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Seminary news

July 15, 2009

AUSTIN, TX — A memorial service was held June 25 for the Rev. Prescott Harrison Williams, professor emeritus of Old Testament languages and archaeology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Williams died June 18.

One of the longest-serving members of the Austin Seminary faculty, Williams arrived in 1959 and served in every capacity: as professor, dean (1966-1976), acting president (1971-1972), and president and dean (1972-1976). Following his tenure as president he continued his work in the classroom for many years. Williams was also a frequent guest lecturer and visiting professor at The University of Texas at Austin, teaching in the areas of art, archeology, biblical studies and the classics. Following his retirement from the Seminary in 1991, Williams continued to teach and advise at the Seminary as well as through programs in local congregations, Mo-Ranch, and The University of Texas' lifelong learning program, LAMP.

A native of Detroit, Williams was baptized by Reinhold Niebuhr and brought up in the Scovel (MI) Presbyterian Church. He graduated from Wheaton College and Princeton Theological Seminary. He earned his Ph.D. in ancient near eastern languages, history, and archeology from Johns Hopkins University. Williams was ordained by the Presbytery of Detroit in 1950 and served pastorates in Maryland before embarking on his academic career.

An authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, he penned numerous lectures and articles on what he considered the "unequalled importance of the Qumran literature." During his career he was actively involved in biblical research and archaeology, serving as acting annual professor at the American School of Oriental Research in Jordan in 1964-65; advising the Jordanian Department of Antiquities and training Jordanian archaeologists in their work in Amman, Qumran and Sabastiyah (biblical Samaria); and staffing archaeological expeditions to Schechem in Jordan in 1962, 1964, and 1966, which was believed to be the site of Abram's first stop in Canaan.  

Williams is survived by his wife, Jane, their children, Scott, Andy, and Peggie, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

PRINCETON, NJ — Princeton Theological Seminary has received a grant of $28,946, given to the William Albert and Eugenie Hummel Sullivan Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund, by the William A. and Eugenie H. Sullivan Trust of The Philadelphia Foundation. The scholarship endowment fund supports students who are preparing for ministry.

William A. Sullivan created a trust in 1924 to create a fund at The Philadelphia Foundation after he and his wife, Eugenie C. Sullivan, passed away.

The Sullivan fund is the oldest fund managed by The Philadelphia Foundation. The income has been distributed to Princeton Theological Seminary, Lankenau Hospital, Presbyterian University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Friend’s Hospital, House of the Merciful Saviour for Crippled Children, Inglis House, the Pennsylvania Industrial Home for Blind Women and the Edith R. Rudolphy Residence for the Blind.

Sullivan died in 1926. Mrs. Sullivan was unwell and spent some time in the Friends’ Hospital before building a house on the grounds there, where she died some years later.

LOUISVILLE — Choral directors of young singers in churches and church schools will have an opportunity, for the first time, to earn certification specific to their craft at the Choristers Guild Institute taking place at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

The Seminary, through their Lifelong Learning and Advanced Degrees program headed by the Rev. David R. Sawyer, will host the first of a three-summer certification program of the Choristers Guild, a Christian organization for leaders of children's choirs and youth choirs. The Choristers Guild Institute will take place July 26-31 on the seminary campus.

Although various certification programs exist for musicians serving in public schools, “there is no such program for those who direct children’s choirs in the church,” said Rebecca Thompson, director of the institute and founding director of the Los Angeles Children's Chorus, past Children's Chorus Mistress for the Los Angeles Music Center Opera Company, and former Associate Director of the Appalachian Children’s Chorus in West Virginia.

The certification program was designed and is being implemented with the assistance of funds provided by Lilly Endowment Inc. through a Worship Renewal Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

The Institute already is booked to capacity.

DECATUR , GA — Group project applications are being accepted through September 28 for participation in Columbia Theological Seminary’s “S3” (Sabbath, Study and Service) Project. S3 offers small, self-selected groups of clergy and other church professionals the opportunity to design and participate in learning projects that strengthen their practice of ministry. Groups will receive $500 per person to fund their self-directed group work. Participants must attend two retreats: Feb. 2-4, 2010, at the beginning of their year-long project and another at the conclusion in February 2011.  

The application procedure requires a group proposal and individual applications for each group member. Information and application materials are available online PDF icon or by contacting Sarah Erickson at (404) 687-4526 or by email. Groups will be notified of acceptance by October 16.

The S3 Project was launched in 2003 with funding from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., which has awarded the seminary a five-year grant of $648,863 to support continuation of the project. “Columbia’s S3 Project was one of the 64 original projects in the Lilly Endowment’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative,” reports Sarah Erickson, director of Lifelong Learning and S3 project coordinator. “We are delighted to receive the continuation grant and look forward to working with new groups in the coming years.”

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