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PC(USA) seminary news — November 2017


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

New chief enrollment management officer at Columbia Theological Seminary

Columbia Theological Seminary announced today the hiring of a new Chief Enrollment Management Officer. Starting January 2018, the Rev. Ruth-Aimée Belonni-Rosario will lead the institution’s admissions and financial aid efforts.

Belonni-Rosario has a proven record of effectiveness in leading seminary recruitment and enrollment strategies. She served as Associate Director of Admissions at Princeton Theological Seminary and then as Dean of Admissions at Lancaster Theological Seminary. Educated both at the Universidad de Puerto Rico and Princeton Theological Seminary, Belonni-Rosario is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She has demonstrated strong commitments to Latinx voices in theological education and ministry, as well as supporting seminary students to discern their particular call.

“We are delighted to welcome Ruth-Aimée,” said President Leanne Van Dyk, “We are convinced that she will lead us forward in reaching prospective students to join us in our community of faith and learning.”

New major gifts officer at Columbia Theological Seminary

Columbia Theological Seminary announced today the appointment of a new Major Gifts Officer. Charles A. Wiley III currently serves as the Associate Director for Theology, Worship, and Education Ministries for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Wiley is the latest in a series of appointments for the seminary’s Office of Institutional Advancement.

“We have spent much of this year building our team for our fundraising and communications efforts, and Charles is a great addition to the team,” said Steven Miller, Vice President of Institutional Advancement. “His relationships with people both inside and outside the PC(USA) will be important to the essential work we are doing here.”

“Having Charles Wiley join us is timely,” Dr. Leanne Van Dyk stated, President of the Seminary. “We are engaging some new strategic initiatives at all levels of the seminary. New funding will be critical to our success in every area.”

Wiley has provided leadership for a wide range of special projects for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from theological advisor for a new children’s curriculum called Growing in Grace and Gratitude to staffing the Special Committee on the Confession of Belhar. He holds degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary (Ph.D.), Duke Divinity School (M.Div.), and Davidson College (B.A.).

David Bartlett, distinguished preacher and scholar, dies at 76

Dr. David L. Bartlett, an ordained minister of the American Baptist Churches, USA who served parishes in Minneapolis, MN; Chicago, IL; and Oakland, CA passed away early Thursday morning. He was the J. Edward and Ruth Cox Lantz Professor Emeritus of Christian Communication at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT and the Distinguished Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA.

“Columbia Seminary is profoundly grateful for the life and ministry of David Bartlett,” said Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, president of the seminary. “The impact of his wise teaching, his gracious encouragement, his joyful humor, and his steady faithfulness is deep and wide in this community. We extend our love and sympathy to his family in this time of grief and loss.”

Dr. Bartlett was born on February 16, 1941. He completed his undergraduate education at Swarthmore College in 1962, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts. He then attended Yale Divinity School where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity in 1967 and his Doctor of Philosophy from the Department of Religious Studies in New Testament in 1972. David Bartlett was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and a Roothbert Fellow for “those prompted by ‘spiritual motives’ and pursuing careers in teaching.”

Dr. Bartlett had long careers in teaching and preaching, holding both academic and pastoral positions. In addition to his remarkable tenure at Yale Divinity School and Columbia Theological Seminary, both of which honored him as professor emeritus, he served on the faculties of American Baptist Seminary of the West, Graduate Theological Union, The Divinity School of The University of Chicago, and Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA. He also served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Yale Divinity School for eleven years.

For several years, Dr. Bartlett was on the Editorial Boards of works such as Interpretation and Preaching Great Texts. He was on the Board of Consultants for the Journal of Religion and the National Advisory Board for the Christian Networks Journal. Along with Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor, Dr. Bartlett co-edited the well-known Feasting on the Word commentary series. This twelve volume series provides pastors and educators a variety of views on scripture that can be utilized easily in worship and teaching. “The scope of the project was so vast that I could not imagine saying yes, but the prospect of working with David proved irresistible,” said Brown. “We were sitting in a restaurant near the seminary named ‘Feast’ when we decided to call the series Feasting on the Word. Twelve volumes later, David’s steady vision, ready humor, biblical genius, and vast network of friends had pulled us through. It was the hardest and happiest work I have ever done. The only thing that tempers his loss is knowing for sure how much better the world is because David lived in it.”

Dr. Bartlett also co-edited the Westminster Bible Companion with Dr. Patrick D. Miller, Jr. His most recent book is The Fourfold Gospel (London: SPCK, 2006; Philadelphia: Fortress, 2006) for which he wrote the section on Matthew. His Lyman Beecher Lectures, delivered at Yale Divinity School, were published under the title What’s Good About This News? (Westminster/John Knox Press, 2003). He also wrote the study of I Peter for The New Interpreter’s Bible.

