AUSTIN, Texas ― Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has received approval from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) to offer the Master of Arts in Ministry Practice (MAMP), beginning in fall of 2012. This new degree equips individuals for general pastoral leadership in two years of full-time study, and continues Austin Seminary’s tradition of strong theological education for the practice of ministry.

“We are excited to begin offering this new degree program, as it increases the options that students have for vocational preparation at Austin Seminary,” Academic Dean Allan H. Cole Jr. said. “With its focus on the practice of ministry, coupled with the ability to complete the course of study in two years, the MAMP will allow the Seminary to resource additional communities of learners and leaders called to ministry.”

The MAMP degree program requires coursework in biblical studies, theology and history, and the ministry arts (preaching, worship, pastoral care, Christian education, leadership and administration, and mission and evangelism).
Other degrees Austin Seminary offers are the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS), Doctor of Ministry (DMin), and a dual MDiv/MSSW with the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.

PRINCETON, N.J. ― Princeton Theological Seminary’s bicentennial celebration began with two worship services in Miller Chapel on March 22 at 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. To begin each service, the bell in the cupola of Alexander Hall, the Seminary’s first building (1815), was run 200 times, once for every year of the institution’s life.

The newly commissioned text of the seminary’s bicentennial hymn was unveiled at the services. The preacher was the Rev. Robert W. Bohl, chair of the Princeton Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, former pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, and Princeton Theological Seminary graduate, Class of 1961. Iain Torrance, president of Princeton Theological Seminary and professor of patristics, was the Eucharistic presider. 

The bicentennial worship services initiated a seven-month celebration in honor of the seminary’s 200 years of service and scholarship. As part of the celebration, several conferences, concerts, and events are planned throughout the year. The complete schedule of events is on the seminary’s Web site.

DUBUQUE, Iowa ― The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary will host alumni/ae, friends, faculty, staff and students for lectures, worship, and fellowship from April 10-12.

The 2012 Woods Lecturer is the Rev. Lester Ruth, research professor of Christian worship at Duke Divinity School.  A historian of Christian worship with particular interests in the early church and the last 250 years, Ruth is passionate about enriching the worship life of current congregations, regardless of style. 

Ruth is a member of the Charles Wesley Society, of which he is the newly-selected president.  He has served as a pastor for the three different appointments in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

His topic, Perhaps Contemporary Music is Not That Contemporary: Reflections on Popular Worship Music in the Last 200 Years, will be presented in two lectures: Tuesday, April 10, at 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday, April 11, at 11:00 a.m. in Blades Chapel. 

The 2012 Berger Lecturer is the Rev. James Edwards, professor of theology at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. He will speak on The Hebrew Gospel: the Jewish Ancestor in the Gentile-Christian Family Tree on Wednesday, April 11 at 7:00 p.m. in Blades Chapel and on The Barmen Declaration and the Fall of the Wall on Thursday, April 12 at 11:00 a.m. in Blades Chapel.

All lectures are open to the public.

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. ― San Francisco Theological Seminary will hold its annual alumni reunion and T.V. Moore and Faith and the Common Good lectures April 19-21. This year the class of 1987 will celebrate its 25th reunion and the class of 1962 will celebrate its 50th reunion. Also, plans are set for a joint reunion by the classes of 1961, 1962 and 1963.

The T.V. Moore Lectures will be delivered by the Rev. Philip Wickeri and the Rev. James Noel on the theme “Varieties of Christian Experience in a Diverse World .”

Wickeri ― a former missionary to China who served as professor of evangelism and mission at SFTS from 1998-2009 ― is currently advisor to the Anglican Archbishop of Hong Kong on theological and historical studies, teaches at the Ming Hua Theological College, is honorary chaplain at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong and is adjunct professor of  interdisciplinary studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. He will speak Thursday, April 19 at 10:15 a.m. on “Unreconciled Diversity:  Conflict and Contestation in World Christianity,” and on Friday April 20 at 10:15 a.m. on “The Diversity of Christian Practice in World Christianity.”

Noel, who is professor of American religion and African American Christianity at SFTS, is also an accomplished painter, renowned preacher and pastor. He will lecture Thursday, April 19 at 2:30 p.m. on “The Colonial Structures of Religious Difference,” and on Friday, April 20 at 2:00 p.m. on “The Phenomenology of Spirit in the Global Political Economy.”

