SFTS Press Releases Archive

SFTS receives $2 million for spirituality chair

San Anselmo, Calif., Oct. 18 – San Francisco Theological Seminary has received a commitment of $2 million to establish the Rice Family Chair of Christian Spirituality.

This chair honors four people with very close ties to the seminary: The Rev. Dr. Howard Rice, professor of ministry and chaplain from 1968-1997; Mrs. Howard (Nancy) Rice; the late Rev. Wendy Dreitcer, one of the Rice's daughters who is an alumna; and Dr. Andrew Dreitcer, founding director of the SFTS Diplomas in Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Formation Studies.

In announcing the gift Oct. 4 to the Board of Trustees, President Phil Butin shared that the donor deeply appreciates the ministry of each member of the Rice family and was personally blessed by their ministry at different times.

"The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, was blessed with a strong and supportive relationship with Dr. Howard Rice while a student at SFTS," Butin said, adding the experience inspired the donor's desire to honor all four named family members with an endowed chair given in their honor.

"In our conversations about the appropriate designation of the endowed chair, the donor and I kept coming back to the remarkable contribution of Rev. Howard Rice and his family to the ministry of spiritual formation through San Francisco Theological Seminary and the donor's longstanding desire to honor that contribution with an exceptional and lasting gift that would ensure the permanence of a faculty position in Christian Spirituality," Butin said.

Rev. Peter D. Crouch, vice president of seminary and alumni relations, explained the purpose of the Rice Family Chair of Christian Spirituality is to ensure that the study and practice of Christian spirituality remains central to the SFTS Master of Divinity curriculum.

Dr. Jana Childers, Dean of the seminary, shared her appreciation for the extraordinary gift. "Rev. Dr. Howard Rice and others pioneered our interest in rediscovering a Reformed understanding of Christian spirituality, and his son-in-law, Dr. Andrew Dreitcer, was also a part of that as the founding director of our Diplomas in the Art of Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Formation Studies."

Rev. Sam Hamilton-Poore, director of the SFTS Program in Christian Spirituality, pointed out the entire family has meant a lot to the seminary community. "Nancy has been Howard's partner in ministry all these years, and Wendy's spirit and faith are warmly remembered by the seminary community and by her church, Sleepy Hollow Presbyterian Church," he said.

A celebration of the new Rice Family Chair of Christian Spirituality is being planned during the Alumni Reunion Weekend April 19-21, 2007. More details will be posted soon on the seminary's Web site as the event draws closer: www.sfts.edu.

San Francisco Theological Seminary, an institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has prepared whole leaders for the whole church since 1871. One of the founding members of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, it offers theological degrees at two campuses, in San Anselmo and Pasadena. Its innovative Program in Christian Spirituality is open to clergy and non ordained individuals. For more information please call SFTS at 1-800-447-8820 in San Anselmo or 1-800-473-8772 in Pasadena. Also find information on our Web site: www.sfts.edu.

Chrisopher Ocker Publishes New Book
Illuminating Church Leaders Intentions during Reformation

San Anselmo, CA, September 18, 2006 - Even the most casual student of church history knows that the Reformation was a time of religious upheaval. New waves of Protestantism were uprooting traditional forms of Catholicism all across Europe. However, these religious changes were translated into social and political changes as well, with varying results. It is at the intersection of religious thought and social change that Professor Christopher Ocker's new book Church Robbers and Reformers in Germany, 1525-1547 takes aim. "I was studying the campaign against the mendicant friars in the early Reformation and discovered there was this bigger question of the fate of monasticism in general," says Ocker. "The more I looked, the more complicated the picture became." What Ocker discovered was that Reformation theologians performed the paradoxical task of closing and converting monasteries into evangelical churches and, at the same time, helping political leaders describe these actions as protecting and promoting religion. "I hope all this suggests an alternative to one of the dominant historical paradigms of Reformation history," says Ocker. He hopes to show that much of the political power exercised during the Reformation was within a traditional value-structure, and that theologians both advocated and operated within that structure without threatening it. "My work shows that theologians played a very specific role in politics," says Ocker, and their role "did not involve a new ideology of state power. Rather, they helped rulers strike a traditional pose as protectors of the church."

Christopher Ocker is Professor of Church History at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He holds the Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Dr. Surjit Singh, Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, dies at 88

San Anselmo, CA, May 30, 2006 – Dr. Surjit Singh, Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at San Francisco Theological Seminary, passed away on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at the age of 88.

Dr. Singh was a member of the SFTS faculty from 1951 through 1988. He was professor of Philosophical Theology but his particular interest was Christology, the branch of theology concerned with the person and attributes and deeds of Christ.  Many students remember him for his “divine-hyphen” theory, an image that he used to describe the work of Jesus Christ. 

Dr. Singh and wife, Indira, established the Surjit Singh Essay Award in Christology, and essay competition that provides incentive and opportunity for graduating students to organize their theological convictions around a central doctrine of the Christian faith.  Just a few months ago, he participated in the awarding of the prize to SFTS students Pilleun Lee-Park and Garrett Andrew.  The Singhs also endowed an annual lectureship that is hosted by the Graduate Theological Union, The Surjit Singh Lecture in Comparative Religious Thought and Culture.

Dr. Singh served with distinction as Dean of SFTS from 1972 to 1978.  He is well remembered by the faculty for his contributions to shared governance and, especially, for his role in drafting the faculty handbook.  Dean Jana Childers remembers Singh as “a diplomat, a negotiator, and, in his later years, the seminary’s elder statesman who’s loss is one the Seminary will feel keenly.”  As President Phil Butin says of Dr. Singh, “Nobody loved the seminary more.”

The Memorial Service for Dr. Surgit Singh will be held Saturday, June 10th at 11:00 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, San Anselmo. President Butin will preach and help lead the SFTS, GTU and First Presbyterian communities, as well as those from the wider Church, in giving thanks for this great man’s life of service.

First Presbyterian Church is located at 72 Kensington Road, on the corner of Ross Avenue in San Anselmo, CA

Laurie J. Garrett-Cobbina Appointed to New Faculty Position
– The Shaw Family Chair for Clinical Pastoral Education

San Anselmo, CA, May 23, 2006 –San Francisco Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the Reverend Laurie Garrett-Cobbina as The Shaw Family Chair for Clinical Pastoral Education, a new faculty position, effective July 1, 2006.  Garrett-Cobbina is a certified ACPE Supervisor serving as the Assistant Director for the Mecklenburg Acute Care System (MACS) Chaplains and Coordinator of Pastoral Care and Education at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.  She is also the pastor of Smallwood Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. 

Garrett-Cobbina received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics in 1984 from Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY; a Master of Divinity degree in 1988 from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ; and a Master of Theology degree in 1989 from Princeton Theological Seminary.  She is a minister of the word and sacrament, and a member of Charlotte Presbytery.

Garrett-Cobbina has been a contributing author for many books, including Theologies from REM Women of Color, Editor Patricia Wilson; Promise of the Soul by Dennis Kenny; and Having My Say: Reflections on Justice Ministries 1969-1999 by Gerald Cunningham.  She has been a faculty lecturer and workshop leader for the Carolinas Medical Center and California Pacific Medical Center and was featured on National Public Radio in April 2000.

The Shaw Family Chair for Clinical Pastoral Education is the first fully endowed chair in this discipline within the Graduate Theological Union and one of the few among all theological seminaries.  The new chair was made possible by a generous gift from SFTS alumni John F. (B.D. 1954) and Julia P. Shaw who live in Sammamish, WA.

