Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
theological Reimag ining
theo log ical e ducation
In this Issue Commencement | 6
A Community of Learners | 8
Honor Roll of Donors | center
Preparing strong, imaginative leaders for the church.
Find your own voice.
Discovery Weekend October 27-29, 2017 To confirm your place register online at AustinSeminary.edu/ discovery
PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGI C AL
summer | fall 2017
Volume 132 | Number 3
Theodore J. Wardlaw
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 Consuelo Donahue (MDiv’96) Jackson Farrow Jr. Beth Blanton Flowers, MD Stephen Giles Jesús Juan González (MDiv’92) Walter Harris Jr. John S. Hartman Ann E. Herlin (MDiv’01) Rhashell D. Hunter Keatan A. King Steve LeBlanc J. Sloan Leonard, MD Sue B. McCoy Matthew Miller (MDiv’03) Lyndon L. Olson Jr. B. W. Payne David Peeples Mark B. Ramsey Jeffrey Kyle Richard Conrad M. Rocha Matthew E. Ruffner Lana Russell Lita Simpson Anne Vickery Stevenson Martha Crawley Tracey Carlton D. Wilde Jr. Michael G. Wright
A Community of Learners 8 Reimagining Theological Education By Melissa Wiginton and Jack Barden
10 The Dual Degree with UT Austin
8 The past decade has brought significant changes to theological education. In response, Austin Seminary has expanded beyond the traditional model to provide resources to a broader constituency.
By Laura Westerlage
11 Master of Arts in Youth Ministry
By Jose Suarez
11 College of Pastoral Leaders
By Erica Liu
12 AYAVA House
By Ely Fisher
13 787 Collective
By Mark Yaconelli
14 Certificado en Ministerio
By Olivia Vega and Juan Yepez
14 Certificate in Ministry
By Melinda Hunt
Center: The 2016-17 Honor Roll of Donors
Trustees Emeriti Max R. Sherman Louis H. Zbinden
Austin Seminary Association (ASA) Board
Matt Miles (MDiv’99),President Kristy Vits (MDiv’98), Past President Denise Odom (MDiv’99), Vice President Barrett Abernethy (MDiv’13), Secretary Kennetha Bigham-Tsai (MDiv’03) Paul Harris (MATS’10) Dieter Heinzl (MDiv’98) Sandra Kern (MDiv’93) Josh Kerr (MDiv’14) Daniel Molyneux (MDiv’86) Valerie Sansing (MDiv’00) Sheila Sidberry-Thomas (MDiv’14) Ayana Teter (MDiv’06) Caryn Thurman (MDiv’07) Michael Ulasewich (MDiv’05)
Selina Aguirre Jacqueline Hefley Timothy Lincoln Gary Mathews Candace Mathis Alex Pappas Sharon Sandberg Mona Santandrea Kristy Sorensen
& departments 2 seminary & church 3 twenty-seventh & speedway 18 live & learn 19 faculty news & notes 20 alumni news & notes 21 teaching & ministry
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 fax: 512-479-0738 AustinSeminary.edu ISSN 2056-0556; Non-profit bulk mail permit no. 2473
from the president |
President’s Schedule September 17 Preach - Fondren Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi –Theological Education Sunday September 21 Partner Lunch - San Antonio, Texas October 1 Preach Vespers Service - Westminster Manor, Austin, Texas October 15 Preach - Westminster Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas October 29 Preach - Westminster Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas October 31 Partner Lunch Shreveport, Louisiana November 29 Coffee with the President, Northwest Arkansas November 30 Coffee with the President, Little Rock, Arkansas December 5 Coffee with the President, Dallas, Texas
n the pages ahead, you will get a look at our life together here at Austin Seminary from a variety of angles. You may be surprised! The snapshots of our various programs that follow will illustrate how our basic, bread-and-butter degree—the Master of Divinity or MDiv—interacts with other degrees and certificates preparing different people for different sorts of ministries. Most of our students still prepare for the MDiv, but, as Jack Barden and Melissa Wiginton illustrate in their lead article, theological education is diversifying in order to deliver preparation for ministry to a variety of different audiences. So, in addition to hearing from Jack and Melissa, you will experience testimonials from other learners here at the Seminary. Our alumna Laura Westerlage offers a reflection on the value of augmenting her education here with a second and concurrent master’s degree in social work—part of our dual degree program in partnership with The University of Texas at Austin. Melinda Hunt, executive director of the Synod of the Sun’s program “Solar Under the Sun,” shares how the Seminary’s Certificate in Ministry program prepared her for a Commissioned Ruling Elder position. Erica Liu, an Asian American clergywoman, gives a grateful description of her experience with our cohort-based College of Pastoral Leaders. Jose Suarez, who is enrolled in our newest degree program, the Master of Arts in Youth Ministry, speaks of the benefits that come from a program designed to include both campus-based classes and contextual learning experiences in various congregations. Ely Fisher, who has lived in intentional community on our campus in “AYAVA House” (the acronym stands for “Austin Young Adult Volunteers and Americorps”), lifts up what she has learned in community about the ongoing conversation between her spirituality and her commitments to social justice ministries. Mark Yaconelli, who has been embedded with his family on our campus this spring while serving as our consultant, reflects on the bonds he has been nurturing—through a program dubbed the 787 Collective—between the stories of young adults and the attentiveness of local churches. Whatever happens next in this reverent dialogue, Mark asserts that the relationship begins with listening. Olivia Vega and Juan Yepez speak of the growth they are experiencing through the Certificado en Ministerio program that seeks to equip, in Spanish, persons preparing for various ministries in Spanish-speaking communities of faith. Laura Westerlage relates her experience in the Dual Degree Program that enables students to receive in four years both the MDiv degree from the Seminary and the MSSW degree from the University of Texas School of Social Work. Also ahead in this issue, you will get a re-cap of the 2017 Commencement weekend, various updates on alumni/ae and faculty and staff, reports on other campus happenings, and our annual Institutional Advancement report and list of donors. As we look now toward Academic Year 2017-2018, we give thanks to God for the success of the academic year just past. I hope you will join me in awaiting, with eagerness and gratitude, the new faces and voices of those whose footsteps, even now, can be heard as they approach our campus and community from the future!