David Bartlett is survived by his wife Carol and their two grown sons, Jonah and Ben. There will be a funeral service at 11:00 am on Wednesday, October 18 at Marquand Chapel, Yale Divinity School, 409 Prospect Street in New Haven, CT. A reception will follow afterward with a chance to share remembrances. Details are still being determined for a memorial service in the Atlanta area near Columbia Theological Seminary.

Apply now to attend ‘Jazz as a Metaphor for Ministry: The Power of Improvisation’ 

Jazz as a Metaphor for Ministry: The Power of Improvisation is the topic that the Thompson Scholars will explore April 24-27, 2018 at the Center for Lifelong Learning on the Columbia Theological Seminary campus.

“The program will explore how jazz as an art form can influence the practice of ministry. Improvisation, which is central to jazz, will be highlighted as a way to encourage creative responses in this time of intense and rapid change.” states Watkins. “I’m excited that Marcus Johnson can join us on Wednesday, to share his insights about how improvisational leadership – at the keyboard, in the boardroom, in communities of faith – can play out.”

The application deadline is January 26,2018 and applicants will be notified in February. Preference will be given to applicants who have not participated in previous Thompson Scholar seminars. For additional information, including a link to the application,

A program fee of $175 covers all course-related fees, eight meals on campus during the event, 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 on the Thompson Scholars program, or for information on any other classes, please visit the Center for Lifelong Learning page at

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Louisville Seminary accepting applications/nominations for new president

The Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Presidential Search Committee is now taking applications and recommendations for candidates to fill the open position of Seminary President.

“We seek a leader with a strong and critical love for the Church and theological education who has the ability to cultivate relationships inside and beyond the Seminary, in the service of fulfilling our vision of building bridges,” said Presidential Search Committee Chair Lant B. Davis.

Responsibilities and qualifications for the position are available on Louisville Seminary’s website,

Letters of nomination, applications (letter of interest, resume/CV, and contact information of at least five references), or expressions of interest must be submitted to the following address.

Presidential Search Committee
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
c/o Lant B. Davis, Chair
P.O. Box 531304
Birmingham, AL 35253

Confidential review of materials will begin immediately and will continue until an appointment is made. It is preferred, however, that nominations and applications be submitted prior to January 18, 2018.

For questions, email:

 Work of Louisville Institute continues thanks to nearly $8 million Lilly Endowment grant
Grant supports development of North American pastoral leaders, theological educators religion scholars, seminaries and churches.

Lilly Endowment, Inc. has awarded a grant of $7,999,954 to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to continue the work of the Louisville Institute for the period of January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2021. Supported by the Endowment since 1990, the Louisville Institute is a national leader in the study of religion and support of pastors and church leaders in North America.

News of the grant was announced by Dr. Michael Jinkins, president of Louisville Seminary, and Dr. Edwin David Aponte, executive director of the Louisville Institute, at the fall 2017 meeting of Louisville Seminary’s President’s Roundtable.

“We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for the vote of confidence in the ongoing work of the Louisville Institute that this renewal grant represents,” said Aponte. “With these funds the Louisville Institute will continue to bridge gaps between church and academy while addressing the diverse, global, multicultural, generational, and emerging currents facing North American Christianity.”

“Lilly Endowment’s continued support assists us as we work to prepare the next generation of professors to teach in seminaries and universities across the country,” added Jinkins, who also chairs the Louisville Institute Board of Directors.

With this renewed support, the Institute will:

  • Provide fellowships in theological education to identify and support a new generation of exceptionally well-prepared faculty for theological schools;
  • Bring together and engage cohorts of pastors and professors to address issues confronting the church; and
  • Award grants to pastors and academic leaders to support their innovative research projects.

As part of the Vocation of the Theological Educator Initiative, the Louisville Institute addresses the need for a new generation of theological faculty that is prepared to respond to the questions and needs of communities of faith and their future leadership. The Institute’s fellowship programs are designed to prepare faculty in multiple settings so their teaching and scholarship can serve the church and its ministries.

The Louisville Institute’s Collaborative Inquiry Team program supports groups of four to eight pastors and professors who propose projects that examine inherent challenges facing Christian congregations. Teams spend 18 to 36 months exploring together a challenge currently confronting church and society.

The Louisville Institute offers grants to support research by pastor/scholars and scholar/educators that strengthen the religious life of North American Christians and their institutions while advancing North American religious and theological scholarship. These grant programs aim to serve three strategic constituencies whose competence and well-being are essential to the future of the church: pastors, younger scholars, and researchers and scholars for the broader church.

