbia Seminary
On May 20, Columbia Theological Seminary held its annual commencement exercises at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. At this year’s graduation, 55 students were awarded degrees in six graduate degree programs. Four graduates received dual degrees in the master of divinity and master of arts in practical theology (MAPT) programs. Other degrees received included doctor of theology in pastoral counseling (ThD), doctor of ministry (DMin), master of theology (ThM), and master of arts in theological studies (MATS).

The following five fellowships were awarded at graduation:

  • Harvard A. Anderson Fellowship — Brittany Lynn Fiscus Van Rossum
  • Columbia Graduate Fellowship — Adam James Shortley
  • Emma Gaillard Boyce Graduate Fellowship — David Arthur VanderMeer
  • Fannie Jordan Bryan Fellowship — Cassie Lea Waits
  • Anna Church Whitner Fellowship — Ayanna Avise Grady-Hunt

The following 22 additional prizes and awards were given at graduation:

  • James T. and Celeste M. Boyd Book Fund — Stephanie Bishop Loftin, Kyungwon Erin Noh, Lauren Myrae Patrus, Eunji Seo
  • The Robert Ramey Jr. Christian Leadership Award — Matthew David Conner
  • Wilds Book Prize — Brittany Lynn Fiscus Van Rossum
  • William Dudley Fund Awards — Jaeyouk Jung, Jeffrey David Randolph
  • Julia Abdullah Award — Cassie Lea Waits
  • Samuel A. Cartledge New Testament Studies Award — Cassie Lea Waits
  • Ludwig Richard Max Dewitz Old Testament Studies Award — Cassie Lea Waits
  • Emma Gaillard Boyce Memorial Award — David Arthur VanderMeer
  • Paul T. Fuhrmann Book Prize in Church History — Rebekah Beam Carpenter, Bora Yoon
  • The John Nelsen Award — Stacey Simpson Duke
  • George and Sally Telford Award — Kerri Mock Hefner
  • J. Riddle Memorial Book Award — Michelle Marie Mehan
  • Indiantown Country Church Award — Millicent Jai White Thomson
  • The Toms-McGarrahan Award — Sarah Rachel Are
  • Florrie Wilkes Sanders Prize in Theology — Adam James Shortley
  • William Rivers Waddey Award — Sarah Rachel Are, Katelyn Michelle Nutter Dowling

CTS alumnus Hankins wins 2017 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise
Columbia Theological Seminary alumnus Dr. Davis Hankins (’05) is one of this year’s winners of the 2017 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise, an international award given annually by Forschungsinstitut Internationale und Interdisziplinäre Theologie to outstanding first books in theology. He received it for his work The Book of Job and the Immanent Genesis of Transcendence (Diaeresis. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2015). He is among 10 winners who will be recognized at a celebration to take place at the University of Heidelberg in Germany later this month.

Hankins is currently assistant professor of religious studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and faculty affiliate in the Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies program and in the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies program. He is completing a commentary on Ecclesiastes and its reception history with Dr. Brennan Breed, assistant professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary and a winner of the 2016 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise.

In addition to receiving his MDiv at Columbia Theological Seminary, Hankins received his PhD from Emory University and his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University.


Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Louisville Seminary celebrates its 163rd commencement
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary held its 163rd commencement exercises on May 14 at Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. The seminary conferred master of divinity degrees to 21 students. Seven students earned master of arts degrees in marriage and family therapy, and five students earned master of arts degrees in religion. Doctor of ministry degrees were conferred to six students. One student earned a certificate in black church studies. Two students earned a certificate in education ministry, one student earned a certificate in pastoral counseling supervision, and three students received a pastoral studies diploma.

See the list of 2017 Louisville Seminary graduates.
See the list of 2017 Louisville Seminary graduate award winners.

As part of the ceremony, the Devoted Service Award, which recognizes individuals for their dedicated service in the life of the church, was presented to the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, a Louisville Seminary alum (MDiv ’02) and stated clerk for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Devoted Service Awards were also given to Ralph Young, moderator of the Synod of Living Waters, and Avis Odenbaugh, moderator of the Synod of Mid-America.
Louisville Seminary presented Nelson, who served as the commencement speaker, with the Distinguished Alum Award in 2014 for his personal and professional achievements and commitment to the church. In 2016, Nelson was the Louisville Seminary Festival of Theology and Alum Reunion preacher. Prior to his service in the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly, Nelson was director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., where he advocated the social witness perspectives and policies of the Presbyterian General Assembly.