R. Scott Sullender Appointed New Director of the Lloyd Center Pastoral Counseling Service and Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling

San Anselmo, CA, May 23, 2006 –San Francisco Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees has called R. Scott Sullender as Director of the Lloyd Center Pastoral Counseling Service and Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, effective July 1, 2006.  Sullender comes to SFTS from Upland, CA where he is serving as Executive Director for the Samaritan Counseling Center, a non-profit church sponsored counseling program.  He is also the Program Director and founder of Behavior Education and Management Services (B.E.A.M.S.), an in-home parent education and behavior modification program for the families with developmentally disabled children. 

Sullender received a Bachelors of Arts degree in history in 1967 from the University of California at Santa Barbara, CA; a Master of Divinity degree in 1970 from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ; a Master of Theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1973 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the School of Theology and Claremont/Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, CA.  His dissertation title is “Grief and Growth: Perspectives from Life-Span Psychology and Pauline Theology.”

Sullender is a licensed psychologist by the State of California and a minister of the word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) since 1970.  He is currently a member of the Presbytery of Riverside and parish associate at First Presbyterian Church of Upland, CA.  His published works include Losses in Later Life (first and second editions); Passing through: Reflections on the Twenty-third Psalm; Grief and Growth; numerous articles and contributions to Christian Education curricula.

The Lloyd Center serves students, families, congregations, and the larger community with resources for pastoral care, pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, and exploration of call

Marilyn Chilcote to Deliver Commencement Address to Class of 2006

San Anselmo, CA, May 12, 2006 – The Rev. Marilyn Chilcote (M. Div., 1981), recipient of the San Francisco Theological Seminary’s 2006 Distinguished Alumna Award, will address graduates at commencement on May 20, 2006.  One-hundred three students are expected to receive degrees; forty-four, the Master of Divinity; fourteen, the Master of Arts in Theological Studies; fourteen, the Diploma in Spiritual Formation Studies; and thirty-one, the Doctor of Ministry to students all over the world, including Myanmar, India, Korea, Northern Ireland, Australia and America.  Forty-five notable members of the 2006 graduating class are women.
After receiving her Master of Divinity degree in 1981, Chilcote served St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, CA as assistant pastor and immediately became involved with immigrants from Central America.  She flew to Honduras to visit the U.N. refugee camps for Salvadorian refugees, and returned to America to tell stories of unspeakable horror and courage.  In this key position, she led St. John’s and four other congregations to declare sanctuary for California refugees in March 1982, becoming the first congregations in the nation to do so.  Under her leadership the sanctuary movement in the East Bay grew to 31 congregations with several hundred volunteers and 200 pro bono lawyers.  She traveled to Central America many times, always under threat of death.  In 1989, Chilcote and husband Rev. Robert McKenzie founded Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, a recognized ministry of San Francisco Presbytery.  The house church located in Oakland, CA was a refuge for dozens of people seeking to live justly in God’s spirit and a gathering place for like-minded advocates for world peace, nuclear disarmament, ecological health, and the elimination of poverty.

Commencement exercises also include the granting of special awards and fellowships to graduating seniors who have distinguished themselves among their peers.  The awards are:  the Seminary Fellowship and the Alumni Fellowship, given to outstanding graduates selected by the Dean, to assist them in pursuing further study; the Surjit Singh Essay Award in Christology, an essay competition to provide incentive and opportunity for graduating seniors to organize their theological convictions around a central doctrine of the Christian faith; the Kneeland Preaching Prize and the David Esler Homiletics Award, both awards given to graduating M.Div. students for excellence in preaching.

The Reverend Dr. Marvin Chaney, Nathaniel Gray Professor of Hebrew Exegesis & Old Testament, will preach during the baccalaureate service held at First Presbyterian Church of San Anselmo on Friday, May 19, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.  All are welcome to attend the President’s reception in Lower Alexander Hall immediately following the baccalaureate service.  Commencement on Saturday, May 20, 2006 will be held on Bouick Field at 9:00 a.m.

First Presbyterian Church – 72 Kensington Road, San Anselmo, CA
Bouick Field at SFTS – 2 Kensington Road, San Anselmo, CA

SFTS Presents 2006 Distinguished Alumna Award to Rev. Marilyn Chilcote

San Anselmo, CA, March 31, 2006 – San Francisco Theological Seminary has named Rev. Marilyn Chilcote, class of ’81, as the 2006 Distinguished Alumna.  This prestigious award honors Seminary graduates who have demonstrated exemplary dedication and service to the ministry of Jesus Christ, regardless of public prominence.  Not only does this award recognize the dedicated ministry of SFTS alums, it also spurs on the imagination and energy of SFTS students for outstanding service to Christ's Church.

After receiving her Master of Divinity degree in 1981, Chilcote served St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, CA as assistant pastor and immediately became involved with immigrants from Central America.  She flew to Honduras to visit the U.N. refugee camps for Salvadorian refugees, and returned to America to tell stories of unspeakable horror and courage.  In this key position, she led St. John’s and four other congregations to declare sanctuary for California refugees in March 1982, becoming the first congregations in the nation to do so. 

Under her leadership the sanctuary movement in the East Bay grew to 31 congregations with several hundred volunteers and 200 pro bono lawyers.  She traveled to Central America many times, always under threat of death.  “It was in the faces of the refugees who, with enormous courage, accomplished their escapes from El Salvador and then dared to approach us to ask our assistance for their brothers and sisters left behind,” she says of her experience.  “It was through their belief that Jesus Christ was sustaining them in the danger and death of their existence that I heard the Good News.  I don’t know whether I would have stayed in the ministry without it.” 

In 1989, Chilcote and husband Rev. Robert McKenzie founded Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, a recognized ministry of San Francisco Presbytery.  The house church located in Oakland, CA was a refuge for dozens of people seeking to live justly in God’s spirit and a gathering place for like-minded advocates for world peace, nuclear disarmament, ecological health, and the elimination of poverty.

Since 2001, Chilcote has volunteered four days a week at her neighborhood public school, Lakeview Elementary School.  Known as Grandma Marilyn, she is learning once again about grace in the midst of suffering and says, “As a former schoolteacher, I am appalled at the unmet needs of our inner-city children and at the blatant inequities which shape their ‘education’”.  Chilcote has organized a partnership between First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, CA (where she is a parish associate) and the school, and together they have painted the cafeteria, recruited classroom volunteers, provided teacher appreciation events, and are in the midst of planning major gardening and landscaping projects.

Rev. Chandler Stokes, pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, CA, says of Chilcote, “I am ever moved by her deep thirst and hunger as an energetic worker for justice.  With her indefatigable energy, supple mind, and potent trust in the Spirit, she has been a persistent, consistent, and hard-working servant of Christ.”  Stokes, along with Rev. Dr. Phil Butin, President, Rev. Peter Crouch, Vice President of Seminary & Church Relations, and Polly Coote, Registrar, delivered the news of the award to Chilcote in her home as she recovers from broken legs as the result of a fall.  She will address the 2006 graduating class at commencement on May 20, 2006.

The Alumni Scholarship Fund provides support for current seminarians preparing for ordained Christian leadership.  Gifts of all sizes are graciously accepted in honor of Rev. Marilyn Chilcote as the 2006 SFTS Distinguished Alumna.  Checks can be made payable to SFTS with “Marilyn Chilcote” written on the memo line.  Please mail to:

Attn: Lynn Dunn
105 Seminary Road
San Anselmo, CA 94960

Youth Ministry Expert Mark Yaconelli to Speak at SFTS

San Anselmo, CA, May 8, 2006 – Mark Yaconelli, nationally renowned youth ministry authority and co-founder of the Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project (YMSP), returns to San Francisco Theological Seminary on Friday, May 12, for an evening of stories and conversation around his newly-released book, Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus.

