Windows winter 2014

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Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

winter 2014

In this Issue MidWinters 2014 | 3

Caring Ministries | 8

White & Lord Inaugurated | 18


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AUSTIN

AUSTIN PRESBYTERIAN

PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGI C AL

THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

SEMINARY

winter 2014

Volume 129 | Number 1

President

Theodore J. Wardlaw

Board of Trustees

Thomas L. Are Jr., Chair Karen C. Anderson Claudia D. Carroll Elizabeth Christian Joseph J. Clifford James G. Cooper Marvin L. Cooper James B. Crawley Katherine Cummings (MDiv’05) Consuelo Donahue (MDiv’96) Jackson Farrow Jr. G. Archer Frierson Richard D. Gillham Walter Harris Jr. John Hartman Rhashell Hunter Roy M. Kim James H. Lee (MDiv’00) Michael L. Lindvall Jennifer L. Lord Lyndon L. Olson Jr. B. W. Payne David Peeples Jeffrey Kyle Richard Lana Russell James C. Shaw Lita Simpson Anne Vickery Stevenson Karl Brian Travis John L. Van Osdall Sallie Sampsell Watson (MDiv’87) Carlton Wilde Jr. Elizabeth Currie Williams Hugh H. Williamson III

features

15 Senior Josh Kerr shares what he and his wife, Tara, have learned about ministries of care.

8

Ministries of Care

12

Trusting Grace

13

Love them Well

By Nancy McCranie (MDiv’87)

14

Faith & Grief

By Fran Shelton (MDiv’93, DMin’07)

15

Partners Along the Journey

By Allan Hugh Cole Jr.

By David Boyd (Class of 2014)

By Josh Kerr (Class of 2014)

& departments

Cover illustration by Jacqueline Sullivan.

4

Trustees Emeriti

seminary & church

3

twenty-seventh & speedway

17 faculty news & notes 20 alumni news & notes

Stephen A. Matthews John M. McCoy Jr. (MDiv’63) Max Sherman Louis Zbinden

18

Austin Seminary Association (ASA) Board Valerie Bridgeman (MDiv’90), President Leanne Thompson (MDiv’06), Vice President / President-Elect Karen Greif (MDiv’92, DMin’06), Secretary Timothy J. Blodgett (MDiv’07), Past President Andy Blair (MDiv’89) Alonzo Campbell (DMin’94) Dieter U. Heinzl(MDiv’98) Sandra Kern (MDiv’93) Matthew C. Miles (MDiv’99) Andrew Parnell (MDiv’05) Tamara J. Strehli (MDiv’05) Nancy Taylor (MDiv’05) Kristy Vits (MDiv’98) Michael A. Waschevski (DMin’03)

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Editor Randal Whittington

Contributors

Lemuel García Lisa Holleran Kathy Muenchow Kimberly Rutherford Sharon Sandberg Mona Santandrea Kristy Sorensen Adam Sweeney Melissa Wiginton

21 teaching & ministry back cover live & learn

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: windows@austinseminary.edu fax: 512-479-0738 austinseminary.edu ISSN 2056-0556; Non-profit bulk mail permit no. 2473

Winter 2014 | 1


seminary church

from the president |

T

President’s Schedule February 11—Preach /Teach, Bold Word Retreat Mo-Ranch February 27—Host, Partner Lunch, Austin, Texas March 25—Host, Partner Lunch, Tulsa, Oklahoma May 11—Preach, First Presbyterian Church, New York City

here is a faithful elder in our constituency who, years ago now, offered a lament about too many ministers in our time. They are smart, he said—meaning that they are computer-savvy, can get up a decent sermon week in and week out, are staying up-to-date with their scholarship—but, often, they are missing one gear. They often lack, he observed from his own experience, what he called “a heart for ministry.” If he is right, there are too many pastors, and servants in other forms of ministry, who are missing not just a convenient extra that will help them in their work but an essential thing—the thing that often enables one to be successful in his or her pastoral vocation. As a school particularly preoccupied with serving the greater church, Austin Seminary endeavors to immerse our students in this essential thing, this “heart for ministry.” What follows in this issue of Windows is a series of short pieces by faculty, students, and alums that dwells upon what Dean Allan Cole calls “ministries of care.” Dean Cole is appropriately modest about what pastors can and cannot supply a person in need, but he also claims our curricular emphasis upon educating future and current pastors in the knowledge and skills necessary to enable effective ministries of care. Students David Boyd and Josh Kerr reflect upon their personal, and distinctly different, experiences of God’s grace as seminarians; and alums Nancy McCranie and Fran Shelton call upon their own professional stories as caregivers to illuminate the intersection of faith and grief. Professor John Alsup offers a closing meditation on the office of pastor and teacher. Also in these pages is the latest news from campus and from the ranks of alumni/ae all over the world. Please note particularly the news of the upcoming MidWinter Lectures in early February. If you haven’t yet made plans to come, it’s time to do so. We’ll leave a light on for you! May your Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany celebrations be joyous ones.

Faithfully yours,

Theodore J. Wardlaw President

Discovery Weekend for prospective students | February 21-23 |

AustinSeminary.edu/springdiscovery

The College of Pastoral Leaders applications due May 15 | AustinSeminary.edu/cpl 2 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary


twenty-seventh speedway

Join us for MidWinter Lectures, Feb. 3-5 The Reverend Dr. Samuel Wells is Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. Prior to that he served as dean of Duke University Chapel and research professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School from 2005 to 2012. He has written numerous books and articles on Christian social ethics. Wells was ordained in the Church of England in 1991. His Currie Lecture topic is “Being with God.”

Rachel Held Evans is a New York Times best selling author of Evolving in Monkey Town (Zondervan, 2010) and A Year in Biblical Womanhood (Thomas Nelson, 2012). She is a popular Christian blogger who has been featured on NPR, Slate, The BBC, The Washington Post, The Guardian (UK), The Times London, The Huffington Post, and Oprah.com, and was recently named one of Christianity Today’s “50 Women to Watch.” Her Jones Lectures will reflect on how communities of faith can 1)better engage the Bible as a conversation-starter and 2) become better listeners in a loud world.

The Reverend Dr. Scot McKnight is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary. A recognized authority on the historical Jesus, early Christianity, and the New Testament, his blog, “Jesus Creed,” explores “the significance of Jesus and the Orthodox Faith for the 21st century.” He is the author of more than a dozen books, including The King Jesus Gospel (Zondervan, 2011). His current projects are commentaries on the Sermon on the Mount, Colossians, and a book on Paul’s spirituality and Jesus’ vision for the kingdom, from which he will draw during his Westervelt Lectures.

The Reverend Shannon Johnson Kershner, pastor of Black Mountain (North Carolina) Presbyterian Church, will lead worship on Monday and Tuesday evenings. A graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary, Johnson Kershner received the Columbia Leadership Award for demonstrating the greatest potential for future leadership in the PC(USA). She served for seven years as pastor of the Woodhaven Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas.