Under this grant, the Louisville Institute will launch a new iteration of the Pastors Working Groups. This second wave will engage small groups to inquire about the changing contexts of ministry. What are the new ways people congregate and form faith communities? How can ministers connect with and learn from emerging non-denominational approaches to ministry? What can the ministry experiences of those working in and with historically marginalized groups and immigrant communities teach the greater Christian community?

“As the new Pastors Working Groups help us understand where the church is headed and what the emerging needs of ministry leaders are, we also anticipate learning how best to reimagine grant and fellowship programs for ecclesially engaged scholars,” said Aponte. “We hope to launch the first Pastors Working Group in the fall of 2019.”

This will be the ninth time in 27 years that Lilly Endowment has awarded a grant to fund the Louisville Institute’s work.

“We are pleased that the Louisville Institute will continue its important work of supporting pastors, religious leaders and academic scholars as they explore critical challenges facing Christian communities,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president of religion. “Louisville Institute’s efforts to prepare a new generation of faculty to teach at theological schools also will help ensure that these schools continue educate seminarians to become excellent pastoral leaders.”

New Legacy restorative justice program is Louisville Seminary’s new food service provider

Last spring, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary found itself in need of a new on-campus food service provider. As it considered potential vendors, the seminary wanted to find a service that reflected its mission to minister and serve a world in great need, which is why the seminary enlisted the services of the New Legacy Reentry Corporation.

New Legacy is a faith-based community organization that is committed to breaking the cycle of chronic recidivism for those who were previously incarcerated for nonviolent, nonsexual crimes. The organization provides long-term residential housing, vocational education, spiritual enrichment, entrepreneurship guidance and basic life skills to their program participants, which equips and empowers them to become better parents, spouses and citizens.

The organization’s culinary program provided the catering services for Louisville Seminary’s Black Church Studies Consultation on Restorative Justice last February, and the service was met with favorable reviews from consultation attendees. According to Pat Cecil, Louisville Seminary’s vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, the organization’s resources, structure, quality of service as well as its mission made it the perfect fit for Louisville Seminary.

“By having New Legacy provide nourishment to our campus community, we, in turn, are nourishing the spirit of restorative justice and giving formerly incarcerated individuals a chance to start their lives over on a positive and productive note,” said Cecil.

In addition to providing Louisville Seminary’s dining services, New Legacy is free to use the seminary’s on-campus kitchen and dining facilities as the primary training site for its culinary services program and offer those services to other organizations.

Gisela Nelson, New Legacy’s executive director, said the opportunity to work with Louisville Seminary came at the right time.

“In order for our culinary program to grow, we needed the facilities that Louisville Seminary had available,” said Nelson, who co-founded New Legacy with her husband, Paul Nelson, Sr. “We are now able to provide our citizens with comprehensive, real-world training in the culinary arts, which, in turn, opens more doors of opportunity for them as they reenter society.”

Louisville Seminary receives $64,660 in grants to fund restorative justice initiative
Training, resources and programs to assist communities affected by crime

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary recently received $64,660 in grant funding from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) to develop a new Restorative Justice for Ministry program.

An Innovation Project Grant in the amount of $49,910 will build on the seminary’s established relationships with the local religious community, Louisville Metro Government, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations to make the seminary a center for educating and resourcing congregational ministers, chaplains, and therapists in restorative justice best practices. These practices focus on repairing communities affected by crime through accountability, making amends, and facilitating interaction between victims of crime, the offenders and the broader community.

The Restorative Justice for Ministry project will work closely with the seminary’s Field Education program and Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy program. The family-systems approach fundamental to the Marriage and Family Therapy curriculum will integrate with education in restorative systems theory and practice. The project also includes a field education placement for a student to assist with all aspects of the program and serve as a liaison with Restorative Justice Louisville.

A Faculty Development Grant in the amount of $14,750 will fund the design and implementation of new courses and curricular tracks in restorative justice at Louisville Seminary. The new courses will be implemented in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 academic years. It will also fund the purchase of restorative justice library resources for faculty and students as they implement this new curricular emphasis. The resources will be housed in the seminary library’s Black Church Studies Resource Center.

“We want Louisville Seminary to be indispensable to our city and a magnet for those who believe that theological education has a critical role to play in building communities that embrace persons who are frequently excluded from it,” said Scott Williamson, Louisville Seminary’s associate academic dean and Restorative Justice for Ministry project director.

McCormick Theological Seminary

Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. honored with Legacy of Leadership award

McCormick Theological Seminary presented the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., Pastor Emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC), its Legacy of Leadership award at a gala event held at the South Shore Cultural Center, Friday, October 13, 2017.

