RICHMOND, Va. — Union Theological Seminary-Presbyterian School of Christian Education — soon to be Union Presbyterian Seminary — has announced the hiring of Richard Wong as vice-president of institutional advancement. A Presbyterian elder, he joined the Union-PSCE staff on Jan. 4.

Most recently, Wong served as a nonprofit consultant and prior to that was chief executive officer for Gifts In Kind International in Alexandria, VA. In this role, he led and rebuilt the organization which, under his direction, facilitated $800 million in donations from corporations and was recognized by Forbes Magazine and Charity Navigator.

He will be responsible for overseeing the seminary’s giving programs as well as its new capital campaign.

Union-PSCE President Brian Blount said, “We feel Richard is a good match for our institution. His expertise in fund development as well as his understanding of the seminary’s mission to equip Christian leaders for ministry will serve him well in this role.  We are looking forward to his leadership.”

PRINCETON, N.J. — Seventeen Princeton Theological Seminary students flew to Israel on January 5 for a three-week travel course titled “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in Israel.” They will stay at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute outside of Jerusalem and will tour in and around Jerusalem, taking day or overnight trips to Bethlehem, Nazareth, Ramallah, Galilee, and Haifa.

Ellen Charry, associate professor of systematic theology at the Seminary, is teaching the course. “I am offering this class because all religious leaders need to understand these three religions on their own terms, and their interactions in today’s world,” she said. “The Middle East conflict is exceedingly complex and the news media do not supply sufficient nuance to help people make discerning judgments. Christian attitudes toward understanding the Arab-Israeli conflict need to be informed by the best and most comprehensive information possible.”

The students will hear lectures by Jewish, Muslim, and Christian university professors and authors on the situation faced by Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Israel, and the possibilities for their peaceful coexistence. Charry hopes that informal conversations will expose her students to both the interfaces and the points of tension among the three Abrahamic religious traditions.

The travel course is one of the January short-term courses in the seminary’s new curriculum. Also during January, Professor Richard Young is teaching a cross-cultural class in West Bengal, India, in Hindu-Christian Studies.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Rev. Jennifer Lord, associate professor of homiletics at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, has authored a new book titled Finding Language and Imagery: Words for Holy Speech  (Fortress Press, 2010, part of the Elements of Preaching series).

In the book she posits that because language shapes faith, preachers must be disciplined to find fresh words for sermons and to make good choices about their own words as well as those borrowed from others. The book presents tools and terms, along with writing exercises, and helps readers develop both understanding of language and skills to capture the religious imagination of listeners.

Lord served congregations in New York State before joining the seminary faculty in 2005. She holds a BA from Albion College, an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Theological Seminary will offer a three-part broadcast lecture this month on “Main Themes in Orthodoxy: How an Ancient Tradition Illumines our World.”

The 90-minute lectures by Edith M. Humphrey, professor of New Testament at the seminary, will take place three consecutive Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m EST — Jan. 13, 20, and 27. “Interested laypersons and clergy of all denominations are invited to explore the riches of Orthodoxy that so many of different backgrounds have found compelling, even in the 21st century Western world,” promotional material states.

With Internet technology at the seminary, participants at three locations will receive live feed of the broadcast from PTS. Satellite locations include Vance Presbyterian Church, Wheeling, W.V.; First Presbyterian Church, Bakerstown, Penn.; and Westminster College, New Wilmington, Penn.

Registration fee is $45 on campus and $35 off campus. Continuing Education units are available and certificates upon request. Participants at the off campus locations should register with the respective location. All others should register with the Office of Continuing Education at PTS by calling (412) 924-1345 or e-mailing.