Highlights of the 2014 MidWinter Lectures include: • We will honor the 2014 Distinguished Service Award recipients: The Rev. James William Dollar (MDiv’70), The Rev. Dr. Miles Harrison White (MDiv’84), and The Rev. Melinda A. Veatch (MDiv’96). • Special reunion events for the Classes of 1954, 1964, 1974 1984, 1994, and 2004-2013. • Table-Talk lunch discussion on Tuesday, February 4, led by Austin Seminary Association (ASA) Board President Valerie Bridgeman (MDiv’90), The luncheon is free, but advance registration is required. • ASA Banquet and Annual Meeting (tickets are $15, reservations are required)

Register @ AustinSeminary.edu/midwin14 Winter 2014 | 3


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twenty-seventh speedway

New Student Orientation at John Knox Ranch gave incoming juniors a chance to bond before classes began. Here’s how the class looks: • 36 MDiv students (including one dual degree), 7 MATS and 2 MAMP students • 8 different denominations • 22% are racial ethnic minorities • background: physics, medicine, yoga, political science, public policy, education, IT, a combined 4 tours in Iraq

{ 4 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Special worship services this fall have included a gospel service, a bluegrass service, and one featuring Mariachis Las Alteñas.


The academic year began with Opening Convocation, on September 3. Professor David Johnson delivered the address, “What in the World: The Ethics of Christian Spirituality.” In the evening, the first worship service of the year featured a sermon by President Theodore J. Wardlaw: “Eschatology Today!”

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Listen to both on our Web site: AustinSeminary.edu

More than 80% of students receive some form of financial assistance to attend Austin Seminary. Merit scholars among the incoming class, shown here with President Ted Wardlaw, Associate Dean David Jensen, and Academic Dean Allan Cole, include (from left): Daniel Williams (Albuquerque, New Mexico), Candice Combs (Austin), Janine Zabriskie (Austin), Wendy Manuel (Pflugerville, Texas), Christine Wagner (Hays, Kansas), Greg Six (Abilene, Texas), and Barbara Tomek-White (Lake Charles, Louisiana).

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Education Beyond the Walls hosted six events this fall, including “Artsy Theology: Mixing Art & Theology for Ministry, Mission, Worship, and Christian Education,” taught by The Reverend Dr. Helen Taylor Bousier (MDiv’07).

Winter 2014 | 5


twenty-seventh speedway

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Photo by Sheila Sidberry

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The Outreach Commission of the student senate ran a “Bags of Change” drive, collecting toiletries and other useful items to distribute to those in need.

More than sixty gathered in November over the topic “Being Methodist.” They heard from Bishop James Dorff, The Reverend Barbara Day Miller, and The Reverend Dr. Ruben Saenz Jr.

Polity Bowl photos by Gary Mathews

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Polity Bowl Fever overtook the campus in midNovember when Team Calvin, with a touchdown from Dean Cole (above), kept the trophy from the Seminary of the Southwest. Again.

6 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary


Former Trustee Betty Wilson Jeffrey, center, and her family visited with students at the Seminary in November. Her sons and their families established a student fellowship in honor of her birthday.

Seminary receives five new student fellowships

I

t is an economic reality that many students today graduate with large education debt. This is particularly acute for seminary students who may find themselves servicing thousands of dollars of debt on the salary of a first-call pastor. Austin Seminary places a high value on reducing debt for students while also equipping them to manage their financial resources wisely. While

the Seminary is committed to providing financial assistance to students in need, fellowships and scholarships provide tuition, housing, and books to scholars who show the greatest potential to lead the church. Along with a generation of students who will benefit from their generosity, Austin Seminary is grateful to the donors who have established five new student fellowships:

The Mert and Betty Cooper Endowed Fellowship Fund The Trull-Herlin Family Merit Fellowship Fund The Clifford J. and Mary K Grum Endowed Fellowship Fund The Elizabeth Currie Williams Endowed Fellowship Fund The Betty Wilson Jeffrey Merit Fellowship Fund

Former Board Chair Jack Lancaster dies in Houston The Reverend Jack Lancaster (ThM’60) died on November 24, 2013. The long-time pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Houston (1961-1990), Lancaster was a great friend of Austin Seminary. He served on the Board of Trustees from 1959-1965 and 1966-1973; as chair from 1962-1965 and 1966-1971. In 1990, the Board established the John William and Helen Lancaster Chair of Evangelism and Missions in honor of Jack and his wife, funded in large part by First Church, Houston. The announcement of its creation said “the chair simultaneously brings honor to the Seminary and recognizes two persons whose leadership in the church—at the local level and beyond— exemplifies the ministry to which this seminary is committed. In designating the chair as one of evangelism and missions, Austin Seminary signals the Lancasters’ earnest goal and demonstrated commitment to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. We also recommit ourselves to the central and enduring place in the faculty and curriculum of the witness to the gospel that is for the whole world.” The two holders of the Lancaster Chair have been Professors John Robert “Pete” Hendrick, 1992–1995, and Arun W. Jones, 2007–2010. A search his underway now for the next occupant of the Lancaster Chair.

board actions | Austin Seminary Board of Trustees took the following actions at its fall meeting: Reappointed Dr. Gregory L. Cuéllar as assistant professor of Old Testament for a three-year term, effective July 1, 2014. This term supercedes the original term of Dr. Cuéllar’s appointment, which was to have expired December 31, 2014. Promoted Dr. David W. Johnson to associate professor of church history and Christian spirituality, effective July 1, 2014. Appointed The Reverend Blair M. Monie as Professor in the Louis H. and Katherine S. Zbinden Distinguished Chair of Pastoral Ministry and Leadership, effective July 1, 2014. Approved the sabbatical proposal of Dr. Timothy Lincoln, July 1- December 31, 2015. Approved the sabbatical proposal of Dr. Suzie Park, August 1, 2015 - January 31, 2016. Approved a terminal paid leave of absence for Dr. Kristin Saldine, July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015, and that her contract not be renewed at that time. Approved a search for a faculty position in homiletics or homiletics and liturgics, with rank and tenure being open. Accepted the sabbatical reports of Professors David Jensen and David White.

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Winter 2014 | 7


8 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary


Ministries of Care By Allan Hugh Cole Jr.