The Legacy of Leadership Award celebrates transformational leaders whose ministry and voice have empowered and inspired communities of faith here, across the country, and around the world. Dr. Wright has devoted his life to his family, his church, and his community. He has educated and helped equip generations of faithful, dedicated leaders. He has empowered communities, and has been a tireless advocate for justice in Chicago and around the world.

During Dr. Wright’s tenure as senior pastor at TUCC, and continuing under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III, TUCC has provided tuition reimbursement to dozens of members of their congregation who have matriculated through McCormick. In September of 2016, McCormick and Dr. Wright partnered to launch a collaboratively designed doctor of ministry program known as the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Scholars: African-Centered Religious Thought and Ministry, in which Dr. Wright is the featured scholar and mentor. There are 22 students currently enrolled scheduled to complete their degrees in the spring of 2019. Rev. Dr. Stacey Edwards-Dunn (D.Min.’11), who serves on the leadership team at TUCC, also serves at McCormick as the Director of the Center for African American Ministries and Black Church Studies and as adjunct faculty, since 2015. Rev. Dr. Edwards-Dunn also was a primary architect of the Dr. Wright Scholars degree program.

David H. Crawford, President of McCormick Theological Seminary said, “McCormick Theological Seminary is grateful for the decades-long relationship we have had with Dr. Wright and the amazing pastors, staff, and members of Trinity United Church of Christ. Dr. Wright and the good people of Trinity have done so much, for so many, including McCormick. We are, therefore, grateful for the opportunity to be part of this wonderful event that honors the life and prophetic ministry of the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright.”

Leslie Diaz-Perez succeeds Daniel Rodriguez-Diaz as director of the Center for the Study of Latin@ Theology and Ministry

In the wake of the retirement of beloved professor emeritus of church history, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Rodriguez-Diaz as director of the Center for the Study of Latin@ Theology and Ministry at McCormick Theological Seminary this past June, McCormick has appointed the Rev. Dr. Leslie Diaz-Perez as the new Center director. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Dr. Diaz-Perez applies her passion in the fields of education and training, missions, and ministry. A double alumna of McCormick, Dr. Diaz-Perez earned both her Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the seminary.

Prior to retirement from his directorial duties Dr. Rodriguez-Diaz taught church history at McCormick and continues to serve as adjunct faculty. A graduate of the National University of Mexico, Mexico City, where he received a Ph.D. in History and Latin American Studies, Rodriguez-Diaz taught church history at the International Institute of Higher Studies in Mexico City. He also taught at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Wesley Theological Seminary and Baptist Seminary of Mexico and worked extensively with the United Methodist Church on anti-racism training and building awareness of United States foreign policy in Latin America.

“We are profoundly grateful for the many years of service Dr. Rodriguez-Diaz devoted to the founding and development of the center and the relationships he created and nurtured over time. There would not be a center without Dr. Rodriguez-Diaz. We are thrilled he will continue to be part of the teaching team for the Latin@ ministry certificate, and the degree programs he brought to fruition.” Says Dr. Ted Hiebert, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs. He continues, “Dr. Diaz-Perez brings new energy and passion to this role and we are delighted she has agreed to take Dr. Rodriguez-Diaz’s vision and move it forward. Working with her in the months before his retirement and since, has been exciting, inspiring, and illuminating. Her creativity, drive, and determination lend momentum to our efforts and are supported by her critical and analytical thinking and her devotion to and love for McCormick and its students.”

McCormick appoints two new members to its administrative leadership team

Assistant Dean of Student Academics and Support, Rev. David W. Watkins, III, and Associate Dean Doctor of Ministry Programs and Continuing Education, Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics, Dr. Jennifer M. McBride have been named members of McCormick Theological Seminary’s Administrative Cabinet, the institution’s senior leadership team. The announcement was made today by Interim President David Crawford.

“We are delighted that both Rev. Watkins and Dr. McBride accepted the invitation of the Administrative Cabinet to join our senior leadership team. Each brings unique gifts to our work together, and we are grateful for their willingness to take on this important work with us,” Crawford noted. “McCormick is growing, and one of the primary aims of inviting Rev. Watkins and Dr. McBride to join the senior leadership team is our commitment to bring new energy, focus, and commitment to the student experience, I cannot imagine two better qualified individuals to help us in that effort,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dean of Faculty, Ted Hiebert.