Theodore J. Wardlaw President
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twenty-seventh speedway William Greenway inaugurated as full professor
n April 25, William Greenway became a senior member of the Austin Seminary faculty when he was inaugurated as full professor in a ceremony in Shelton Chapel. His inaugural address, “Surrender to Love, Live Faith: Toward a Philosophical Spirituality,” drew upon research for his four books: A Reasonable Belief: Why God and Faith Make Sense (WJK, 2015—named one of nine new theology “books to read” by The Christian Century); For the Love of All Creatures: The Story of Grace in Genesis (Eerdmans, 2015—awarded a “Top Ten Books for Parish Ministry” prize by The Academy of Parish Clergy); The Challenge of Evil: Grace and the Problem of Suffering (WJK, 2016); and Agape Ethics: Moral Realism and Love for All Life (Cascade,
2016). Professor Greenway received the BA, magna cum laude, from Houghton College and the MDiv and PhD, magna cum laude, from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he received the prestigious Princeton Doctoral Fellowship. He is consulting editor for Journal for Animal Ethics, editor for Connections Lectionary Series (WJK), member of the Ethics Committee at Heart Hospital of Austin, member of the American Academy of Religion and of the Society of Christian Ethics, and faculty advisor for the Seminary’s LGBT student group. He has been a Fellow at Oxford Center for Animal Ethics, Executive Council member for the Animals and
Religions Consultation of the American Academy of Religion, regional representative and national vice-moderator for Presbyterians for Earth Care, director of the Master of Arts (Theological Studies) program at Austin Seminary, program chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Theology section, Southwest Regional Commission on Religious Studies, and board member at Texas Impact. Professor Greenway’s course “Theology and Science” won a $10,000 Course Prize from The Center for Theology and Natural Science, and his “Adventure in Wilderness and Spirituality” won a national Teaching and Learning Grant from The Association of Theological Schools. v
Professor Greenway celebrated this singular day in his academic life with (at right) his wife, Professor Cynthia Rigby, daughter, Jessica, and mother, Sylvia Greenway, and with friends and colleagues including (above) Board Chair Archer Frierson and Jim Jorden (MATS’04).
Summer | Fall 2017 | 3
Dedication & Celebration November 6, 2017
Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben, chief of chaplains of the U.S. Navy, visited on campus April 28. She was hosted by Professor Blair Monie, in whose junior high youth group she first felt the call to ministry.
The John and Sue McCoy House
! e t a D e h t e v Sa
Dozens of teenagers spent two weeks on the Austin Seminary campus this summer doing mission and creating worship liturgies as part of The Texas Annual Conference’s Texas Youth Academy.
Photo by Mary Wall
The new 787 Collective hosted three storytelling events in the spring. On April 27, the stories were enriched by a performance from the band Ley Line.
Austin Seminary–Mountain Campus: Ted Wardlaw and Kay Bryant hosted lunch Austin Seminary folks who were in for beautiful Montreat over the summer.
4 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Four trustees attended the last Austin Seminary Board meeting of their tenure in May. From left: Ambassador Lyndon Olson, (with President Wardlaw) The Reverend Consuelo Donahue (MDiv’96), The Reverend Ann Herlin (MDiv’01), and The Honorable Jeffrey Richard.
Dr. Margaret Aymer was recognized in a story by NBC News on July 10: “Six Black Women at the Center of Gravity in Theological Education.” On July 1 she became the first black woman to be promoted to full professor in Austin Seminary’s history.
Doctor of Ministry students gathered in June for courses led by Professors Whit Bodman and Jennifer Lord.
The students enrolled in the inaugural year of the Master of Arts in Youth Ministry degree program met on campus in April to take “Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling” with Professor Phil Helsel, center. Summer | Fall 2017 | 5
The Class of 2016
New beginnings for the Class of 2017
ustin Presbyterian Theological Seminary held its commencement at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 21, at University Presbyterian Church, Austin, with an address by Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, president and CEO of HustonTillotson University in Austin. The class of 2017 consists of thirtyeight students in four degree programs: the Master of Arts (Theological Studies), the Master of Arts in Ministry Practice, the Master of Divinity, and the Doctor of Ministry. To learn more about the graduates and their future plans, see the list beginning on page 16.
President Wardlaw shared several announcements concerning faculty from the spring meeting of the Austin Seminary Board of Trustees. The board promoted Dr. Margaret Aymer to professor of New Testament, effective July 1, 2017, and promoted Dr. Gregory Cuéllar to associate professor of Old Testament, also effective July 1, 2017. They reappointed Paul Hooker as associate dean for ministerial formation and advanced studies, effective July 1, 2017, for a renewable annual term; reappointed David Johnson as associate professor of church history
and Christian spirituality, effective July 1, 2017, for a renewable annual term; and approved a twelve-month sabbatical for Philip Browning Helsel, assistant professor of pastoral care, from July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019. The board also authorized a search for a faculty position in New Testament. Austin Seminary’s Baccalaureate Service, held Saturday, May 20, featured Dr. Aymer preaching and the Reverend Dr. Cynthia Rigby presiding at the Lord’s Table. v
2017 Graduate Awards Donald Capps Award in Pastoral Care: Michelle Emerson Chidester Preaching Award: Jessie Light Rachel Henderlite Award: Ben Masters Hendrick-Smith Award for Mission & Evangelism: Susan Cottrell Ethel Lance Human & Civil Rights Award: Mac Morrison Carl Kilborn Book Award: Matthew Beach Charles L. King Preaching Award: Hilary Marchbanks The Class of 2017: Doctor of Ministry graduates (above) and master’s-level graduates (below).
6 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Max Sherman & Barbara Jordan Fellowship: Julia Giddings John B. Spragens Award: Hilary Marchbanks
The Class of 2017 Charge to the Class of 2017
Be among the indispensable By President Theodore J. Wardlaw
t Austin Seminary, there’s been a long-standing tradition at this particular service in which the president gives the graduating class a charge. It’s such a daunting privilege. Each year, I think carefully about what I want to say; because each year is different, each class is different. This year it feels more poignant somehow, for lots of reasons—chief among them, the sense of anxiety and dread that hangs over this time and this culture. This year, it has been harder than usual for me to come up with a right word. For, all the way through, you have been in my judgment such a beautiful class— so talented, so filled with hope, so ready, I think, for what is next. But here’s the thing: what is next? We don’t know. So I’ve been stymied about what to say. But at last, I do have a word. It’s from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, a word from Jesus. Jesus has just summoned his twelve disciples, and has given them some instructions. And now, beginning with verse sixteen, he warns them: See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and
a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. How’s that for an encouraging word?! “… I’m sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves.” Now I can imagine you’re a little worried about this text, so I’m going to go out on a limb here, and suggest that in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus wasn’t necessarily focusing on the garden variety Presbyterian churches out there. I’m not sure he would appreciate me using his words to warn you about how session meetings or other church board meetings can sometimes go off the rails. I get around, for example, and I haven’t heard of a good flogging of an unsuspecting pastor in decades. Not that it’s never happened. I have had a kind of weird relationship with one fellow minister of the gospel in our communion for decades. Over the years, we’ve been in a number of meetings together—him from one tribe of the church, one side of the aisle, and me from another—and, from time to time, we’ve argued over important matters of principle in the life of the church. But for the most part, it’s been a pleasant sort of relationship; we’re sort of “frenemies.” A while back, he reached out to me to say that he’d been doing some deep genealogical research on his family. He told me that he’d gotten as far back as the fifteenth century to one of his ancestors who was on the faculty at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The fifteenth century! And that the rector, he said (essentially the president), of St. Andrews University in that time was an
ancestor of mine. I said, “Yes, I know— Bishop Henry Wardlaw, from the early 1400s, Bishop of Scotland (this is before the Reformation) and the founder of the University of St. Andrews!” He said, “Yes! So you know about this!” “Know about what?” I said. “Well, you won’t believe this,” he said, “but he and my ancestor argued over important matters of principle, and your ancestor had my ancestor tried for heresy and assassinated.” I said, “Well this is awkward.” That’s what I said out loud. But, truthfully, I was thinking to myself, “Those were the good old days!” But I don’t think Matthew’s Jesus was thinking about stuff like that when he said, “I’m sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves.” I think he was thinking eschatologically. I think he was lifting his gaze up above the landscape of the world as it always has been, and beholding out there in the distance God’s vision of the world as it will be when God is finished with it. And with that vision in mind thus reminding the disciples—and now you—that in the church and the world and the realm in which we will be called to work out our vocation, things won’t always be perfect, because the world, as it is, is not yet the world that God is still shaping. And thus, it will not be an accident, but just part of the deal, that your vocation will be worked out in the midst of struggle. In the board room at the Seminary, where our faculty meets monthly and our board meets several times a year, there is on one end of that room a series of nine framed photographs—the nine presidents of the Seminary, including me, across a hundred and fifteen years. If you don’t know much about their biographies, it is surely tempting for some of us to write them off; but a lot
Continued on page 16 Summer | Fall 2017 | 7
g n i n i g a Reim l a c i g o l theo n o i t a c u ed
8 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
By Jack Barden and Melissa Wiginton
THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION is in the midst of nothing less than a sea change. Profound cultural, economic, and social realities have opened up questions we thought were longsettled across all of American institutions. For us, the questions go to the very model of theological education which shapes our curriculum, pedagogy, scholarship, and stewardship of resources.
