ATLANTA ― Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary will celebrate its 145th Founders Day April 10-11 on its campus here. The theme of the event is “Integrating Faith and Education to Meet Current Social Needs.”

The opening convocation will be led by the Rev. Ron Peters, president of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), the consortium of Atlanta seminaries of which JCSTS is a part. The closing plenary lecture will be delivered by the Rev. Gary Charles, pastor of Atlanta’s Central Presbyterian Church.

Keynote speakers are Marsha Snulligan-Haney, ITC’s professor of missiology and religions of the world, speaking on “Deeper Shades of Purple: The Implications of Womanist Scholarship for an Emancipatory Urban Theological Education”; and Jeffrey L. Tribble Sr., associate professor of ministry at Columbia Theological Seminary in nearby Decatur, Ga.

The event will also include workshops on such topics as HIV/AIDS, faith and advocacy, “education and the prison pipeline” and mission: home and abroad. 

AUSTIN, Texas ― The Revs. Ruben Armendáriz and  Judith Henderson have been named the 2012 Award for Service recipients by the Austin Seminary Association of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The outstanding alumni/ae award is given each year for outstanding dedication and service to the church and community.

Armendáriz served in the U.S. Navy before earning a B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin and then an M.Div. from Austin Seminary in 1961. After seminary, he served as the organizing pastor of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Dallas, then as the Priest-in-Charge at St. Martins Episcopal Church in Corpus Christi. Ruben was also on the staff of Presbytery Del Salvador in Corpus Christi, as well as the executive director of Hispanic American Institute in Austin.

He has taught at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin; Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, where he served from 1975-1991. Armendariz returned to Texas in 1991 to pastor Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, where he retired. He is currently a church development consultant for San Antonio-based Mission Presbytery.

Henderson, a 1997 graduate of Austin Seminary, served in both installed and interim pastor positions after graduation. Now honorably retired, she still preaches and teaches, and serves on Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry.

In 2006, Henderson began teaching at the University of Livingstonia in Malawi. In 2008, she was installed as associate pastor of Livingstonia Mission Station Church and moderates a partnership between the university and Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery.

DECATUR, Ga. ―  With its distinctive glass and steel tower, the new Vernon S. Broyles Jr. Leadership Center at Columbia Theological Seminary serves as a welcoming portal to a global community of learning and Christian leadership formation. 

On March 7 the seminary dedicated the center and honor the memory of Broyles, who served for many years as pastor of North Avenue Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, where he was also a prominent civic leader and advocate for social justice. 

Construction of the 30,000-square-foot Broyles Leadership Center incorporates the 80-year-old Simons-Law building, formerly a student residence hall, which has been renovated for small classroom space, faculty offices, study areas, the seminary bookstore, and an education technology center. New construction includes two classroom wings. One contains three 75-seat classrooms which have a mix of fixed and flexible seating and are equipped with the latest education technology. The second wing has two 40-seat classrooms.

The center is extraordinarily “green.” In addition to recycling more than 90 percent of the original Simons-Law structure, recycled and regional construction materials were used, and construction waste was recycled and processed off-site, then reused to the greatest extent possible. The shingles, for example, are made from post-production diaper manufacturing waste.

Bricks, steel, and carpet (also made from recycled materials) are from Georgia sources. Four types of flooring are used in the center. That in the tower was milled locally from a mature oak that stood at the end of Simons-Law. The wood flooring everywhere else is made from bamboo, a grass that re-grows rapidly. The carpet is made from recycled material, and the linoleum is made from linseed oil, jute, and cork—all natural materials.

The center uses 40 percent less energy than a typically designed building. A high-efficiency variable refrigerant system transfers waste heat or cooling from spaces to provide the needed heating or cooling for other spaces before reconditioning the air with electricity. To improve energy efficiency, lighting includes motion sensor switching, energy efficient lamps. Water efficiencies include rainwater collection for landscape irrigation, and water saving plumbing fixtures.

LOUISVILLE ― Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary will host an autograph party April 26 for Debra J. Mumford to celebrate her new book, Exploring Prosperity Preaching: Biblical Health, Wealth and Wisdom.

The book examines the appeal of prosperity preaching ― a theology which claims that financial wealth and good physical health are the will of God for all Christians and that strong faith, positive thinking, and monetary donations to Christian ministries will increase one's material wealth.

The public event will include remarks about the book by faculty colleagues, and the book will be available for purchase in the seminary bookstore.

