RICHMOND, Va. ― Since 1991, 105 churches in 28 states and the District of Columbia have received Union Presbyterian Seminary Congregational Leadership Awards. Each congregation is awarded $1000 for their work in innovative ministry.

The 2014 Congregational Leadership Award Recipients are:

  • University Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, Texas, received the Al Dimmock Award for its excellence and congregational involvement in the empowerment of older adults.   
  • First Presbyterian Church of Lafayette, Louisiana, received the Elinor Curry Award for its ministry of outreach and social concern that addresses the call of the church to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God,” and in so doing changes the congregation. 
  • Beacon New Church Development of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received the James Goodpasture Award for excellence in ministry to persons with developmental disabilities and to their families. 
  • New Hope Presbyterian Church of Orange, California, is one of two churches selected for the Katherine Hawes Award for its effective youth ministry that engages youth in all areas of the church’s mission, extending beyond the church into the community and the world.
  • Northern Lakes Community Church of Northern Lakes, Michigan, is the other church selected for the Katherine Hawes Award for its effective youth ministry that engages youth in all areas of the church’s mission, extending beyond the church into the community and the world.
  • St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church of Titusville, Florida, is the recipient of this year’s Louise McComb Award for excellence in Christian education for older adults.
  • Prospect Presbyterian Church of Maplewood, New Jersey, is the recipient of this year’s W.T. “Tolly” Thompson Award for creatively meeting a vital Christian education need in the church community. “

To get the full story on how these churches are changing lives, visit 

DECATUR, Ga. ― Columbia Theological Seminary has appointed Paul “Skip” Johnson as dean of students and vice-president for student services. He will officially begin on July 1, replacing former General Assembly Moderator Joan Standridge Gray, who stepped in as interim for the academic year after the departure of Dean John White.

Since 2005, Johnson has served on the faculty part-time as senior lecturer in pastoral care and pastoral theology. During that time, he has also served as the director of training for the Care & Counseling Center of Georgia. 

“Skip brings to his new role a contagious faith, a deep love for students, great church experience, remarkable enthusiasm, skills and expertise in pastoral care and family systems work, excellent administrative ability, and a long familiarity with our community,” said seminary President Steve Hayner. “For Skip this new role will be something of a career change, but certainly not a change in his core sense of calling. We are all looking forward to Skip joining the team in this new role.”

An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Johnson served as associate minister between 1991-2001 for the Snellville and Embry Hills United Methodist Churches. He is a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Georgia. Johnson holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of North Carolina, an M.Div. from Duke University’s Divinity School, a Th.M. in pastoral care & counseling from Texas Christian University, and a Ph.D. in theology and personality from Emory University.

CHICAGO ― Earlier this spring, McCormick Theological Seminary held a special ceremony to unveil a portrait of President Emerita Cynthia M. Campbell, who served for 16 years as McCormick's ninth president, and first woman president.

“Cynthia’s ministry inspired excellence in generations of church leaders,” says McCormick’s President, Frank Yamada. “Because of her witness and leadership, the church is in a much stronger place, and men and women are in better position to shape the future into which we are headed.”

Indeed, Campbell's appointment paved the way for more women and people of color to serve as church leaders, including President Yamada, McCormick's tenth president and first Asian-American president of a PC(USA) seminary. 

The celebration began with a reception that invited back former trustees, donors, and faculty members who had worked closely with Campbell during her tenure. The program included Ken Sawyer, professor of church history, who presented a retrospective of McCormick's leaders and founders, highlighting Campbell's vital role in McCormick's history.

"Her influence is still very much present. Her commitment to and love for McCormick Theological Seminary ... will be part of this extraordinary institution for all the years ahead." says Rev. John M. Buchanan, pastor emeritus of Fourth Presbyterian Church and McCormick Life Trustee.

During the ceremony, board chair, the Rev. Deborah Block noted Campbell's contribution to McCormick's growth and enhanced reputation over her years of service. Campbell now is the pastor of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville.

AUSTIN, Texas ― What do monarch butterflies, Bach cantatas and Elvis have in common? The Rev. Lisa Nichols Hickman, Presbyterian pastor and author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting to God on the Pages of Your Bible, will explore that and other questions at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s conference entitled “Writing in the Margins: Where Word meets World for Women in Ministry.”

The conference, for women who have been in ministry for at least five years, is scheduled May 11-14. It “offers ‘scriptural discipline’ as an alternative to spiritual disciplines” and will “deepen that scriptural practice as we share scriptures, stories and scriptural disciplines for engaging our margins and drawing closer to God at the edge.”

Each day will begin with personal and guided meditation, followed by “scriptural disciplines” to enable participants to “connect with God on the pages of the Bible in creative and life-giving ways.” Evenings will be devoted to “playfulness and generally enjoying life.”

Hickman is a doctoral candidate in theology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and lives in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. She writes for the Huffington Post religion section, Faith and Leadership, Homiletics and On Scripture for Odyssey Networks.