Collins promoted to full professor at Louisville Seminary
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has promoted the Rev. Dr. Matthew Collins (pictured), director of Louisville Seminary’s Ernest Miller White Library, from associate to full professor of bibliography and research, effective June 1. Collins’ promotion follows an extensive review of his performance as a professor, his role as director of the library and his contributions to the Louisville Seminary community.

Collins came to Louisville Seminary in 2013 from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where he served as a reference librarian and taught courses in technology for ministers and in research skills. Prior to serving at Emory, Collins worked for 12 years at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) as the director of congresses and was responsible for developing and managing the Annual Meeting and International Meeting programs for the SBL.
Collins is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He is also active in the American Theological Libraries Association, the Society of Biblical Literature and the Federation of Kentucky Academic Libraries.


McCormick Theological Seminary

Crumpton named assistant professor of practical theology
McCormick Theological Seminary has appointed the Rev. Dr. Stephanie Crumpton as assistant professor of practical theology. She will join the McCormick faculty on July 1. Crumpton is currently a professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. She is ordained with ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ.

McCormick President Frank Yamada said, “Dr. Stephanie Crumpton, in her scholarship, teaching and life’s passions, is an ideal faculty person for McCormick Theological Seminary. She is returning to the city of Chicago. We are thrilled to be welcoming her back to this community. She will play an important role on our faculty going forward into the future.”

Crumpton, a Chicago native, earned a doctor of theology in pastoral care and counseling from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia; a master of divinity from Johnson C. Smith Presbyterian Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta; and a bachelor of arts in broadcast journalism from Oklahoma’s Langston University.

“The invitation to join McCormick Theological Seminary’s faculty is very meaningful to me,” Crumpton said. “It offers me the opportunity to return home to the city that first influenced my theological commitments and understanding of what it means to teach. Although I am a little concerned about the cold, I am looking forward to the warmth of knowing that I am part of an institution that takes learning and faith very seriously. I am honored to join McCormick in its work of shaping deeply engaged ministers and leaders in society.”

2017 innovation prize winners announced
McCormick Theological Seminary and the Center for Innovative Ministry has announced the winning entries of the 2017 McCormick Prize for Innovation.  The annual prize recognizes “impactful use of innovation in ministry,” and this year awarded $7,000 in prizes to the winners.

“The quality of this year’s entries was very strong,” said Center for Innovative Ministry Director Dr. Thomas Dickelman.  “We received entries from throughout the country reflecting a wide range of ministries. In most cases, the innovations began with a single idea that ultimately had multiple impacts.  Choosing three winners from among all the outstanding entries was a sizable challenge.”

The first prize of $5,000 was awarded to St. Mark Lutheran Church in Lacey, Washington, led by pastors Eric and Beth Utto-Galarneau. In 2016, the North Thurston Public Schools had nearly 800 homeless children, with at least one homeless child in virtually every classroom. When the church went to the schools to see how they could help, they were told that the greatest need beside housing was clean clothes. Students with dirty clothes were bullied, embarrassed, suffered from low self-esteem and didn’t want to go to school. The St. Mark innovation created a free laundry facility by converting a Sunday School classroom in their church for local homeless families. The laundry also includes a food pantry, and during harvest, guests receive fresh produce from the church’s organic garden. Additionally, St. Mark is actively working to address the larger issue — housing — with plans to build five tiny houses on church property for unaccompanied, homeless female teens. “We applaud co-pastors Eric and Beth Utto-Galarneau for their dynamic leadership and the creative use of church resources to positively impact homeless children,” Dickelman said.

The second prize of $1,500 went to Steel Lake Presbyterian Church in Federal Way, Washington, where the Rev. Dr. Will Mason is the minister. “Steel Lake is an example of how innovation is ultimately about solving problems and creating opportunities,” Dickelman said. The leaders of the church did a thoughtful assessment of their congregation and community and felt called to dramatically change their ministry from an inward to an outward focus. They made multiple courageous decisions, including right-sizing by selling their campus and targeting ministry to the rapidly growing local senior segment by partnering with numerous care facilities in their community.