Before Rev. Watkins was appointed to this new role, he was the seminary’s associate director of Experiential Education and Field Studies. Working with Rev. Dr. Joanne Lindstrom, the Jean and Frank Mohr Director of Experiential Education and Field Studies, he helped to place and support McCormick students in their field education experiences. He also served as an adjunct professor for the master’s in divinity course, Reflection in Ministry. Along with his service to McCormick, Rev. Watkins is the senior pastor of Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago and the associate regional minister for the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago. He holds a chemical engineering degree from the University of Illinois and a master’s in divinity from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. McBride received her doctorate and master’s degrees in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, with a focus on theology, ethics, and culture, and her bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Before coming to McCormick in July 2016, she served as the Board of Regents Endowed Chair in Ethics, Assistant Professor of Religion, and Director of Peace and Justice Studies at Wartburg College, an ELCA church-related school in Iowa. She also was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology at Emory University. At Emory’s Candler School of Theology, she served as Program Director for the Atlanta Theological Association’s Certificate in Theological Studies at Metro State Prison for Women. This past November, Dr. McBride became the first woman president of the International Bonhoeffer Society—English Language Section.

She has authored or edited three books on Bonhoeffer and a number of essays. Her books include Radical Discipleship: A Liturgical Politics of the GospelThe Church for the World: A Theology of Public Witness, and the co-edited volume, Bonhoeffer and King: Their Legacies and Import for Christian Social Thought.

Dr. Reggie Williams granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor

At its May 4-5, 2017 meeting, the McCormick Theological Seminary Board of Trustees granted Dr. Reggie Williams tenure and approved his promotion to Associate Professor of Christian Ethics.

Dr. Williams has been a part of the McCormick community since July 2012 in his role as Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics. Previously he was a full-time lecturer in the Religion Department at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He has taught as Adjunct Faculty at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California and is affiliated with the American Baptist Church.

He serves on the board of directors for the Society for Christian Ethics, as well as the International Dietrich Bonhoeffer Society. Dr. Williams is also a member of the American Academy of Religion and Society for the Study of Black Religion.

Dr. Williams’ book, Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance (Baylor University Press, 2014), was selected as a Choice Outstanding Title for 2015 in the field of religion. The book is an analysis of the influence of exposure to Harlem Renaissance thought and worship at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist on the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, during his year of post-doctoral study at Union Seminary in New York, 1930-31.

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Pittsburgh Seminary partners with Newbigin House of Studies

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Newbigin House of Studies are pleased to announce a partnership designed to train and mentor a new generation of missional leaders. This collaboration allows students who have completed the Newbigin Year, Newbigin House’s seminary program, to apply for advanced standing at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Rooted in the Reformed tradition, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Metro-Urban InstituteWorld Mission Initiative, and Church Planting Initiative provide contextual learning for students called to serve in the city, around the world, and through new worshiping communities. Pittsburgh’s urban location and proximity to the tech and education industries allows students ready access to additional resources helpful in their ministry preparation. The Seminary’s location and resources provide a rich context for further study for students who complete the Newbigin Year. The Newbigin House of Studies, named for missionary-theologian Lesslie Newbigin, seeks the good of the city by developing leadership through theological education. Learn more online.

Video: Miroslav Volf presents “Before Embrace” at Henderson Summer Leadership Conference

The 2017 Henderson Lecture was held June 8. Miroslav Volf, Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School, presented the lecture “Before Embrace.” What must happen before people who are estranged from one another can embrace? To ask this question is to inquire into the constitutive elements of reconciliation. Volf suggests four such elements and then explores the character of “reconciled existence.” Watch the lecture.

Professor Byron Jackson retires after 30 years

After three decades of service on the faculty of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the Rev. Dr. Byron “Barry” Jackson retired in June 2017. Upon his retirement, the Seminary named him dean emeritus of the faculty and Louise and Perry Dick Professor Emeritus of Education. Jackson began teaching at the Seminary in 1986 in the area of church education and was installed as the first occupant of the Louise and Perry Dick Chair in Education in 1993. In addition to his service on the faculty and as vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty from 2005-2016, he also served as director of field education from 1986-2007.

For the last three decades, both as a professor, administrator, and ordained PC(U.S.A.) minister of Word and Sacrament, Jackson has facilitated students’ exploration of ways people learn through reflection on their experiences in ministry. In the classroom, he has taught on congregational dynamics, faith perspectives, teaching methods, program administration, and education theory. His teaching and leadership at PTS have been informed by his prior pastoral service to congregations in North Carolina and Kentucky, as well as his experience working on the staff of the PC(U.S.A.)’s General Assembly. Jackson received his bachelors degree from Randolph-Macon College, M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia; and Ed.D. from Columbia University. He has served on the board of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education and on the steering committee of the Association for Theological Field Education.

Carolyn Cranston wins Seminary’s Calian Award

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has awarded the Rev. Carolyn Cranston, director of alumnae/i and church relations, with the Seminary’s Calian Award for Campus Community Service. This award is given to an exemplary member of the Pittsburgh Seminary community who demonstrates excellence in carrying out responsibilities and volunteer assignments and also expresses a caring spirit of good will and hope essential in life together as a community. The award is given in recognition that all members of the community are an important part of the success of the Seminary.

