PITTSBURGH ― Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has named the Rev. Christopher Brown as church planting emphasis coordinator. In this position he will oversee the seminary’s newly created Church Planting Initiative, funded by a $200,000 grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

The grant will enable the seminary to expand its Church Planting Emphasis within the Master of Divinity program into the Church Planting Initiative. The initiative recognizes that theological education historically has focused on preparing students to lead already established churches. However, today’s seminary graduates face a world that also needs entrepreneurial, mission-minded pastors who are equipped to take the gospel to people in a wide variety of non-traditional settings.

“Chris brings passion, experience, and vision to the position — a passion for mission-shaped churches formed in our neighborhoods among those who are not walking through the doors of established churches anymore,” said the Rev. Johannes Swart, associate professor of world mission and evangelism. “Being a church planter himself, Chris knows what it takes to form a new Christian community and has a vision for what is at stake in the formation of leaders to be the next generation of church planters.”

Brown is the organizing co-pastor of The Upper Room Presbyterian Church, a church plant of the PC(U.S.A.) in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Additionally he serves as a New Worshipping Communities Coach, providing support to a church plant in New York. He is a 2008 M.Div. graduate of the seminary.  

DUBUQUE, Iowa ― The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (UDTS) will host its semiannual Exploring a Call to Seminary conference from Wed., March 12 to Fri., March 14, 2014. Deadline for registration is Monday, March 3.

The Exploring a Call conference is designed for individuals who are exploring God’s call to ministry and mission. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with faculty and students, attend classes and worship, tour the beautiful campus, and explore many aspects of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary’s exceptional community life.

Dean Bradly Longfield commented, “We are excited to welcome individuals to campus to listen together to God’s call. The faculty and staff of UDTS are passionately committed to nurturing Christian leaders who seek to proclaim God’s love in word and deed. This conference is one way we seek to build up the body of Christ to the glory of God.”

Throughout the conference, faculty and staff will explain how a theological education can enhance your life. Participants will engage with others who are wrestling with vocational questions, and with students who are eager to serve God and others in a variety of settings. 
The conference offers the perfect opportunity to reflect, listen, inquire, and imagine what life
as a UDTS student is all about.

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. ― San Francisco Theological Seminary will be honoring the legacy of Nelson Mandela with lectures and workshops examining his continuing impact on the pervasive issues surrounding poverty and injustice in post-apartheid South Africa and post-civil rights America.

The event ― “Where Do We Go from Here: Nelson Mandela’s Legacy and the Freedom Movement in South Africa and the U.S.A.” ― will be held March 8 on the seminary’s campus here, sponsored by the Office of the President and the H. Eugene Farlough Chair of African American Christianity.

Keynote speakers are the Rev. Allan Boesak, the Desmond Tutu Chair of Peace, Global Justice and Reconciliation Studies at Christian Theological Seminary, who will speak on the history of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, the role black theology played in deconstructing apartheid’s religious ideological underpinnings and the intransigence of economic problems plaguing contemporary South Africa; and Dwight N. Hopkins, professor of theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School, who will discuss the way the anti-apartheid struggle and black theology in South Africa drew inspiration from the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the U.S. and vice-versa.

DECATUR, Ga. ― The Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary  is partnering with Leadership in Ministry Workshops (LIM) in 2014 to offer a unique leadership development experience for clergy and ministry leaders.

Israel Galindo, associate dean for Lifelong Learning said, “The Leadership in Ministry workshops match perfectly the mission and work of the Center for Lifelong Learning. I’ve long thought the model LIM utilizes is one of the most effective for continuing education available. It is grounded in solid theory, and uses peer learning and case study approaches for its methodology.”

Each annual workshop meets for two sessions (fall and spring) but the program is, by design, an ongoing leadership development program. Some participants have attended for several years, with some participating for almost a decade, reaping the benefits of long-term commitment to personal and professional growth.

The workshop seeks to apply Bowen Family Systems Theory as further developed by Edwin Friedman, author of Generation to Generation and A Failure of Nerve, to leadership in ministry and organizations. The majority of time is spent in small group case studies led by participants and facilitated by experienced faculty coaches. As such, participants work to apply the theory to the “real world” realities of their ministry context. 

The dates for the Atlanta workshops are Nov. 17-19, 2014 and March 9-11, 2015. For more information or to register, click here. For more information on Leadership in Ministry.

