Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
In this Issue Commencement | 4
Scholarship for the Church | 8
Honor Roll of Donors | center
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PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGI C AL
summer | fall 2018 President
Theodore J. Wardlaw
Scholarship for the Church 8 Theological Scholarship
Board of Trustees
G. Archer Frierson II, Chair James C. Allison Margaret Aymer Janice L. Bryant (MDiv’01, DMin’11) Claudia D. Carroll Katherine B. Cummings (MDiv’05) Thomas Christian Currie Jill Duffield (DMin’13) Jackson Farrow Jr. Beth Blanton Flowers, MD Stephen Giles Jesús Juan González (MDiv’92) Walter Harris Jr. John S. Hartman Rhashell D. Hunter Bobbi Kaye Jones (MDiv’80) Keatan A. King Steve LeBlanc J. Sloan Leonard, MD Sue B. McCoy Matthew Miller (MDiv’03) B. W. Payne David Peeples Denise Nance Pierce (MATS’11) Mark B. Ramsey Conrad M. Rocha Matthew E. Ruffner Lana E. Russell Lita Simpson Martha Crawley Tracey John L. Van Osdall Carlton D. Wilde Jr. Elizabeth C. Williams Michael G. Wright
Volume 133 | Number 3
By David White
10 What’s the Use of Sin-Talk?
8 The church deserves the kind of scholarship that empowers Christians to love God with the mind. At Austin Seminary, research and publication, learning and teaching, are all understood to be in service to the Creator.
By Carolyn Browning Helsel
11 Helping the Church Read the Bible
By Song-Mi Suzie Park
Center: The 2017-18 Honor Roll of Donors
& departments 2 seminary & church 3 twenty-seventh & speedway 16 faculty news & notes 18 alumni news & notes 20 live & learn 21 teaching & ministry
Trustees Emeriti Max R. Sherman Louis H. Zbinden
Austin Seminary Association (ASA) Board
Denise Odom (MDiv’99),President Matt Miles (MDiv’99), Past President Barrett Abernethy (MDiv’13), Vice President Josh Kerr (MDiv’14), Secretary Kennetha Bigham-Tsai (MDiv’03) David Gambrell (MDiv’98) Paul Harris (MATS’10) Melinda Hunt (CIM’16) Sandra Kern (MDiv’93) Carl McCormack (MDiv’95) Daniel Molyneux (MDiv’86) Noemi Ortiz (MATS’15) Valerie Sansing (MDiv’00) Sheila Sidberry-Thomas (MDiv’14) Rita Sims (DMin’15) Ayana Teter (MDiv’06) Caryn Thurman (MDiv’07) Michael Ulasewich (MDiv’05) Kristy Vits (MDiv’98)
Selina Aguirre Jacqueline Hefley Alexandra Ingrando Gary Mathews Usama Malik Alison Riemersma Sharon Sandberg Mona Santandrea Kristy Sorensen
Windows is published three times each year by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Austin Seminary Windows Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary 100 E. 27th St. Austin, TX 78705-5711 phone: 512-404-4808 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org AustinSeminary.edu ISSN 2056-0556; Non-profit bulk mail permit no. 2473
from the president |
President’s Schedule August 19: Preach, Ordination service, Grand Lakes PC, Katy, Texas September 8: Preach, Installation service, First PC, Logan, Utah September 20: Evening with the President, San Antonio, Texas October 11: Partner Lunch, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma November 1: Evening with the President, Shreveport, Louisiana November 10-12: Preach & teach, Edmunds Lectures, Second PC, Roanoke, Virginia November 15: Partner Lunch, Houston, Texas November 17: Preach, New Covenant Presbytery, Houston, Texas December 2: Preach, Preston Hollow PC, Dallas, Texas
n this issue of Windows, we are focusing on the theme of scholarship in service to the church, and we are hearing perspectives from three of our faculty. Professor David White, the C. Ellis and Nancy Gribble Nelson Professor of Christian Education and professor of Methodist studies, explores in the lead essay an oft-asked question: “Do we really need scholars in order to faithfully do the work of the church?” It’s a good question: Why do we even need to build a foundation based upon the classical tradition of theological study when perhaps we should focus on the urgent practical stuff of ministry? David White acknowledges the modern rift in many ecclesial settings between, as he puts it, “the craft of ministry and scholarly research,” and yet he claims—rightly, I believe—that we need scholarly theology more now than ever before. Rejecting the either-or binary at the root of this rift, David argues for the embodiment of faithful practices which make sense in light of the doctrine of incarnation. Therefore, as he puts it, “Good theological scholarship involves deep awareness of the church’s historical legacy and a deep listening to the church’s restless cry.” I like that balance. Professor Carolyn Browning Helsel, assistant professor of homiletics, examines the topic of sin—specifically the sin of racism—through the lens of the biblical and theological categories of idolatry, estrangement, and bondage. She encourages the church, in its use of “sin-talk,” to implement those three categories in realizing both the power of racism and of God’s mercy and grace to work against it. Professor Suzie Park, associate professor of Old Testament, reflects upon the intriguing oddity of Old Testament literature—especially its most problematic texts— and encourages the church (just as she encourages her students) not to be threatened by such oddity, but to follow faithfully the questions that it raises. It is, she says, “interesting, complex, and therefore worthy of reading and studying.” Professors White, Helsel, and Park are illuminating in their conversation at the intersection of academy and church, so read carefully! Elsewhere in this issue, you will see a recap of the 2018 Commencement weekend, the latest regarding our alumni and faculty and staff, and our annual Institutional Advancement report and list of donors. Don’t miss a word ahead! We are looking forward toward Academic Year 2018-2019, in which we will welcome some fifty new students, welcome back our returning students, and prepare for a new year of scholarship in service to the church. And, as always, we covet at any time your visit to campus—either in the coming year or at some other point in the future.
December 6: Coffee with the President, Albuquerque, New Mexico
2 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Theodore J. Wardlaw President
Bridgett Green to teach New Testament
ustin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has called the Reverend Bridgett A. Green as assistant professor of New Testament, effective January 1, 2019. “We at Austin Seminary are making ready to welcome Bridgett Green into our Seminary community and into our common work together,” says Seminary President Ted Wardlaw. “She brings a disciplined intellect, a commitment to the life of the church, a passion for teaching, and a spirit of collegiality. We are eager to welcome her to this community of formation and conversation.” A doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University, Green earned her bachelor’s degree (psychology and Spanish) from Davidson College (2000) and her Master of Divinity degree (pastoral care and New Testament studies) from Princeton Theological Seminary (2005). Her dissertation title is “Luke 18:1-30: The Kingdom of God and Social Relationships.” Her stellar academic experience was rewarded by numerous prizes and fellowships, including, at Vanderbilt: The Forum for Theological Education (FTE) Dissertation Fellow (2015-16), Theology and Practice Fellow (2009-2015), The LukeActs Prize (2014), and FTE Doctoral Fellow (2009-2011); at Princeton: The Jagow Preaching Prize and Seminary Fellowship; at Davidson: Who’s Who Among American Universities and Colleges (2000), and John I. Smith Honor Scholar, Arnold Snider Scholar, and Samuel R. Spencer Jr. Scholar (1996-2000). Alongside her scholarship, Green has also been involved in the ministry and work of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She was ordained in 2005 as a teaching elder (minister) by the Presbytery of Charlotte, and she has served on the staff of the PC(USA), beginning as associate for the Racial Ethnic Young Women Together project (2005-2008) and then as coordinator in the Office of Women’s Ministries and Racial Justice (2007-2008). Since 2013 she has been the biblical studies acquisitions editor at Westminster John Knox Press (WJK), and she has contributed to Connections: A Lectionary Commentary for Preaching and Worship (2018), the joint project between WJK and Austin Seminary (read about Connections on page 14). She has served on the boards of Montreat Conference Center and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and serves as committee assistant to the General Assembly of the PC(USA). “Bridgett Green is one of the most promising younger New Testament scholars in the country,” says Academic Dean David Jensen. “Deeply committed to both church and academy, Bridgett’s writing stands out in its attention to classical traditions and the life-and-death issues of our time. Her recent work at Westminster John Knox Press means that she is familiar with changes in theological publishing and will be an asset on a faculty that has been astonishingly productive over the past several years. We welcome Bridgett as teacher, scholar, and pastor. She will make our excellent faculty even stronger.” Green will join the Biblical Department in January 2019.