The 2012 Faith & the Common Good Lecture ― April 19 at 7:15 p.m. ― will be delivered by David Chiu, who has served two terms as president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. Raised in Boston, Chiu has a long and distinguished career as a public servant in the Bay Area and in Washington, D.C.

The annual lecture, endowed by the Rev. John S. Hadsell, an SFTS alum and professor emeritus, and his late wife Virginia, always features a community leader whose vocational lives are informed by their practical faith.

 LOUISVILLE ― Barbara D. Savage ― winner of the 2012 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for her 2008 book Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion ― will present a lecture on her award-winning book at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary on April 11 at 7:00 p.m. in Caldwell Chapel.

 Savage is professor of history and American social thought at the University of Pennsylvania.

 The seminary jointly presents the Grawemeyer Award in Religion ― which includes a $100,000 cash prize ― with the University of Louisville. Savage’s book, selected from among 66 nominated works, introduces important new perspectives on the study of black religion and the political role of African American churches.

 “Dr. Savage explains why it is misleading to speak of ‘the black church’ given the enormous diversity among African American congregations. She also challenges the popular belief that black churches have been prophetic and politically active throughout history, which has retrojected an image from the post-Civil Rights era onto earlier decades,” said award director Susan R. Garrett, professor of New Testament studies and dean-elect at the eminary.

In light of this understanding, “the crucial role of the black churches in the Civil Rights movement was not inevitable, but something of a miracle,” added Garrett.

RICHMOND, Va. ― Worship Matters: A Study for Congregations by Jane Rogers Vann, professor emerita of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary, has been selected as one of 2011’s top ten books for parish ministry.

The annual selections are made by the Academy of Parish Clergy.

In her book, published by Westminster/John Knox Press, Vann attempts to tear down the barrier between pulpit and pew by examining the various elements of worship. “Loaded with practical advice, this is an ideal volume for all who are yearning to be fully engaged in worship,” notes a press release announcing the award.

Edward P. Wimberly, professor of pastoral care at Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta, will present two lectures April 26 on the theme “No Shame in Wesley’s Gospel: A 21st Century Pastoral Theology.”  The lectures include “No Shame in Wesley’s Gospel: The Shame Factor” at 2:00 p.m. and “Public Theology, Civil Rights, and the Wesleyan Spirit” at 3:45 p.m.

The Henderson Lectures on April 27 will feature keynoter R. Gustav Niebuhr, associate professor in religion and the media at Syracuse University. He will address the theme “The Church and the News Media: A Difficult, Necessary, and Inseparable Relationship.” Lectures include “Bound Together by the First Amendment” at 11:00 a.m., “The Problem of Differing Directions in Storytelling” at 2:00 p.m., and “Common Challenges in Contemporary Culture” at 4:00 p.m.

DECATUR, Ga. ― “Standing in Awe: Reclaiming Wonder in Life and Ministry” ― the annual spring colloquium sponsored by Columbia Theological Seminary, will take place April 16-18.

The colloquium is led by seminary faculty, with William P. Brown, professor of Old Testament, serving as keynote speaker this year. General Assembly Moderator Cynthia Bolbach is also scheduled to attend. 

The colloquium schedule includes small group faculty presentations; interactive, sensory, and creative worship; small group Bible study (lectio divina) and prayer time; a student-alumni/ae “come ask us” fellowship time; the alumni/ae awards luncheon; and more. 

CHICAGO ― A delegation of visitors from Barranquilla in the Colombian Coast Presbytery visited McCormick Theological Seminary from March 19-21, strengthening the collaboration between the Reformed University in Colombia and McCormick Theological Seminary.

 “We need to re-establish and strengthen partnerships, and grow new ones as we prepare our students to work in an increasingly globalized world,” said McCormick Dean Luis Rivera. The partnership began in 2004 with a formal agreement signed in 2009.

The two higher education institutions are open to exchange faculty and students, jointly present seminars and workshops, host travel seminars, collaborate on research projects and publications, and develop bibliographical research and electronic library resources.

The Colombian delegation included the Rev. Milciades Púa, rector of the Reformed University and pastor of Fifth Presbyterian Church in Barranquilla; the Rev. Jairo Barriga, executive secretary of North Coast Presbytery: Helis Barraza, an elder at Fifth Presbyterian Church and vice-president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches; and other pastors, elders and youth involved in the educational work of North Coast Presbytery: the Rev. Vilma Yánez, Amparo Lozada, Gina Zabala, Karen and Margarita Barraza and Camilo Portillo.