SAN ANSELMO — The Alumni Council of San Francisco Theological Seminary is co-sponsoring a one-day event on innovative new church development March 2 on the seminary campus here.

The event, “Get In the Game,” is designed to help church leaders “catch the vision for 1001 New Worshiping Communities and begin to formulate strategy for starting worshiping communities in communities and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Joining the SFTS Alumni Council in sponsoring the event is the Evangelism and Church Growth ministry area of the PC(USA)’s  Presbyterian Mission Agency in Louisville.


Led by Vera White, associate for 1001 New Worshiping Communities on the national staff, and Craig Williams of the PC(USA)’s Presbyterian Centers for New Church Innovation in San Clemente, Calif., the co-sponsors hope to draw a crowd from the presbyteries of San Jose, San Francisco and Redwoods.


LOUISVILLE ― Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has received a $200,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to support and expand its Black Church Studies Program. This program at Louisville Seminary addresses critical needs in African-American churches and offers opportunities for students to expand their ministry to people in a variety of cultural and religious settings. Strengthening the program is one of five key initiatives of the Seminary’s strategic plan, ‘Covenant for the Future.’

 “Our priority is building bridges across the lines of religion, race and culture that divide our world,” said LPTS President Michael Jinkins. “The Black Church Studies Program is a core component of our vision to prepare people for ministry amidst increasing diversity. We are grateful that the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations support this vision.”

The grant will help educate black clergy theologically, raise awareness of the value of theological education among laity in black churches and enrich the quality of education for all students at the seminary through engagement with the black church tradition.


“A strong Black Church Studies program needs to do more than offer classes in black theology, black religion, African-American Christianity and black preaching,” said Lewis Brogdon, director of the Black Church Studies Program and assistant professor of New Testament and Black Church Studies. “This grant will allow leaders in Black Church Studies programs to spend time in local and regional congregations educating laypeople about issues affecting our churches and communities, advocating for theological education and recruiting leaders who want to come to seminary.”

CHICAGO ― McCormick Theological Seminary’s  Women’s Urban Network is sponsoring A World Day of Prayer at its annual worship service on March 1 at 7 p.m. at Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church here.

This year’s worship service will feature McCormick’s visiting professor of preaching Lisa Thompson and Iglesia Del Pueblo-Hope Center, who will provide the music.

This year’s theme, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” was selected by women from France. The French World Day of Prayer (WDP) Committee looked for a Christian response to struggles concerning immigration and for ways to welcome “the stranger.” The women who prepared this year’s worship service and Bible studies reached into Jesus’ identification with “the least of these” in Matthew 25 and drew on customs of hospitality found in Leviticus to paint a picture of welcoming the stranger.

“Women are actively engaged in urban ministry as pastors, agency leaders, social workers, advocates for the oppressed, entrepreneurs, and healers. We are faithful, tenacious promoters of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. Deborah Kapp, Women’s Urban Ministry Network director and McCormick’s professor of urban ministry/faculty director of assessment. “Many work with limited recognition, others serve the church on nights and weekends (working weekdays in other jobs). Almost all juggle multiple responsibilities for home and family. Finding spiritual balance is a profound need for us. We look forward to this annual opportunity to share with other women in prayer.”

PITTSBURGH ― Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has named the Rev. R. Drew Smith as professor of urban ministry. He will begin his service June 1, 2013, succeeding the Rev. Ronald Peters, who left in 2010 to become president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, which includes PC(USA)-related Johnson C. Smith Seminary.

“In Drew Smith we believe we have found an outstanding, internationally known candidate who, building on the strong foundation laid by Ron Peters, will move our work in urban ministry both locally and globally to new levels of excellence,” said seminary President William Carl. “We are truly impressed with Dr. Smith’s academic credentials and his wide-ranging experience in both the church and the world. His presence here will make Pittsburgh Seminary’s contribution to the well-being of the city of Pittsburgh even more profound and lasting.”

Smith currently serves as scholar-in-residence at the Leadership Center at Morehouse College in Atlanta and as co-convener of the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race. He is the former director of the Center for Church and the Black Experience at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.