Our model of theological education came of age
in and for a time that no longer exists. Our 2017 Jack Barden (MDivâ€™88) is vice president for enrollment management and Melissa Wiginton is vice president for Education Beyond the Walls and research professor in Methodist studies at Austin Seminary.
In the following pages, meet seven participants in programs helping to redefine theological education, bringing Austin Seminaryâ€™s resources to more people than ever before.
Summer | Fall 2017 | 9
Laura serves as the manager of casework services for The Stewpot, a ministry of First Presbyterian Church, Dallas.
The Dual Degree w ith UT Aus tin
My time at Austin Seminary was the best time in my life. The community, the professors, the staff, and the quality of education reached far beyond my expectations. It formed my outlook on the world today and showed me how to do brave and bold ministry. Deciding to do the dual degree in social work was the next best thing, because the internships and education I received at the UT School or Social Work took my education at Austin Seminary in the MDiv program and set it on fire (in a good way)! Austin Seminary taught me so much about God and how God is at work in the world, but social work taught me about people. Social work taught me about the realities of people who are different from me, people with whom I had little experience prior to graduate school, and people I assumed I knew a lot about. Turns out I knew very little about people’s experiences other than my own. Social work teaches you to embrace not knowing. Church leaders are invested with a lot of trust and power, and many of us have seen how that power can be used in hurtful ways due to a lack of training on understanding the realities of those who are different. Social work helped me to see that to be a good leader, at service to God’s people, I need to listen. I need to continue ongoing engagement with those who are different from me. —Laura Westerlage (MDiv/MSSW’13)
Currie Lecturer, Dr. Ted Smith, a professor at Candler School of Theology and Emory University, calls this “Model M.” Model M evolved from a more purely classic education for clergy and carries forward some of those values. For instance, scholarship in classic disciplines accountable to guilds continues as a core value even as scholarship also serves the church and the formation of well-educated pastors. But the distinguishing “M” references the “age of mobilization,” a designation of philosopher Charles Taylor—an era in which institutions moved from being sources of eternally given goods to being organizations in which people could actualize the values they recognized as good. (Think “We the People.”) Model M provided students with learning and resources to prepare them for paid work leading institutions for the transformation of individual lives and society. However, times have changed. Now, according to Taylor, we live in an “age of authenticity”—a period in which the institution is of secondary concern in matters of transformation, and the individual and individual choice is primary. In this age, plurality abounds. Each student may bring a different story and resist collapse of his or her narrative into an encompassing interpretive narrative. Authority flows not from an office or an institution, but from what “rings true.” Many bright, passionate potential leaders express ambivalence about church leadership because the very value of institutions is suspect. Social movements are the collective expressions of authenticity, not institutions. Model M theological education conveys expertise in institutional leadership, not in creating or sustaining movements spurred by individual visions. What has changed in theological education? If the place of institutions is changing at such a rapid pace, what does that mean for this specific institution of theological education? People ask this question in many ways, but it most often gets voiced like this: “How is enrollment looking this year?” There is no simple answer to the enrollment question—not because we are hiding something or we don’t know how enrollment is looking this year, but because the answer depends on what is really being asked. Is the inquirer asking, “How many people are preparing to be MDiv-educated pastors for PC(USA) congregations?” Are they asking, “Do you have enough students to be viable?” Are they askContinued on page 12
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a community OF LEARNERS
Master of Arts in Y outh Ministry (MAY M) The MAYM degree model is advantageous because the number of residents in the program is small. This allows the discourse in class to be effective as we listen and really wrestle with the material. Our first year, we have been partnered with six United Methodist churches in Texas: Austin, Greune, Canyon Lake, Bracken, Katy, and Fort Worth. We work with mentors and professors to discern our call to youth ministry, and we have the support that empowers us to be advocates for our youth and ourselves. We also have each other. As the inaugural seven in this degree program, we lean on each other when youth ministry gets messy— because people are messy—but we press into God fervently to get us to a place of clarity. We laugh off the bad days, because we know that God will keep shaping us and using our gifts to carry out our call. The academic and partner church model offers both places of comfort and challenge that cause us to grow and stretch ourselves to discern this call among the network of professors, coaches, mentors, and God, who empowers this endeavor. —Jose Suarez The first MAYM class on an excursion in Austin; Jose is in the center.
College of Pastoral Leaders (CPL) I am incredibly grateful to the College of Pastoral Leaders for providing the opportunity to gather with other Asian American clergywomen. Each of us serves in predominantly white contexts, and we are often isolated in our ministry. To be given space to share our stories and support one another is essential for our well-being and is an important part of helping us to not just survive, but to thrive. From our time together in Seattle this past February, we were able to not just encourage one another, but also meet other Asian American clergywomen in the area (none of us were local to Seattle) initiating new and exciting connections.
Erica Liu, campus pastor for Pres House in Madison, Wisconsin, (center) with her “Fresh off the Bottega” CPL Cohort.
