The Rev. Philip W. Butin, who concludes eight years of service as president of San Francisco Theological Seminary on Jan. 31, and his wife, The Rev. Jan Butin, have accepted a call to serve as co-pastors of the First United Presbyterian Church of Fayetteville, Ark.

A farewell reception in the Butins’ honor is scheduled for Feb. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Alexander Hall on the San Anselmo campus of SFTS.

The Butins are scheduled to begin serving First United Presbyterian Church on March 1.

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Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School has announced that the Rev. Gay L. Byron, a Presbyterian clergywoman, has been appointed to serve as interim dean of the Black Church Studies Program on a part-time basis. Byron will serve in this capacity until Dec. 31, 2010. The appointment is effective immediately.      
In announcing the appointment, seminary President Eugene C. Bay stated, “While the school continues its efforts to endow the Martin Luther King Jr. Endowed Chair for Social Justice and Black Church Studies, this appointment signals a new beginning. Dr. Byron’s passion, commitment to scholarship and generous spirit will begin the process of repositioning the program so that it reflects the needs of the contemporary church and contributes to the ministerial preparation of all students enrolled at the Divinity School.”

Byron joined the Divinity School in 1998 as a member of the faculty and serves as an associate professor of New Testament theology. She also serves as the Baptist Missionary Training School professor of New Testament and Christian origins. In her new position — she will continue to serve on the CRCDS faculty — Byron will work to develop and recommend new academic programming for the Black Church Studies Program while collaborating with the African-American students enrolled at the Divinity School. 

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After a 30-year teaching career at three Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminaries, the Rev. J. Frederick “Fred” Holper has announced plans to retire from McCormick Theological Seminary at the conclusion of the 2009-2010 academic year.

Called “the cornerstone of McCormick’s preaching and worship curriculum,” Holper taught at McCormick from 1982-1985 and rejoined the faculty in 1998. He also taught at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary-Presbyterian School of Christian Education.  

Holper began his professional career as a journalist with the Chicago Tribune and then the Milwaukee Reporter. He earned his M.Div. from McCormick in 1977. He got his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in theology from the University of Notre Dame. Prior to his academic career, Holper served pastorates in Chicago and Orland Park, Ill., and in South Bend, Ind.
A frequent lecturer at academic conferences and a workshop leader at national Christian education events, Holper has published articles appearing in Call to Worship, Reformed Liturgy and Music, Focus, Interpretation, As I See It Today, and Insights. He also contributed chapters on early ordination practices for The Ministries of Worship and Beyond Establishment: Protestant Identity in a Post-Protestant Age.

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The Rev. Jack K. Bennett, 81, an honorably retired member of Mission Presbytery who served the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for more than 50 years, died Jan. 21 in New Braunfels, Texas. 

Ordained to ministry in 1958 following his graduation from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Bennett served pastorates in Homer, La., and Galveston and Corpus Christi, Texas. During the late 1960s he served as associate for evangelism and new church development for Brazos (now New Covenant) Presbytery, planting several new churches throughout East Texas.

During the 1980s, Bennett was chair of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Missions, working primarily in Mexico, and Central and South America. In 1983, Jack was awarded the ASA (Austin Seminary Association) Award for Service.

Following his “retirement” in 1993, Bennett served interim pastorates in El Dorado, Ark.; Longview, Texas; Shreveport, La.; Houston; McAllen, Texas; and Menard, Texas. He was preceded in death by his wife of more than 50 years, Liz, and is survived by five daughters and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Thomas Dwight Linton Sr., 82, of Rock Hill, S.C. — a missionary to Korea for the former Presbyterian Church in the United States for 25 years, died Jan. 11.

Linton, a third-generation Presbyterian missionary, was born in Korea in 1927 and returned there with his wife, Marjory, in 1953. He worked for many years planting churches in the rural areas around Kwangju and later served as president and principal of Honam Theological University and Seminary. 

A memorial service was held Jan. 18 at Chestnut Mountain Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) in Flowery Branch, Ga.