Smith has initiated and directed a number of projects related to religion and public life, including the Public Influences of African-American Churches Project and the Faith Communities and Urban Families Project, which have collected research data on political involvements, community development activities, and outreach ministries of African-American churches in numerous parts of the United States.

Smith has taught at Indiana University, Butler University, Emory University, Case Western Reserve University, and New York Theological Seminary. He has also served as a research fellow, including appointments with the Virginia Humanities Foundation/University of Virginia and with the University of South Africa. He has traveled widely in Africa and Latin America, with his Africa involvements taking him to 17 African countries since the mid-1980s. He served in 2005 as a Fulbright professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and in 2009 as a Fulbright senior specialist at Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Cameroon.

AUSTIN, Texas ― On Jan. 9, the Rev. Allan H. Cole Jr., academic dean at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, led the Texas House of Representatives in the morning vocation as “pastor of the day.”

“Pastor of the day” is a long-time tradition in the Texas legislature, which affords each state representative and senator the opportunity to choose a pastor from the district they serve to open the day’s legislative session with prayer.

Joe Straus, Speaker of the House, extended this honor to Cole.

DECATUR, GA ― Columbia Theological Seminary will join St. James’ and Zion Baptist Church in Marietta for a community symposium on February 23, 9:00 to 1:00 at Zion’s Fellowship Hall. It will feature both black and white historians speaking to increase understanding and encourage dialogue among the participants, who will then meet around tables for discussion.

Speakers are Columbia Seminary professor Deborah Flemister Mullen and professor emeritus Erskine Clarke. Their topic will be “Competing Memories: Slavery and its Legacies."

The Pathfinders at St. James’ is spearheading this effort for St. James’, whose mission is “to follow Christ’s commandment to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ and thus heal the breach caused by slavery and subsequent racial discrimination.”

PRINCETON, N.J. ― Emilie Townes, associate dean of academic affairs and professor of African American religion and theology at Yale Divinity School, will give the annual Women in Church and Ministry Lecture at Princeton Theological Seminary on Feb. 28 at 7:00 p.m. in the Main Lounge of the Mackay Campus Center on the seminary campus.

Her lecture is titled “Justice Notes” and will provide four notes on just Christian witness as influenced by the wisdom of older generations of black women and men.

Townes ― an American Baptist clergywoman ― earned a Ph.D. in religion in society and personality from Northwestern University and a D.Min. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her focus is on Christian ethics, womanist ethics, critical social theory, cultural theory and studies, postmodernism, and social postmodernism, with particular attention to African American women in the church and the linkages among race, gender, class, and other forms of oppression.

Prior to her appointment at Yale, Townes was the professor of Christian ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She served as president of the American Academy in Religion in 2008, the first African American woman to do so. Her many publication include Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope, In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness, Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health Issues and a Womanist Ethic of Care, and Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil.    

RICHMOND, Va. ― The Sprunt Lectures at Union Presbyterian Seminary will feature E. Brooks Holifield, emeritus professor of American church history at Atlanta’s Candler School of Theology.

Holifield’s four lectures May 1-3 will be on the theme: “Why Are Americans So Religious and How Did They Get That Way?” The lectures are titled:

  • One Fact Stands Out Above All Others
  • The Best Thing That Ever Happened to the State of Connecticut
  • All is in a Ferment
  • Nothing to Suggest Community—Except the Church 

Recognized in 2009 as Outstanding Theological Educator by the Association of Theological Schools, Holifield has written books on seventeenth-century Puritanism, the antebellum South, religion and psychology in America, health and medicine in the Methodist traditions, and the cultural history of early colonial America. He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

Worship will be led by UPS alumni the Rev. Hoffman F. Brown III (’81),  pastor of Wayland Baptist Church in Baltimore, and the Rev. Teresa McRoberts, (’06),  associate pastor of Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Glen Allen, Va.

The seminary will also honor Freda Gardner as its distinguished alumna for 2013. Gardner, who served as moderator of the 211th General Assembly (1999) of the PC(USA), was the first tenured woman faculty member at Princeton Theological Seminary, serving there from 1961 until her retirement in 1992.