Illustration by Timothy R. Botts

To follow Jesus faithfully requires attending to those who experience life’s difficulties. Jesus said to his disciples, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34). Our attending to persons in need grows out of our love; and this love issues in compassion, which means, literally, to suffer together. To love another requires having compassion for her; suffering together marks relationships grounded in Christ.

ne needs to look no farther than to Jesus’s own actions to confirm the importance he placed on compassionate living. In one instance that Matthew describes, “When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick” (Matt. 14:14). As the larger biblical witness further illustrates, Jesus regularly sought out those who were infirm, suffering, and burdened. He offered his presence, concern, and healing with compassion generated from love. Indeed, he called upon his followers to show mercy, a form of compassion, and to attend to persons in need (an example is found in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37). Jesus went as far as to say in another parable that when we do this we do it to him, and when we do not do this we fail him (Matt. 25:40, 45). The Apostle Paul described Jesus’s example and our responsibility to follow it in terms of “bearing one another’s burdens” (Rom. 15:1-7; Gal. 6:2). To bear another’s burden, Paul assures, fulfills the law of Christ. In caring ministries we seek to follow Jesus as we bear one another’s burdens. However, we do not settle for attending to what may be lacking in a person’s life; we do not concern ourselves only with another’s burdens. We also attend to helping persons thrive. Jesus said

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). For him, life is not simply to be endured, but lived in abundance—with copious provisions of love, care, nurture, mutual support and obligation, purpose, and joy. Abundance depends foremost upon God’s presence and activity; upon God’s grace extended from God’s love. But this loving presence gets mediated through human relationships, as persons become present to one another. Divine love and human relationships intertwine. “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God,” writes the author of 1 John; furthermore, “those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (4:7, 16). We could go as far as to say that the kind of living God envisions requires the presence of God through the presence of others. Jesus, the one in whom “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19), indicated as much. He reminded his followers: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). With offers of care undertaken in the name of Christ, we welcome our essential connectedness, to God and to other persons. We also embrace the privilege of serving as instruments of God’s love and care, and our consistent, faithful, authentic presence before

Allan Hugh Cole Jr is academic dean and professor in The Nancy Taylor Williamson Distinguished Chair of Pastoral Care at Austin Seminary. He is the author or editor of eight books, including A Spiritual Life: Perspectives from Poets, Prophets, and Preachers (Ed., Westminster John Knox Press, 2011); The Life of Prayer: Mind, Body, and Soul (Westminster John Knox Press, 2009); and Good Mourning: Getting through Your Grief (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008). Winter 2014 | 9


Caring ministers usually can: Remain present, attentive, reliable, and trustworthy. Consistently showing up, offering genuine attention, and demonstrating trustworthiness are deeply nurturing. Remember that people usually observe whether we offer these before they decide to share a concern with us.

Listen more than they speak. People need to tell their stories, especially when facing struggles. In doing so, they understand themselves more fully and discern better what they need. If a caregiver speaks more than 20% of the time in a caring conversation, then she probably could listen more. Stand with another (and/or his family) in a time of pain, worry, or struggle. Seeing that others will accompany us on a difficult journey can offer sustenance and hope. A sense of solidarity may serve to relieve what Jürgen Moltmann (The Crucified God) called the “suffering in suffering” that arises when we feel that we suffer alone.

Pray for and with another (and/or her family). Prayer provides encouragement and conveys hope. The scriptures urge us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), especially during occasions of suffering, illness, and transgression (sin) (Jam. 5:13-16). Prayer lies at the heart of Christian faith. Binding us to God and one another, it changes lives. John Calvin called prayer “the chief exercise of faith.” Engaging this exercise nurtures us as we seek to nurture others.

Remind another of God’s promise to remain faithful and to provide. The scriptures speak often of this promise (Gen. 26:3, Deut. 31:23, Isa. 41:9-10, Matt. 7:7-8, Matt. 28:20b, John 4:10, 14:16-17). God may be relied upon to remain faithful to God’s people.

Remind another of God’s promise that suffering does not have the final say. Christian faith grows out of belief in this promise. It began with God’s covenant with Israel (Isa. 41:9-10) and is witnessed decisively in the resurrected Christ (Rev. 21:34). As the prophet proclaims on God’s behalf: “I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow” (Jer. 31:13).

Encourage the seeking of help from ministers and others in the faith community. Ministers must become aware of the needs of those in their congregations. This knowledge allows ministers themselves to offer care, but also to suggest other resources of care, whether in or beyond the faith community. Urge those who have needs to share these with their ministers and others, who want to help bear the burdens. 10 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

others helps us attend to them with greater compassion and with deeper commitments. Pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who provided Christian leadership to resist Nazi atrocities in WWII Germany, observed that for the Christian person, Jesus Christ always stands between oneself and others. When we cast our gaze upon another and his needs, we must look through Christ to see him. Such a view informs the importance of presence in ministries of care. Our presence allows us to companion another as a sibling in Christ. The stronger the connections we enjoy, the more intertwined in Christ we remain; the more capable we become of following Jesus by joining others on their journeys; the more abundant life may become, for others and for ourselves. In caring ministries we seek to foster and maintain this kind of presence in people’s lives. What we can and cannot provide1 We want people to live with more abundance. We also want to bear the burdens of others, hoping to help ease their pain and lighten their load. We recognize that sharing others’ struggles provides an opportunity to treat people as Jesus did and to live as his faithful disciples. But how shall we go about this “bearing?” Some of us feel uneasy about approaching people who are ill or injured, in crisis or in trouble. We may be uncertain about what to say to them. We may hesitate to pray with them, too; not because we don’t want to pray or think it’s unimportant, but because we aren’t sure about its appropriateness, and we don’t know what to pray for or how to do it. We may lack confidence about what proper support looks like, which can make being in the presence of those in need of care and bearing their burdens something that we get anxious about and possibly avoid. In other words, although we might affirm the deep and abiding value of being present with others, especially with those who suffer or face hardships, we might also admit to avoiding people in need of care because we feel inadequate for helping them. We may assume we could do something to ease their burdens or to fix their problems if we were just smart enough or, perhaps, Christian enough to know what to do. We assume, falsely, that we’ve not offered anything unless we can take someone’s pain away. Often we can provide no immediate solutions or fixes that alleviate someone’s struggles. We do well to accept this fact of caregiving, and also to accept that our inability to fix others’ problems is okay. We can offer our presence. We can respond with compassion. We can provide love and assistance that demonstrates our


suffering together. Ministers of care may offer all of these aids; and these are sufficient. An abiding presence informed by compassion marks our faithfulness, to God and to others. Keep in mind that human relationships provide a setting for God’s presence, and the capacity to be present with others affects not only how we listen to their experiences and needs (their stories) but also how we listen to God. As we seek to be present with others, to listen to them and strengthen our ties, we create a place for God to be present and to act. We also invite God to dwell within our shared life—our shared story—which always unfolds against the backdrop of the Story, who is Jesus Christ. A more authentic presence before others fosters deeper human-human connections and deeper divine-human connections. In their eagerness to help, caregivers may forget what they can and cannot supply. Caring ministers usually cannot: • Take away another’s pain. • Right another’s wrong. • Solve another’s problem. • Heal others’ relationships. • Change another’s behavior. As compassionate nurturers, they may want to do these things. But this is impossible. Relying upon God’s guidance, people must take the lead in deciding for themselves how to relieve their pain, respond to wrongs committed (theirs’ or others’), fix problems, heal relationships, or react to the behaviors of others. Caring ministers may offer ideas to consider. We may help identify supportive resources or aid. But ultimately, those who are hurting must discover where relief may best be found. God’s grace and leading, coupled with the minister’s compassionate care, surely may buoy them, but faithful care and nurture knows its purview and limits. Christian caregiving requires a four-way partnership whose members include: the Triune God, care receiver(s), caregiver(s), and the faith community. When we recognize God’s presence and action in human relationships, it becomes crucial to see the caring relationship as requiring a collaborative effort of multiple parties. On a practical note, mutual engagement fosters the most helpful type of care because more resources may contribute to meeting particular needs: resources that come from God and are mediated through various persons—through caregivers