Yaconelli’s ground-breaking research, conducted while at SFTS, integrates contemplative practice, spiritual direction, contemplation and ancient spiritual practices as the basis of discipleship with teenagers. His work has been profiled in many national publications and media including the Wall Street Journal, ABC World News Tonight and the Osgood Files on CBS.

“If you are a church school teacher – or a regular parent interested in teaching your own kids – you will find Mark Yaconelli to be a wise and patient teacher with a reverence for God, a deep respect for kids, and a lovely sense of humor. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll find direction and validation and a lot of truly great suggestions in his words,” says Anne Lamott, best-selling author of Traveling Mercies and Plan B.

Contemplative Youth Ministry: A Conversation with Mark Yaconelli will take place Friday, May 12, 2006, from 7-9 pm in the Scott Hall Student Lounge at San Francisco Theological Seminary. This event is free and open to ALL who care about the spiritual needs of young people. For more information, please visit the YMSP website at www.ymsp.org, or call Project Manager, Deborah Arca Mooney at (415) 451-2879.

SFTS Student Attends 9th Assembly of World Council of Churches

San Anselmo, CA, March 7, 2006 – The 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) met in Porto Alegre, Brazil February 14-23, 2006, addressing the theme “God, in your grace, transform the world.”  The Assembly was a time of encounter, prayer, celebration and deliberation for the 691 delegates from the WCC’s 348 member churches along with other participants who made up thousands of Christian women and men from around the world.  One of the participants was Peter Barnes-Davies, a third-year Master of Divinity student at San Francisco Theological Seminary.  “It’s hard to sum up such a rich experience in a few words,” said Barnes-Davies, when asked to describe his twelve days at the Assembly.  “The opening prayer service with 3,000 people attending; hearing the Lord’s Prayer in many different languages, truly a Pentecostal experience; it’s hard to convey all the emotions and deep spirituality in words, but it’s my responsibility to tell the story now that I am home.  To share how awe-inspiring this witness to Christian unity was, and also to share stories from people who live with the negative effects of ‘neo-liberal economic globalization’.”

The Assembly is the supreme legislative body of the WCC and meets every seven years.  The formal purpose of the Assembly is to review programs and determine the overall policies of the WCC, as well as to elect presidents and appoint a Central Committee.  Other activities included daily Bible studies and prayer services, plenary sessions on themes such as Economic Justice and Overcoming Violence, business sessions and reflection workshops.  Barnes-Davies and fellow missiologist (one who studies Christian mission) Nienke Pruiksma were co-presenters for a workshop entitled, “Postcolonial People: Transforming Relations” which focused on the exploration of how identity, power and privilege affect Christian mission in a world that is marked by the legacy of colonialism and oppression. 

“The workshops were places where people came together to talk freely about the issues facing the world.  One of the most powerful that I attended described the WCC’s AGAPE process (Alternative Globalization Addressing Peoples and Earth).  One panelist redefined the church’s mission as proclaiming an alternate form of globalization based on the Kingdom of God, rather than neo-liberal economics” said Barnes-Davies.  “It wasn’t about conservative or liberal, right or left, but about compassion, justice and equality.  It is an approach to Christian mission that offers hope and courage to people who struggle daily for life in a war-torn and often oppressive world.” 

Barnes-Davies would like to attend another WCC Assembly, in hopes to enrich and renew the experience he just shared with thousands of friends around the world.  In 1954, the 2nd WCC Assembly was attended by his grandfather, Richard Davies.

SFTS Hosts Visiting Scholar Andrew Gow, PhD

San Anselmo, CA, Tuesday, February 07, 2006 – Dr. Andrew Colin Gow is a visiting scholar at the San Francisco Theological Seminary for the month of February, 2006.  Dr. Gow is Professor of History at the University of Alberta, Canada and an observant Jew.  His expertise includes apocalypticism, popular religion and culture, the history of theology, the history of witchcraft and Christian-Jewish relations.  The author of The Red Jews: Anti-Semitism in an Apocalyptic Age, 1200-1600 and numerous publications, he is the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stuftung Research Fellowship at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg and a Residential Fellowship at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris among many other honors.

Dr. Gow will deliver a lecture on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 titled “Can Jews be Saved?  Antichrist, Apocalypse & Christian Zionism” at the San Anselmo campus.  The lecture is open to the public and will be held in Scott Hall, room 101 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. 

Dr. Gow’s chosen topic will focus on the developing relationships, albeit awkward relationships, between Christians and Jews.  Why, for example, has Israel and the fundamentalist Christian right become fast friends?  It is time, Dr. Gow suggests, to think carefully about where and with whom, Jews and Christians, should be developing relationships.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the History-Theology Concentration and the Global Christianity Program at SFTS.

Rebuilding After Katrina - SFTS Volunteer Team Returns from MS

San Anselmo, CA, January 25, 2006 – A group from San Francisco Theological Seminary just returned from D’Iberville, Mississippi where they joined fellow volunteers who worked with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), helping to rebuild residences after Hurricane Katrina.  From January 8th - 15th, Rev. Dr. Charles Marks, SFTS Chaplain, Rev. Scott Schaefer, Vice President of Finance and Administration and students Cheryl Finch, Sharon Latour and Anitra Kitts Rasmussen built homes, cleaned up debris, prepared food and ministered to residents still struggling five months after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina.  Kitts Rasmussen, who has written an extensive article about the trip for Covenant Network of Presbyterians (www.covenantnetwork.org) says, “Our journey lasted eight days.  What we experienced will last a lifetime.”

“Television and photographs don’t begin to convey the vastness of destruction.  Miles and miles of torn houses, no electricity or running water,” Rev. Schaefer explains.  “There aren’t enough words to describe what the people of the Gulf Coast states have gone through, and what they are still going through.”

D’Iberville is a small town located just inland of Biloxi, on the north side of the casino barges that washed ashore in the twenty foot storm surge. The eastern wall of Hurricane Katrina passed over the town, with sustained winds over 114 miles per hour for six or seven hours. Many twisters were embedded in the storm, over 400 according to one account. Debris washed inland from Biloxi into D'Iberville adding to the damage done by wind and wave locally.

PDA set up a camp in September to house volunteers and assist in feeding the community of D’Iberville.  The SFTS team joined 100 fellow volunteers from Presbyterian churches across the country at the camp during their week in Mississippi.  As of the end of November 2005, over 3,105 work hours have been logged by volunteers at this one site alone.  “It made a difference to show up.  It made a difference for the people of the Gulf Coast states to see strangers coming from all over the country offering to help clean up,” says Kitts Rasmussen.  Cheryl Finch adds, “People need to know how they can get involved.  PDA is still taking volunteers and more are needed everyday.” 

Rev. Marks will not forget the images he saw, or the people he met.  “The word I have used the most in describing my experience is ‘humbling’.  It was humbling to see the extent of the disaster and destruction and helplessness of the people.  It was also humbling to be accepted and welcomed by the people of D’Iberville and to make a small contribution toward the restoring of lives and hope and homes.” 

Volunteer work teams can sign up with PDA online at www.pcusa.org/katrina or by calling toll free (866) 732-6121.  Skills and talents of every kind are needed, from drywall installation to the ministry of encouragement.

If your church or service organization is interested in scheduling a presentation to hear a first-hand account from the SFTS team, please contact Rev. Marks at (800) 447.8820 ext. 833

Former Faculty Member John Irvine Dies at 78

January 24, 2006 – The Rev. John Malcolm Irvine passed away peacefully at his home in Petaluma, CA on January 19, 2006 at the age of 78.  Hired in 1968 by then-President Arnold Come, Irvine established and led the Office of Student Services at San Francisco Theological Seminary and was also Assistant Professor of Ministry.  John retired in 1994, having given the seminary twenty-six years of Christian witness, prophetic consciousness and wonderful parties. His service and dedication to the students at SFTS is described in the book, SFTS: The Shaping of a Western School of the Church, 1871 – 1998 (Coote and Hadsell, 1999), “It was Irvine whom students were most likely to meet first and last in their seminary career, from application for admission to hooding at graduation, and who as administrator, counselor, and confidant represented as much as anyone did the heart of the institution, as professors pursued their scholarly lives.”