Alumnus Carlos Ham delivers address to new graduates
ustin Seminary held its commencement at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, at University Presbyterian Church, Austin. The class of 2018 comprises thirty-five graduates in four degree programs. The Reverend Dr. Carlos Emilio Ham-Stanard (DMin’99) rector (president) of Seminario Evangélico de Teologia (SET) in Matanzas, Cuba, delivered the Commencement Address. An Austin Seminary alumnus, Dr. Ham is a pastor of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba and served as its general secretary for eight years. He has led SET since 2015; prior to his appointment there he served the World Council of Churches in Geneva from 2001-2013. G. Archer Frierson, chair of Austin Seminary’s Board of Trustees presided over the ceremony and President Theodore J. Wardlaw delivered a Charge to the Graduates (see page 6). On the eve of commencement, Saturday, May 19, at 6:00 p.m., Austin Seminary held a baccalaureate service, also hosted by University Presbyterian Church. The Reverend Dr. Jennifer Lord delivered the sermon, and the Reverend Dr. Lewis Donelson presided at the Lord’s Table.
Summer | Fall 2018 | 3
2018 Graduate Awards Donald Capps Award in Pastoral Care: Laura Messer Chidester Preaching Award: Chelsea McCutchin Rachel Henderlite Award: Hierald Osorto
Hendrick-Smith Award for Mission & Evangelism: Azar Ghandforoush Ethel Lance Human & Civil RightsAward: Randy Knighten Carl Kilborn Book Award: Karla Lara
Charles L. King Preaching Award: Jasiel Hernandez Max Sherman & Barbara Jordan Fellowship: Pamela Jarvis John B. Spragens Award: Terese Wier
The Class of 2018: Doctor of Ministry graduates (above) and master’s-level graduates (below).
Doctor of Ministry
Graduate and title of doctoral project
Bonnie Lou Stephens Canizaro
“Exploring the Character of God: Life, Light, and Love”
Pamela Ann Rowley
“Deep Calls to Deep: Living Out Call and Purpose in the Third Chapter of Life”
Landon T. Shultz
“Frontier Ministry in 21st Century America: Building Meaningful Connections with Persons Who Are Not Religious”
4 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Nancy Louise Taylor
“Hope That Never Grows Old: Spirituality and Aging in First Presbyterian Church”
David E. Wolfe
“Moving Beyond Clinical and Congregational Silos to Collaborative Pastoral Care: Chaplains Partnering with Congregational Pastors in the Acute Care Setting”
The Class of 2018 Master of Divinity
Graduate, denomination, and future plans Adam Anderson
PC(USA), Scioto Valley Presbytery Pastor, Old Stone Presbyterian Church, Delaware, Ohio
Katherine Atkins ‡
PC(USA), Presbytery of Charlotte Mitigation Specialist, Baltimore, Maryland
PC(USA), Presbytery of Western Colorado Pastoral Resident, First Presbyterian Church, Cuero, Texas
Unitarian Universalist Will spend a year in Sweden
PC(USA), Palo Duro Presbytery Associate Pastor, Youth and Family, Grand Lakes Presbyterian Church, Katy, Texas
PC(USA), Mission Presbytery Two-year resident, Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana
Non-denominational Seeking church plant opportunities while continuing his career at REI
Episcopal Church Working with Westminster John Knox Press in partnership with Austin Seminary; Stitt Library, and The Church Lab, Austin, Texas
PC(USA), Mission Presbytery Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Weslaco, Texas
UMC, Rio Texas Conference Pastor, Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, San Antonio, Texas
PC(USA), Tampa Bay Presbytery Intern, Forest Hills Presbyterian Church, Tampa, Florida
UMC, Rio Texas Conference Pastor, Parker Lane United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas
Ecumenical; seeking a call
PC(USA), St. Augustine Presbytery Two-year Resident, Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana
Christian; Founder, Azar Ghandforoush Ministry, Austin, Texas
PC(USA), Mission Presbytery Freelance project, The Imago Dei Fund, Boston, Massachusetts; seeking a call
PC(USA), Northern Kansas Presbytery Seeking a call
at The University of Texas at Austin
Master of Arts (Theological Studies) Graduate, denomination, and future plans
UMC, Rio Texas Conference; Youth Minister Director, Covenant United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas
ELCA, Metro DC Synod Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York; Completing MA from Lutheran Seminary
UMC, Rio Texas Conference Pastor, Faith United Methodist Church, Westboro, Texas
PC(USA), Mission Presbytery Coordinator for Disaster Relief, Mission Presbytery, San Antonio, Texas
UMC, Central Texas Conference Associate Pastor, St. Philip’s United Methodist Church, Round Rock, Texas
PC(USA), Plains and Peaks Presbytery Completing ordination requirements
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Customer Success Manager, Robert Half, Dublin, California
UMC, Rio Texas Conference; Year-long CPE Residency, Seton Hospital, Austin
‡ Recipient of a Dual Degree (MSSW) with Steve Hicks School of Social Work
PC(USA), Utah Presbytery Working for Texas Impact, Austin, Texas; seeking a call
Global Partner, Reformed Church in Zambia Pastor, Katete Central Congregation, Reformed Church, Zambia, Africa
No Affiliation; pursuing graduate school
Roman Catholic, Archdiocese of Austin Facilitator for group dialogue; on-call hospital chaplain
Master of Arts in Ministry Practice Graduate, denomination, and future plans David Hackenbracht
Non-denominational; Associate Pastor, Journey Imperfect Faith Community, Austin, Texas; math tutor, Austin Community College, Austin, Texas Summer | Fall 2018| 5
The Class of 2018
Charge to the Class of 2018
Strive to be poets By President Theodore J. Wardlaw
have discovered a new poet—new to me, at least. The truth is that she’s an extremely well-known poet, so much so that she’s the twenty-second poet laureate of the United States, an office she assumed just last year. She’s a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia University, and she now lives in Princeton with her husband and three children and teaches creative writing at Princeton University. Her name is Tracy K. Smith, she’s the fifth AfricanAmerican poet laureate, in just her midforties she’s still young, and she was raised in a religious family which had deep roots in Alabama. “Her people were from there,” we Southerners might say. A month ago, I was intrigued to read an article about her in The New York Times Magazine entitled “The Poem Cure,” in which the case was made that bringing poetry to the masses can be an antidote to our toxic civic culture. The writer of this article had followed Tracy K. Smith on a purposeful pilgrimage that took her to many locations in South Carolina. Now I know a thing or two about South Carolina. It’s a place where, at every dirt-road intersection, there’s an oftremembered story about something that happened involving somebody’s ancestor that will never be forgotten; because, in South Carolina, the past isn’t even past yet. Tracy K. Smith took a road-trip to South Carolina where she met, at each stop, an audience of people eager to hear her work. In the main, these were not crowds of the literati from Charleston; no, these were “everyday people” in the process of falling in love with her poetry. She went to Lake City, South Carolina, 6 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
only fifteen miles from the small, Lowcountry county-seat town in which I spent a portion of my childhood. She went to Summerton, South Carolina, only thirty-five miles from where I was born, and while there, an elderly lady named Ella Johnson asked Tracy K. Smith to sign her program, and so Ms. Smith obliged, signed her name and wrote a one-word poem: “Grace.” The old lady responded, “’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
Another stop on her tour was a little wide spot in the woods called Adams Run, South Carolina. It’s where, for maybe a couple of weeks during most of our summer vacations, Kay and the girls and I have turned off of Highway 17 to take this two-lane county road to Edisto Island and our favorite beach. We go right through Adams Run, which is hardly more than a crossroads with no red light. In Adams Run, there’s a tiny antebellum Episcopal Church named Christ Church that is surrounded by a cemetery where its oldest tombstones are often bedecked—especially on holidays—with tiny versions of the Confederate flag fluttering in the breeze.
