RICHMOND, Va. — The Rev. Thomas White Currie, Jr. — a 1958 graduate of Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and the father of  Thomas W. Currie, the dean of the Charlotte campus of Union-PSCE —  has bequeathed a gift of $639,000 to the seminary through the Texas Presbyterian Foundation.

The purpose of his gift is to support theological education at the Charlotte campus in three ways:

  • Underwrite an annual lectureship in missions;
  • Contribute toward the funding of a New Testament scholar on the Charlotte campus who will engage in the study of Christian mission in the New Testament and beyond; and
  • Establish a mission study exchange travel seminar for students and faculty at both campuses of Union-PSCE and international students and faculty, especially at Reformed Theological Seminary at Debrecen, Hungary.

The Rev. Brian Blount, president of Union-PSCE, said Currie’s bequest “represents a gracious stewardship of love on behalf of theological education and will enable the seminary to achieve some of its key strategic goals for its Charlotte ministry.” 

Dean Currie added that his father “was passionately interested in the mission of the church and he thought that Union-PSCE was just the right place for that mission to be planted in the hearts and minds of future pastors and teachers so that it could bear fruit throughout their ministries.  He would be delighted that this gift will enable our seminary to broaden our offerings, enrich our program, and strengthen our students.”

DECATUR, Ga. — Columbia Theological Seminary is the site of the Mars exhibit in the Metro Atlanta Solar System (MASS) project, a scale model (1:150,000,000) of the solar system.

Designed to give viewers a perspective of the planets’ relative proximity to each other and the Sun, the project was created by Chris De Pree, a professor of astronomy and director of the Bradley Observatory at PC(USA)-related Agnes Scott College here. Other planets are on display throughout Atlanta.

The Sun is located at the college's observatory and planetarium, and Mercury is less than a quarter of a mile away at the college's campus center. Venus is located in the science wing of Decatur High School, just under a half-mile from Agnes Scott’s Sun.
Earth is just over a half a mile away at the Decatur Public Library. Mars is slightly less than a mile away, installed on the Columbia campus outside the lower level of the Harrington Center near the seminary library. Jupiter and Saturn, housed respectively at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, rest at about 3 miles and 6 miles from the sun.
Uranus is located at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, almost 12 miles from the Sun. Neptune, at Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs, GA is approximately 18 and a half miles away.
De Pree is the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Astronomy.

PRINCETON, N.J. — Princeton Theological Seminary is offering a fall film festival in conjunction with its course “Through a Glass, Darkly: The Biblical and Shakespearean Visions,” taught by Clifton Black, the seminary’s professor of biblical theology. The film festival is sponsored by the seminary’s Department of Biblical Studies.

The festival — airing on Mondays at 7:00 p.m. — features films by major directors and actors like Kenneth Branagh, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Sir John Gielgud. It began Sept. 28 with Richard II (1978), directed by David Giles and starring Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud, Charles Gray, Wendy Hiller and Jon Finch.

Upcoming offerings include:

  • October 19: The Merchant of Venice (2004), directed by Michael Radford and starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, and Lynn Collins.
  • November 9: Ran (1985), directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu, and Mieko Harada.
  • November 23: Hamlet (1996) [Part One], directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, Richard Briers, and Gérard Depardieu.
  • November 24: Hamlet (1996) [Part Two], directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Kate Winslet, Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams.

“Christian theology is, or should be, biblically based,” says Black, “and theology is considered reflection on what God is doing in the world. Shakespeare’s genius lay in crystallizing the stuff of our world with tension, insight, and poetry. The wedding of religion and politics, the freedom and limits of human will, the sense in suffering: To ponder his plays from a biblical platform is exhilarating.”

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has announced the retirement of Ismael Garcia, professor at Austin Seminary for more than 20 years. His retirement will come at the conclusion of his year-long sabbatical in July 2010.

Garcia, who joined the faculty in 1986, has specialized in the intersection of Christian ethics and issues of social justice, though his interests extend to family and medical ethics as well. A member of the United Church of Christ, he earned a B.A. from University of Puerto Rico, and an  M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Garcia served as the associate director for the 2002 Hispanic Summer Program, a two-week course for Hispanic students enrolled in theological seminaries and schools of religion around the country. Garcia was the long-time chair of the Austin faculty's standing committee on Program of Study, responsible for the on-going excellence of its teaching and learning.

Says seminary president the Rev. Theodore J. Wardlaw: “Ismael has made profound contributions to the field of Christian ethics — contributions that have benefited his academic guild, certainly, but also contributions that have produced strides in social justice and the empowerment of those on the margins. Because of the practical impacts of his witness and passions, this world is a better place. He leaves a huge imprint upon the life and work of Austin Seminary, and he will be greatly missed."

García has presented lectures in various settings, and is the author of many publications, including a monograph, King and the Critique of North American Conceptions of Justice. His latest books include Dignidad: Ethics Through Hispanic Eyes and Introducción a la Ética Cristiana. He has served as the editor and major contributor to Diccionario Ilustrado de Intérpretes de la Fe: Veinte Siglos do Pensamiento Cristiano (Spain, 2004).

LOUISVILLE — Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is teaming with Farmington Historical Plantation and Sullivan University to bring here Robert Ferré, the world’s most prolific maker of hand-made labyrinths, to teach others how to create this spiritual space and implement this practice into their own spiritual balance and symmetry.

The four-day biennial labyrinth conference, entitled “Seeking the Symmetry of the Soul,” will be held Oct. 26-30.

Ferré is president of Labyrinth Enterprises LLC. He has personally designed and built more than 1000 full-size walkable labyrinths, including canvas, permanent outdoor, and temporary versions, ranging from 12 feet to 104 feet in diameter. Author of several books on labyrinths and co-editor of the English edition of the great German compendium Through the Labyrinth by Hermann Kern, he is one of the founding members of the International Labyrinth Society.

Conference participants will discover the basics of sacred geometry and its application to labyrinths; classical and medieval labyrinth design principles; considerations for building permanent and temporary labyrinths; how to build a masking tape labyrinth in 15 minutes; principles for making your own contemporary design; tips on how to get a labyrinth for your ... (church, school, hospital); and networking time to discuss your labyrinth-making needs.

Participants will join Robert Ferré, who has announced his retirement next year, in constructing a brick path Chartres-style labyrinth on the grounds of Farmington Historical Plantation here.