Dean Jana Childers says of John, “A lively, delightful presence on the faculty.  Those who knew him are saddened by this news, of course, but grateful, too, for the release that death brings – for John and for his family.”

A service of remembrance will take place at SFTS in San Anselmo, Stewart Chapel at 2:00pm on Saturday January 28 with a reception following in Upper Alexander. Cards may be sent to the family at 1652 Moclips Drive, Petaluma, CA 94954. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in John’s memory to the Sierra Club, 85 Second Street, Second Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105

Interim Directors Publish New Book on Supervision of Spiritual Directors

November 18, 2005 – Interim Directors for SFTS Program in Christian Spirituality Mary Rose Bumpus and Rebecca Langer are editors for a newly published book Supervision of Spiritual Directors: Engaging in Holy Mystery, a collection of essays designed to deepen and extend the conversation of supervision as it applies to spiritual directors. Published by Morehouse and written by spiritual directors who have years of experience in supervision, this book engages some of the leading voices in the field in an exploration of a wide variety of issues.

“There is only one other text devoted solely to the subject of supervision of spiritual directors, and this new book is about refining the distinct qualities of what it means to supervise those in the field of spiritual direction, as opposed to pastoral counseling or psychotherapy,” explains Langer. “It is not meant to be the last word on the subject, but a vehicle to generate conversation about the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in supervision conversations.”

Many of the contributors teach classes at San Francisco Theological Seminary in the Program of Christian Spirituality, and the book is a result of conversations regarding the need for formal accompaniment of spiritual directors by competent supervisors. Divided into three parts, writers discuss their general understanding of supervision and the particular issues or topics that are important to the relationship between supervisor and director. The final section is dedicated to broaden the worldview of directors and supervisors, to consider the social and cultural contexts within which supervision is practiced, and to expand the vision of God’s presence.

Rebecca Langer is the Interim Director for the Program in Christian Spirituality and has been teaching and leading the program at San Francisco Theological Seminary for two years. She is the author of Harvest of Righteousness. Mary Rose Bumpus served as Director of this same program for five years at SFTS and is currently Assistant Professor of Christian Spirituality at Seattle University.

To order book, click here.

Joyce Ann Mercer publishes new book on Childhood Theology

San Anselmo, CA, November 14, 2005 – San Francisco Theological Seminary associate professor Joyce Ann Mercer has recently published a new book, Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood that takes a critical look at the relationship between Christian theology and childhood development. Published by Chalice Press, the book is part of Mercer’s “search for a child-affirming Christian Theology and for a church that genuinely welcomes children amid a culture and church tradition that at best embraces them ambivalently.”

“I have often experienced that the church wants to be welcoming to children, but has difficulties knowing how to do so in its practices,” Mercer says. “There is an ambivalence that this culture has toward children and I don’t want the church to duplicate that ambivalence. As a researcher, as someone who has experienced this in her own congregation, and as a mom I invite the church to embrace a practical theology that truly welcomes all people, especially children. This book draws on scripture, cultural theory, theology and social sciences to try to offer a more complex analysis of the situation of children, and how to welcome them.”

Written during her sabbatical in the spring and summer of 2004, Welcoming Children pulls clues from scripture to develop a theology of childhood. For example, chapter 2 uses depictions of children from the book of Mark to describe the gift of children as God’s grace through Jesus Christ. The final chapter takes all the clues and builds them as a framework to create a feminist practical theology of childhood. “This is not a ‘how-to’ book for Sunday school teachers, although it is about how we education children into Christian faith,” Mercer states. “It is a guide for practices with children—education, liturgy, mission--that constitute a theology and church that embodies God’s hospitality toward children.”

In reviewing the book, Letty M. Russell, faculty emeriti at Yale Divinity School, says, “This is not an ordinary book on Christian Education and children. It is a compelling invitation to practice full inclusion of children in all aspects of church ministry and outreach. By welcoming children as partners in our shared life, we join Christ in reaching out to the least of our sisters and brothers.”

Joyce Ann Mercer is the Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Christian Education at San Francisco Theological Seminary. She has previously taught in the Philippines and at United Theological Seminary in Minneapolis.

To order book, click here.

Celebrating The 31st Anniversary of Lessons & Carols

November 11, 2005 - The 31st annual Service of Lessons & Carols will take place on Friday and Saturday evenings, December 2nd and December 3rd, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. in Stewart Memorial Chapel on the San Anselmo campus of San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Created in December of 1975 by Professors David Esler and Wil Russell, the service follows the pattern and liturgy of the Festival as presented in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England. This special worship service observes Advent’s time of preparation and the coming of the Christ Child. This year’s theme, "What Sweeter Music Can We Bring" will be brought to life through inspired readings from scripture, moving choral, harp and pipe organ music, congregational singing of well-loved carols, and radiant liturgical art. The service will also be interpreted in sign language.

The candlelight service of eight lessons and carols will include readers from the San Anselmo community, as well as faculty, students, and staff from the Seminary. A reception on Geneva Terrace will conclude the evening.

Admission is free and all are welcome, however, seating is limited. SFTS encourages those planning to attend to arrive early. Shuttle van service will be available from Kensington Road to the top of Seminary Hill. For more information, please call 415.451.2861.

Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase visits SFTS

September 26, 2005 – Elder Rick Ufford-Chase met with the students, faculty and staff of San Francisco Theological Seminary for a day of dialogue that he wished could be extended “into a full semester of conversation.” Moderator Ufford-Chase, elected at the 216th General Assembly, began his day on campus at breakfast with President Philip W. Butin and then led the worship service in Stewart Chapel. The first moderator in 215 years to serve a two-year term, Ufford-Chase told the seminary community several of his experiences and encounters during the past fifteen months.

Ufford-Chase has spent much of his career as a mission worker for the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is co-moderator of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, a founder of the Samaritans, and a reservist as a nonviolent peacemaker in situations of conflict with Christian Peacemaker Teams. He is the co-founder and co-director of BorderLinks, a bi-national organization that provides experiential education on issues such as trade and globalization concerns of migrants on the border.

It is through his experiences and one-on-one discussions with the people on the fringe of American society, the 70 – 80% of the world population who struggle and work 2 to 3 jobs and still cannot provide for their families, that Ufford-Chase forms his vision for the church. “We are a church of wealth and affluence, and we cannot continue putting up borders and gates to protect us from the changing world around us. The Church must respond to this changing reality.” He outlined four skills or characteristics that the church needed to embrace in order to become a “movement” church; to be biblically grounded, to live authentic lives, to rediscover evangelical fervor, and to build bridges between cultures and classes. “If we were born in a certain country and possess a particular passport, we have the notion that we are somehow privileged above those who are ‘others’. It is a lie, and it is our duty to stand against the lie.”

Ufford-Chase continued his conversation with the SFTS community during lunch, and later at a Hunger and Global Economy workshop. President Butin commented, “Our seminarians heard about the human consequences of global economic policies, and how critical the role of the church is as an agent for evangelism and mission that is rooted in scripture. It was our honor to have him on the SFTS campus.” Following the workshop, the conversation was moved to Holy Grounds, an SFTS campus gathering place founded and run by students, and an appropriate place to discuss fair trade coffee. Ufford-Chase encouraged those present to make a positive impact on the global economy by acting locally. He suggested ideas such as environmental sustainability, economic support to local farmers, and thoughtful consumption. Holy Grounds offers only fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate as an intentional way for students to shape their ministry to the changing world around them.