Next door to that church is an old schoolhouse that is now a community center, and in that space there was a sizeable crowd gathered to hear Ms. Smith; they were about equal parts black and white. She was introduced there by the poet laureate of Charleston, who said, “Tracy’s making poetry cool.” Elsewhere in the crowd, there was a United States congressman, a state senator, not just the poet laureate of Charleston but also the poet laureate of South Carolina, a woodworker, a local councilwoman, a mother with her teenaged daughter, a guy who runs a roadside fish market, and a pair of off-duty police officers. When the event was over, everyone surrounded her for autographs, and those policemen invited her to come back and ride along in their police car on her next visit. They wanted her to experience the work they do, and she promised to take them up on it. The thought of such community showing up and expressing itself with such beauty—it took my breath away to read about it. After all, we live in a country in which, after Friday’s school shooting here in Texas, we have created a grim new statistic: in just this portion of 2018—not yet half a year in—more Americans have been killed in school than have been killed on active U.S. military duty anywhere in the world. It makes me think that we need to get political. Political in the way that people of faith get political. There’s one of her poems that, from the article’s description of it, sounded particularly interesting to me. Tracy Smith wrote this poem a few years ago while she was up in Vermont for a few
The Class of 2018 days giving a seminar. She was asleep larger definition of the word “political.” I nonetheless their commonality. This is one night, in the middle of the night, was so taken by the article’s description what is profound about the gesture of and she had a dream that she was of her renamed “Political Poem”—so communication—much like that gesture reading a poem that was written on the taken by it that I’m now going to read it you came up with this year, when you wall of her bedroom, and in the dream to you. Listen carefully, and if you want decided to endorse that wonderful she said to herself, “If I wake up, this to, Google it and read it again yourself. community covenant you created. can be my poem.” And so she woke up It’s a bit complex, but it has something to These two mowers are not interested in and she wrote it down, and since it was say. building walls—be they walls of brick about two men mowing their fields in or stone or words or opinions—walls rural Vermont, she named to separate the US-es from it “The Mowers.” the THEMs. They are instead If those mowers were each to stop Later, she changed exploring an unexpected at the whim, say, of a greedy thought, the title. She renamed it discovery of empathy and and then the one off to the left “Political Poem,” because, understanding, and perhaps a were to let his arm float up, stirring she said, “A political poem shared passion for the impact the air with that wide, slow, underwater in any age is valuable if they are making upon their gesture meaning “Hello” and “You there!” it can challenge the easy world. And none of that is aimed at the one more than a mile away sense of ‘us versus them.’ enough unless they keep to the right. And if he, in his work, were to pause, Political poems that fail,” looking up and searching for catching that call by sheer wish, and send she said, “say ‘I’m US, and finding the other. back his own, slow one-armed dance, which is good, and I’m Friends, this world is meaning “Yes!” and “Here!” as if threaded going to call out these so broken that it breaks the to a single long nerve, before remembering THEMs.’” In poems like heart of Jesus. So, as you go his tool and shearing another message that, she said, “you’re out into it—whatever else into the earth, letting who can say how long making bad art, even if you do—don’t make bad art, graze past until another thought, or just the need to know, you’re thinking about even if you are thinking about might make him stop and look up again at the other, justice.” justice. No. Instead, strive to raising his arm as if to say something like “Still?” It’s not enough, after be poets. Be the people who and “Oh” and then to catch the flicker of joy all, to simply cultivate a see the world as God sees it, rise up along those other legs and flare hermeneutic of suspicion and who tell the truth about into another bright “Yes” that sways a moment at the expense of a it so that the thing that is in the darkening air, their work would carry them hermeneutic of generosity, prematurely settled gets into the better part of evening, each mowing or encouragement, or properly unsettled. Be poets ahead and doubling back, then looking up to catch humility. A dear friend who point people toward each sight of his echo, sought and held of mine, who has taught other, who look at certainty, in that instant of common understanding, for years at another and show how, in the name of the God and speed of it coming out only after seminary, wrote me God, that’s not enough. And both have turned back to face the sea of “Yet” recently lamenting that in as poets, of course, point your and “Slow.” If they could, and if what glimmered this time “we have reduced people toward the ultimate, like a fish were to dart back and forth across theology to ethics, namely most important poems that wide, wordless distance, the day, though gone, our own self-regulated themselves—the pictures of would never know the ache of being done. and self-flattering view of God, the poet of the world; If they thought to, or would, or even half-wanted, righteousness.” And that’s and God’s purposes, from their work—the humming, human engines just not enough. We need Genesis to Revelation, from pushed across the grass, and the grass, blade to get more truly political the prophets, to the martyrs, after blade assenting—would take forever. than that; we need to to the saints, to the apostles, But I love how long it would last. engage each other in love. to the church. In this world in which Be poets, and point “Political Poem,” Tracy K. Smith, Wade in the Water (Minneapolis: we are so often assaulted by people toward the most Graywolf Press, 2018), 54 the brutal and the vulgar— important poems of all, for by a kind of politics that God’s sake and for the sake of takes no prisoners, whether it’s national Two people, probably two strangers, the world. v politics or church politics—we need a looking across a huge divide and sensing Summer | Fall 2018 | 7
A sustained conversation
P By David White
Photo by Jody Horton
8 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
eriodically in history the question emerges, “Do we really need scholars in order to faithfully do the work of the church?” Behind this question lie some assumptions: 1) The church knows what to do: we worship, preach, sing, teach, care for one another, and engage in works of charity, justice, evangelism, and missions. 2) We do not need some scholar who has spent heaven-knows-how-long in libraries and classrooms to tell us how to do these things, much less whatever other esoteric topic they want to force upon us. In the modern era there has been a growing divide between the craft of ministry and scholarly research. On one hand, popular bookstores sell books by winsome and accessible authors, often featuring some formula for (personal, interpersonal, devotional, ministry, financial!) success; while on the other hand scholarly guilds feature papers or books written by scholars on some specific (or obscure) point of theology. This is not always a matter of preference or intention; there are structures that maintain this divide. Even when scholars wish to make their work accessible to lay folks or professionals, publishers no longer know how to market such crossover works, forcing scholars on one hand and professional clergy on the other to publish for their particular niche audiences. Once upon a time, not that long ago, theological scholars spoke with authority to public issues (think, for example, Reinhold Niebuhr). But now matters of theology and faith are forced to the margins of public life, relegated to the private sphere. Theologians’ concerns now seem irrelevant to contemporary life, and at times, even the church’s life. While it is true
body, the church. We reduce the gospel to an easily consumable commodity, a mere belief or feeling—infinitely less challenging or transforming than the social form of the church envisioned by theology as necessary for our growth in faith, in which we learn to love more fully. Historically, the term “doctor of the church” is reserved for those whose teachings have served to remind her of her true calling—those standing in the space between the existing church and her best ideals. This betwixt and between role reminds the church of her own logic and story, comparing the ancient wisdom of the trathat religious topics find their way into political dis- dition with aspects of the current age. Today, seminary course, more often than not this is a matter of politics professors, like those at Austin Presbyterian Theological using religion for its own purposes rather than religion Seminary, serve self-consciously in this role. speaking its own truth to public situations. This division For instance, I am a Christian education professor, is driven by many forces—not the least of which is con- and my role is to teach and write from my study of Chrissumer capitalism’s avoidance of products that are not tian wisdom concerning the appropriate means for formimmediately familiar, accessible, or convenient (because ing Christian disciples—specifically, as heirs of a tradilet’s face it; nobody wants to tion that awakens us to God’s The West has moved steadily work that hard!). These terms love, a community embodying of ease and convenience rarely toward the autonomy and Christ’s love, and a prophetic characterize theology or spiriwitness freeing a broken world isolation of individuals and the for God’s shalom. Many people tual practices which always make demands on our hearts objectification and consumption of assume that Christian education and minds. all things. Forgotten are the skills involves teaching and learning However, a good case can the church’s doctrines and prenecessary to forge an environment cepts—instruction that mirrors be made that we need scholarly theology more now than of support and challenge in which our Western classroom educaever before. Two realities make tion. To be sure, didactic instrucwe and our children find our true theological scholarship urgent. tion is appropriately one of the First, in the Western world esministries of the church. Yet a place in God’s economy. pecially, we find a culture that closer look reveals that mere inhas forgotten many of the orstruction has at times served as ganic practices affirmed by a strategy for avoiding our own the Christian gospel—such conversion. Whereas, we have as hospitality to strangers, imagined that teaching and care for the created order, community building, forgive- learning the right ideas would result in right Christian ness, introspection, contemplation, repentance, discern- behavior; at times, we have made our ideas into an idolaing the good, teaching the young and calling forth their trous substitute for a more fulsome life in faith. gifts, and the worship of God to whom our lives express When we consider a Western culture that has digratitude. Second, the West has moved steadily toward minished the prominence of lived communal practices, the autonomy and isolation of individuals and the ob- we can glimpse, at least partly, why the church’s witness jectification and consumption of all things. Forgotten has been diminished such that our young people can no are the skills necessary to forge an environment of sup- longer see the point. Yet, a closer theological study of port and challenge in which we and our children find our the Christian tradition points to a more robust vision of true place in God’s economy. Our churches have not been Christian formation that includes the heart, mind, soul, immune from these two trends. In too many congrega- and body in living and learning as Christians. Acts 2:42 tions, members resist the kind of vulnerability and inti- and forward tells us that for the earliest church, teaching macy necessary to knit our lives into the fabric of God’s Continued on page 13
