Lee Hinson-Hasty is Senior Director for Theological Education Funds Development at the Presbyterian Foundation of the PC (U.S.A.). Through his work Lee hopes to capture and share a more expansive view of theological education, of church leadership and of vocational discernment as he sees through the eyes of some exciting Presbyterians in and related to PC(U.S.A.) seminaries.
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DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson: nine human beings, children of God, African American, lost forever when they were shot the evening of Wednesday, June 17th during a Bible study being held at Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. These losses are yet another reminder in this a dreadful season of hate crimes that #BlackLivesMatter. I pray we remember and learn from the response of Myra Thompson’s family and others to these murders. They forgave the alleged murderer. They advised him to repent. I am convinced that Mother Emanual AME Church shaped them each so beautifully and for that, I give thanks. The nine were from families formed by their faith, committed to learning more, and able to think and act theologically even in the midst of an unimaginable traumatic and heinous events.
As I have learned more about this congregation over the last week, the merciful response of the Thompson family seems less surprising. Some commentators have noted that dozens of other churches could have been hit that night, but it was this one, the oldest African American congregation south of Baltimore. For almost two centuries, this congregation has been home to everything from anti-slavery activism to the civil rights fight to a current pastor who served as a state senator. Unfortunately, members of this congregation are all too familiar with responding faithfully to violence based on racism.
On Wednesday nights at Second, like Emanual, there is a Bible Study. For almost two decades and less than two blocks away, women at Second have gathered to tend to their theological education, too. Both studies will continue, I understand. They, like Emanual, will renew safety protocols but as Cress Darwin, the pastor of Second, said in his sermon last Sunday, they “will not… refuse entry to people who are seeking community in the fellowship of the living God.” When they see Emanual AME, and they have and can see their church building, I imagine they will never forget what took place on June, 17, 2015. Every Wednesday night, I expect they will remember those events and be reminded, I pray, of their faith.
View from Second PCUSA, Charleston, SC to Emanual AME and Emanual AME of Second PCUSA.
Second PC(USA) in Charleston, SC has a unique Presbyterian perspective on racism and the events of June 17th. It seems that they are lamenting, and so I invite us all to lament. But they have already been learning from their neighbors that a phoenix of hope can arise from the ash heap of death and lament.
We can all give thanks for those who think, believe, and act theologically. Congregations that think, believe, and act theologically matter. Pastors and leaders of those congregations that do it matter. Going to and inviting people to Bible Study and church events still matters. Each time they do, and we do this, it makes a statement to the world about God's power of love and grace. We can give thanks for those who formed Clementa Pinckney and Cress Darwin and all their parishioners including their theological schools.
Giving thanks for those who think, believe and act theologically,
Prayer for Emanual AME from African American Seminary Deans and Presidents
January 26, 2015 A Response from the Seminary Presidents of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
For the last twenty years, the Committee on Theological Education (COTE), the General Assembly, and PCUSA seminaries sought to energize giving to theological education in the PCUSA. Each of these entities has consistently called on the Church to prioritize fundraising as a lever to launch new leaders into ministry and strengthen congregations in general and the PCUSA in particular. Actions of the 220th and 221st General Assemblies (2012 & 2014) resulted in the shift of the Theological Education Fund (TEF) to another PC(USA) national agency.
wonder, if midwifery as a metaphor frames what we are doing together as a the Committee on Theological Education, TEF Seminary Support Network, community in theological education in the PC(USA), and the PC(USA) more broadly? Could we midwife theological schools, theological educators, church leaders and church bodies who are giving birth to what’s next in theological education and the church?
Jeffrey Bullock, President of the University of Dubuque (UD) which includes the UD Theological Seminary, started a blog on leadership a few weeks ago. One of his first posts is about Wild Goose Christian Community, a Presbyterian worshiping community in Indian Valley, Virginia. A UDTS alum, Edwin Lacy founded this inspiring community of faith.
I welcome and thank Edwin David Aponte, Dean of the Faculty, and Professor of Christianity and Culture at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN as a guest blogger in an Advent series answering the question, What is coming and becoming in theological education?Read this post for more about this series.
When I told someone that I was asked to reflect on the future of theological education, I was asked, “Is there a future for theological education?” That is a reasonable question given that theological education in the United States is at a crossroads of relevancy and effectiveness to church and society.