and care receivers—those who, through love, abide in God and in one another. Members of the caring partnership actively contribute to a kind of care that necessarily remains grounded in divine-human and human-human connectedness. Educating caregivers Austin Seminary invites its students to consider myriad ways of companioning others in ministry, which includes offers of care. We teach students how to draw more richly on Jesus’ life and example to offer love, compassion, presence, and support. In doing so, we invite them to seek for themselves and to foster in others the kind of connectedness, to God and to other persons, conducive to more abundant life. We educate for caring ministries through a range of curricular offerings. These include courses that teach students how to reflect and communicate biblically, theologically, historically, contextually, ethically, and clinically about human need and flourishing; and also how insights from these ways of reflecting and communicating may inform competent and faithful ministry. Certain courses attend more explicitly to preparation for caring ministries. These include courses in pastoral care and counseling, Christian education, preaching and worship, and Christian spirituality. In these courses we attend to such human experiences as bereavement, anxiety, crisis, addiction, relationship difficulties, faith-related struggles, Christian witness, and deeper understandings of Christian formation and its relationship to peace and justice. At the same time, many other courses attend to preparing ministers to provide care broadly conceived. These include courses in leadership, biblical interpretation, ethics, comparative religion, history, and theology. Caring ministries require deep-rooted understandings of Christian sources and traditions. Additional curricular opportunities are found in our program for ministerial formation, including internships in congregations, hospitals, prisons, and in a range of social justice and human services agencies. In each of these settings, ministers meet human need and seek to provide for it from the basis of the Christian story. We also provide an assessment program that helps students discover and better understand their strengths and potential for growth, and also their preferred styles of and settings for ministry. Formation and education for caregiving requires not only deeper knowledge of God,

Continued on page 16 Winter 2014 | 11


Trusting Grace

Illustration by Beth Lee

By David Boyd (Class of 2014)

ike many of my classmates, I spent my summer in a hospital doing an intensive unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). When I first agreed to my CPE placement, the mere thought of spending ten weeks in a hospital providing pastoral care was daunting. For the first time, I would be expected to provide pastoral care in a professional setting; also, for the first time, taking on the full role of a pastor. As a second-career seminarian, I felt that there was no experience from my business career that would help me with this. All my experience told me was that in the face of a problem or crisis, one should do something to “fix” it. In the hospital, however, I had no skills to “fix” anything. Added to these concerns was the setting itself: Barnes-Jewish is a teaching hospital associated with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. It consists of two hospitals with 1,200 beds, seven ICUs, and a level-one trauma center. Simply navigating through the complex is a challenge: the daily walk from the Spiritual Care offices to my assigned floors took almost fifteen minutes. Even so, my experience of CPE was wonderfully rewarding. Once I got past my initial anxiety, I learned

what a privilege it is to walk with people during very difficult circumstances. In my visits with patients, I was invited to share a small part of their journey. I was humbled that people I did not know would so openly share their fear, pain, and frustration as well as their faith, love, and hope. Almost every day I experienced how, even in the midst of illness and disease, people felt the hopeful presence of God in their lives. My experience became less about what I could provide than in inviting patients to share their own experience of God. The greatest lesson I learned during this difficult, yet wonderful summer, was to trust in God’s grace. When I fully understood that God was already in the room before I got there, and would be in the room long after I left, I was able to be more fully present to people and their particular experiences. And then I realized that, even in this place of suffering, God’s grace was all around us. It was in the care of the staff, it was in the healing that patients experienced, and it was in the grief of those who were losing a loved one. Every visit became an opportunity to witness to God’s grace. My biggest disappointment was that with many patients, I was just getting to know them when they were discharged and I would never be able to see them again. Again, I had to trust that God’s grace would continue to follow them. At the end of the unit, I realized just how much CPE had shaped me and prepared me for ministry. It seems the grace I experienced in CPE will follow me, too. v

David Boyd is a PC(USA) senior MDiv student, currently serving an internship at Genesis Presbyterian Church, Austin. He and his wife, Jill, (also a senior MDiv) moved to Austin from St. Louis, Missouri, where David had a long career in the cheese business. 12 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary


Love Them Well By Nancy McCranie (MDiv’87)

here had I heard those words before? This was going to haunt me until I remembered. I was in the middle of a presentation to a group of caregivers who had family members suffering from dementia. My intention was to tell them about the wonderful support services available to them through Hospice Austin, thank them for their time, and leave. But then everyone began to introduce themselves. My sweet wife has Alzheimer’s, said a dignified elderly man with sorrowful eyes. She keeps begging me to take her home, and when I tell her we sold our house to move closer to the kids, it’s like she’s hearing it for the first time and she starts grieving all over again. My husband and I married two years ago, said an attractive woman in her early 50s. He’s the love of my life. But these past few months he’s been forgetting how to do the simplest tasks. He’s just been diagnosed with dementia, she said, tears streaming down her face; I have no idea what I’m going to do. Around the circle they went, one after another. And just like that, I was standing on holy ground. There was no way I was leaving. At some point a facilitator of this group, someone who had lived through a similar journey, said: You know, they may forget your name and who you are; they may forget what they had for lunch or that you’ve answered

their question five times; but they will never forget how you made them feel. Whatever their reality is at the moment, enter it with love. For an instant I was in a time warp as those words echoed down the corridor of my memory. But where, I wondered, had I heard them before? And then it all came rushing back. It was a sultry Sunday afternoon in North Louisiana, 1987, toward the end of my ordination service. My experience, as I stood in the front of that little country church before a sea of expectant faces, was a mixture of exhilaration and terror. And then Holly, my presbytery mentor, stepped into my line of sight to charge the “newly ordained.” Illustration by Barbara Close

Nancy, she said, her soft Louisiana drawl and kind eyes eliciting my first deep breath of the day, these people may forget every sermon you ever preach. They may forget your name and even your face, but they will never forget that you loved them. Love them well. Those words were like a life line, tethering me to my new vocation until they became such a part of me that I forgot the actual words, forgot where and when I had first heard them. Now, twenty-five years later, I realized their profound and lasting impact. Love them well has indeed been my north star whether moderating a meeting, training hospice volunteers, listening to someone’s pain, preaching, teaching, or simply sitting at someone’s kitchen table. Perhaps it’s as simple … and as complicated, as that. v