Prior to serving at Pittsburgh Seminary, Cranston worked for 25 years in retail management and owned her own clothing store. Before enrolling at the Seminary, she was serving on the board of South Hills Interfaith Ministries and says she was “looking to do something different.” At the urging of a friend (and Pittsburgh student at the time), she visited campus and says, “I knew I was supposed to be here.” After receiving a full scholarship from the Seminary, Cranston was diagnosed with breast cancer and had related surgery the day she should have been at new student orientation. After graduating from Pittsburgh Seminary with her M.Div. degree, Cranston completed the clinical pastoral education residency program at West Penn Hospital with plans to become a hospital chaplain. She then interviewed and eventually received a call from the Seminary to serve in the Alumnae/i Office, but not before having surgery for uterine cancer. For nearly 20 years, Cranston has served part-time at various Pittsburgh churches, and presently is a pastor at Pleasant Hills Community Presbyterian Church.

Schaff Lecture videos online: Forming Faithful Places

During the annual Schaff Lectures, Willie J. Jennings, associate professor of systematic theology and Africana studies at Yale University, presented two lectures and a chapel talk on the theme “Forming Faithful Places.” Those videos are now available on Pittsburgh’s website and YouTube channel. The lectures explored “How to Draw Lines: The Christian Art of Forming Alliances” and “How to Draw Circles: The Christian Art of Building Life Together.” Watch the videos:

Princeton Theological Seminary

Two free November events explore pressing social issues facing society
Panel discussion and lecture hosted by Princeton Theological Seminary

On Thursday, November 9, five panelists will take on the most pressing issues facing society and the ways the church can faithfully draw upon Scripture to address the challenges. Topics will include racial and class divisions, sexism in its various forms, and the ecological crisis. Moderated by Jacqueline Lapsley, associate professor of Old Testament and director of The Center for Theology, Women, and Gender, the panelists include:

  • Eric Barreto, Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament, Princeton Seminary
  • Bruce Birch, dean and professor of biblical theology, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington DC
  • Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, professor of theological and social ethics, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and the Graduate Theological Seminary (affiliated with Columbia University)
  • Peter Paris, Elmer G. Homrighausen Professor of Christian Ethics Emeritus, Princeton Seminary
  • Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary (New York City)

“The Bible and Ethics in Christian Life: Race, Class, Gender, and Ecological Justice” will be held at 7 p.m. in the Daniel J. Theron Assembly Room, Princeton Theological Seminary Library. A Q&A will follow.

On Wednesday, November 15, the story of the “trafficked princesses” in Jeremiah 40–44 and how it holds great promise in helping raise awareness in the reality of sexual violence in many communities around the world, and especially in the context of migration and the recent refugee crisis, will be explored. Julianna Claassens, professor of Old Testament, chair of the Department of Old and New Testament, and head of the gender unit, Faculty of Theology, at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, will speak.

“The Case of the Trafficked Princesses: Trauma Hermeneutics as Pedagogical Tool for Teaching on Gender-Based Violence” will take place at 7 p.m. in the Daniel J. Theron Assembly Room, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

For more information, visit

Partnership in the Gospel
President M. Craig Barnes and President Sung Bihn Yim of the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, Seoul, South Korea, sign a new Memorandum of Understanding

President M. Craig Barnes of Princeton Theological Seminary and President Sung Bihn Yim of the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS), Seoul, South Korea, signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on October 20, 2017, in Princeton, New Jersey. The memorandum provides for expanded MDiv student exchanges between the two institutions and reaffirms participation by PUTS in Princeton Seminary’s Doctoral Research Scholars Program.

Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary was founded by Dr. Samuel Austin Moffett in Pyeongyang in 1901, as the first theological educational institution in Korea. Today, led by President Yim, a trustee of Princeton Seminary, PUTS has more than 3,000 students. Some seven members of its faculty, including President Yim, earned their doctorates from Princeton Seminary. President Barnes who is a frequent visitor to PUTS commented after the signing, “Princeton celebrates the renewing of our longstanding ties with the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary. I greatly appreciate the dedicated service of President Yim on behalf of theological education both in Korea and in the United States.”

San Francisco Theological Seminary

The Applied Wisdom Institute helps emerging leaders make a difference
Social impact certificates for the next generation of changemakers

The Center for Innovation in Ministry at the San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) announced the launch the Applied Wisdom Institute (AWI), an exciting new educational forum aspiring to cultivate the next generation of social changemakers. AWI offers non-degree certificate programs for emerging leaders to apply their passion for social change to real-world projects in a collaborative, online/in-person learning environment.