To be released in Spring 2012 by Judson Press, Exploring Prosperity Preaching is the culmination of several years of research that began during Mumford’s doctoral studies. While she affirms some of the gifts prosperity preaching offers to Christendom in general, she also highlights concerns such as its doctrine of divine favor; role in the 2008 housing crisis; denial of Jesus’ poverty; refutation of systemic racism; and complete negation of the systemic nature of injustice.

Mumford is associate professor of homiletics at Louisville Seminary, where she has been teaching since 2007. She is an ordained minister in the American Baptist Church and also serves as associate dean for student academic affairs at the seminary.

RICHMOND, Va. ― Union Presbyterian Seminary (UPS) was recognized March 1 by the State of Virginia General Assembly for 200 years of service to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the church at large.  

Senator Donald McEachin delivered a proclamation to the floor of Virginia’s state legislature where UPS President Brian K. Blount and his wife, Sharon, were introduced.
In addition, Mayor Dwight C. Jones of Richmond has issued a proclamation on behalf of the City of Richmond, recognizing Union Presbyterian’s “dedication to education and ministry.”
“As president, on behalf of the entire seminary community, I am delighted that the city and state have acknowledged the vital role that Union Presbyterian Seminary has played in the life of the City of Richmond and the State of Virginia,” says Blount.

Both honors come in the midst of a yearlong bicentennial celebration which began in September 2011 with convocation ceremonies at Hampden Sydney College, where the seminary originated in 1812. Other highlights to the calendar include community-wide worship services, lectures, reunion gatherings and most recently the Trailblazers Award Ceremony and Banquet which recognized African American alums for their groundbreaking ministries.

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. ― The Muilenburg-Koenig History of Religion Seminar at San Francisco Theological Seminary Feb. 24-25 brought together 17 scholars for an intense two-day exchange of ideas around the theme “Bodies in Space and Time.”

The goal of the workshop was to create conversations over a wide array of fields relevant to the study of the Bible and theology in their broadest historical and cultural contexts, including Greek and Roman archeology, Roman history, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, the New Testament, Hebrew Bible, rabbinics, colonial history, early Christian art and architecture, literary criticism, medieval history, Byzantine art history, Dutch Renaissance art, liturgical studies, queer theory, and theology.

The workshop considered bodies as conditions of collective or individual experience, the manner in which bodies and spaces are constructed in particular historical and cultural situations, and the corporeal and spatial dimensions of religious rites, beliefs, sites, and practices, especially in the contexts of the Ancient Near East and Greek and Roman antiquity, medieval and early modern Europe, Africa and the African Diaspora, and America and Europe today. 

Other contributions explored clerical vestments, the baptism of aborted fetuses in colonial Guatemala, Augustine and slavery, the poetic figure of race in William Blake, and much more.

The seminar is funded by a gift from the Rev. Robert Koenig (SFTS Class of 1969) in memory of the distinguished scholar, the late James Muilenburg, Professor of Old Testament at the SFTS.

PRINCETON, N.J. ― On Jan. 14, Princeton Theological Seminary Senior Lisa Baumert competed in the Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston, Texas. The race was to determine the three women who would represent the United States in the 2012 Olympic Games in London

Although Baumert didn’t qualify for the Olympics (223 women runners competed in the trials), she says that the experience of competing with all the best long-distance runners in the country “left [her] more excited and inspired to continue to train.”

Baumert grew up in an athletic family in Fremont, Neb. and began running competitively at age 12. She ran in high school and at Wheaton College in Illinois, where she earned all-American honors in 2007.

When she came to Princeton Seminary, a friend put her in touch with the head coach of the women’s track team at Princeton University, and she began working as an assistant coach for the women’s track and cross country teams, which has given her the opportunity, she says, to improve and train at a more competitive level.

Although her schedule can sometimes be overwhelming, Baumert says running “keeps me sane and helps to balance out my studies,” while providing an outlet for stress. “All along the way, the thing that has kept me going is the team,” says Lisa, who has treasured the support and friendships she has found while running alongside her teammates throughout the years.

Running has not only provided Lisa with unexpected opportunities for ministry, but it has also been an important part of her own spiritual journey. When asked if her running and ministry will intersect in the future, she says that she wouldn’t be surprised if that happened. For Lisa, “running is a spiritual thing—it’s everything I have, all of the emotional, spiritual, physical strength that I have.” Similarly, her call to ministry is also “deeply caught up in who [she] is.” Looking forward to Seminary graduation in May 2012, Lisa aims to find a job in the nonprofit sector, while seeking out further opportunities to train with a team.