Nancy Chester McCranie is the director of volunteer and bereavement services for Hospice Austin. She is also a parish associate for First Presbyterian Church, Elgin, Texas. Nancy and her husband, Bill, have two teenage sons and live on a farm in Bastrop County where they raise organic blueberries and grass-fed beef. Winter 2014 | 13


Faith & Grief By Fran Shelton (MDiv’93, DMin’07)

ne of the most sacred times in the life of a congregation is when it gathers to worship and give witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ after the death of a member. Numbed by sadness, the community listens to the living Word, professes faith in God’s powerful love that raised Jesus from death to eternal life, and prays for the Spirit’s comfort, giving hope to all humanity. Shortly afterwards, the church extends compassion by incorporating the name of the deceased in prayers and worship bulletins. Later it may offer short-term bereavement classes. Soon, by a show of God’s grace, new days dawn and turn into weeks. Months pass and dedicated staff begins planning for the next liturgical season. Life quickly moves on in congregations. Meanwhile, family members feebly struggle in the bewildering aftermath of death. Often they feel isolated in the shadows of grief, with no appetite for life. Some feel overwhelmed by the stacks of paperwork associated with a death. Others yearn for the lighthearted banter and laughter they once enjoyed with their spouse, sibling, parent, child, or friend. Adult children frequently feel orphaned after the second parent’s death.

Bereft parents hope against hope that they will awaken from the nightmare of their child’s death. What provisions for the journey of grief do these individuals desire? How can the church faithfully comfort those who mourn? Responses to these questions from men and women reveal their longing for: (1) the church to recognize the ongoing nature of grief; (2) time and space to be blessed by the healing power of scripture, prayer, and personal stories; (3) connection to an understanding Illustration by Debbie Worden community; (4) longterm support as they relearn the world. These longings gave shape to Faith & Grief Ministries, Inc., a nonprofit that provides resources for ongoing comfort to individuals, congregations, and other organizations. One resource available is Faith & Grief Luncheons, a laity-led, community ministry. At monthly luncheons, persons are greeted with gracious hospitality, invited to sit at table and break bread with strangers who quickly become friends, encouraged by scripture and story, and engaged in conversation by trained facilitators who are respecters of silence and tears. One participant reflected, “These luncheons have reaffirmed my belief in the power of sharing our life continued on page 16

Fran Tilton Shelton founded Faith & Grief Ministries, Inc. with the Reverend Wendy Fenn and Elder Sharon Balch. After serving Presbyterian congregations for two decades, she received certification as a Spiritual Director and facilitates small groups and retreats. She and her husband, Bob, live in Dallas; they have much fun with their four grandchildren and enjoy watching sports! 14 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary


Partners Along the Journey By Josh Kerr (Class of 2014)

even months ago our family was shocked by news that my wife, Tara, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31. Before we even had a chance to process this news, she had undergone one surgery and started receiving aggressive chemotherapy through a port in her chest. When we heard her diagnosis I knew we were headed into a dark valley, but it felt more like we had fallen off of a cliff. Yet before we hit the ground, we realized that there was a community around us ready to soften the blow. As soon as news spread around campus, the Seminary community rallied around us. A calendar was made to arrange meals, help with our toddler, and provide other forms of support, such as caring for Tara while I went to class and making hats to keep her newly exposed head warm. As soon as word reached our hometowns, we received cards, blankets, and even financial support from our friends, family, congregations, and complete strangers. Like ripples in a pool of water, the news of Tara’s diagnosis spread, and each ripple was met with support and love. Even with all of this support, treatment was trying in every way possible. Tara’s treatments were very difficult for her to endure. Nausea, dehydration, exhaustion, and pain were her new normal. Our son, Kellan, went through phases of stress and emotional volatility. I was struggling to hold things together while

Illustration by Carol Hicks

keeping up with classes as much as possible. It was a very exhausting, very trying time for the whole family. So what does our experience dealing with cancer tell me about caring ministry? Well, first is that all are called and equipped to take part in caring ministry. I grew up thinking that “pastoral care” was the pastor’s job. The reality is that we all have something to contribute toward the caring ministries in our communities. Some can clarify confusing medical issues. Some can sit and listen while pain and loneliness are expressed. Some continued on page 16 Photo by Tiffany Chapman

Tara and Josh Kerr with three-month old Kellen, before cancer changed everything.

Josh Kerr is a senior MDiv student and a Candidate for Ministry under care of Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery. Upon graduation, he will be seeking a call to pastoral ministry in the PC(USA). Josh serves on the worship committee and has played on winning Polity Bowl teams all three years of seminary. Winter 2014 | 15


Austin Seminary professors are not only expert academicians, but are personally committed to their faith and to the church, making them valuable mentors to students preparing for a life in ministry.

See for yourself.

Discovery Weekend February 21-23

To confirm your place, call our Office of Admissions at 800241-1085, email Jack Barden, admissions@ austinseminary.edu, or register online at austinseminary.edu/ springdiscovery

Ministries of Care

Partners

continued from page 11

continued from page 15

the Christian story, and human need, but also deeper self-understanding and stronger capacities for selfreflection. We teach across the curricula with a focus on preparing ministers—clergy and lay, pastors and other leaders—for a variety of caring ministries as we pursue formation and education in these ways. We also care for one another. Students, spouses, partners, staff, faculty, administrators, trustees, and alums routinely practice caregiving in and on behalf of this community. We place a high value on bearing one another’s burdens, viewing one another through Christ, and living with compassion. These values transcend academic study. They inform our collective witness to God in Jesus Christ and our shared commitments to one another. Indeed, what we learn in the classroom, chapel, or in field placements about caring ministries we practice, time and again, in the relationships that carry the heartbeat of the Seminary community and deeply inform its mission. Telling a parable about having compassion and bearing another’s burdens, Jesus asked the lawyer to whom he spoke which of the three in the parable was a neighbor to the one in need. He responded, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” v NOTE

1. I have written previously about matters discussed here. See “Teaching and Caring: The Educator as Nurturer,” Advocate: Journal of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators, Spring 2008.

Faith and Grief continued from page 14 stories—that sharing helps. In simple and complicated ways, it helps.” A lay leader commented, “I feel like this ministry allows me to take something in my life which was so devastating and put it to use, to recycle the pain and loss in some purposeful way.” In addition to the luncheons, a website, www.faithandgrief.org, offers personal stories, resources, and a monthly newsletter. The stories tell ways that faith and grief intersect through the active and difficult process of grief. One contributor said, “Writing my story was the most difficult thing I have ever done and it was the most helpful. It was cathartic.” Congregations can link this site to their web’s home page, making it easy for persons to receive measures of ongoing comfort. v

16 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

can watch a child to give a tired parent a chance to nap. Some can help lessen the financial burdens of others. Some can write a perfectly worded and timely note of encouragement. Some can prepare dinner. Some can take a caregiver out for margaritas. Some can simply acknowledge that things are rough. These examples are just a fraction of the various and creative forms of care we were offered. Tara is now cancer free, and although recovery is slow, we have begun our journey out of that valley. We give thanks for the benevolence of God shown through every act of love and compassion toward us. As the church, we are called-out and equipped to serve the world in the name of Jesus Christ. Our experience overcoming cancer and the struggles that accompany it remind me that the redemptive love of God shines brightly in even the darkest of valleys. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” v


faculty news notes

{

In her charge to Professor White, Professor Cynthia Rigby said, “Mark Yaconelli, in his preface to your book Dreamcare, notes that you are ‘a classical guitarist, a cyclist, a sailor, a loving husband, a devoted uncle, and a cancer survivor.’ I add to that list that you are a teacher, a writer, a colleague, a friend, and maybe—even—a bit of a prophet. My charge to you is to continue being all these things, but to be them as a Dreamer who never lets go of your enchanting vision that all of us get up, and dance.”