with the past
Summer | Fall 2018 | 9
What’s the Use of Sin-Talk? By Carolyn Browning Helsel
hen was the last time you heard sin talked about in your church? In most worship services, we confess our sins on a weekly basis. We have a call to confession, followed by a unison prayer, and additional silence for us to confess our sins silently to God. But do we know what we are praying? Do we know what we are confessing? And how do we increase our awareness so to live our lives differently? We call sin that which separates us from God. But there is a lot that separates us from God and from one another. Naming sin is a way we can deny sin its power over us, instead claiming the power of God in Christ to redeem us and make us into a new creation. But what does that actually mean? And what does that look like? Photo by Jody Horton
My doctoral research focused on helping white Christians talk about racism. My first book, Anxious to Talk about It, distilled insights from this research for a broad audience. It has been used in churches and small groups, opening up conversation in a way that I hope has drawn people deeper into relationship with persons who may not look
The ways that theologians have spoken about sin in the past has also helped me understand the lingering impact of racism on our world.
like themselves. The second book, Preaching about Racism, helps faith leaders think biblically and theologically about this problem. A chapter focuses on naming racism as sin. On one level, it is easy to say, “Racism is sin.” But for many white Christians, it is harder to fully understand what we mean by the word “racism.” Learning more about racism helps me have a greater appreciation for the power of sin, and the ways that theologians have spoken about sin in the past has also helped me understand the lingering impact of racism on our world. For instance, one of the ways the Bible speaks of sin is as idolatry. We may picture actual idols being worshipped, like the ones we read about in the Old Testament. But idolatry also has to do with everything that we worship above God, all that we value more than God. Black theologians have spoken of racism as an “alternative faith system” (George Kelsey) and as “idolatry” (M. Shawn Copeland). Another way theologians have spoken of sin is to name it “estrangement.” Sin makes us estranged from God and from one another. In light of the history of segregation and racial animosity, naming racism as
Continued on page 13 10 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
By Song-Mi Suzie Park
ost of us assume that we know and understand what the Bible says and what it means. After all, this text is held by most in the church as canonical and authoritative—that is, holy somehow. And as an authoritative text, a text that is holy or in some way connected to God, it must—it should—make sense. Otherwise how can this text be pertinent and useful for our lives? How can God speak to us through this text unless we understand it? Yet when readers, such as many of the students in my classes, start reading the Bible, especially the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible, they quickly discover that the text does not make sense—at least, not completely. Even the parts that do mostly make sense, readers find, are confusing in other ways. Sometimes the stories are
Photo by Jody Horton
Helping the Church Read the Bible surprisingly disturbing. At points, the tales feature heroes who behave unethically. Many stories do not seem very politically correct. And most seem to lack an immediately evident moral or pedagogical message, lesson, or point. In short, once people start reading the Old Testament, they quickly realize that these stories in the text do not match the neat and pedagogical summaries of the tales that they have heard at church, seen in movies, or have been taught in culture generally. I begin here with a discussion of the oddity of the Old
How many times have we heard about the loving God of the New Testament and the wrathful God of the Old Testament? A more accurate understanding of love in the Old Testament is therefore vital to dispelling such theological prejudices and assumptions.
Testament text because it is this very oddity that forms the center of what I study and teach. To put it simply, the primary purpose of my research and my teaching—tasks which feed into one another—is to help seminarians, readers, and those in the church better understand this perplexing text. My research, in short, tries to make sense of stories or portions of the Old Testament that do not make sense—at least not immediately. The parts that seem odd or maybe even disturbing, the stories that raise questions but do not Summer | Fall 2018 | 11
seem to offer a discernible answer, the tales that lack an more important when we consider that there is a lingereasily discernible pedagogical point—these narratives ing assumption in the church that the Old Testament feaare the focus of my study. To put it broadly, I am in the tures a less loving God; or that the Old Testament is in business of dealing with problematic texts. some way deficient or lacking in love as compared to the Take, for example, the feminist commentary on New Testament. How many times have we heard about the Book of 2 Kings, which I have recently completed. the loving God of the New Testament and the wrathful Though the Book of 2 Kings is not well-known to many God of the Old Testament? A more accurate understandreaders and though the stories in it infrequently appear ing of love in the Old Testament is therefore vital to in the lectionary readings, this book is filled with stories dispelling such theological prejudices and assumptions. about interesting female characters. For example, the in- Moreover, I hope this subject will be theologically and famous, heretical queen Jezebel; the poor Shunammite practically meaningful to the pastor, reader, or seminarwidow whose son is resurrected by Elijah; the murderous ian. By understanding more about what love means in princess Anthelia, who usurps the throne of Judah; and the Old Testament, they can better understand what it the wise prophetess Huldah who tells King Josiah about means to love the world, each other, and God. Judah’s failure to obey God’s commandments—they all My research interests, as I conceive of them, are an make an appearance in 2 Kings. extension or part of a larger ped As this is a feminist commenagogical goal. This goal is to show My research interests are tary, this work, more than most readers that the Old Testament commentaries, particularly focuses is interesting, complex, and an extension or part of a on what feelings and ideas about therefore worthy of reading and larger pedagogical goal: to gender, class, and power are presstudying. Despite the canonicity ent in and conveyed by these stoof the Hebrew text and despite show readers that the Old ries, both directly and indirectly. the fact that most church memTestament is interesting, Such an examination, I hope, will bers assent to the authority of complex, and therefore worthy be of great use to ministers, semithe Old Testament, I have found narians, and lay readers as they that relatively few people have of reading and studying. deal with issues concerning genread or read much of this text. der, economics, and power in their This action—or lack of action— churches or communities. is telling. Through my research Similarly relevant, I hope, is and my teaching, I hope to conanother topic I am currently revince people that, despite their searching. My most recent book busyness, the Old Testament is project examines the ways in which the concept of love indeed worthy of their time and effort. The simple act of was understood and thought of in the Old Testament. asking questions about the mysteries, ambiguities, and Despite our assumptions, love in the Hebrew Bible, a text oddities that are found in the Old Testament text begins that stems from the ancient Near Eastern context, likely a process by which a person who confesses to the sancdid not have the same meanings that the term has now. tity of Scriptures truly learns to live into this belief. As It is vitally important that we not confuse and conflate a teacher and researcher, my job is to be the person who our present understanding of love with what love means helps you ask these questions. v in the Old Testament. If we do so, we may misinterpret key statements in the text, such as that God loves us, and that we, in turn, are to love God. What does it mean, for Song-Mi Suzie Park is associate professor of Old Testament at Austin Seminary. In her research she looks at the ways biblical example, when it states that, “You shall love the Lord” literature reflects historical, ideological, and theological struggles, (Deut 6:5) or that “You shall love your neighbor as your- especially as they relate to the politics of identity. She has two books self” (Lev 19:18), if love does not have the same meaning forthcoming: 2 Kings: Wisdom Commentary published by the Liturgical Press; and Flashes of Fire: Love in the Hebrew Bible as we give it today? Understanding love in the Old Testament is even published by Westminster John Knox Press.