San Francisco Theological Seminary is a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) institution and a founding member of the Graduate Theological Union. Since 1871, it has prepared outstanding men and women for ordained church leadership.

SFTS Welcomes Guest Preachers

September 13, 2005 – San Francisco Theological Seminary is proud to maintain a tradition of welcoming guest speakers to preach during the community worship service, a service that is open to all visitors as well as students, faculty and staff. This month, we are honored to present three distinguished guests and we invite friends of the Seminary to attend. All worship services begin at 10:15 a.m.

Monday, September 19, 2005 – community worship at Stewart Chapel will be led by the Rev. Mary Susan Gast, Conference Minister of the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ. Ordained in 1975, Dr. Gast has been a campus minister at Iowa State University, the pastor of a rural congregation in Union City, MI, pastor of an inner city congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was an Associate Conference Minister with Indiana-Kentucky Conference. Prior to her current position, Dr. Gast served as the Executive Director of the UCC’s national Coordinating Center for Women in Church and Society.

The Northern California Nevada Conference, of which Dr. Gast is the Conference Minister, is composed of approximately120 UCC congregations. Worship styles in the Conference range from formal to free-flowing to Pentecostal. English, Samoan, Tagalog or Mandarin might be the spoken language in a particular congregation.

Dr. Gast will also attend community lunch in Alexander Hall at 12:30 p.m., where she will be available for discussion and a question & answer period. The cost of lunch is $8.00 per person, and reservations can be made with Lynn Dunn at 800.447.8820 x818 or ldunn@sfts.edu

Friday, September 23, 2005 - the SFTS community welcomes Dr. Sirirat Pusurinkham from Thailand as the worship leader and preacher in Montgomery Chapel. Dr. Pusurinkham, is in the United States as part of Presbyterian Church (USA) Peacemaking Program. Dr. Pusurinkham is a pastor at a Presbyterian Church in the far north territory in Thailand and also teaches at a seminary. She is on committees for the World Council of Churches and the Christian Council of Thailand, and is an active board member for a local mission school.

Dr. Pusurinkham received her Doctor of Ministry Degree from SFTS in 1997. Her dissertation/project was on child prostitution in Thailand, and as a result of her studies she opened an orphanage in her hometown. The children are all orphans whose mothers have died from AIDS and who have been abandoned by their fathers. They make handicrafts which Dr. Pusurinkham sells on her trips to America with the dual purpose of educating others about the plight of the children and earning income to help fund the orphanage.

Monday, September 26, 2005 – SFTS is honored to welcome Moderator Elder Rick Ufford-Chase as the guest preacher for worship in Stewart Chapel. Ufford-chase was elected moderator of the 216 th General Assembly (2004) and has spent much of his career as a mission worker for the Presbyterian Church (USA). Ufford-Chase is co-moderator of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, a founder of the Samaritans, and a reservist as a nonviolent peacemaker in situations of conflict with Christian Peacemaker Teams. To follow his career path is to follow his faith journey as it reflects the spirit of an individual who cannot separate his job from his Christian responsibilities to mankind.

Please join us for an inspiring chapel service and community lunch in Alexander Hall at 12:30 p.m., where he will be available for discussion and a question & answer period. The cost of lunch is $8.00 per person, and reservations can be made with Lynn Dunn at 800.447.8820 x818 or ldunn@sfts.edu

Marin Seminary Assisting Victims of Hurricane Katrina

September 13, 2005 – San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California is responding to the needs of those who have lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina by offering seven families housing for nine months on its San Anselmo campus. In addition to housing, the Seminary will also provide counseling services, clothing, and much-needed time to recover from the horror of Hurricane Katrina.

Wanting to reach out in a concrete way to assist the survivors of the terrible destruction which ravaged several states in the Gulf Coast, SFTS has set aside seven dwellings (1 three-bedroom townhouse, 2 two-bedroom units, and 4 one-bedroom apartments).

The Seminary has created a Katrina Relief Fund to assist these new residents with clothing, food, furniture, and other basic expenses they will face as they rebuild their lives. Area congregations, synagogues, and service organizations are welcome to call the Seminary and partner in this ministry of hospitality. Please call Lynn Dunn, Associate Director of Church and Alumni Relations at (415) 451-2818 or email: ldunn@sfts.edu if you or your faith community would like to help.

President Philip W. Butin states, “San Francisco Theological Seminary is committed to doing everything we can to bear God’s grace and hospitality to the people of the Gulf Coast, who have suffered so much.” Part of the assistance will include providing professional counseling through the SFTS Lloyd Center, an on-campus pastoral counseling center.

Vice President for Seminary and Church Relations, Rev. Peter Crouch, shared, “SFTS practices what it teaches. We’re committed to helping the victims of this terrible disaster. One person has arrived and two more families are on their way. We’re working with alumni and friends in the area to identify more families who would like to begin the rebuilding process in Marin. Until we have the first apartment furnished, the first arrival is living with one of our senior administrator’s family.”

San Francisco Theological Seminary is a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) institution and a founding member of the Graduate Theological Union. Since 1871, it has prepared outstanding men and women for ordained church leadership.

San Francisco Theological Seminary Receives $2 Million Gift

San Anselmo, CA July 27, 2005 – San Francisco Theological Seminary has received a gift of $2 million from Dana and David Dornsife designated for expenses related to a capital renovation project that has enabled the Seminary to restore two of its most historic buildings on the San Anselmo campus. David Dornsife, the Chairman and CEO of The Herrick Corporation of Pleasanton, CA is a member of the Seminary’s Board of Trustees, chairs the Seminary’s Budget and Investment Committee, and serves on its Facilities Committee.

President Phil Butin upon accepting the gift stated, “Dana and Dave Dornsife have been generous donors to SFTS for many years, and we are very grateful for their continuing support and interest in helping us achieve our mission of preparing whole leaders for the whole church. Like his mother Ester, David continues the Dornsife family’s legacy of faithfully supporting the Presbyterian Seminary of the West.”

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Stephen J. Rhoades, who chairs the SFTS Seminary and Church Relations Committee, stated, “On behalf of everyone associated with this Seminary and its mission, the Board is extremely grateful for the generosity of this gift. Dana and Dave Dornsife, along with other faithful donors to the Seminary, enable San Francisco Theological Seminary to continue providing excellent theological education for today’s seminarians preparing for ministry.”

One of nine Presbyterian seminaries in the United States, San Francisco Theological Seminary has been preparing men and women with theological, spiritual, and practical gifts for Christian ministry since 1871. It has two campuses, one in San Anselmo, just north of San Francisco and a second in Pasadena, near Los Angeles.

The Goats in San Anselmo

August 16, 2005 – This week, San Francisco Theological Seminary has been host to a herd of 600 goats hired to clear brush and undergrowth from approximately 20 acres of seminary property. The beautiful weather in Northern California promotes a long and healthy growing season for vegetation, but it also presents a fire hazard in the fall when rain is scarce and the land is dry. Goat grazing is a very economical and environmentally friendly way to mitigate fuel, and it is also quite popular with our local community.

The goats arrived on Wednesday, August 10th and will be returning today to their home in Orinda, CA. The herd was managed by an attentive and friendly Boarder Collie named Sam who wore a silver bell on his collar and always sat near the goats with ears perked, ready for work. The herd consists of a combination of breeds including Angora, Pygmy, Alpine and Spanish goats, resulting in a type of goat that lives comfortably in the chilly Northern California winters (they are sheared in the spring to keep them comfortable in the summer) and thrives on a wide variety of food sources. More information can be found on their website at www.goatsrus.com

During what is usually a fairly quiet time in the school year, the campus was abuzz with dozens of children from the local community who came by to see the sight of 600 goats practically in their backyard. The seminary’s own Children’s Center made several field trips to visit the herd, anxious to see goats in all colors and sizes and many with horns, too. “It has become quite an event,” said Jerry Wilkinson, Director of Facilities. “The children loved it, the goats were efficient and well-treated, and it is something we look forward to doing again in the next 2 or 3 years."

