Notes about people

February 4, 2013

Beverly Wildung Harrison, 80, widely known in theological education circles as the “mother of Christian feminist ethics,” died Dec. 15 in Brevard, N.C.  A memorial service was held Jan. 5.

A lifelong Presbyterian, Harrison graduated from Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minn., and from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She began her career as a campus minister at the University of California-Berkeley in the 1960s but spent the majority of her career at Union Seminary, serving there from 1967 until her retirement in 1999 as the Carolyn Williams Beaird Professor of Christian Ethics.  In 1982 she served as the first female president of the Society of Christian Ethics.

Harrison’s groundbreaking 1983 book on abortion, Our Right to Choose, continues to be acclaimed by students and scholars for its fine-tuned feminist methodology and its thesis that women’s reproductive freedom is essential to not only women’s lives but moreover to the strength and integrity of the entire social order.

Her other seminal works include Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics (1985) and Justice in the Making: Feminist Social Ethics (2004).

To honor Harrison’s legacy, Union Theological Seminary has established The Beverly Wildung Harrison Lectures. The Harrison Lecture “will be delivered each year by a leading feminist theologian, ethicist, or public advocate for justice.”

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The Rev. John B. Trotti, professor emeritus of bibliography at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Va., died Jan. 29.

Trotti, a graduate of Davidson (N.C.) College and Union Presbyterian Seminary, received is Masters in library science from the University of North Carolina, and his Ph.D. in Old Testament from Yale University.

Trotti served as pastor of Altavista (Va.) Presbyterian Church before joining the faculty at Union Seminary, where in addition to teaching he served as librarian from 1968-2002. He also taught classes at Yale and Randolph-Macon College. Old Testament from Yale University. In addition to Union Seminary, he taught classes at Yale and Randolph-Macon (now Randolph) College.

As Union Seminary’s librarian, Trotti pioneered a program in which books and periodicals not needed by the Union Seminary library were shared with theological schools all over the world. For more than 29 years, the program contributed more than 135,000 volumes to libraries in 103 institutions in 49 countries, and has sparked creation of the American Theological Book Redistribution Project, through which many libraries share print resources with their international counterparts.

Trotti served as vice-president and president of the American Theological Library Association (1976-1978), president of the Presbyterian Library Association (1973-1974) and as a member of the board of directors of the Historical Foundation of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in Montreat, NC. (1979-1986). He was recently named recipient of the 2012 Award for Excellence in Theological Education by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), an honor that was recognized at the 2012 General Assembly in Pittsburgh.

A memorial service for John B. Trotti will be held Feb. 9 at First Presbyterian Church of Richmond, Va.

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The Rev. Paul John Achtemeier, 85, professor emeritus of biblical interpretation at Union Presbyterian Seminay in Richmond, Va., died Jan. 28 at his home after a long illness.

A native of Lincoln, Neb., Achtemeier graduated from Elmhurst College and Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he also received his doctorate. He also studied at Princeton Theological Seminary, Heidelberg University in Germany and the University of Basel in Switzerland.
 
Before coming to Richmond to teach at Union, Achtemeier taught at Elmhurst College and the Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies of the World Council of Churches, in Bossey, Switzerland.  He was also visiting professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa. He was the first Protestant elected president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America, and he served as treasurer, secretary, and president of the Society of Biblical Literature.
 
Achtemeier was an internationally recognized scholar, having published 18 books and more than 60 scholarly journal articles. In addition, he was editor of a number of book series, most notably the New Testament editor  for the Interpretation: Biblical Commentaries for Teaching and Preaching series and the general editor of Harper’s Bible Dictionary (l985 edition, revised in 1996).

Achtemeier was preceded in death in 2002 by his first wife, Elizabeth Rice Achtemeier, to whom he was married for over 50 years. He is survived by his second wife, Sandra M. Levy; a son, P. Mark Achtemeier and his wife, Katherine Achtemeier of Dubuque, Iowa; a daughter, Marie A. Finch, and her husband, Paul Finch, of Norfolk, Va.; five grandchildren; two stepsons and their families; and numerous nieces and nephews. 

Funeral services will be held Feb. 6 at St. John's Episcopal Church, Richmond, Va.

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After celebrating its 175th anniversary in 2012, Milwaukee’s Immanuel Presbyterian Church  marked the 35th anniversary of the Rev. Deborah A. Block’s pastorate with the congregation the weekend of Feb. 2-3.

The festivities kicked off Feb. 2 with a hymn festival introducing Glory to God, the new Presbyterian Hymnal. More than 100 participants from churches throughout Milwaukee attended.

A special celebration worship service was held Sunday morning (Feb. 3) with a reception in Block’s honor following.

Block came to Immanuel Church in 1977 as assistant pastor. She was called as associate pastor a year later. She and the Rev. William H. Johnstone served as co-pastors from 1987 until his retirement in 1997. Since then Block has been pastor and head of staff. 

Located on Milwaukee’s historic lower east side, Immanuel Presbyterian Church is an inclusive, urban, Christian community of 700 members. The church supports the Interchange Food Pantry and is active with Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity and Southeastern Wisconsin Common Ground. Educational partnerships include Carroll University and McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Global mission partnerships reach to Kenya and Zambia.

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