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and proclaiming the gospel were set within an economy of other practices—fellowship, breaking bread, prayer, and giving to those with need. While proclaiming and teaching expresses the logic of the gospel, the other practices make the gospel alive in their corporate life. In other words, the church’s early practices were not merely duties that sprang from their ideas about God. In reality, the practices supported and incarnated their ideas. God was encountered in their practices as much as in their ideas. Moreover, hearts, minds and bodies were formed in the acts of faith, not only in the thoughts about faith. The art of forming Christians in faith has expanded in recent decades to include way-of-life practices, which makes theological sense in light of the doctrine of incarnation. We are not, it seems, mere brains on a stick; we are embodied creatures seeking God and our fullest purpose in all areas of our lives. Much more could be said about how the scholarship of Christian education has in recent decades widened its scope to include more theologically and experientially adequate approaches for forming Christians and Christian communities. Similar movements are stirring in all theological disciplines—biblical studies, theology, preaching, pastoral care, worship, and missions. Scholars in these fields have all taken seriously their role as doctors of the church, standing between the historic legacy of the church and the church in this historical moment. This is especially true at Austin Seminary which has long treasured its role of serving the church. We must do more, all of us—despite cultural forces that divide us—to repair the breach between the life of the church and scholars. Good theological scholarship involves deep awareness of the church’s historical legacy and a deep listening to the church’s restless cry. While creative innovation plays an important role as the church imagines a way forward, we must not imagine that we can innovate our way around the demands of the church’s practices that teach us to love. This is the fertile soil for the church’s continual emergence. v
estrangement lifts up the problem as bigger than simply “personal preferences” to stay among one’s own kind, but as a spiritual problem demonstrating our inability to love our neighbor, which is to say, everyone. Finally, calling sin a form of “bondage” is also useful when speaking about racism. The history of enslaving fellow humans, as well as imprisoning black and brown bodies at a much higher rate than their counterparts in white communities, is literally a form of bondage. Augustine of Hippo, author of Confessions, wrote about sin as a form of bondage in which we create our own chains, and that over time, habits develop so that these chains now hold us fast. For many white people, there remains this lingering habit of racial discrimination—the presence of implicit bias—that makes it more likely for us to physically respond to a person of color with some degree of anxiety: it could be a worry about offending, or even an assumption of criminality and suspicion. These deep habits are chains of bondage that continue to keep us estranged from the rest of God’s good creation, that prevent us from receiving the gifts of a greater sense of community. I give these examples as a way of saying that our weekly confession of sin should remind us of what is at stake when we speak of sin. There is a lot of sin in the world that continues to separate us from God and from one another. By employing sin-talk to help us call out the seriousness and breadth of sins such as racism, we can open ourselves to the true work that our weekly confession enables: lamenting the sin that divides us, crying out to God for forgiveness, and being empowered to try to make a difference in the world as followers of Christ. In the contexts I work—mainly with white Christians—naming racism as sin in the forms of idolatry, estrangement, and bondage can highlight just how great a problem racism is, as well as how much we need to rely on God’s mercy and grace to work against it. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the awareness that in Christ we are forgiven calls forth our gratitude and invites us to live anew. v
David White is the C. Ellis and Nancy Gribble Nelson Professor of Christian Education and professor of Methodist studies at Austin Seminary. The author of several books including Dreamcare: A Theology of Youth, Spirit, and Vocation (Cascade, 2013), Professor White served United Methodist churches in Alaska, California, and Mississippi. Professor White serves on the Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing Advisory Board for the Theology of Joy & the Good Life project at Yale Divinity School.
Carolyn Helsel is assistant professor of homiletics at Austin Seminary. She is the author of Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism and Preaching About Racism: A Guide for White Faith Leaders, both out this year from Chalice Press.
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A deep love for the church inspires the men and women who comprise Austin Seminary’s faculty. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, they carve out time to preach and teach in churches, conferences, and denominational gatherings. They write essays and op-eds and chapters and books—attempting to illuminate a difficult scripture passage or clarify a theological nuance or suggest a helpful perspective—with one goal in mind: to serve others along their faith journeys. Four new books and the first volume of a lectionary commentary series, written for the church, have emerged this year from the pens of our professors.
Austin Seminary and Westminster John Knox Press publish new biblical commentary series
ustin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has partnered with Westminster John Knox Press on a new lectionary commentary series, Connections. Cynthia Rigby, The W.C. Brown Professor of Theology, is a general co-editor, and more than half of the editorial board are Austin Seminary faculty members: Professors Gregory Cuéllar, Bill Greenway, Carolyn Helsel, Jennifer Lord, Blair Monie, Suzie Park, and David White. This unique series will contain nine volumes analyzing biblical texts and exploring their relationships to broader contexts. While Connections will be a useful tool for preachers and Christian educators, it has been designed to aid anyone wishing to develop a deeper understanding of the Bible. Each volume has been created to support a wide range of readers with diverse denominational affiliations and areas of expertise. To accomplish this, Connections has more than 600 contributing authors from multiple denominations and perspectives. Connections stands apart from other commentary series as a result of the distinctive model by which each text is analyzed. Rigby describes this model as reflective of the famous quote from Protestant theologian Karl Barth: “Take your Bible and take your newspaper and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” With this in mind, there are two separate essays for each text. The first essay will explore connections between the text and the Bible. Rigby explained that this commentary is written in cognizance that the Bible is “a library of sixty14 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
six books ... that are related to each other.” Each text will be examined in relation to the specific book it is in as well as to the Bible as a whole. The second essay will explore the relevance of the passage to the current world. It will analyze relationships between the text and topics such as social sciences, hard sciences, literature and poetry, liturgy, ecclesial issues, and polity issues. In addition to these two commentaries, “pop-up” articles expanding on these topics are provided for people with little knowledge of these subjects or who want to explore them further. The first volume of this series will be released in September. This volume covers texts from Advent through Epiphany in Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary. Rigby noted that the authors “model a kind of vulnerability to the texts they are considering. They allow themselves to be carried by whatever particular text they are working on into the broader biblical witness, wrestling with resonances and dissonances that lead into new insights about each particular text’s relevance. They allow themselves, similarly, to ask honest questions about how particular texts actually matter in the face of our 21st-century concerns about issues including climate change, immigration, racial violence, and artificial intelligence.” The first volume comes out in September, and the first two are available for preorder online at the PC(USA) store. v — Alexandra Ingrando
Holding Faith: A Practical Introduction to Christian Doctrine (Abingdon Press) by Cynthia L. Rigby, the W.C. Brown Professor of Theology. Following is a conversation with the author. What prompted you to write Holding Faith? I believe theology is for everyone. I don’t buy into the idea that scholars need always choose between writing for students/clergy and writing for laypeople. There are so many people in the churches I visit who are interested in diving deeper into theological ideas! I also wanted to write a book that was inviting to people who are interested in, but maybe a bit intimidated by, theology. Finally, I wanted to write a book that is accessible to the so-called “Nones”—the religiously nonaffiliated. I hope Holding Faith invites them to bring into the theological conversation their criticisms and skepticisms as well as their questions. I think their input benefits all of us who hold faith. One person with whom I share this passion for conversing with laypeople is the late Shirley Guthrie, author of Christian Doctrine (WJK/1994). Shirley once looked me straight in the eye and said: “Cindy, I want you to write a new book that, like Christian Doctrine, is accessible to laypeople as well as to pastors and theology students.” I deeply respected Shirley for his theological depth, passion, and vision, and I was humbled that he thought I could do this. Why does it matter to think about theology? Theology matters because it concerns itself with truths and questions that shape our lives and their meaning. The theological enterprise shares them openly by talking about them, studying them, puzzling over them, even criticizing them. And (as I explain, by way of Madeleine
L’Engle and Saint Augustine) our focus should be less on understanding Christian doctrines (which is impossible to do, in any exhaustive sense) and more in knowing what they are about. What was the hardest thing about writing the book? The hardest thing about writing this book is that it is kind of about everything, and it is impossible to say everything in just one book. It’s like teaching the introductory theology class at Austin Seminary: challenging (but also kind of crazy making) to spend just one lecture, or one chapter, on a doctrine like christology. How do you say everything about Jesus in an hour and a half or in thirty pages? Of course you can’t. So I tried to use the space I had to get to the “so what?” of each doctrine, believing that if readers have some “ah-ha!” reactions along the way, they will keep on reflecting, theologically, long after they are done with the reading of Holding Faith. What are you hoping to be the takeaway for your reader? I hope the reader comes away from the book confident that theology has a superpower: it can say something about everything. It doesn’t have all the answers. It cannot say everything about everything, or even everything about something. But what it can say cuts very quickly to what matters most to everyone, everywhere. That is: that the God who loves us meets us and makes us; blesses us and sends us. v
Other books out in 2018 include: Days and Times: Poems for the Liturgy of Living (Wipf and Stock) by Paul K. Hooker, associate dean for ministerial formation and advanced studies, and Anxious to Talk About It and Preaching About Racism (Chalice Press) by Professor Carolyn B. Helsel, assistant professor of homiletics.
