In keeping with its commitment to racial-ethnic dialogue and multiculturalism, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary hosted a seminar entitled “Beyond Black and White: What will it mean to be Racial-Ethnic in the PC(USA)?” on Dec. 3.

The conversation was led by the Rev. Mark Lomax and the Rev. Jin Kim and was moderated by the Rev. Margaret Aymer — all three leaders of the PC(USA)’s racial-ethnic discourse. In their conversation, the leaders challenged the audience of seminarians from both Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary and Columbia Theological Seminary to know their own story, since it is from one’s own story that creation is experienced, and it is the springboard for defining the new reality which God seems to be ushering in.

They also elucidated that much of the work of racial-ethnic leaders is about liberation, and liberation must be understood as an ongoing process. At times it is more productive to be less reactionary, and be more self-determining, always allowing the dialogue to shape us, they agreed.

Leaders in the Church are not called to build organizations called churches, they continued, but are called to follow Christ. Therefore, people of color need to re-imagine their service, their community and their context. Feelings of superiority and inferiority are equally false delusions, and hinder seeing God in other human beings who may be radically different.

CHICAGO — LEAD 2011: A Firm Foundation in the Midst of Chaos, scheduled for March 5 at First Presbyterian Church in Glen Ellyn, Ill., is uniting Chicago area Presbyterians for a full day of practical training designed to help clergy and lay leaders address a wide range of contemporary issues facing large and small congregations.

A partnership between McCormick Theological Seminary and the Presbytery of Chicago, the  all-day event will feature several faculty and alumni/ae of McCormick leading workshops ranging from a survey of social networking to “going green,” from financial management to interfaith outreach, and from spiritual formation for children to how churches can be resources for job seekers.

The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), will be leading morning worship and two workshops. His morning workshop is entitled, “Institutional Fluidity and the Nature of Church Leadership in the Future,” and in the afternoon he will co-lead “Embracing Technology for Ministry” with McCormick alumnus Mark Schimmelpfenig (Class of 2009).

Other workshop leaders are McCormick President Cynthia Campbell; the Rev. Barbara Bundick (Class of 1990); the Rev. Mary Morrison (Class of 1998); the Rev. Jeff Japinga (Class of 2005), associate dean of the Doctor of Ministry program; the Rev. Eddie Knox (Class of 1985); the Rev. James Shiflett (Class of 1953) and the Rev. Charles Yopst (Class of 1993); Elder Nancy Dolan, a McCormick student; the Rev. Eric Heinekamp (Class of 2009); the Rev. Linda Wygant (Class of 2006) and student Abbie Mohaupt; Ted Hiebert, professor of Old Testament; Ken Sawyer, associate professor of church history; and the Rev. Warren Wiggins (Class of 1979).

For more information, contact Grayson Van Camp by phone at 773/947-6283 or by email.

RICHMOND, Va. — Union Presbyterian Seminary has received $601,150 from the Lilly Endowment to support a new educational model that gathers students within small cohort communities from the moment of their admission to the time of their matriculation and beyond. The program is called the Communities of Learning Pre-matriculation Initiative:

“This grant will enable us to begin the vocational formation for ministry as soon as our students are formally accepted into a degree program,” says seminary president Brian Blount. “Union Presbyterian Seminary looks forward to implementing this initiative and fulfilling its potential for assuring readiness and sustained success of our students and graduates for service in congregational life and in the world.”   

A cohort will consist of ten students, two faculty advisors, a spiritual advisor, and an alumnus/a mentor. Using current technologies students will be introduced to their counterparts and advisors within their cohort/learning community.

Building community using an online tool will allow admitted students to have real-time conversations across the Internet while seeing one another and engaging one another on topics designed by the seminary curriculum and facilitated by a team of academic, spiritual, and alumni/ae advisors.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has elected Melissa Wiginton to become the seminary's vice-president for education beyond the walls. In this newly created position she will be responsible for re-envisioning and reinvigorating the educational programs that extend beyond Austin Seminary's traditional degree programs.           

“In circles considering the future of theological education in North America and the shape of the next generation of theological students, Melissa Wiginton is a primary voice and a creative thinker,” says Austin Seminary President Theodore J. Wardlaw. “It is a pleasure to welcome her to Austin Seminary, and to anticipate the difference she will make within, and beyond, our walls.”

Wiginton has been vice-president for ministry programs and planning at the Fund for Theological Education (FTE) since 2005. In that capacity she oversaw three major initiatives: Ministry Fellowship Programs, Calling Congregations, and Volunteers Exploring Vocation.

Wiginton graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She practiced law for 13 years before enrolling in seminary. In addition to her work at FTE she served on Duke University’s Pulpit and Pew Project and is a consultant for the Pathways to Seminary Project at Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education. She began her new work on Jan. 3.

DECATUR, Ga. — Columbia Theological Seminary will host its sixth annual Call Fair for Pastor Nominating Committees on the afternoon of Friday, March 4. The event is designed to help connect graduating seniors with congregations and organizations that have openings for leadership positions.

To register for the Call Fair, e-mail the completed registration form to Judy Graves, Office of Student Services, or send by fax to (404) 377-9696 by Tuesday, February 15, 2011. For more information about the Call Fair and student placement, contact Ms. Graves by email or call (404) 687-4523.

Information about students who are seeking a call is available on Columbia’s website at Student Placement and Internships/Placement. Profiles are listed according to the type of positions seniors are seeking after graduation in May. Information is updated continuously.

“The best way to interest students in open positions is to come to campus and share your needs with graduating seniors,” says Dean of Students John White. “We would love to see churches looking for pastors and associate pastors, as well as those looking for Christian educators, youth directors, and leaders in non-ordained positions.”