David White inaugurated to full professor of Christian education

D

avid F. White was inaugurated on November 5, 2013, as full professor in The C. Ellis and Nancy Gribble Nelson Chair of Christian Education at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Dr. White joined the faculty of Austin Seminary in 2005. He previously taught and researched at Candler School of Theology, Claremont School of Theology, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Columbia Theological Seminary. Ordained in The United Methodist Church, White served churches in California, Alaska, and

Mississippi. Dr. White earned his undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University and his master of divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary. He received both a doctorate and master of arts degree in religious education from the Claremont School of Theology in 1996. Dr. White has garnered multiple grants for his research on youth and spiritual discernment, including a $1.2 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. for exploring Christian education with youth. In 2009 he received a $20,000

grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion to fund a diversity project at Austin Seminary. His books include Dreamcare: A Theology of Youth, Spirit, and Vocation (Cascade 2013), Awakening Youth Discipleship in a Consumer Culture (Cascade, 2007, coauthored with Brian Mahan and Michael Warren), and Practicing Discernment with Youth (Pilgrim Press, 2005); he is also author of a number of journal articles.

At his inauguration, Professor David White delivered an address, “Enchantment and the Task of Christian Formation.” A delegation of lifelong friends—Billy Still from Tucson, James Loftin from Orlando, and Tommy Artmann from Hattiesburg—and his spouse, Melissa Wiginton, vice president for Education Beyond the Walls at the Seminary, were on hand to celebrate the event.

Winter 2012 | 17


faculty news notes

Jennifer Lord becomes full professor in November ceremony

J

ennifer L. Lord was inaugurated on November 21, 2013, as professor in The Dorothy B. Vickery Chair of Homiletics and Liturgical Studies at Austin Seminary. Dr. Lord joined the faculty of Austin Seminary in 2005. Prior to her appointment, she was assistant professor of preaching and worship and dean of the chapel at Lancaster Theological Seminary. She also served pastorates in Nebraska and Upstate New York. “Professor Lord is a recognized authority in her fields of homiletics and liturgical studies, an accomplished scholar and teacher, and a wise and thoughtful faculty leader,” said Austin Seminary Academic Dean Allan H. Cole Jr. “She is most deserving of this promotion to the rank of full professor, and I look forward to the ways she will enrich Austin Seminary and strengthen its mission in the years ahead.” Dr. Lord has served as acting associate dean for academic affairs and led the efforts to establish Austin Seminary’s Master of Arts in Ministry Practice degree and the Certificate In Ministry program. She is a participant and presenter at events convened by

the Association for Theological Schools and travels nationally as a conference leader, consultant, and liturgist/preacher. She currently

Trustee B.W. Payne and President Theodore J. Wardlaw presided over Professor Lord’s inauguration ceremony which included a Psalm tune, written by a friend and led by a choir composed of her students. After the service she gets a hug from husband, Casey. serves as the faculty representative to the Austin Seminary Board of Trustees. Her book Finding Language and Imagery: Words for Holy Speech (Fortress Press, Elements of Preaching Series) was published in 2009. She was a contributing author for New Proclamation on Feasts, Holy Days and Other Celebrations (Augsburg Fortress, 2007). She writes for various lectionary-based preaching resources including the New Interpreters Theological Companion to the

Lectionary (Abingdon), Preaching Social Justice and Transformation: A Lectionary Commentary (Abingdon), and Feasting on the Word (Westminster John Knox). In addition she contributed to the New Interpreters Bible Handbook of Preaching (Abingdon, 2008), Best Advice for Pastors and Preachers (Westminster John Knox, 2008, William Carl, ed.), and has written for the journals Liturgy, Worship, Call to Worship, and for the “Living by the Word” column for The Christian Century.

faculty notes | Nine Austin Seminary faculty members preached or led worship throughout the synod for Theological Education Sunday, September 15.

We’re taking theological education “On the Road” in a new series for alumni. This fall Professors David Jensen (above) and Gregory Cuéllar gave presentations in San Antonio and Houston. 18 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Whit Bodman, associate professor of comparative religion, gave programs on “Islamic Law” and “The Bible as a Book” at a Disciples of Christ men’s retreat in Brownwood, Texas, in September. He taught a class on Islam at First Presbyterian Church, Smithfield, Texas, and

a three-week series at First Presbyterian Church, Austin. He was on a panel about Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Huston-Tillotson University and in a class on “Interfaith Dialogue” at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Austin. Academic Dean Allan H. Cole Jr. wrote a foreword to a forthcoming book, Becoming a Pastor: Forming Self and Soul for Ministry, 2nd ed. by Jaco J. Hamman (Pilgrim Press). He also attended, with Melissa Wiginton, a consultation of schools receiving a grant from


Lilly Endowment for “Addressing Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers” in Pittsburgh. Paul Hooker, associate dean for ministerial formation and advanced studies, gave a program on the Seminary’s new Certificate in Ministry (CIM) and the DMin program at Grace Presbytery in November. David Jensen, professor in the Clarence N. and Betty B. Frierson Distinguished Chair of Reformed Theology, taught church school at First Presbyterian Church, Georgetown, Texas, in November; he will teach a class on “Parenting and Christian Faith” at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Austin, in January. He also gave an address at the first annual conference of the Child Friendly Faith Project, an interfaith group devoted to promoting practices in congregations that nurture children’s lives. In October, Timothy Lincoln, associate dean for seminary effectiveness, co-chaired a comprehensive accreditation visit to Hartford Seminary and participated in another accreditation visit to St. Vincent De Paul Regional Seminary. On November 7, he led a focus group on “Congregations as Peacemakers in a Violent Society” in Houston, Texas, sponsored by the Texas Conference of Churches. In October, Jennifer Lord, The Dorothy B. Vickery Professor of Homiletics and Liturgical Studies, was a presenter at the Association of Theological Schools Roundtable for Newly Appointed Faculty in Chicago. She will attend the Academy of Homiletics and the North American Academy of Liturgy annual meetings this winter. Homiletics Professor Kristin Saldine has announced that she will leave her position at the end of the academic year. She plans to move west to be closer to her parents.

good reads | Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry (Counterpoint, 2001, paperback 363 pp, $15.96)