Theodore A. Gill, Sr. Presbyterian Pastor, Theologian, and Educator

The Rev. Dr. Theodore Alexander Gill, a former president of San Francisco Theological Seminary and later provost of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the City University of New York (CUNY), died at the age of 85 on Friday, June 10 following a lengthy illness, in Princeton, New Jersey.

Born in Eveleth, Minnesota on January 7, 1920, Ted Gill was educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Princeton Theological Seminary, Union Seminary in New York City, and the University of Zurich where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on “Recent Protestant Political Theory.” His teachers included Emil Brunner, Karl Barth, Josef Hromadka, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Paul Tillich. He was awarded six honorary doctorates during his career. In his time at the San Francisco seminary, he became one of the founders of the Graduate Theological Union based in Berkeley.

After serving Presbyterian parishes in New Rochelle, New York and West End Presbyterian church in New York City, he became professor of religion and dean of the chapel at Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Missouri, and subsequently managing editor of The Christian Century magazine in Chicago and editor of its sister publication The Pulpit. He was president of San Francisco Theological Seminary from 1958 to 1966, leaving that position to occupy the higher education desk of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. Following a return to the parish in Detroit, he joined the faculty of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a CUNY college in midtown Manhattan, where he remained from 1971 through 1989. In retirement, he served as theologian in residence at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey.

Ted Gill’s passion was for the link between religion and the arts, and over the years he served as a part-time leader of such organizations as Art, Religion, and Contemporary Culture – founded by Paul Tillich – and American Summer Institutes, a series of annual seminars on theology and the arts in locations that included Rome, Berlin, Budapest, and St. Andrews. As president of the San Francisco seminary, he organized a ground-breaking program on theology and theatrical arts. He also served on Presbyterian judicial commissions in the northeast and on national church committees that produced The Worshipbook of 1970 and commissioned the seal or logo of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1985. At the time of his death, he was a retired member of the Presbytery of New York City.

From the early days of the US civil rights struggle, Ted Gill publicly supported equal rights for all and openly opposed segregationist practices in both southern and northern states. In 1963-64, he was regional chair of California’s “No on Proposition 14” campaign against discriminatory housing legislation, and in 1965 he marched with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in support of voting rights. As he and dozens of students and faculty members from San Francisco Theological Seminary participated in the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march of 1965, promises of millions of dollars in endowments to the institution he led were withdrawn in protest by potential donors. Late in his life, Ted Gill remarked that “the high point of my career in the ministry was the week that I cost my seminary five million dollars.” In later years, he voiced support for the full participation of gays and lesbians in church and society.

He was the author or editor of numerous books, journals, and articles. Among his books were The Sermons of John Donne (1958), Memo for a Movie: A Short Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1971), and, with Robert Bellah and Krister Stendahl, Religion and the Academic Scene (1975).

He was noted for editorial columns and sermons that were featured in church magazines and on radio’s “The Protestant Hour.” Preaching in a sermon series titled “Christian Clichés,” Ted Gill told his listeners:

“I have known and loved too many of the victims of the old-fashioned version of the ‘Christian’ life: wonderful, juicy human beings who were persuaded by a misguided church that they had to veil their vividness, bank their fires, dehydrate their interest, denature their enthusiasms, if they wanted to be Christian. No, the old idea will not do… The Christian life is not the life that is made to fit the legalistic box, that is forced to fit into the pattern. The Christian life is life lived in a certain direction – in, through, around, above whatever temperamental, physical, psychological obstacles any of us may have. But always in that direction – the direction which is assigned to us by what we know of God, by what we know in Jesus Christ of the character and nature of the realest real, by what we know in Jesus of God and the love of God. The Christian life is life lived in appropriate reaction to God’s action for us. The Christian life will be described in terms of the direction we are headed, and of how well we keep going in that direction, no matter how often we trip and fall.”

At the 1968 assembly of the World Council of Churches, Ted Gill gave a speech on “The Great Convergence” of education and the churches. Reflecting on student demonstrations in universities that spring, he revealed his discomfort with patterns of conformity in higher education:

“On the campuses, a generation erupted, an important piece of society let fly. The protest might have begun on the field of general education, but it was a wild shout, a rough rejection of education-in-general, of everything taken for granted by all the elements now molding people, coercing society, determining the future. The real adversary was not this or that administrator or this or that teacher or this or that course. The real adversaries were that rigid vice-chancellor, the status quo; those sternly directive professors, government and industry; that intolerable bore, academic tradition; those long courses in accommodation… Some of the brightest and best of our youth flame now in revolutionary dissatisfaction with the goals they see accepted by those who teach them, affect them, direct them. They distrust the values commonly invoked. They defy the system which ever more efficiently instructs the new generation in means that they see leading straight to inhuman ends: unendurable inequities, intolerable narrowing of human possibilities, blasphemous vulgarizations of spirit.” (“The Great Convergence,” The Ecumenical Review 20.4 [Oct. 1968], 385-94.)

In the April 1958 issue of The Pulpit, editor Gill reflected on the intricacies of theology in light of his father’s recent death: “We squabble and we rant about all the picayune details we assign to mysteries completely beyond our assessing, when all we really have to tell the world, all we really have to live on is the good news that God is love… But now, the love of God that gets us through our hard days is for more than funerals. It is for living along. When you know in your bones that the most real knows you and loves you, that beyond the vicissitudes of experience and the catastrophes of existence the ground of all being has declared itself for you, there should be a relief and a release in your living, a new inventiveness and zest in your living, a new pleasure, a more confident participation in life and its precious fascinations.”

Due to a blockage of his carotid artery in May 1994, he lost the capacity for speech and began a gradual decline in health. His wife of 57 years, Katherine Yonker Gill, died in July 2002. He is survived by a daughter, Laurie Melissa Keeran of Brewster, Massachusetts; a son, the Rev. Theodore A. Gill, Jr. of Geneva, Switzerland; a grand-daughter, Elizabeth Katherine Gill of Durham, North Carolina; and longtime caregiver Ben Mensah of New York City. A memorial service will be held at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey and is being planned for Monday, June 20.

Rev. Dr. H. Stanley Wood appointed for Ford Chair

San Francisco Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Dr. H. Stanley Wood to the newly created Ford Chair of Congregational Leadership and Evangelism. Dr. Wood brings to the position a wealth of experience and an international reputation in Church Growth and New Church Development. Having served the Presbyterian Church (USA) in its Evangelism and Church Development Program, as a successful New Church Development pastor and, most recently, as the Director of the Center for New Church Development at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, Dr. Wood is eminently qualified and prepared for this new faculty position.

In his new role, Dr. Wood will oversee SFTS’ internship program and the development of its new Teaching Congregations Initiative as well as help Masters and Doctoral students develop new approaches to evangelism, church renewal and leadership development.

For decades, Dr. Wood has been a sought-after speaker, consultant and teacher in the area of church growth and evangelism. He has done ecumenical church planning, advised executives from major corporations and served as chaplain to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. He is editor of Extraordinary Leaders in Extraordinary Times, Vol. I and II (Eerdmans Press, 2005) and has authored How to Take the Congregant Survey: Interpreting Your Congregant Survey Results, (CTS Press) as well as numerous articles and book reviews in the area of church development.