PRINCETON, N.J. ― The Rev. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, vice president of education and dean of Esperanza College of Eastern University, will give the annual Women in Church and Ministry Lecture at Princeton Theological Seminary on Thur., Feb. 27, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. in the Daniel J. Theron Assembly Room in the Princeton Theological Seminary Library, at the corner of Mercer Street and Library Place in Princeton.

Her lecture is titled “A Continuum of Voices, Thoughts on an Emerging Latina Evangelica Theology.”

RICHMOND, Va. ― The Carl Howie Center for Science, Art, and Theology at Union Presbyterian Seminary will sponsor a program entitled “Do We Have a Prayer? The Healing Power of Prayer” April 10 on the seminary campus.

The event will offer insight into the integration of spiritual healing practices and modern medicine. Why do people combine prayer, and other forms of complementary and alternative medicine, with conventional therapies? What happens when they do so? What can the lenses of science and religion teach us about the opportunities and challenges created when people combine diverse therapies?

The leader is Candy Gunther Brown, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University. Brown, who earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2000, is an historian and ethnographer of religion and culture. Studying evangelical print culture alerted her to the significance of “sanctification,” pursuit of holiness or freedom from sin and its  consequences ― including bodily sickness ― as an organizing yet inadequately examined theme in American evangelicalism. She discovered the centrality of divine healing practices to the spread of global Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Her edited book, Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing (Oxford University Press, 2011), reveals that the primary appeal of pentecostalism worldwide is as a religion of healing. Her book, Testing Prayer: Science and Healing (Harvard University Press, 2012) argues that if prayer practices affect health ― for better or for worse, for natural or for supernatural reasons ― then doctors, patients, and policymakers should all want to know about and test the effectiveness of prayer.

LOUISVILLE ― Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s  2014 Festival of Theology and Alum Reunion will explore such themes as religious plurality, the theology of mission, the Emerging Church Movement and racial connections to worship music. The series of events will take place April 6-9 on the seminary’s campus.

The 2014 Festival Preacher is Patricia K. Tull, professor emerita of Old Testament

The festival’s keynote lecturer is S. Wesley Ariarajah, professor of ecumenical theology at Drew University School of Theology in Madison, N.J. He will give two lectures.

On Monday, April 7  at 9:30 a.m. Ariarajah will speak “Beyond the Impasse: Towards a Breakthrough in the Theology of Religion.” Based on his conviction that the answers provided within the theology of religions has run into an impasse, Ariarajah calls for a major breakthrough in Christian theological thinking that would help the Church move forward.  The lecture is based on his new book, Your God, My God, Our God: Rethinking Christian Theology for Religious Plurality (WCC Publications, 2012).

Ariarajah’s second lecture ― on Tuesday, April 8, also at 9:30 a.m.  ― is titled “Mission Impossible: Can it Again be Made Possible?”

Gerardo Marti, L. associate professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at Davidson (N.C.) College, will also give two lectures during the festival and reunion. His first will be Monday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m., and is titled: “I Wish I was Black: Race, Music and Worship in Successfully Diverse Churches.” 

Marti’s second lecture will be on Tuesday, April 8 at 2 p.m. and is titled: “The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity.” According to Marti, The Emerging Church Movement (ECM) is one of the most important reframings of religion within Western Christianity. “Emerging Christians share a religious orientation built on a continual practice of deconstruction by religious institutional entrepreneurs,” said Marti.  “Emerging congregations provide settings where pluralism is embraced and where the otherwise isolated self can find meaning and fulfillment through others… In the ways it has responded to modernity, the ECM is remarkably well-adapted to persist, even thrive, as a viable religious alternative in the West.”

AUSTIN, Texas ― Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is sponsoring a travel seminar to Scotland, May 27-June 7, 2014. It is open to the public.

The travel seminar, led by the Rev. Michael Waschevski, will introduce participants to historic and contemporary expressions of the church in Scotland and their influence on North American Protestantism. Travelers will also explore historical and contemporary expressions of faith in Scotland, especially as found in the Iona Community and Celtic Christianity. They will visit churches, schools, and museums in the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and St. Andrews.

Waschevski, a D.Min. graduate of the seminary in 2003, has served First Presbyterian Church in Ft. Worth, Texas, as associate pastor of programming and pastoral care since 1999, having previously served churches in Michigan and Texas. He has also served as adjunct faculty at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, teaching in the area of Christian education, and at Brite Divinity School, and as a teacher, preacher, and workshop leader at numerous conferences and events throughout the denomination.

Cost for the trip is $4,050; land only: $2,700.