— Erica Liu Summer | Fall 2017 | 11
seorps u o H A AV meriC AY lunteer / A o V lt u d A oung
Living in intentional community gave my service year an additional depth that would never have been achievable had I been left to my own devices. Not only did I have the opportunity to be welcomed into (and challenged by) ten other people’s stories, I was forced to dive into my own story as well. Living in community presented itself to me as a practice in vulnerability and awareness. I learned that making myself vulnerable to and with others is a powerful experience that can bring people closer together. This, in turn, strengthened my awareness of myself and my needs, as well as the needs of others. That is not to say it’s been a cakewalk (though we did walk to Wheatsville to get cupcakes on numerous occasions). This is the most challenging living situation I’ve ever been in. I questioned my values, my spiritual beliefs, and, at times, my sanity. I confronted some ugly parts of myself. Would I live in community again? I’m not sure. Would I go back and change this year? Not one second of it. If you’d asked me a year ago where I would be now, I definitely wouldn’t have told you “living at a seminary sussing out my spiritual beliefs!” I didn’t really have any spiritual beliefs, nor have I ever been a part of a faith community. Living in AYAVA has given me people to guide me, friends to talk things through with, and new ways of expressing myself—new ways to describe the beauty, pain, and need in the world. It has planted this warm feeling that I carry around deep inside of me of feeling pulled toward something without knowing why. I truly believe that I was called to be here, and I am so grateful for having answered. —Ely Fisher
ing, “Is there hope for the future of the church?” Perhaps at the root of this question, what people really want to know is “How is the Seminary doing? Is it healthy? Is it vibrant? Is it still pursuing its mission of “educating and equipping individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership”? The answer to those questions is a resounding YES! To elaborate on that YES requires some numbers and some understanding of the ways in which Austin Seminary as an institution of theological education has changed over the last decade. In 2006, Austin Seminary had 275 students enrolled in four degree programs, approximately 200 people who participated in the College of Pastoral Leaders and various other continuing education events, and perhaps another 275 people who attended Midwinter Lectures and other lecture series here on campus. This meant approximately 750 people turned to Austin Seminary in 2006 as a primary resource to prepare them for Christian ministry, service, and leadership. In addition, our faculty were preaching and teaching in local congregations and at conferences, reaching an even wider audience. Now, little more than a decade later, the numbers look very different. This past year we had 161 people taking classes in six degree programs and an additional 96 people in non-degree programs including AYAVA House, Certificate in Ministry, and Certificado en Ministerio. Another 500 people have attended Midwinters Lectures and other lecture series here on campus. Additionally, Education Beyond the Walls, through the College of Pastoral Leaders, the 787 Collective, and other cohort-based programs and continuing education offferings has resourced approximately 1000 people—more than half of these laypersons. In all, more than 1750 people turned to Austin Seminary in 2017 as a primary resource to prepare them for Christian ministry, service, and leadership. And our faculty still continue to preach and teach in local congregations and at conferences, THEOLOGICAL EDUCATIO reaching an even wider audience. The future for theological education The sea change for theological education does not come in a linear, gradual progression. Nor does one
AYAVA House selfie; Ely is in the middle on the left-hand side. 12 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Continued on page 14
a community OF LEARNERS
787 Co llectiv e “The shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story.” –Matthew 13:12 (paraphrased by Anthony de Mello) Nearly 150 people gathered in Stotts Hall at Austin Seminary to hear personal stories around the theme “Stranger in a Strange Land.” The $5 admission fee benefited GirlForward—a nonprofit working with refugee girls. The six storytellers were young activists who serve the refugee and immigrant population in Austin. For weeks these young adults had dug deep to prepare ten-minute, personal stories tracing the roots of their own passionate work to welcome outcasts and outsiders. Marilyn Manzo shared how the roots of her work with young immigrant families grew out of her parents’ struggle to escape poverty in Mexico. Kimya Kavehkar talked about how her transformative work in mentoring refugee girls was inspired by her parents’ history as Iranian refugees. Christian Mendoza shared how his teaching career was inspired by the many local community members who had mentored him. Each story was real and riveting. Each story a testimony of the hope and moral commitment of these young activists. Produced by 787 Collective at Austin Seminary, the purpose of this event and two other personal storytelling gatherings was to create a listening space where local churches could simply listen to the passion, struggle, and needs of young adults. Austin has the highest percentage of twentysomethings compared to any other city in the U.S., yet few of these young adults participate in church. Committed to bridging relationships between Christian congregations and Austin twentysomethings, 787 Collective’s first priority was to invite local congregations to set aside their agendas and contemplatively listen to the lives of young adults. Following each story event, church leaders were gathered and invited to reflect on what they heard in the stories of local young adults: “Courage.” “Commitment.” “Lived compassion.” “A willingness to suffer.” “The struggle to live a good life.” “The work of the Spirit.” “Loneliness.” “The
Christian Mendoza engaged the audience with his story during “Stranger in a Strange Land.”
longing for community.” The 787 Collective believes the Spirit is inviting the church into a time of creative exploration, a time of deep listening and greater trust, a time of heartfelt risk and holy mischief. In engaging young adults, we believe God is inviting the church to let go of old things and enter into a season of discernment for what the Spirit of God is saying to the church. Although unnamed, maybe young adults in Austin feel the yearning of God’s spirit, but don’t trust that churches, in their present manifestation, can respond to God’s call within them (and within the world). Maybe young adults are seeking spiritual communities that are more socially engaged, more creative, with people willing to be more vulnerable in their interactions with one another. How do we open ourselves to discovering God within the struggles and passions of young adults? Maybe it begins with listening. Maybe it begins by sharing stories. Maybe it begins by churches providing safe spaces where young adults are asked “What have you lived? What have you suffered? And what can we do to help?” —Mark Yaconelli Founder of “The Hearth”and 787 Collective Consultant
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model disappear before the next model comes to life. Models overlap because institutions still need excellent, faithful leaders and people need to be prepared for new forms of responsiveness to God and the world. Theological education is pulled by the moving tide between preparing people for office and prioritizing personal vocation, with strong cross-cutting currents of spirituality without religious conviction. Institutions and movements co-exist for the time being, but there is no going back to the previous age. Theologian Fumitaka Matsuoka* calls us to theological education for the “not yet.” He says we need theological educators who are able to teach in uncertain times, facing an uncertain future, and to risk truth-telling and earnest engagement. In striving to be theological educators for the “not yet,” Austin Seminary stretches its gifts to go in new directions, both deeper with pastors and wider with the kinds of education and the peoples we serve. We are living our way into a new model—or models. These new models of theological education that Austin Seminary is exploring look very different than the model of seminary here at the corner of 27th and Speedway a generation ago, even a decade ago. Thus, the populations of those who access theological education in degree programs and non-degree offerings through Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary look very different today than they did a generation ago, even a decade ago. What is not different is our commitment—as described in our Statement of Purpose—to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership, to employ our resources in the service of the church, to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research, and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God’s people. v * The authors wish to express their gratitude to Dr. Asante Todd, assistant professor of Christian ethics at Austin Seminary, for sharing Fumitaka Matsuoka’s work with us.