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faculty news notes
Honoring Professor Lewis Donelson
(Shy and) retiring Austin Seminary Professor Lewie Donelson concluded a thirty-five-year career at Austin Seminary. On May 10 the community celebrated this beloved professor. Right, Lewie surrounded by his Biblical Department colleagues (Gregory Cuéllar sent his regards from his London sabbatical).
Blair Monie (pastoral ministry and leadership) taught at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas on July 15 and at the Eagles Mere Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania on August 12. Eric Wall (sacred music) was music director for the Montreat Conference Center this summer. He and Professor Jen Lord will be leaders for the Just Worship: Towards a Faithful and Vibrant Future conference, Sept. 13-15, at Columbia Seminary.
Check out the tribute video honoring Lewie here: https://vimeo.com/269229205
faculty notes | Whit Bodman, (comparative religion) will be giving a paper, “Conspiracy Theories of the Muslim Menace in America,” at the University of Navarra, Spain, for the Narrative of Islamic Violence in History: Creation, Artifice, and Reality Conference in mid-December. Bill Greenway (philosophical theology) gave two presentations in Lubbock, Texas, this spring: “For the Love of All Creatures: Levinas, Agape Ethics, and the Seven Days of Creation,” at the Lubbock Interfaith Conference, April 21, and “The Love of All Creatures: A New Perspective on Genesis,” at the Earth Day Celebration at Covenant Presbyterian Church, on April 20. He also gave a presentation, “Reproductive
Jennifer Lord (homiletics and liturgics) led a retreat of twelve PC(USA) clergywomen (including the 2016-18 General Assembly co-moderator) in April on the Austin Seminary campus. She spoke on “Preaching, Pilgrimage, and Liminality” and oriented them to the newly revised Book of Common Worship. Lord also led worship this spring for the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) Women in Leadership 20thanniversary event.
Loss, Mourning for Self and Others, and Abortion: Agape Ethics and Moral Status,” for the EBW conference “Reconceiving Hope: Infertility, Reproductive Loss, Healing,” co-sponsored with Steve Hicks School of Social Work, UT Austin, in April. Phil Helsel (pastoral care), co-chaired the InterreligiousIntercultural Pastoral Theology Group at the Society for Pastoral Theology in June in Atlanta. He will be guest editor for Sacred Space, Journal of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, forthcoming. Carolyn Helsel (homiletics), led a workshop at Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina, in July.
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Paul Hooker (associate dean) was everywhere during the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in St. Louis! He was parliamentarian for CMTE 04 The Way Forward Committee, parliamentary assistant on the floor of the Assembly in plenary session, and taught a seminary course, General Assembly Policies and Procedures, with Cliff Kirkpatrick and Jerry VanMarter. Timothy Lincoln (associate dean) gave the workshop “Library Statistics That Matter” at the annual conference of the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) in Indianapolis, Indiana, in June. He is completing six years of service on the ATLA board.
Asante Todd (Christian ethics) participated in a Wabash Center Workshop for Early Career Faculty in Crawfordsville, Indiana, in June. He is writing a book proposal in the area of African-American public theology and recently completed a curriculum project in collaboration with Odell Education Company, addressing two themes: “The American Experience” and “Systems: Theory and Applications.” He preached at New Covenant Presbyterian Fellowship (Austin) on August 12. Phil Wingeier-Rayo (mission and evangelism) has resigned his position on the faculty of Austin Seminary to become academic dean and professor of missiology and Methodist studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., effective July 1.v
Phil Helsel to research clergy financial literacy Phil Helsel, associate professor of pastoral care, has been named a Church Management Research Fellow at Villanova University’s Center for Church Management and Business Ethics. The Center received a Lilly Endowment grant to address clergy financial literacy, both with respect to pastors’ own personal finances and their ability to conduct their parish financial responsibilities. Part of the grant funds the program for research fellows with the intent of helping faculty grow their expertise in the area of clergy financial literacy. Helsel met with other research fellows on the Villanova campus this summer, presenting his research proposal and receiving feedback from the advisors and other fellows. In the summer of 2019 he will return to the Villanova campus for a second three-day residency to present his final research project. After considering suggested revisions, each fellow is expected to submit her/his research for publication. v
Discovery Weekend October 26-28, 2018
Find your own voice.
Co-sponored by Austin Seminary
September 13–15, 2018 • Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary Come explore how worship embodies and shapes us for justice
Come explore how worship embodies With Paul T. Roberts, Aisha Brooks-Lytle, Tony McNeill, David Gambrell, Kimberly Long, Eric and Jennifer Lord and Bracken shapes usWall,for justice Visit bit.ly/justworship2018 for more info and to register
September 13 - 15, 2018 Columbia Theological Seminary
The conference is sponsored by Johnson C. Smith Seminary, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary, The Presbyterian Association of Musicians and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Theology and Worship
Plenary speakers and worship leaders include
Register online at AustinSeminary.edu/discovery
Paul T. Roberts, Aisha Brooks-Lytle,
Jennifer Lord, Tony McNeill, David Gambrell, Kimberly Bracken Long, and Eric Wall Visit bit.ly/justworship2018 for more info and to register
Summer | Fall 2018 | 17
faculty news notes
class notes |
good reads | Raising White Kids: Bringing up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey
ith the advent of the Black Lives Matter movement, churches have begun once more to address the intractability of white racism and the philosophy of white supremacy that supports it. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), past comoderators have encouraged a church-wide discussion on the book Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. Others have added to the conversation, including my colleague Carolyn Helsel, whose book Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Race has just been published to positive reviews and high acclaim. However, much of this has been adult conversation: stories to grownups about grownup experiences of race and racism. What about the kids? The question is of particular importance to churches that baptize infants and make promises, on behalf of the whole church, to raise those infants in the faith of Jesus Christ, a faith which, as Presbyterians, we confess stands against injustice, including racism. Enter The Reverend Dr. Jennifer Harvey’s helpful volume Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America. Harvey, professor of religion at Drake University and the white mother of two white children, proposes that we raise white children who are comfortable in their own skin but who are also able to function well and appropriately in racially diverse environments … children who neither ignore nor pretend not to notice the racial identities of others but who also do not make assumptions about people based on their race … children who feel equipped and have strong moral commitments to interrupt and challenge racism when they
18 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
1950s witness it, both in interpersonal and day-to-day life moments as well as in its large structural and societal forms (98). Harvey addresses this development in a userfriendly, readable volume designed for adult caregivers of children. Over the course of seven chapters, Harvey explores the problem with “color-blind” and “diversity” models of attending to race; why we must use the “r” word; the way in which race follows our bodies’ interactions, even when nothing racist is said; age-appropriate ways to start the conversation for children of all ages, from infants to adolescents; and what resistance to racism looks like for white children (and their parents). Harvey also introduces Dr. Janet Helms’ theory of white racial identity development as a way to map different racialized reactions of children (and adults). Helpfully, Harvey also includes at the end of every chapter five to seven bulleted takeaways, points of reference for busy parents and caregivers to remind themselves of the most important lessons in her book. As the parent of a white male child, I have found Harvey’s book a helpful set of guidelines as together we negotiate the ever-present reality of race in our lives. As we adults of the church seek to live into the vows we take at every infant’s baptism, I strongly recommend her book as a helpful and faithful companion.v
—Written by Dr. Margaret Aymer, The First Presbyterian Church, Shreveport, D. Thomason Professor of New Testament Studies
Gilbert Beaume (Ecum’59) served as a minister of the United Church of Zambia from 1971-75; he served as head of Language Service of the All Africa Conference of Churches. He is now retired as a minister of the Reformed Church of France.