Dr. Wood holds degrees from San Diego State University, Princeton Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary and Kings College, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.  He is married to Dr. Dar Sessions Wood, who holds degrees in conflict management and educational studies and is a consultant working with churches, corporations and family businesses in the Atlanta area.  SFTS Dean Jana Childers says of the appointment "We are delighted that Dr. Wood is joining us as a colleague.  We look forward to the great gifts that he brings to the areas of leadership and evangelism.  As the Drs. Wood move to the San Anselmo campus of the seminary this August, they can be sure of a very warm welcome."

Rev. Peter D. Crouch appointed VP for Seminary and Church Relations

San Francisco Theological Seminary has announced the appointment of the Rev. Peter D. Crouch as Vice President for Seminary and Church Relations.  Rev. Crouch received his Master of Divinity degree from SFTS in 1989 and his Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA in 1984.  Upon graduation from SFTS, he joined the Seminary’s administration and served as Associate Director of Development from 1989-1992.

Prior to accepting this new call to SFTS, Rev. Crouch has provided leadership to the Presbyterian Church and the ecumenical movement for the past sixteen years.  Most recently he served as the Chief Development Officer of Church World Service, an ecumenical international relief and development organization representing 36 Christian denominations.  Other positions he has held include Regional Director for the Presbyterian Foundation; Director of Development, Communications, and Stewardship for the Presbytery of Chicago; and Associate Pastor of Newport Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Washington.

In his new role as Vice President for Seminary and Church Relations, Rev. Crouch will oversee the Seminary’s funds development program, the office of student recruitment, and the communications department.  Upon accepting the invitation from President Butin to serve the Seminary, Crouch stated, “I am grateful to President Butin, the Trustees, and the faculty, for giving me this opportunity to return and serve an institution I deeply cherish.  As an alumnus, I look forward to helping the Seminary address the needs of today’s students who are preparing for a variety of ministries.  My immediate goal is to help the Seminary connect with pastors, congregations, and alumni who are interested in forming partnerships with SFTS.  I am excited about the opportunity to assist the Seminary as it lives out its present calling to ‘prepare whole leaders for the whole church.’”

Rev. Crouch, whose parents were missionaries, was born in Bangkok, Thailand.  He  is married to Suzanne Crouch, and they have one son Taylor, who was named after one of the Seminary’s former Presidents, J. Randolph Taylor.  Rev. Crouch comes from a family of ministers and SFTS alumni.  His older brother, Rev. Robert A. Crouch, received his Master of Divinity degree in 1986 and is the Pastor of the Community Presbyterian Church in Pismo Beach, CA.  His father, the Rev. Dr. Arthur E. Crouch holds three degrees from SFTS: a Master of Divinity, a Master of Arts in Christian Education, and a Doctor of Ministry.

SFTS President Phil Butin in announcing Crouch’s appointment stated, "We are deeply blessed that God has called a person of Peter Crouch's experience, determination, vision, and integrity to the position of Vice President for Seminary and Church Relations at SFTS.  Peter embodies many of the best qualities of an SFTS theological education, and will lead us forward in strengthening vital connections with the church, alumni, donors, and the public."

Laird J. Stuart Elected Chairman of the Board

The Board of Trustees of San Francisco Theological Seminary elected the Reverend Dr. Laird J. Stuart as chairman of the board during its February meeting. Dr. Stuart will succeed the Rev. Dr. George Abdo, whose term on the board expires in May.

Dr. Stuart has been a board member since 1997. He has been chairperson of the Faculty & Curriculum Committee and member of the Executive Committee. Stuart has been pastor and head of staff of San Francisco’s Calvary Presbyterian Church since 1993, and prior to that he served churches in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Speaking of the election, board member the Rev. Dr. Gary Demarest said, “I commend the Board for calling Laird to be our chairman. His ability to understand and bring together people with differing viewpoints will be invaluable to our work.”

Stuart has been a very active participant in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and was a candidate for the moderator of the 214th General Assembly in 2002. He served on the planning committee for the national Unity in Diversity conference in 1999, and served as the co-moderator of the Covenant Network. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, including one term as president. Stuart is active in the local community and recently served as president of the San Francisco Interfaith Council.

President Philip W. Butin said, “Laird Stuart is a thoughtful and well-grounded Reformed pastor-theologian, steeped in the creative and faithful use of Presbyterian polity to accomplish God’s redemptive and renewing purpose for the church. He brings wisdom, discernment, theological centeredness, and a deep commitment to the unity of the church to his new role in supporting the mission of San Francisco Theological Seminary as board chair.”

A graduate of Amherst College and Princeton Theological Seminary, Stuart has received honorary degrees from Westminster and Waynesburg Colleges in Pennsylvania. He is married to Virginia K. Stuart and they have three daughters and two grandchildren.

Professor Philip Wickeri Awarded Prestigious Luce Fellowship

The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada has announced that the Reverend Dr. Philip L. Wickeri, Flora Lamson Hewlett Professor of Evangelism & Mission, has been named a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology. He is one of seven scholars from ATS schools who will share this honor for 2005-2006.

The Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology program is designed to encourage high-quality research that promises both to contribute to theological inquiry and to provide leadership in theological scholarship. The awards will enable each Fellow to conduct year-long research in one of several areas of theological inquiry. At the conclusion of the research year, the Fellows will gather to present and critique their work. Wickeri’s research in the category of History of Christianity and the Church Today will focus on, “Reconstructing Christianity in China: K.H. Ting and the Chinese Church.” Bishop Ting is recognized as China’s foremost Christian leader in the late twentieth century.

In accepting the Luce Fellowship, Dr. Wickeri said, “The importance of this study for understanding religious life in China and the future of the Chinese Church is clear. The emergence of China as a great power has been accomplished by the resurgence of religious life in every sector of society. Despite widespread religious interest, there have been no academic studies of Chinese religious leadership, of whom the late Zhao Puchu of the Chinese Buddhist Association and K.H. Ting have been by far the most prominent.”

Shaped by more than 20 years experience in teaching and lecturing in Asia, Dr. Wickeri is widely published in the area of Christianity in Asia and in 2003 co-edited a volume of writings of Ting’s. Wickeri began collecting materials on Ting’s life fifteen years ago during an extended period of living and working in Hong Kong and China.

Dean Jana Childers said, "We are immensely proud of Dr. Wickeri. His research on the Church in China, his scholarship in the field of World Christianity, and that unique leadership ability which inspires and draws others to the work of Mission, represent great contributions to theology, education and the Church."

Dr. Wickeri graduated from Colgate University and Princeton Theological Seminary. He joined the SFTS faculty in 1998, and he also serves as a doctoral faculty member for the Graduate Theological Union, a San Francisco Bay Area ecumenical and interfaith consortium. Last summer, Dr. Wickeri helped organize and served as the dean of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches’ first Global Institute of Theology held in Accra, Ghana.

Seminary Announces Three Scholarship Endowments

The Board of Trustees of San Francisco Theological Seminary has announced the formation of three new scholarship endowments to provide need-based financial aid for students attending both the Pasadena and San Anselmo, California campuses.

The Rev. Joy M. (M.Div.'76) and Richard C. Dorf Endowed Scholarship Fund has been established to provide need-based financial aid for Seminary students. In establishing this scholarship, Rev. Dorf said, "We give to SFTS out of gratitude for the theological education that I received. We want others to have the same opportunity."

For over 60 years, the SFTS Auxiliary has been a partner in Seminary education by providing communal, personal, and financial support for SFTS students and their families. To further that mission, the members of the Auxiliary have established the Auxiliary's Endowed Scholarship Fund specifically for PCUSA students under age 30. When fully funded, the annual scholarship will be provided to a Master of Divinity student from one of the four presbyteries surrounding the San Anselmo campus. Two challenge donations have been provided by the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. John S. Hadsell and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lawler.