W

endell Berry has written many short stories and novels set in fictional Port William, Kentucky. The narrator of this book, an aged Jayber Crow, looks back with affection on his life among the struggling farmers and ordinary folks of Port William. From his viewpoint as the town barber and church sexton, he is an invisible servant who observes the gossip, aspirations, and tragedies of men getting their hair cut and of women and children at Sunday services at church. Berry unfolds his tale masterfully. The reader goes back and forth in time as Jayber recalls the ordinary events of his life and reflects on them with lyrical wisdom. The novel contains many meditations on the joy of seeing the natural world simply as it is, from raging floods to soft sunlight shimmering through trees. Like Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, the main character of this novel is the landscape itself. The languid or frantic actions of human beings are simply another set of pretty things to observe, of no more or no less transcendent importance than the web cleverly woven by a spider-engineer. Jayber has a lot to say about religion. As he awakens to the wonder of being alive, young Jayber surmises that this quickening could be a calling to be a preacher. He goes to a church college but is appalled that most everyone there reads the Bible like a set of puzzle pieces that fit together to produce a

picture of a prison. By contrast, Jayber sees contradictions in the Bible and some ideas that are loathsome to him. Jayber loves his world (the messy social world of drunks, bad marriages, and laughing children, as well as the beauty of fog lifting over the river) so much that he refuses to believe, as one hymn asserts, that this world is not his home. Jayber castigates the endless parade of young preachers, who fill the Port William pulpit to preach in favor of the spirit, and against the body, as hypocrites who ignore the divine joys associated with being flesh and blood. Jayber has no love for the wider world, the world of The News that takes young men away to die in foreign wars. He has no love for The Economy that drives people to abuse the land with endless demands for more production. Jayber loves the modest values of some old-timers who want to leave the land as rich as they found it, who rotate their crops, and who prefer plowing with mules to tractors. Jayber also loves from afar Mattie Chatham, a woman who marries a new style man with ambition—wrong for her and wrong for his vision of the world. Jayber Crow is a good read, albeit shot through with nostalgia. It celebrates the small against the great, and simplicity against gain. Jayber Crow pushes readers to ask who and what they love and why.

—Written by Timothy D. Lincoln, director of the Stitt Library and associate dean for seminary effectiveness

Join the Austin Seminary Book Club Please join our book club on Goodreads.com! In just a few steps, you can join Goodreads.com and the virtual “Austin Seminary Book Club,” open to anyone who wishes to join or follow our monthly discussions. The third week of each month, a faculty member, ASA Board member, or alum will moderate, asking questions and leading discussions about the selected book. Go here for step by step instructions: AustinSeminary.edu/bookclub Winter 2014 | 19


alumni news notes

then & now Christmas is always a festive season at Austin Seminary. Follow our community traditions from the 1950s to the present through these photographs from the Archives.

class notes | 1950s Daniel Durway (MDiv’56) and his wife, Flo, had a lovely visit to southwestern France with a group of alumni from Queens University of Charlotte, a Presbyterian school in North Carolina, of which Flo is an alumna. Carroll Pickett (MDiv’57) moved two years ago to Kerrville, Texas, a town he describes as full of many retired Presbyterian ministers and a great First Presbyterian Church. He continues to work with Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty TCADP.

1970s Mike Cole (MDiv’75), general presbyter of the Presbyter of New Covenant Presbytery, wrote an article for the October 28 issue of the Presbyterian Outlook, “The Statistical Grass is not Greener on the Other Side.”

1980s Charles Traylor (MDiv’87, DMin’94) celebrates one year with Presbyterian Communities and Services as the church relations manager. Mark Lenneville (MDiv’89) was honorably retired from the Presbytery of Arkansas and from the US Army. He is the founder and teacher at Christ in the Ozarks Fellowship, a community Bible study that meets weekly with 30-60 participants and is serving as a Civil Air Patrol Chaplain, Hospice Volunteer chaplain, and Walk to Emmaus chaplain.

1990s Lori Beer Nance (MDiv’97) has been called to be the next chaplain/program director at the Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly. Carol Howard Merritt (MDiv’98) has contributed to four new books; beginning in January, she will be a regular columnist at

20 | Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

The Christian Century. Steve Buchele (MDiv’99) and his wife, Suzanne, have signed with The Mission Society to return to Ghana, West Africa, to be career missionaries. Suzanne will be associate provost, and Steve will work in Campus Ministry and Church Planting at Ashesi University College. The Buchele family went to Ghana in 2006-08 when Suzanne was a Fulbright Scholar; Steve lived in Ghana with his family 1968-69 when his Dad was a professor at The University of Ghana. Grandchild #10 has come along for Kay Roberts (MDiv’99), born in May to her daughter, Bobbye, and husband, Eric, a Methodist pastor in Greenfield, Iowa.

2000s Suzanne F. Isaacs (MDiv’00) has retired from active ministry. She is now in retired relationship as an elder in the United Methodist Church. First Presbyterian Church, Harlingen has changed its name to New Hope Presbyterian Church, La Feria, Texas; Mary E. Breden (MDiv’06) is the pastor of the church. Kevin Downer (MDiv’06) has accepted a call to be the executive pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. New Braunfels Community Church was chartered Sunday, November 17, 2013; Helen T. Boursier (MDiv’07) is the pastor of the church.

ordinations | Jose H. Lopez (MDiv’10), ordained and installed as designated associate pastor of Youth and Family Ministry on November 24, 2013, at First Presbyterian Church, Traverse City, Michigan John R. Stanger (MDiv’12), ordained November 16, 2013, at Central Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas, to be minister for Advocacy and Education at

Let us keep in prayer: The family of Glenn Sampayan (MDiv’10) in the Philippines, as they struggle to recover from two of the most devastating natural disasters (earthquake and typhoon) in recent history. Elsa Ramirez (MDiv’11) and her family, who were severely affected by the recent Dove Springs flood in Austin, Texas.

Presbyterian Welcome, which works for the full participation of individuals in contexts of faith, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. Rebecca W. Longino, (MDiv’13), ordained and installed on November 24, 2013, at First Presbyterian Church, Luling, Texas

in memoriam | Eugene E. Wood (MDiv’42), Corsicana, Texas, October 18, 2013 Henry E. Beseda Jr. (MDiv’51), Caldwell, Texas, September 16, 2013 J. Allan Guthrie (MDiv’53), Tomball, Texas, September 9, 2013 Ralyn C. Parkhill (MDiv’54), Athens, Louisiana, August 21, 2013 Wayne H. Sebesta (MDiv’57), Nederland, Texas, October 19, 2013 George G. Strickler (MDiv’86), San Angelo, Texas, July 12, 2013 John S. Hazelton (DMin’87), Hamilton, Montana, October 10, 2013

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teaching ministry

Pastors and teachers By John Alsup, The First Presbyterian Church, Shreveport, Louisiana, Professor of New Testament Studies Ephesians 4:11ff and James 3:1ff