1960s Gene March (MDiv’60) has been honored by Union Seminary (New York) as a recipient of their 2018 Unitas Distinguished Alumni Awards. “The alumni/ae honored exemplify Union’s intellectual rigor but, more than that, they have boldly lived out the worldchanging faith which we hope to kindle in all our graduates,” shared Union Seminary President Serene Jones. The Austin Seminary Association honored Gene with the ASA Award for Service in 1982.
1970s Mike Barron (MDiv’79) was honorably retired by Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery on March 7, 2018.
1980s Bobbi Kaye Jones (MDiv’80) retired from the Rio Texas Annual Conference, June 8, 2018. David, the son of Mark Hinds (MDiv’87) died May 12, 2018, after a years-long battle with cancer, San Antonio, Texas. Charles Cropper (MDiv’88) is retired and lives with his wife, Debbie, in Elmendorf, Texas.
alumni news notes 1990s
Valerie Bridgeman (MDiv’90) was named dean and vice president for academic affairs by the Methodist Theological School of Ohio, beginning July 2, 2018.
Brenton and Sudie Thompson (MDiv’12) welcomed a daughter, Iona Renée, born on March 8.
Jesse Gonzalez (MDiv’92) was installed in April as designated pastor of Iglesia Presbiteriana Getsemani of Fort Worth, Texas. David Gray King (MDiv’94), Beverly Burk (MDiv’96), and Linda Montgomery (MDiv’98) retired from the Rio Texas Annual Conference on June 8. David Gambrell (MDiv’98) will have a hymn text he wrote honoring fellow alumni Marci Brown (MDiv’98) and James Lee (MDiv’00) published in an upcoming collection. Cindy Kohlmann (MDiv’99) was elected co-moderator of the PC(USA) by the 223rd General Assembly of the PC(USA), which convened in St. Louis, June 16-23, 2018. Cindy will serve as co-moderator until 2020.
2000s Phil Steinbach (MDiv’00) and Jerry Goodridge (MDiv’02) retired from the Rio Texas Annual Conference on June 8. Tom, the husband of Jean Reardon (MDiv’05), died March 1. Jean retired from the Rio Texas Annual Conference on June 8. Jong Seo Kim (MDiv’09) has moved to his home country of South Korea. Kim works for the non-governmental organization Gimhae Migrant Human Rights Center.
Jeannine Caracciolo (MDiv’15) is a hospice chaplain with Community Nursing Services of Logan, Utah.
ordinations & commissions | Jen Stuart (MDiv’14), ordained by the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, June 24, 2018; pastor at Ellensburg (Washington) UMC Holly Swift (MDiv’14), ordained by Mission Presbytery, April 29, 2018; chaplain for Brookdale Hospice, Austin, Texas Parker Zimmerman (MDiv’14), commissioned by the Texas Annual Conference, May 29, 2018; pastor at St. Peter’s UMC, Katy, Texas Cindy Eschliman Mood (MDiv’15), ordained April 7, 2018, by Mission Presbytery; social worker/chaplain at Walnut Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation, Austin, Texas Molly Hatchell (MATS’15), ordained by Mission Presbytery, March 4, 2018; chaplain with Ascension Seton Healthcare, Austin, Texas
Hailey Malcolm (MDiv’15), ordained by Grace Presbytery on March 18, 2018; chaplain and chaplain research fellow at Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati, Ohio Michelle Vernone (MDiv’15), ordained by the Rio Texas Annual Conference, June 8, 2018 Kris Brown (MDiv’16), ordained by Mission Presbytery on March 18, 2018; stated supply pastor for First Presbyterian Church, Smithville, Texas
Susan Rang (MDiv’16), commissioned by the Rio Texas Annual Conference, June 8, 2018 Adrienne Zermeno (MDiv’16), ordained by the Rio Texas Annual Conference, June 8, 2018 Jim DeMent (MDiv’17), ordained by New Covenant Presbytery on March, 25, 2018, at St. Philip Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas; interim pastor to First Presbyterian Church, Victoria, Texas
Kevin Henderson (MDiv’16), ordained and installed as pastor at Sunrise Beach Federated Church, February 4, 2018
Jessie Light-Wells (MDiv’17), ordained April 14, 2018, by Grace Presbytery; pastoral resident at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas
Reese Henry III (MDiv’16), commissioned by the Rio Texas Annual Conference, June 8, 2018
Meg Vail (MDiv’17), ordained April 8, 2018, by Mission Presbytery; associate pastor at First Presbyterian, Logan, Utah
Janet Larson (MDiv’16), commissioned by the Rio Texas Annual Conference, June 8, 2018
Adam Anderson (MDiv’18), ordained June 30, 2018. by the Presbytery of Scioto Valley.
Don Moore (MDiv’16), commissioned by the Central Texas Annual Conference, June 12, 2018 Walter Prescher III (MDiv’16), ordained by the Rio Texas Annual Conference, June 8, 2018
Michele Lott (MDiv18’), commissioned by the Rio Texas Annual Conference of the UMC, June 8, 2018. Jeff Sanchez (MDiv’18), commissioned by the Central Texas Annual Conference of the UMC, June 12, 2018.