AWI’s first program, the Certificate in Spirituality & Social Entrepreneurship, begins in February 2018, and is currently accepting applications. The curriculum is built around the idea that combining wisdom and spirituality with strong organizational skills is urgently needed in our ever-changing sociopolitical, economic and technological world.

“The focus of AWI is ‘Wisdom in doing, and doing in wisdom.’ Combining practical business knowledge with spirituality will magnify your drive to inspire and move others. We walk with you in your spiritual journey…and give you the tools to succeed,” says Floyd Thompkins, creator of the Applied Wisdom Institute, and Director of the Center for Innovation in Ministry at SFTS.

San Francisco Theological Seminary receives $2 million gift from shaw family
Shaw Institute expands interreligious chaplaincy to meet the growing need of ministry in a globalized world

Spiritual care, interreligious partnerships, an interdisciplinary curriculum, and a global reach are all part of the exciting vision for an expanded Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at San Francisco Theological Seminary. SFTS alumnus Rev. Dr. John Shaw’s $2 million gift will achieve this vision with the creation of the Shaw Institute for Spiritual Care and Interreligious Chaplaincy.

SFTS President, Rev. Dr. James L. McDonald spoke about the generous donation: “We are so grateful for this transformative gift! Through his own personal experience, John Shaw saw the power of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) to be life-changing for those engaged in ministry. He also saw in Professor Laurie Garrett-Cobbina a faithful person with extraordinary abilities and deep spiritual, social, and emotional wisdom, who could put his vision for cutting-edge theological education into practice. His gift will catalyze profound, powerful changes in the practice of ministry for clergy and others in service-oriented professions.”

Googling God: The innovative intersection of tech and ministry
Bringing the search for truth to the place that created the search

Faculty from the Center for Innovation in Ministry at the San Francisco Theological Seminary were invited to speak at a Google employee forum on Friday, September 1st. The Center’s Rev. Floyd Thompkins, and Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr and Rev. Annanda Barclay from the Jane Spahr Reconciliation Project, engaged in a panel discussion with the Christian Google Network on the subject of spirituality and the LGBTQ community.

The Google Christian Network is one of many affinity groups at Google that regularly host events. Over 50 employees participated in the forum, and a live stream was broadcast to all of Google’s campuses, from the Bay Area to New York City.

Launching the conversation, Rev. Thompkins described the role of the Bible in Christian life and practice: “Rooted in the Reformed tradition, all of life—including sexuality—is viewed through the lens of Jesus and the Law of Love.”

Rev. Barclay, Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, and member of the Spahr Steering Committee, added that spirituality and sexuality join with other aspects of individuality to create the whole person, created in the image of God. “The first two Commandments say it all: Love God, and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself. These beliefs are fundamental in seeing one another as HUMAN. That’s the starting point of our conversation.”

Rev. Dr. Spahr followed up with many moving and sacred stories of queer Christians, their families, friends and communities of faith. The panel discussion was followed by a lively time of questions/answers that covered the spectrum of Christian inquiry and theology.

Rev. Thompkins noted the appropriate timing of this forum: “Recently there have been many statements and actions in the world that have been divisive and destructive. We believe that given the opportunity to discuss these issues, most people will see that inclusion, tolerance and love are the way to heal this world.”

Rev. Thompkins is thrilled that Google will be posting a recording of the forum on their YouTube channel. “Many of Google’s products, such as its search engine and Hangouts, have created the theological and social spaces to reimagine our faith in light of our intellectual and social evolution of thought and community. It was especially heartening to see the ways in which the Google employees embraced and engaged the creative disruption that their culture of innovation has given to those of us who are people of faith.”

The Center for Innovation in Ministry welcomes the opportunity to return to Google, as well as visit other tech companies that seek to have discussions on diversity, innovation and tolerance. Those interested can contact Rev. Thompkins directly at or 415-451-2800.

Kaiser Permanente Grant helps launch mental healthcare program in Oakland and San Francisco
Referral network Will Link Ministries and Mental Healthcare Providers

The Center for Innovation in Ministry at San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) announced the launch of Project Trust, an exploratory initiative aiming to help bridge the faith community with mental health care providers.   Kaiser Permanente Northern California is supporting the program through a grant provided to the Alexander Montgomery Foundation.

“Trust is a major problem in the under-served populations that have suffered historical harms,” said Rev. Floyd Thompkins, Director of the Center for Innovation in Ministry at SFTS Thompkins. “We looked at African American, Latino, LGBTQ, and Japanese-American communities, and asked ‘Who are the brokers of trust?’ They are pastors and religious people, and also spiritual leaders—people we know and can work with to facilitate a conversation and a process that bridges trust.”