Access the 2017 Currie Lectures by Dr. Ted Smith which informed the ideas presented in this essay: AustinSeminary.edu/ MidWin18 (bottom of page)
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Olivia Vega and Juan Yepez with their family
Certificate Like many of us, I contemplated pursuing some theological education for several years before finally taking the steps to enroll. My presbytery didn’t offer any type of lay pastor training, so I knew I would have to go elsewhere to obtain the education I sought. In January of 2012 I began coursework at Dubuque Theological Seminary. At that time, the Austin Seminary CIM program was still in the development phase and not yet being offered. However, by the time that semester came to an end, I learned I could transfer my one course to Austin Seminary and enroll in the Certificate in Ministry Program that would begin in the fall. I immediately applied and made plans to pursue that certificate through Austin Seminary. It has been one of the most rewarding educational experiences of my life. It has stretched my thinking, made me more inquisitive, and helped me form my personal theology. The program is broad and touches
a community OF LEARNERS
Certificado en Minis terio (CEM ) Somos estudiantes en el programa de Certificado en Ministerio que ofrece el Seminario Teológico Presbiteriano de Austin. Del programa que se imparte en línea, para nosotros como pareja ha sido de gran bendición, porque desde el momento en que Dios nos llamó a servir Él nos ha ido equipando atreves de estos cursos. Este programa que se ofrece en línea permite que todo el que sienta un anhelo por servir al pueblo de Dios, tenga las herramientas necesarias para su nuevo caminar con el Señor, tenemos el honor de recomendarlo, porque hemos visto el crecimiento teológico y académico que hemos tenido para ponerlo al servicio de la congregación, y la comunidad, tiene profesores muy competentes cada uno en su área, con excelente preparación, y con entrega a su ministerio, profesores que están a tu lado desde el primer día del curso que estas tomando.
We are students in the Certificado in Ministerio program offered by the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. This program, offered online, allows anyone who feels a desire to serve the people of God to have the necessary tools for their new walk with the Lord. We have the honor to recommend it, because we have seen the theological and academic growth that we have had to put to the service of the congregation and the community. This program has very competent teachers, each in their area, with excellent preparation and delivery to their ministry—teachers who are at your side from the first day of the course you are taking. — Olivia Vega and Juan Yepez Rogers, Arkansas
in Ministr y (CIM) on subjects from pastoral care to church history. Because I was working full time and traveling virtually every week, I opted to take only one class per ten-week term. It took me roughly three years to complete the program. The commitment that Austin Seminary made, that the courses would be taught by seminary faculty, elevated the program to a higher level than many of the other lay pastor programs around the country. I completed the program in May 2016, was approached about a CRE position in July, and I was commissioned to a church in September. Did the program provide all the knowledge I need to pastor a small congregation? No, only experience provides that. However, it has given me a better context in which I may ask questions. —J. Melinda Hunt (CIM’16)
Melinda Hunt is executive director of Solar Under the Sun, an ecumenical mission of the Synod of the Sun. Summer | Fall 2017 | 15
Continued from page 7 of those guys in their time moved the needle in significant ways in the life of our culture. One of them was an absolute hero of mine, and when I came here fifteen years ago, it was a great privilege to know that he occupied, in retirement, an ongoing office in the same building I’m in—just one floor down—and just knowing he was there gave me such encouragement. I called on him often. He died too soon, in my judgment, but what a courageous, prophetic man! Jack Stotts is best known, probably, for his writings as a theologian and ethicist, for his presidency at McCormick Seminary in Chicago, and then, for eleven years, for his presidency at Austin. He might also be known to some of you as the chair of the committee that gave the Presbyterian church an amazingly global and justice-oriented doctrinal statement—A Brief Statement of Faith—that is now a part of our Book of Confessions. But what is less well known about him is that, before his academic career, he was a pastor. He served for a time as a university chaplain in the 1960s at a noted Presbyterian university, and on his watch there, a wealthy donor paid for the construction of a stunning new chapel—a gorgeous building with all the architectural and liturgical bells and whistles. When it was
completed, since he was the chaplain, Dr. Stotts invited a well-known African American theologian to preach at its dedication. The donor was offended by the invitation extended to this African American man, and tried to prevail on Dr. Stotts to revoke the invitation. When Jack refused, the donor went to the president and the president fired him. Later, in a parish in San Angelo, a study group of women from his church had a luncheon one day at a local Luby’s cafeteria. As they were going down the buffet line with their trays, the manager walked up to one of them—a Native American woman—and told her that she could not be served and would have to leave. The whole group of them left the line and went to tell Jack Stotts of this man’s actions. Straightaway, Jack got up from his desk and went to the man to say that if he didn’t allow the Native American woman to be served, he would call the San Angelo StandardTimes newspaper. The man apologized and seated them—all of them. Jack Stotts knew something, I suspect, about struggle—about what it means to practice one’s vocation in the midst of wolves. In fact, one of the eleven “Charges to Graduates” that he gave across his eleven-year tenure as president, drew upon this same text. And in that charge he said these words about the struggle between God’s rule and the powers of evil. “These powers,” he said, “are not passive, waiting on our
response. They are active, enlisting our wills, putting us in bondage, even giving us a reinforcing community of those enthralled by their seductiveness. These powers and principalities, these false gods, fight for their lives by distorting ours … “[So] in such an environment, to endure is a challenge. It is also a virtue to be commended … And it is a graceful virtue when it is endurance in our calling. For then we rely not on the vagaries of our feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction in our work, not on the wavering intensity of our sense of God’s presence, but on the One who calls. In the midst of opposing or disheartening powers, we trust the calling One … How? By day in and day out, sharing the good news, seeking good, overcoming evil, doing justice, walking humbly—dwelling day in and day out in your calling.” Jack Stotts ended that particular charge with these words from Berthold Brecht, a twentieth-century German poet and playwright, and I will use these words as well to end my words to you: “One who struggles for a day is good. One who struggles for a year is better. One who struggles for a lifetime is indispensable.” My brothers and sisters, the world needs you to go out from this place resolved to follow your calling for a lifetime, so go out into this world to be among the indispensable. v
The Class of 2017 Doctor of Ministry Graduates
Graduate and ministry setting, title of doctoral project
Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Sterling, Illinois “Where Memory and Spirit Meet: Feasting at the Table of God”
Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, York, Nebraska “Do Varied Forms of Contemplative Meditation, Including the Practice of Yoga, Enhance Healing and Fuller Life in Participants?”