Community Presbyterian Church of South Gate, California, has established the South Gate Community Presbyterian Church Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide need-based financial aid for Seminary students located on either the Northern or Southern California campus. The church was established 86 years ago, but in recent years the number of congregation members dropped to a handful so the painful decision to dissolve the congregation was made. To leave a legacy for future generations and to provide future pastors for Presbyterian churches, the church established the SFTS scholarship.

James Noel artwork featured on the cover of new book: The Passion of the Lord: African American Reflections

The Passion of the Lord: African American Reflections is a new volume co-edited by the Rev. Dr. James A. Noel, H. Eugene Farlough, Jr. California associate professor of American Religion. Besides co-editing the collection, Dr. Noel contributed a chapter and also created the painting that was used on the book’s cover.

The book is a series of reflections by leading African American theologians and biblical scholars on the historical, biblical, and theological roots of African American views on the role of suffering. Inspired in part by the discussion of the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” the seven contributors to this book explore the profound and often overlooked significance of Christ’s suffering and death, and the ways that story has inspired and challenged African Americans.

Noel’s artwork titled, “Were You There when They Crucified My Lord?” was motivated by the Negro spiritual, “O sometimes it causes me to tremble…Where you there when they crucified my Lord?” In discussing the artwork that was chosen for the book cover, Dr. Noel said, “My intent was to represent what Africans might have imagined as they sang, ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ This painting should be viewed as the image that the slaves were constructing when they sang that song and also as the antecedent image that the song was referencing. In my conception, the slaves would have produced such an image had they enjoyed the luxury of being able to paint.”

The book is available in the Seminary Bookstore and can be ordered by phone at 415-258-66041 or by e-mail at bookstore@sfts.edu. A 16” x 20” reproduction of the artwork is also available for purchase.

Ron White Jr. Releases 2nd Book on Abraham Lincoln

The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words is the second book about the nation’s 16th president written by the Rev. Dr. Ronald C. White, Jr., professor of Church History at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Released in late January, the book has already been featured on the Los Angeles Times bestselling list and as a Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice.

In the Eloquent President, White examines Lincoln’s astonishing oratory and explores his growth as a leader, a communicator, and a man of deepening spiritual conviction. Examining a different speech, address, or public letter in each chapter, the book tracks the evolution of Lincoln’s rhetoric from the measured, lawyerly tones of the First Inaugural, to the imaginative daring of the 1862 Annual Message to Congress, to the haunting, immortal poetry of the Gettysburg Address.

Over the next six months, Dr. White will be giving lectures and book readings across the country. Many of these events take place in churches or coincide with Abraham Lincoln historical celebrations.

Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural, White’s first book about Abraham Lincoln, was a Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. Both books are available in the Seminary Bookstore and can be ordered by phone at 415-258-66041 or by e-mail at bookstore@sfts.edu

Warren Lee Featured in Current Issue of Korean Journal

The life of Warren Lee growing up in South Central Los Angeles was featured in the February issue of KoreAm Journal. The Reverend Dr. Warren Lee is the Director of Advanced Pastoral Studies and Professor of Ministry in the Asian American Context for San Francisco Theological Seminary.

The multiethnic and multicultural experience of growing up, and then pastoring in South Los Angeles spawned a wind of hope for the sometimes uneasy relationships between Koreans and Blacks – two communities that Lee rightfully claims as his own. In the article Dr. Lee said, "I am an Afro-Americanized Korean preacher who grew up in the black community of South Central. Beyond the walk and the talk, I remember South Central as a place that gave a Korean boy a chance in life. In a predominantly black high school, I was the 1959 senior class president, basketball team captain (at only 5 foot 3 inches), and Lettermen’s Society president."

Lee attended UCLA and Princeton Theological Seminary, then returned home to become assistant pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church – the largest black Presbyterian Church in the West. His parents, both immigrants from Korea, were instrumental in getting Lee into the ministry. His mother, also featured in a separate article in the February KoreAm Journal, was a “pioneering Korean female evangelist who, using her Bible as her weapon, battled Japanese colonialism and gender inequity in the church.”

Born Hwa Mok Kim Lee, she was fresh out of Pyongyang Presbyterian Seminary when she became a female evangelist at Seo-mun-bak Presbyterian Church, the oldest and biggest church in Pyongyang – a breakthrough in the old Korea. The position were hard earned. As a young student, she urged patriotism and demanded equal rights for women within the male-dominated Korean churches. Breaking with tradition, she married Suntu Lee, who attended the first Christian and Presbyterian college in what is now North Korea. In Pyongyang, she led a group of young school girls waving forbidden Korean flags, resulting in her imprisonment and torture for three months.

In 1970 Warren Lee was a member of the first entering class of the newly formed SFTS Doctor of Ministry program and graduated in 1974. He became the full time Advanced Pastoral Studies associate director in 1981, assumed the position of Acting Director in 2000, and was appointed Director in 2003.

SFTS statement on June 2004 student/faculty educational trip to the Middle East

San Francisco Theological Seminary is a dynamic academic community characterized by vital Christian faith, worship, and practice. Holding ourselves to a high standard of academic excellence, SFTS provides theological, spiritual, and practical leadership preparation for ministry in both the Church and the world. Through affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and as a founding member of the Graduate Theological Union, a distinguished ecumenical and interfaith consortium of seminaries and theological schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, SFTS students receive a theological education that includes classroom study, spiritual formation, and contextual learning experiences.

Recent news articles have attempted to connect a June 2004 student/faculty educational trip to the Middle East with ongoing political conflicts in the region. The trip, part of the course “Christianity in Context: Palestine/Israel,” focused on helping students gain a deeper understanding of the Middle East, its cultures, issues, people, and religions. Following an itinerary planned by the Middle East Council of Churches, the two week trip included meeting with religious leaders and visits to seminaries, church-related institutions, mission sites, and well-known shrines in the Holy Land.

Understanding the volatility of the region, safety of the SFTS traveling group of thirteen was of the utmost concern. The group found itself in a potentially difficult situation during a tour of a historic detention center in early June. While hearing a presentation on the background of the prison, it became clear to the group that they were unexpectedly in the presence of a Hizbullah representative and the media. The SFTS group sought to be courteous to all present in order to ensure their safety. These efforts were misrepresented in subsequent Middle Eastern news reports.

Current attempts to link the Seminary, its students, faculty, or members of the SFTS traveling party, to specific political causes are unfounded and inconsistent with the mission of the institution. San Francisco Theological Seminary is a theological and educational institution that repudiates all use of terrorism for any reason.

Statement of Facts

On June 1, 2004, following an agenda set by the Middle East Council of Churches, the San Francisco Theological Seminary group knew only that it would be taking a bus trip to Southern Lebanon.  While underway, they were told that they would stop for lunch and a tour at the former Israeli detention center in Khiam. Upon arriving, they were surprised to find news reporters and photographers, as well as a group of about 100 Muslim clerics having lunch.   They were disconcerted to be addressed by, and photographed with, a person a subsequent news article identified as a Hizbullah "commander."

The SFTS group had no prior knowledge of this person, nor of the address. Comments quoted in a subsequent news article misrepresented the efforts by an SFTS student and a faculty member to be hospitable and gracious. Two other people quoted in the news article were not in any way affiliated with SFTS.

This misrepresentation, and indeed the entire incident, appears to have been an attempt to exploit the SFTS group for propaganda purposes. The trip was entirely educational in nature, structured to give SFTS students broad and balanced exposure, primarily to Christian, but also to Muslim and Jewish perspectives, on the complicated situation in the Middle East.


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