The third prize winner of $500 went to Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church in Chicago. After many years of declining membership and community impact, in 2016 the church adopted “The Compassion Project” as its future vision. “Lincoln Park, led by the Rev. Dr. Beth Brown, is yet another example of a church that focuses on serving others outside its doors, and in the process, comes alive itself,” Dickelman said. “The range of innovative programs they are developing is significant, from creating a way to engage people of all faiths and no faith in addressing some of the critical justice issues of our time to developing a mechanism to generate ongoing income.”

Two additional ministries received honorable mentions. ROC SALT Center (led by the Rev. Dr. John Wilkinson) is a collaborative ministry that serves people in a high-poverty Rochester, New York, neighborhood and invites mission groups to be transformed spiritually as they serve in the community.  The Joyful Feast (led by the Rev. Dr. John Vest) in Richmond, Virginia, uses meals to allow people to reconnect with each other, with the natural world, and with the divine. Both ROC SALT and The Joyful Feast are relatively new, innovative ministries and show great promise to have a powerful impact in their communities.

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

God in the Neighborhood workshops to be held June 21–23
Place matters. God calls us, not only to participate in God’s mission, but to particular places. Situated within particular streets, sidewalks, parks, stores, and empty lots of a neighborhood, the church seeks the shalom of their city, and all that this entails. But what does this mean? In a North American religious context where networks and personal preference have often driven church attendance, what does it look like for congregations to take the particularity of their place, their neighborhood, seriously as an element in their missional discernment? Join Pittsburgh Theological Seminary on June 21–23 to share in conversation with local and international scholars, pastors, and leaders committed to building healthy communities. Participate in one day or all three. Learn more at http://www.pts.edu/God-in-the-neighborhood

Summer youth program now offers college credit
The Miller Summer Youth Institute (SYI) is gathering 40 rising high school seniors and college freshmen from across the country to explore what God is calling them to do and who God is calling them to be. SYI is designed to form an intentional Christian community in which young people can be challenged to move beyond their comfort zones in order to grow in faith, engage in academic theological study and explore ministry. This year SYI is joining with Waynesburg University to offer two college credits to all students who attend the entire program. Know a student who may be interested? This year’s program runs July 9–15. Learn more at http://www.pts.edu/SYI_Info

Pittsburgh Seminary names director of new Center for Writing and Learning Support
Pittsburgh Seminary is pleased to name Dr. Mary O’Shan (“Shan”) Overton as the director of the new Center for Writing and Learning Support. “The Center for Writing and Learning support will provide a great resource for students, faculty and the broader community. Dr. Overton has taught writing to a wide range of individuals — from college and seminary students to parochial school teachers and doctoral students in theology — and has worked directly with faculty on pedagogical approaches to teaching and writing in coursework. We’re excited about the insight and leadership she’ll bring to the center and to the seminary,” said the Rev. Dr. David Esterline, president and professor of cross-cultural theological education.

Overton earned a PhD from Boston College, an MDiv from Vanderbilt University Divinity School, a master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Tennessee (where she graduated summa cum laude). Her doctoral dissertation addressed the teaching of writing in theological education. Overton’s most recent teaching and administrative experience includes serving as adjunct professor at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee. Previously she was interim head chaplain and chair of the Religious Studies Department at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School (Atlanta), writing tutor and instructor at Vanderbilt University Divinity School (Nashville, Tennessee), and instructor at Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro, Tennessee). She also held various writing positions at Boston College (Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts). She’ll begin her work at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in June 2017.


Princeton Theological Seminary

Princeton Seminary celebrates the class of 2017 at commencement ceremony
On May 20, 180 students were awarded 193 degrees at Princeton Theological Seminary’s 205th commencement on May 20 in the Princeton University Chapel. The class of 2017 comes from 13 countries, including Egypt, Germany, India, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Peru, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, 30 states, and Washington D.C. During the ceremony, students listened to President M. Craig Barnes’ commencement address “The Foolish Call to Love.”

The graduating class of 2017 had:

  • 71 women
  • 109 men
  • Five master of arts in Christian education and formation
  • 20 master of arts in theological studies
  • 13 master of divinity and master of arts in Christian education and formation
  • 107 master of divinity
  • 27 master of theology
  • Eight doctor of philosophy

Graduates will serve as pastors in churches, as hospital and prison chaplains, and in the mission field. They will teach in urban schools, minister on college campuses, and continue their studies, both in the United States and abroad.


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