16 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Associate Pastor at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, San Antonio, Texas “Sermon Impact: Extending the Preached Word”
Rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina “Women Embodying Executive Leadership: A Cohort Model for Episcopal Discernment”
The Class of 2017 Master of Arts (Theological Studies) Graduates Susan Cottrell
Nondenominational Founder and President, FreedHearts, Austin, Texas
PC(USA) Presbytery of San Diego Director of Family Ministries, First Presbyterian Church, Topeka, Kansas
Nondenominational Has been accepted into a PhD program in Women’s and Multicultural Studies
Unitarian Universalist Moving to Olympia, Washington, and will seek a call as a hospital chaplain
Nondenominational Latin Teacher, Veritas Academy, Austin, Texas
United Church of Christ Part-time Assistant Minister, Trinity Church of Austin, Austin, Texas
Master of Divinity Graduates Matthew Beach
PC(USA), Pursuing PhD programs
Jim DeMent Jr
PC(USA), Presbytery of New Covenant Seeking a call
PC(USA), Presbytery of the Pacific Year-long Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Residency, Honolulu, Hawaii
PC(USA), Mission Presbytery Year-long CPE Residency, Baylor Scott and White, Temple, Texas
Dana Gill Port
UMC, California-Nevada Conference Pastor, Crescent City United Methodist Church, Crescent City, California
Nondenominational Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, Texas
UMC, Rio Texas Conference Pastor, Epworth United Methodist Church, San Antonio, Texas
UMC, Rio Texas Conference Pastor, Pollard Memorial United Methodist Church, San Antonio, Texas
Baptist Seeking a non-ordained position in Austin
United Church of Christ; Seeking a call
UMC, Rio Texas Conference Pastor, Jourdanton United Methodist Church, Jourdanton, Texas
United Church of Christ Chaplain, Senior Director of Communications for Central Texas and Mid-Markets, American Heart Association
Nondenominational Year-long CPE Residency, Seton Hospitals, Austin, Texas
PC(USA), Presbytery of Eastern Virginia Director of Spiritual Life, The Presbyterian Pan American School, Kingsville, Texas
PC(USA), Savannah Presbytery Summer CPE program, Memorial Hospital, Savannah, Georgia PC(USA), Mission Presbytery Seeking a non-ordained position in the Pacific Northwest or the West UMC, Rio Texas Conference; Pursuing work in the non-profit sector
Master of Arts in Ministry Practice Graduates
PC(USA), Presbytery of the Twin Cities Nutrition Operator, Seton Hospital, Austin, Texas, while completing candidacy requirements
UMC, Central Texas Conference Church Planting Resident at White’s Chapel UMC, Southlake, Texas
Episcopal, Diocese of Texas PhD program in American Religious History, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
PC(USA), Mission Presbytery Chaplain PRN at Heart Hospital of Austin and seeking a call as a teaching elder in the PC(USA)
UMC, Rio Texas Conference Associate Pastor, Trinity Church of Austin, Austin, Texas
Austin Weaver IV
PC(USA), Grace Presbytery Director of Youth Ministry, Northridge Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas
PC(USA), East Tennessee Presbytery Year-long CPE Residency, Seton Hospital, Austin, Texas
PC(USA), Mission Presbytery Chaplain Resident, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Texas
PC(USA), Heartland Presbytery Pastoral Resident, Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas
UMC, Rio Texas Conference Associate Pastor, Saint John’s United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas PC(USA), Grace Presbytery Completing candidacy requirements
‡ Recipient of a Dual Degree with The University of Texas School of Social Work Summer | Fall 2017 | 17
upcoming from education beyond the walls | Cloud of Witnesses | Sept. 16 | Rev. Dr. Melissa Bane Sevier | What does the Letter
to the Hebrews teach us about Christian community? Join author Melissa Bane Sevier and the “great cloud of witnesses” as you prepare to lead others through this year’s Presbyterian Women’s Horizons Bible Study. | For anyone who will lead the Horizons Bible Study | Cost: $60 (includes lunch); $25 per person in groups of two or more.
Music for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany | Sept. 22 | Mr. Eric Wall | What
should we sing and hear during Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany? This workshop will help you answer this question in nuanced ways. Join Austin Seminary’s resident church music expert to explore musical selections for each part of the season. We will look together at themes reflected in the music for each season and pull at the threads running between them. | For clergy, worship leaders, church musicians, students, and anyone interested in the interplay between church music selections during this season | Cost: $60
REFOCUS: Calling Parents and Caregivers as Essential Partners in Youth Ministry | Oct. 2-4 | Dr. Rodger Nishioka | The research is in and it’s conclusive: the single most influential figure in faith formation for adolescents is the parent. For many of us, this calls for a significant ministry refocus: we must include parents, stepparents, and other caregivers in our ministry efforts if we want to make a lasting impact on youth. | For parents, pastors, and youth workers | Cost: $100/person; $50/person for housing
787 Studio events are designed to engage not only the mind, but the creative spirit. We will challenge our usual ways of relating to ourselves and relating to each other by entering into the sacred space of making—making art, writing music, improvising, crafting plays, dancing, and more. The adventure begins this fall. Recommended for congregations interested in joining the 787 Collective.
Women, Faith, and the Workplace | Oct. 11 | Ms. Pamela Benson Owens
and authors of We Walk By Faith and Not By Sight | Start your day out right. Join us for a refreshing dive into the life of faith in the workplace with four dynamic and spirit-filled women. Let us nourish you in body and soul with uplifting conversation over breakfast. Leave with a renewed sense of purpose in your walk with God. | For professional women looking for encouragement for a vibrant faith in the workplace | Cost: $25 (breakfast included)
Know Your Number: An Enneagram Workshop | Oct. 16-17 | Ms. Suzanne Stabile | In Partnership with SCRAPCE | Do you want help figuring out who you are and why you—and the people on your ministry team—are stuck in the same ruts? Come and learn more about yourself and how human beings are wired through the ancient tool of the Enneagram. | For Christian educators, clergy, and anyone interested in utilizing the Enneagram as a tool for personal growth and spiritual development | Cost: $125 ($75 for APCE Members & UMC Commissioned Parish Christian Educators)
Bridges to Hope: A Mental Health Training for Faith Communities |
Nov. 7 | Ms. Karen Ranus and Rev. Michael Cox | In Partnership with NAMI Austin | Many people first seek out their religious leaders when mental health issues arise. This introductory three-hour mental health training will provide you with a tool kit of ideas and resources for supporting the mental health needs of your faith communities. | For pastors, educators, and people in all kinds of leadership roles | Cost: No Fee
Growing into Tomorrow Today | Nov. 9-10 | 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
18 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Keep the White Space® Painting Workshop | Ms.
Kathleen McElwaine |
Oct. 21 | 9:00 a.m. – Noon | Cost: $30 | How is
God inviting you into greater creativity? Learn by playing with color and water and reflect together on what it means to keep the white space in art and in life. No skill required.
