|New president, chaplain lead SFTS community in worship to start 2011-12 year
Embarking on the 2011-12 academic year with a new president, new chaplain and a diverse class of new students, San Francisco Theological Seminary is experiencing a refreshing excitement that is spilling from the third floor of Montgomery Hall to chapel services to the classroom.
SFTS officially welcomed Rev. Dr. James L. McDonald as 11th president at the convocation service on Sept. 14 at Stewart Memorial Chapel. McDonald delivered the sermon as SFTS professors, students, trustees, staff and alumni stood together to commit to the ongoing theological education of future church leaders.
Scott Clark, a 2009 SFTS Master of Divinity graduate, is serving as interim chaplain and associate dean of student life this year. His passion for worship and pastoral care has already set a tone that is helping new students feel at home quickly.
Worship remains at the heart of the SFTS community, with four types of services each week at noon: Mondays feature preachers from the SFTS community or Bay Area; Tuesdays are a time of prayer and meditation; Thursdays are enlivened by the Praise Band; Fridays are a time for Holy Communion. Community lunches take place on Mondays and Fridays after chapel. The public is welcomed.
“I think my church is welcoming, but SFTS is welcoming on steroids,” said first-year Master of Divinity student DeAnna Christmas. “I knew I was home right away.”
Christmas is one of 33 new students at SFTS and represents a growing number of commuters from around the Bay Area. Those living on campus hail from throughout the United States as well as places such as Korea and Indonesia.
Tad Hopp, another new M.Div. student, comes to SFTS from Texas. Before committing to seminary training, Hopp served with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Young Adult Volunteers in Chicago, ministering to at-risk teens.
“I’ve always wanted to live in the Bay Area and I got a sense that this is where God wanted me to be,” Hopp said. “It’s an inviting place to be.”
New and returning students living on SFTS’s scenic 14-acre campus are taking advantage of refurbished housing at Landon Hall, which received a $1.5 million facelift thanks to a pledge from Rev. Dr. and Mrs. John F. Shaw. The Shaws met at SFTS before graduating in 1954.
The seven-month project concluded just in time for the new school year. Upgraded housing at Landon Hall includes four two-bedroom units (630 sq. ft.) and 11 one-bedroom units (450 sq. ft.). There are also two units that are accessible to disabled students.
There were many renovations at Landon, including installation of a monitored fire alarm and sprinkler system, new windows, larger kitchens, closet organizers, new heating system, and new wiring for internet, cable and phone. Each apartment is also equipped with new appliances.