Thompkins is the principal author of the program and the project manager. He is joined by principle team leaders Dr. Peter Goldblum, Professor and Co-Director at the Center for LGBTQ Evidence-based Applied Research at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology at Palo Alto University; and Rev. Dr. D. Mark Wilson, Assistant Professor of Congregational Leadership at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. The project evaluator is Dr. Amanda Houston-Hamilton, Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.

“This investment is part of our overall commitment to improving mental health in our communities,” said Yener Balan, MD, FAPA, executive director of Behavioral Health in Kaiser Permanente in northern California.  “This investment in Project Trust is the kind of support that meets people where they’re at, so they can truly heal and lead healthy lives.”

More information at

Union Presbyterian Seminary

Tim Moore called to Union Seminary as director of donor development

The Rev. Dr. Tim Moore has been called to Union Presbyterian Seminary as director of donor development. He will work out of the school’s Charlotte, North Carolina, campus.

An ordained United Methodist minister, Moore received a Doctor of Ministry from Hood Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity from Duke University, a Master of Letters from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and a Bachelor of Science in Religion and Philosophy from Greensboro College.

Moore has served local congregations and campus ministries in the mid-Atlantic and worked in administrative positions at the denominational level of the United Methodist Church. Over the past 20 years, he has been a professor, academic and administrative deans, and college chaplain and campus minister. Most recently, Moore served as a dean and campus coordinator for Pfeiffer University’s Charlotte campus.

“My passion is connecting the church and the academy with the world,” Moore said. “I have known about and admired Union for years and am excited about working at the intersection of academia, the church, and the world. I see Union as vitally committed to helping people live out their own passion for ministry and service.”

He cites several examples of Union’s commitment to “being nimble and forward-leaning as it addresses the needs of the church and the world in the 21st century.” Among those examples are the seminary’s Leadership Institute and its curriculum for Christian education as a resource for the church worldwide.

“Union is perfectly positioned because of its size and multiple campuses to be innovative, creative, and greatly relevant,” he said.

“We are absolutely delighted to have Moore join our team,” said Vice President for Advancement Richard Wong. “He brings an extraordinary range of experience across all aspects of the church and the university which enables him to tell Union’s story with clarity and power and to build strong relationships on Union’s behalf.”

Moore describes himself as a native of southern Appalachia. He was born and raised in a town of approximately 10,000 people two hours southwest of Asheville named Cullowhee. His wife, Amy, is also an ordained United Methodist minister. They have an 11-year-old daughter.

Union president receives humanitarian award

Union Presbyterian Seminary President and Professor of New Testament Brian K. Blount received a Humanitarian Award from the Richmond chapter of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. The honor is presented to individuals and organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to the promotion of respect and understanding among people of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.

President Blount is one of five honorees who received the award at a ceremony October 23, 2017. They included:

  • Susan W. Adolf, Vice President, Saxon Shoes
  • William A. Harrison Jr., President and Executive Director, Diversity Richmond
  • Gail L. Letts, Virginia Market President, First Tennessee Bank
  • E. Ayn Welleford, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Gerontology, Virginia Commonwealth University

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities works with schools, businesses, and communities to achieve success by addressing prejudices, in all forms, to improve academic achievement, increase workplace productivity, and enhance local trust.

Union recognized for superior fundraising performance

Union Presbyterian Seminary is a recipient of the 2017 CASE Education Fundraising Award, one of 47 educational institutions in the U.S. and the only seminary to receive the honor for superior fundraising performance.

“It is a recognition for the wonderful support from our alumni, donors, campaign cabinet, churches, trustees, faculty, staff, and volunteers who made funding the important mission of Union possible,” said Vice President for Advancement Richard Wong. “It is through the hard work of our Advancement team and by the grace of God that Union is given this honor.”

Each year since 1959, CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) and its predecessor organizations have recognized exceptional development programs.

The awards program recognizes overall performance and overall improvement in educational fundraising programs based on data submitted to the Council for Aid to Education’s (CAE) Voluntary Support of Education survey. The survey is conducted annually by CAE and co-sponsored by CASE.

A panel of volunteer judges selects winners based on a number of factors, including:  Pattern of growth in total support (or adjusted total support if appropriate), evaluation of what contributed to the total support figure, overall breadth in program areas, pattern of growth in each program area, pattern of donor growth among alumni donors and other individual donors, impact of the 12 largest gifts on total support, total support in relation to the alumni base, and type of institution.

Judges use those factors to recognize institutions that show solid program growth, breadth in the base of support and other indications of a mature, well-maintained program. Among the winners this year are Harvard University, University of Virginia, Virginia Military Institute, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Davidson College.

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