One-Act Play Bake-Off | Nov. 9 | 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. | Cost: $15 | Local Austin playwrights will combine ingredients from biblical history and theology, sift in humor, and add a dash of pathos, resulting in delectable insights through one-act plays. This is the first in a four-part series leading to a veritable feast of play readings. The 787 Collective will present the first play in a staged reading format. Come get a taste of the collaborative efforts of theology and theater, and join in dialogue with the writer, readers, and fellow listeners.
faculty notes | Whit Bodman, associate professor of comparative religion, represented the National Council of Church’s Local and Regional Ecumenism Committee at the Churches United in Christ Annual celebration in Dallas on June 4. He gave a workshop on Islam in Fort Morgan, Colorado, on July 9. “Evaluating Sermons: the Function of Grades in Teaching Preaching,” an essay by Carolyn Helsel, assistant professor of homiletics, was published in Teaching Theology & Religion, July 2017. Phil Helsel, assistant professor of pastoral care, led a workshop at the Society for Pastoral Theology in June. His chapter “Shared Pleasure to Soothe the Broken Spirit: Collective Trauma and Qoheleth” appeared in Bible through the Lens of Trauma (Eds. Christopher Frechette and Elizabeth Boase; Semeia Studies, 2016). The poetry of Paul Hooker, associate dean for ministerial formation and advanced studies, premiered May 5 in the choral work, “Ode to the Sun,” composed by Hal Hopson under commission of the Huntsville (Alabama) Master Chorale. The lyrics for “Ode to the Sun” were taken in main part from Hooker’s four-poem cycle, “Four Short Poems at Sunrise.” Jennifer Lord, the Dorothy B. Vickery Professor of Homiletics and Liturgical Studies, lectured for the 2017 Festival of Homiletics on May 16. August 20-27, she will preside as president over the annual meeting of the North American Academy of Liturgy in Vancouver, BC. Stitt Library Director Timothy Lincoln delivered the president’s address to the annual conference of the American Theological Library Association on June 15 in Atlanta.
good reads |
or the past year, I’ve been part of a cohort of fifteen early career scholars from theological schools across the country who have gathered as part of a Wabash Center workshop to discuss issues related to teaching and vocation. At each of our three meetings, a table of books about teaching stands next to our gathering space. The books are free if you are willing to review the book for the Wabash Center’s journal. Being addicted to books, I cannot resist picking up one each time we meet. The book I reviewed most recently is titled Dancing in the Rain: Leading with Compassion, Vitality, and Mindfulness in Education by Jerome Murphy, former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I was drawn to this book because it seemed to focus on the importance of self-care in the midst of teaching. Having had a very busy fall semester accompanied by several sinus infections, I felt I needed a refresher on selfcare. I would recommend this book not only to teachers, but also to seminarians and pastors who experience daily stress in pursuing their vocations. Murphy offers the helpful insight that our own responses to stress can often exacerbate our suffering. In the face of difficult situations, we tend to respond in one of three self-defeating ways: ruminating on the negative, rebuking ourselves, or resisting our emotions. Murphy draws from the literature on mindfulness to point out the health benefits of becoming aware of our emotions in the moment and accepting our shortcomings. As an alternative to the cycles of rumination, rebuke, and resistance, Murphy offers a list of instructions summarized
Suzie Park, associate professor of Old Testament, was the speaker/facilitator at the women’s retreat for First Presbyterian Church, Temple, Texas, in May. This summer Asante Todd, assistant professor of Christian ethics, led a workshop series for
by the acronym “MY DANCE,” with each chapter outlining the phrases that make up the acronym. “Minding your values” helps readers consider our own life goals and name our best version of ourselves, so that we can evaluate whether our actions line up with our values. The next chapter, “Yield to now” captures the importance of in-the-moment mindfulness, trying to stay present to ourselves and others. “Disentangle from upsets” highlights the importance of not identifying personally with our stress, so we are not consumed by our stress. The chapter titled “Allow unease” encourages attentiveness to the discomfort of negative feelings we experience. “Nourish yourself” emphasizes practices of gratitude, while the following chapter on “Cherish selfcompassion” takes self-care to a deeper level. The final lesson is “Express feelings wisely,” which serves as an important reminder that accepting our negative feelings does not translate to unfiltered venting. In each chapter, Murphy intersperses these tips with his own personal struggles, including his wife’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The wisdom in this book reminds us that each of us has our own daily struggles—on top of the demands of our ministerial and teaching vocations. Attending lovingly to our limitations and caring for ourselves in the midst of these struggles is crucial if we are to be effective as teachers, pastors, and healthy individuals, living out God’s call on our lives. v —Written by Dr. Carolyn Browning Helsel, assistant professor of homiletics
the Austin Baptist Minister’s Union. He and Carolyn Helsel attended the Wabash Teaching and Learning Workshop for Early Career Theological School Faculty, July 24-29. Todd wrote “Black Lives Matter and the New Politics,” for Faith and Resistance in the Age of Trump (Orbis Books,
forthcoming, September 2017). Philip Wingeier-Rayo, associate professor of evangelism, mission, and Methodist studies, led a workshop for The Rio Texas Conference in San Antonio,
Continued on next page Summer | Fall 2017 | 19
alumni news notes
class notes |
as evangelist and community organizer at East Broad Outreach Center in Mansfield, Texas, which held its final worship service on Easter.
1950s Ann McDaniel, the wife of Faries McDaniel (MDiv’50), died on May 21, 2017.
The daughter of Jeff Cranton (MDiv’99), Chelsea Cranton, died on April 1, 2017.
Submit your nominations for the
2018 ASA Award
and read and share more Class Notes:
1960s Joe B. Donaho (MDiv’63) was honored by Eastminster Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina, which established The Dr. Joe Bryan Donaho Teaching Church Endowment Fund. Warner Bailey (MDiv’64) has written a new book, Living in the Language of God: Wise Speaking in the Book of the Twelve, published by Pickwick Press, an imprint of Wipf and Stock.
2000s Brett Hendrickson (MDiv’02) has been promoted to associate professor of religious studies at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Additionally, his second monograph was published by NYU Press in August: The Healing Power of the Santuario de Chimayo: America’s Miraculous Church. Kyle R. Toomire (MDiv’05) is pastor at Bandera (Texas) United Methodist Church.
Peter E. Roussakis (DMin’86) has published Piety in Song: Spiritual Themes in Brethren Hymnody (Apostolos Publishing, 2016).
William K. Knudsen (DMin’07) retired in April, as pastor and major in the US Army Chaplains Corp. He served on the National Council of Presbyterian Chaplains and Military Personnel. He was the stated clerk of John Calvin Presbytery and executive presbyter and stated clerk for the Presbytery of Northumberland.
St. Mark Presbyterian, Boerne, Texas, has called Kevin R. Boyd (MDiv’87, DMin’98) as senior pastor and head of staff.
Kristin and Carter Robinson (MDiv’07) greeted Robert “Micah” Jackson Robinson on May 18.
William C. “Bill” Pederson (MDiv’88) has been called as pastor of San Gabriel Presbyterian Church, Georgetown, Texas.
Stephanie and Mark Renn (MDiv’08) welcomed Madison Michelle Renn (below), born on May 17.
1980s Connie Alexander, the wife of Paul Alexander (MDiv’84) died on December 4, 2016.
