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Long before the pandemic and the social upheaval of 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, the church had been preparing and mentoring leaders who could lead communities in faithful means of protest. The New Poor People’s Campaign, co-chaired by Presbyterian pastor the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Disciples of Christ pastor the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, is one such visible and contemporary example of this work.
“We started our curriculum discussions asking what kind of person do we want to graduate,” said the Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lapsley, Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary.
That sort of design thinking has led to curriculum innovations across Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) theological institutions including Columbia Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Union Presbyterian Seminary.
Once upon a time, theological institutions were seen as stewards of self-sufficiency. Aside from a visiting professor now and then, tenured faculty formed the core of the identity and mission of most seminaries. Students sought out specific professors as mentors and advisers. Aside from denominational affiliation, a school’s internal prowess in missiology, homiletics, liturgy, music, pastoral counseling or evangelism was often the main draw for new students.
Since 1979, a beloved annual conference has helped minority theology students find affirmation, friendship and mutual support.
Five panelists brought heart, soul and hard-earned wisdom last week to a Union Presbyterian Seminary webinar called “When Home is a Dangerous Place: Breonna Taylor and American Domestic Terror.”
An event millions of Americans are about to face — the return to in-person education, and the impact that race, faith and COVID-19 are having to shape the education experience for students, parents, educators and other school staff — were the subjects of an hour-long panel discussion last week sponsored by Union Presbyterian Seminary.
In a session titled Caring for your Soul, the Rev. Gloria Mencer, interim associate pastor for pastoral care and outreach at New Providence Presbyterian Church in Maryville, Tennessee, reminded participants during last month’s Seminarians of Color Conference that it is important that as pastors they learn to care for their own souls.
In 1996, the year after I graduated from seminary, presbyteries in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ordained 408 new ministers of Word and sacrament. Many of them continue to serve and lead in the PC(USA) two decades later in critical ways. In 2016, the PC(USA) ordained about half (47 percent) of the number we did in 1996, with only 214 ordained. While we have fewer congregations in 2016 than 1996, it is only 17 percent less, not 47 percent! The need for qualified ministers of Word and sacrament will increase as Baby Boomer generation pastors continue to retire over the next decade or so. The median age of a Presbyterian minister in 2017 was over 60 years old. The PC(USA) pastorate mirrors the demographics of about 20 mainline denominations in the U.S.
Growing up in South Africa, Bobby Musengwa couldn’t imagine coming to America to attend seminary. The path simply wasn’t visible to him — and he couldn’t imagine serving as a pastor. But it was his uncle’s friendship with Heath Rada, who later served as moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014), that brought this possibility to light for him — and the mentoring community of professors, pastors, family and friends reinforced Musengwa’s call.
McCormick Theological Seminary announced today that Interim President David H. Crawford has been asked to serve as its eleventh President by its Board of Trustees.