FUN @ GA
June retirees from the Rio Texas Annual Conference included David Gray King, Jean Reardon, Bobbi Kaye Jones,Beverly Slusher Burk, and Phil Steinbach. Summer | Fall 2018 | 19
alumni news notes in memoriam | William L. Brandt (Cert.’52), November 8, 2015, Bedford, Virginia James C. Thrash (MDiv’56), June 3, 2017, Rockwall, Texas A. John Gillies (Cert.’57), July 25, 2011, McAllen, Texas Sammy R. Shrum (MDiv’57), June 27, 2010, Branson, Missouri Bill T. McDaniel (MDiv’58), April 24, 2017, Fairfax, Virginia John E. Pressly (Diploma’59), December 17, 2011, Houston, Texas John B. Berkley (MDiv’60), July 7, 2014, Gonzales, Texas John F. Albrecht Jr. (MDiv’61), April 30, 2018, Richland Center, Wisconsin Willis A. Jones (MDiv’64), December 17, 2016, Scotland Joseph A. Rice (MDiv’65) June 1, 2018, Austin, Texas John S. Pyles (MDiv’66), August 10, 2013, Tullahoma, Tennessee R. Larry Black (MDiv’72), September 18, 2017, Monroe, Ohio Neil Day (MDiv’73), March 31, 2018, Kerrville, Texas Robert Ed Taylor (DMin’89), October 20, 2014, Shreveport, Louisiana Joseph A. Tarrillion (DMin’91), February 2, 2017, San Antonio, Texas Jacob T. Preuss (MDiv’92), March 20, 2018, Carrollton, Texas Irma Coronado-Bain (MATS’94), April 2, 2018, Austin, Texas
Submit your nominations for the
2019 ASA Awards AustinSeminary. edu/alumni
upcoming from education beyond the walls | Horizons Bible Study: God’s Promise: I Am with You| Sept. 8 | Rev. Amy Poling Sutherlun | God has promised to be with us from the very beginning until the end of the age. Come explore God’s promise with writer Amy Poling Sutherlun, as she shares insights into this year’s Horizons Bible Study. | For anyone who will lead the Horizons Bible Study | Cost: $60 (includes lunch); $30 per person in groups of two or more. Building a House United | Oct. 9 & Nov. 15 | Rev. Allen Hilton | Americans are
more politically divided than we’ve been since the Civil War. These tribal disagreements rip apart families, friendships, governments, and not surprisingly, churches. Because of this, polarization becomes a primary part of any pastor’s context and a challenge to her or his work. Join Allen Hilton as he engages this crucial leadership issue of our time. The two parts of this series offer independent, but equally important content. | For clergy and church leaders | Cost: $35 each (includes lunch)
Faithful Families | Oct. 15-17 | Rev. Traci Smith | In Partnership with SCRAPCE | Learn together with other Christian educators, parents, and children’s ministry leaders as Traci Smith offers practical tips and ideas for developing age-appropriate faith practices, fostering rich worship experiences for all ages, and nurturing sacred space even in busy times. | For Christian educators, clergy, parents, and children’s ministry leaders | Cost: $150 ($100 for APCE Members & UMC Commissioned Parish Christian Educators) | $20 for the Monday evening keynote only: “Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home” WEBINAR WEDNESDAYS | Be among the first to share in new scholarship by Austin
Seminary faculty as three professors talk about their soon-to-be-published books. Oct. 17 | Preaching about Racism: A Guide for White Faith Leaders | Carolyn Helsel Oct. 31 | Christian Understandings of Christ: The Historical Trajectory | Dave Jensen Nov. 7 | Archival Criticism: The British Museum, Empire, and the Making of the Biblical Scholar in the Nineteenth Century | Gregory Cuéllar For anyone interested in staying current with the latest scholarship coming out of Austin Seminary | Cost: $10 per webinar /season pass to all three for $25
Growing into Tomorrow Today | Nov. 15-16 | Rev. Clayton Cobb | Retirement
planning for PC(USA) pastors led by the Board of Pensions | Planning for retirement can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Attend this two-day seminar and look beyond finances to be informed, educated, and inspired for a journey toward wholeness in retirement living! | For mid- to late-career clergy and lay persons, Board of Pensions members, and their guests | Housing available at Austin Seminary
The Power for Caregiving| Dec. 1 | Rev. Ken Ramsey & Rev. Lee Ann Rathbun |
There is great power in caring for others, particularly in their most vulnerable moments. As caregivers, it is important to attend to our own understanding and use of power in the caregiving relationship. Engage with Ken Ramsey and Lee Ann Rathbun as they focus attention on power dynamics and justice in the care of souls. | For clergy and lay caregivers of all kinds | Cost: $25
SAVE THE DATE: Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising |
Feb. 11-14, 2019 | In Partnership with Lake Institute | A four-day intensive program with a practical application project, provides the research, tools, and customized training to meet the growing needs of leaders in religious communities and fundraisers of faith-based organizations. The focus of the ECRF is on the cultural, organizational, and philanthropic practices unique to religious institutions. | For clergy, lay leaders, fundraisers, and anyone interested in doing a deep dive on religious fundraising | Cost: $1300 per person; scholarships available through Lake Institute—applications open this fall.
20 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Glorious students By Cynthia Rigby, The W. C. Brown Professor of Theology
ccording to Socialnomics 2018, a person’s average attention span has dropped down to seven seconds—a second lower than the attention span of a goldfish. If this is true, the majority of my students must be either dinosaurs or X-men. I say this because they clearly have a much greater attention span than whatever contemporary mortals were polled by Socialnomics. They sit with me hour after hour, listening to lectures, discussing complicated theological texts, and debating over the relevance of particular doctrines of the Christian faith. And then they catch me in the hallway, or engage me in the cafeteria, or stop by my office, sharing the most heart-filling insights about how what they are learning in seminary is affecting their lives. They cannot get enough, it seems, of what they believe matters. Deep engagement with theological ideas is what they want— and it is the main thing they sign up for—when they come to study at Austin Seminary. As a seminary professor, I know I am not a pastor. But I believe I am a minister. And I think a lot about what that means, exactly. Of course I do for my students some of the things that their pastors do: I preach for them, I have occasion to counsel them, I encourage them, I exhort them in the faith, I pray for them. But it seems to me that I also have a more particular and consistent ministerial responsibility to them that is connected to my gifts and role as their teacher. I think it is this: that I am called to honor the quest for meaning that has led them to enter my classroom, every time they come through that door. This includes treating each student not as though they have the attention span of a goldfish, but as though they are (in the
words of the psalmist) “a little lower than God,” cognizant of the “glory and honor” bestowed on them by the God who both cares for them and has “given them dominion” over all God has made (see Psalm 8:3-6). That my students are so made and thought of by God, it seems to me, is reflected in their tenacious insistence on pursuing that which demands an extra-ordinary amount of attention. Indeed, and against all odds, students
As their teacher I am called to honor the quest for meaning that has led them to enter my classroom—every time they come through that door. have overwhelmed the multitudinous pressures of their lives (childcare, parttime jobs they need to work to pay off student loans from undergrad work, church commitments, heavy traffic) and are ready to ponder: the relationship between the cross of Christ and doing justice; the relevance of miracles in a postmodern world; what it means, exactly, to claim the Bible is the Word of God. I think about the times I have arrived to class a little late, a lot distracted, or less prepared than I should be, and I grieve the loss. For there they all are, staring up at me eagerly, believing something meaningful will happen. And I have failed, at that juncture, fully to enter into this belief with them. If we believe transformation
can and does take place in time and space, we must also admit that moments squandered could very well be missed opportunities. You might reasonably accuse me, perhaps, of exaggerating or romanticizing in these past few sentences, encouraging me to remember my slothful students, especially that one who—a couple years back—was shoe shopping online while I lectured on the significance of the Trinity. But I would honestly push back at you, inviting you to come and see for yourself—the cases that seem to prove the seven-second theory are few and far between compared to those that manifest an attentiveness so capacious that it seems nothing less than a divine gift. The stereotype of the student who just wants to know if it is going to be on the test is just as unfair as that of the professor who has her head so in the academic clouds she has never heard of Trevor Noah. The fact is, we are all in that classroom for the same reason. In our ads for Austin Seminary it says something about training leaders for the future, and of course this is a crucial shared aim. But at a more primal level, we gather in class, together, because we desire better to perceive what is true, and good, and beautiful. And so I would like to take this opportunity to recommit myself to the mystery, miracle, and ministry of the classroom, but even more to my students. Thank you for coming back, class after class, making space in your busy lives to attend to what we teachers know and share because you expect that, through engaging it together, something meaningful will happen. Because of who you are, I believe it will. v Summer | Fall 2018 | 21
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary 100 East 27th Street, Austin, Texas 78705-5711
2019 MidWinters February 4-6 Currie Lecturer
Robert Michael Franklin The James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor in Moral Leadership and Senior Advisor to the President, Emory University Westervelt Lecturer
Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology and Founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Yale Divinity School Jones Lecturer
Author of A Womanâ€™s Place Preacher
Sarah Johnson Associate Pastor, Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas
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The magazine of Austin Seminary. The Summer | Fall 2018 issue features essays by three professors describing their scholarship.
Published on Aug 20, 2018
The magazine of Austin Seminary. The Summer | Fall 2018 issue features essays by three professors describing their scholarship.