2010s Daniel R. Harrington (MDiv’10) is now at Gruene United Methodist Church, New Braunfels, Texas. Heights Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas, has called Lindsay Hatch (MDiv’10) as pastor. Molly Atkinson (MDiv’14) and Mario Ransan (MDiv’14) introduced Miriam Anna to the world on April 18. Brianna Benzinger (MDiv’16) married Aaron Luckevich, May 19, 2017. Greg Allen Pickett (MDiv’16) has been called as pastor to First Presbyterian Church, Hastings, Nebraska.
ordinations | Annanda Barclay (MDiv’14) was ordained on July 9, 2017, at Central Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas; she has been called as associate pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto, California. Dawn D. Baird (MDiv’15) was ordained on June 9, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Chad A. Lawson (MDiv’15) was ordained and installed on May 28th, 2017, at First Presbyterian Church, Crockett, Texas, where he has been called to serve as their 19th pastor. Adam K. Thornton (MDiv’15) was ordained on June 9, 2017,
and installed as senior pastor at Dripping Springs (Texas) United Methodist Church. Kathy Lee-Cornell (MDiv’16) was ordained and installed as associate pastor for mission & outreach at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas, on June 11, 2017.
in memoriam | John T. “Jack” Rorex (MDiv’57), December 23, 2016, Little Rock Arkansas Robert G. McGehee (MDiv’57), September 3, 2016, Decatur, Alabama. John M. Stout (MDiv’57), December 8, 2016, Houston, Texas Leonard Grandy Esler (MDiv’66), January 25, 2017, Garland, Texas George A. Holland (MDiv’68), May 22, 2017, Austin, Texas Melvin “Dale” Ratheal (MDiv’84), March 4, 2017, Tulsa, Oklahoma Lynn Hamilton (MDiv’86), September 23, 2016, Austin, Texas Robert H. Robinson (DMin’91), January 30, 2017, Ace, Texas Barbara L. Auge (MDiv’02), December 26, 2016, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Victoria B. Griffin (MDiv’08), June 29, 2017, Jacksonville, Texas Martha J. Davenport (MDiv’12), February 15, 2017, Austin, Texas
faculty notes | continued from page 19 Texas, May 19, and in June spoke to the Austin Seminary Alumni Dinner at the Rio Texas Conference. He presented two papers at the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges, and Universities Conference in Puebla, Mexico, on May 27-29. Check out www.umglobal.org for a two-part series on ministry with “nones and dones.”
David Hébert, the husband of Anne Clifton Hébert (MDiv’87), died on April 26, 2017.
1990s Shane Whisler (MDiv’95) is serving NorthPark Presbyterian, Dallas, as parish associate. He recently completed service
were installed as designated co-pastors at Covenant Presbyterian Church, College Station, Texas.
Jonathan (MDiv’08) and Caressa (MDiv’08) Murray
20 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Blair Monie, professor in The Louis H. and Katherine S. Zbinden Distinguished Chair of Pastoral Ministry and Leadership, is taking a leave of absence to undergo cancer treatment in Dallas this summer and fall. v
Blessed crowbar: Poetry and theological imagination By Paul Hooker, Associate Dean for Ministerial Formation and Advanced Studies
started writing poetry a few years ago. I wanted to explore what happens to my theology if I let words take me where they want to go, instead of following a plan dictated by argument. I have written millions of words—sermons, articles, books— arguing a case for a conclusion. I still think it is a worthy endeavor. But sometimes for me it is also a prison of the mind. Poetry is the crowbar I use to pry open the cell and escape. I write a line: “In a dry season …” At this point, my imagination is on the loose. Is this a lyric poem about the desert, an elegiac piece about ecology and drought, or a confession of spiritual barrenness? The universe of possibility expands. An image occurs: US Forest Service fighters set preventive ground fires to burn away underbrush before it ignites and explodes, converting small brush fires into landscape-devouring infernos. I write more lines: prescribed burns, they call them. Firefighters dribble burning diesel from drip torches; bits of gooey blaze … A good burn can save a forest. A theological image: Pentecost, day of little flames dribbled by the Spirit onto the bald spots of benumbed disciples, pilot lights to ignite the church. I wonder what would happen if the Spirit prescribed another burn. More lines: A dry season is upon us. This day is a prescription for a burn. A little of the spirit’s fire dribbled into the detritus of our prayers might clear away our desiccated piety. A fire has started now, burning in the underbrush. But fires possess their own designs; they get out of control. I once read a story of firefighters combating a ground fire on a Montana mountainside: fire scaled the trunks of pine trees and exploded in the
Prescription for Pentecost In a dry season, when wildfires get out of control, the forest service starts forest fires— prescribed burns, they call them. Firefighters dribble burning diesel from drip torches; bits of gooey blaze set fire to the litter along the road. It burns away the underbrush and clears the ground of fuel, so seeds beneath can push their way to light and greening life. A good burn can save a forest. A dry season is upon us. This day is a prescription for a burn. A little of the spirit’s fire dribbled into the detritus of our prayers might clear away our desiccated piety. What matter if a few doctrinal trunks get scorched, if custom’s self-protective bark gets burned away? Of course, at any time, a fire can get out of control, climb into the canopy and crown, and the whole forest burns and all is lost. Who knows? Maybe it will. Those who lose will save, and a good burn can save a faith. © 2017 Paul Hooker
dry needles—firefighters call this “crowning”— and the whole mountain burned. More lines yet: … at any time, a fire can get out of control, climb into the canopy and crown, and the whole forest burns and all is lost. I wonder: what if the little fires of Pentecost climb the trunks of doctrinal trees and explode into one great
conflagration that consumes the canopy of the church’s life? Is that a bad thing … or a good? Who knows? Maybe it will. My fingers pause above the keyboard. I know where these words are taking me. The Spirit is dangerous; it can get out of control. We could lose everything on the mountain. But I hear words about losing, words I have heard before: Those who lose will save … Now there is nothing left but the conclusion: … and a good burn can save a faith. Alongside the logical, propositional way of thinking through the faith, there is another path that wanders into wonder. Scholars call it “theopoetics.” It is basically a willingness to be amazed and humbled before the mystery of faith. It uses words, and the classic poetic disciplines of rhythm, rhyme, and metaphor. It chooses words painstakingly, because it knows that mystery is fragile. Mostly, it invites the imagination to sit in on theological conversation, importing into the discussion revelatory images and unanticipated connections. Wallace Stevens, the American modernist poet, spoke about a “blessed rage for order.” Stevens felt a deep urge to open the trapdoors of his unconscious—what he called “imagination”—and marshal his discoveries in the service of meaning. For me, that’s the urge that leads to theo-poetry. I encounter unexpected mystery, I “rage” for the poetry to express it, and then I try to “order” it in the service of theology and faith. It is the blessed crowbar that sets me free. v
Summer Summer||Fall Fall2017 2017| 21
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary 100 East 27th Street, Austin, Texas 78705-5711
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January 29-31 Currie Lecturer
Willie Jennings Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies, Yale Divinity School Westervelt Lecturer
Executive Director of The Association of Theological Schools Jones Lecturer
Cynthia Kittredge Dean and President, Seminary of the Southwest Preacher
Jonathan L. Walton Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church and Professor of Religion and Society, Harvard Divinity School
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Windows is the publication of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The summer | fall 2017 issue takes a look at theological education f...
Published on Aug 28, 2017
Windows is the publication of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The summer | fall 2017 issue takes a look at theological education f...