ATLANTA ― Johnson C. Smith Seminary, along with seven other seminaries (Candler, Columbia, Luther, McAfee, Princeton, Wake Forest, and Wesley), has been named by the Cousins Family Foundation of Atlanta as a partner in its new Community Engagement Fellows Program.

The program’s purpose is to mobilize seminary students to serve underprivileged neighborhoods and teach them how to be public theologians and socially engaged pastors. The Cousins Foundation awarded JCSTS a grant of $22,500 to provide stipends to student participants and help cover project costs.

The program expands on the work the Cousins Foundation has been doing in the East Lake Community of Atlanta for many years, and has been inspired in no small measure by the recent outstanding work there of JCSTS student Phil West.

PRINCETON, N.J. ― Gary S. Selby, professor of communication, and chair of the graduate program in communication at Pepperdine University, will give three lectures on preaching Oct. 29 and 30 at Princeton Theological Seminary.

The biennial lectureship ― the Donald Macleod/Short Hills Community Congregational Church Preaching Lectures ― was established by the Community Congregational Church of Short Hills, N.J., in honor of Donald Macleod, the seminary’s professor of preaching and worship from 1947-1988. 

The schedule and topics for the lectures is as follows:

  • October 29, 7:00 p.m. — “Performing Theology: Mimesis as Persuasion in Early Christian Discourse”
  • October 30, 3:00 p.m. “Remapping Worldviews: Contemporary Perspectives on Attitude Change”
  • October 30, 7:00 p.m. — “Capturing Souls: Preaching from a Poetic Consciousness”

Selby’s academic interests include relationship between rhetoric and racial conflicts, religion, protest and social movements, and the Civil Rights movement. He is the author of Martin Luther King and the Rhetoric of Freedom: The Exodus in America’s Struggle with Civil Rights, and has written numerous reviews and articles. 

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. ― Brian Brown, who earned his D.Min. from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1972, is contributing editor of the acclaimed new book, Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel and Quran.

For the first time, Brown and his colleagues present together the texts of the Torah, Gospels and Quran, inviting readers to examine the interdependence of the Scriptures that are central to Jews, Christians and Muslins. The foreword by Amir Hussain, editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, sets the tone by recognizing the value of understanding the differences as well as appreciating the mutual implication of stories that overlap in content and meaning.

Brown recently retired from ministry to focus on writing after serving three small Niagara Falls congregations for nearly a decade. Each church experienced growth and redevelopment, including one congregation that doubled its membership and another that built a new church sanctuary.

PITTSBURGH ― Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the Western Pennsylvania Family Center will co-sponsor “Understanding Religious Faith and Other ‘Supernatural’ Phenomena: A Family Systems Approach,” Oct. 19-20, 2012.

The 34th Pittsburgh Family Systems Conference and Symposium will be held at Pittsburgh Seminary. Randall Frost, director of training and research at Living Systems, Vancouver, British Columbia, will lead the conference.

In 1980, Murray Bowen proposed a systems concept of what he called “supernatural” phenomena. He suggested that the same kind of systems thinking that had led to the other eight concepts of Bowen family systems theory could be applied to a range of transcendental experiences that are “beyond Nature.” The conference will explore a range of these phenomena, seeking to understand them more fully from a family systems perspective and to recognize their influence on how people live their lives.

CHICAGO ― The Rev. Melody D. Knowles, associate professor of Hebrew scriptures at McCormick Theological Seminary, has been named vice-president of academic affairs and associate professor of Old Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary.

VTS is the preeminent Episcopal Seminary in the United States, located in Alexandria, Va. Knowles’s full-time appointment will begin on July 1, 2013.

She is the fourth member of McCormick’s faculty to be named dean of a seminary during the last several years following Dr. Deborah Mullen, dean of the faculty at Columbia Theological Seminary;  Luis Rivera, dean of the faculty at McCormick: and Jose Irizarry, academic dean of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, which is in covenant relationship with the PC(USA).

AUSTIN, Texas ― Allan Boesak, a renowned South African anti-apartheid activist, presented a lecture ― “Decisions, Conscience and Courage in the Struggle for Justice” ― in the chapel of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary on Oct. 5.

“The time for pious words is over,” Boesak said, drawing from the works of theologians Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Beyers Naude, a South African theologian and anti-apartheid activist, along with his own experiences.

Boesak is co-founder of the United Democratic Front, an umbrella organization that became the leading anti-apartheid organization in South Africa. He is a former pastor and preached at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 1984 General Assembly. He first received international attention in August, 1982, when the World Alliance of Reformed Churches General Council adopted his motion that apartheid be declared a heresy contrary to both the Gospel and the Reformed tradition.