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t is always a joyous spectacle: faculty has processed, there we sit, looking out at the graduating class and their families, the students clad in caps and gowns, smiling broadly in anticipation of the words to be spoken over them and the hoods placed upon their shoulders. The fruit of our labor as teachers sits there before us; through these graduates we have lived out our pledge from the Seminary’s mission statement “…to educate and equip … to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research…” Some of them we have gotten to know better, having been their adviser, maybe having been their supervisor as well. With some we have lingered in prayer over crises in their lives. Theological education has indeed covered the entire spectrum of lived life as members of this “winsome and exemplary community of God’s people.” This journey of educating and equipping for ministry reminds me of the well-known passage in Ephesians 4 that speaks of the particular gifts of the resurrected Lord for the guidance of “the saints … the body of Christ.” Pointing toward a life of meaningful service and house-holding, it lifts up—among other things—the office of “pastor and teacher.” The “and” is one of those conjunctions that does not necessarily connect two separate things, but rather, as grammarians put it, creates a qualifying relationship. In this case, the second word re-(de)-fines the meaning of the previous one. Here the pastoral gift is qualified through the lens of education and learning and equipping. At its essence, theological education at its best brings both pastor and teacher together—for a lifetime. I am also reminded, however, of James 3. While this Epistle undoubtedly supports the union of teacher/pastor, it comes with a note of circumspection.

To be a teacher/pastor is to own the responsibility of that disciplined lifetime of learning. The accountability factor here is called “judgment” or “scrutiny” (Gr. “krima”). The reason for the scrutiny is found in what James 3 calls the human proclivity for stumbling or tripping … as into untruth, evil, and the (unintended?) deceiving of others. Speech is restrained by forethought, continued study. Together they unite in lighting the fires of inspiration and in extinguishing the fires of destructive passion. These two texts form a kind of midrash upon one another. They both

invite while they urge caution. Maybe this is the place for a personal note: for some years I have been locked in a quest for a melding of all the foregoing. To put it another way, from as early as my teenage years I have been responding to what I understand to be the call of God to ministry. Even a rather intense multi-year participation in the world of athletics did not detour the desire to answer this call. My major in college was ancient history and Greek and Latin classics. In the course of these studies I became engrossed in the Greek New Testament and knew, while pursuing these studies, that PhD work in this field was to be a major part of my calling. Studies at Princeton Seminary confirmed this decision. Pursuit of this dream, as I see it now,

took my family and me to Hamburg, then to Munich, Germany, until I arrived at Austin Seminary in 1975. About three years into my appointment, the Sunrise Beach Federated Church near Kingsland, Texas, sought my help as pastor. Neither the Seminary administration nor the presbytery objected, and I have served as pastor— importantly, with assistance of Austin Seminary students— ever since. This has been key to understanding the “and” of Ephesians 4 and the “scrutiny” caution of James 3 with regard to the calling of Pastor/Teacher. More than seventy students and I have known each other and worked together in the classroom and in this dual ecclesial capacity, and we have learned from each other in the process. This smallish (about 80+ members) “federated church” (its bylaws and polity sharing dynamics of Presbyterian, Methodist, and Disciples of Christ denominations), with a representation of nearly all Protestant confessions, Roman Catholics, and even a Jewish family, has become an official “teaching church,” offering our students SPM credit for preaching, teaching, and pastoral care. It continues to make significant financial contributions to the Seminary’s general and scholarship funds. The members of this congregation consider themselves pastors and teachers, inasmuch as they offer constructive feedback on a regular basis and support them in their prayers, along with daily intercessions for the entire Seminary community. The photo above of Dean Allan Cole, the preacher of the day, and me, taken at the celebration of the church’s fiftieth anniversary of ministry, represents the educating/equipping pledge that flourishes between this school and this church.

I’d like to dedicate this reflection to Dr. David White, whose inaugural address offered, in my view, a promising inroad into the union of pastor/teacher as calling. —JA Winter 2012 | 21


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upcoming from education beyond the walls | Spring 2014 Preparing for Pentecost with Jennifer Lord | February 21, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.; $60 | In this workshop we will think together about the images and theological themes for worship on this great Feast Day in the life of the church. We will immerse ourselves in practical preparations for scripture readings, sacramental celebrations, and prayers, and conclude the day with a hymn sing of Pentecost music. | Recommended for pastors and worship leaders Caregiving: Care for the Grieving when Death is Near with Ron Lovelace, Ken Ramsey & Lee Ann Rathbun | February 22, 8:30 - noon; $25 | When someone dies, there is often not much to say to their loved ones. But is there a way to minister in the hours surrounding a death? Hospital chaplains deal with this situation daily, and in this workshop they will lead caregivers in a conversation about ministering at or near the time of death. Special attention will be given to deaths that occur in healthcare environments. | In partnership with Seton Family Healthcare | Recommended for clergy, chaplains, lay caregivers Interim and Transitional Ministry Education | March 10-14 | Offered for those engaged in Interim/ Transitional Ministry and those who want to learn about churches in transition. | Provided by the Office of Ministerial Formation and Advanced Studies of Austin Seminary Get in the Game with Vera White | March 22, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.; $25| If you ever have wondered whether you might be called to start a new worshipping community, this day is for you. Blending vision-casting and stories from people involved in the process, this workshop will be followed by a roundtable discussion and an opportunity to begin dreaming—and discerning—about what God might be calling you or your congregation or presbytery to do. | In partnership with 1001 Worshiping Communities of the PC(USA) Growing into Tomorrow … Today | March 24-25; FREE | Planning for retirement can be challenging. Explore steps to take today to prepare for the best retirement tomorrow. | Presented by the Board of Pensions of the PC(USA)| Recommended for mid- to late-career clergy and lay Board of Pension Plan members and their guests Enabling Spirituality: Addressing the Spiritual Needs of Persons with Disabilities | March 28; $75| This intensive day helps those who work with people who have disabilities to increase their ability to address spirituality as a part of the whole person. | In partnership with University of Texas School of Social Work Office of Professional Development and the Texas Center for Disability Studies at the University of Texas at Austin | Recommended for social workers, therapists, pastors, educators, lay caregivers Pilgrim’s Progress: Learning through Liturgy with Jennifer Lord | March 31 - April 2; $75 (APCE Members); $125 (Non-APCE) | Explore ways that the patterns of worship throughout the church’s year provide faith formation even in times of change | In partnership with SCRAPCE | Recommended for Christian educators, clergy, and church leaders Cruzando la Frontera: Bridging that which Divides | TBD, Houston| In partnership with the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest and the Seminary of the Southwest Writing in the Margins: Where Word Meets World for Women in Ministry with Lisa Nichols Hickman | May 11-14; $375 (incl. housing and meals) | We will engage in the practices of scriptural discipline, explore the lives of other margin writers, and consider how our leadership might just be shaped in the margins of the Bible | Recommended for mid-career clergy women

Learn more and register for all events at AustinSeminary.edu/ebwworkshops