From seminary to embassy

Miguel Diaz

Dr. Miguel H. Díaz has been confirmed by the United States Senate as the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. The Havana-born professor of theology teaches graduate students at St. John's School of Theology-Seminary in Minnesota and undergraduates in the joint theology department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. He is president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States.

Díaz is a graduate of St. Thomas University and the University of Notre Dame and has taught religious studies and theology at Barry University, the University of Dayton, and Notre Dame. He and his wife, Marian, have four children.

Michael Battle

Dr. Michael Battle, president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, has been confirmed by the United States Senate as the new ambassador to the African Union. The Ethiopia-based organization coordinates the political relationships of more than 50 African nations.

In August, the chair of the board of trustees of the Interdenominational Theological Center announced that a search committee would soon begin work to find a replacement for Battle, who has served as president since 2003. He is a graduate of Trinity College, Duke University, and Howard University, and was formerly pastor of the Hampton University Memorial Church. He served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserve for 20 years.

Seminaries talk partnership

The board of trustees of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School has approved initiating discussions with the leadership of Andover Newton Theological School for the purpose of combining the resources of the two institutions. If the talks are successful, it is anticipated that the earliest impact would be in the 2010-11 academic year. The exact form of the future partnership is not yet known.

Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (left)

Andover Newton Theological School (right)

(Photos by Jay Blossom)


Colgate Rochester Crozer, in Rochester, New York, was founded in 1817 and is the oldest Baptist seminary in the United States. Andover Newton, in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, was founded in 1807, and is the oldest graduate school of theology in the United States. It is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and United Church of Christ.

Priest and seminarians slain

In June, unknown assailants shot and killed a Catholic priest and two students enrolled in the Seminary of Ciudad Altamirano in the state of Guerrero in southwest Mexico. Father Habacuc Hernández Benítez, 39, was gunned down as he traveled with the seminarians, Eduardo Oregón Benítez, 19, and Silvestre González Cambrón, 21. The priest had just celebrated Mass and the three were leaving the area when a group of gunmen pulled up next to their vehicle and opened fire. Drug violence has claimed thousands of lives in Mexico within the last several years. Manuel Corral, public relations secretary for Mexico’s Council of Bishops, says that approximately 1,000 of the 15,000 priests in Mexico have been threatened with violence by members of drug cartels. In some cases, priests have been transferred to other parishes to protect their lives.

Lilly Endowment funds new program for young preachers

St. Matthews Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, is the sponsoring organization for a new initiative to encourage young people to develop gifts for ministry. Begun with a $395,000 grant from Lilly Endowment, the Academy of Preachers identifies and encourages high school, college, and seminary students with events like the 2010 Festival of Young Preachers, to be held in January. The Rev. Dwight A. Moody, former dean of the chapel at Georgetown College, is executive director of the program.

The first Summer Preaching Camp of the new Academy of Preachers met in May 2009 in Henryville, Indiana. Participants included (from front to back) J.C. Campbell (a student at Georgetown College in Kentucky), Brandon Perkins (Fisk University), Winterbourne Jones (Fisk University), Scott Claybrook (McAfee School of Theology), and (obscured from view) Rich Voelz (Vanderbilt University)

(Photo by Lee Huckleberry)

Inaugural events in 2009 included a summer preaching camp. Initial recruitment has focused on Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Cincinnati, Ohio.

More information:

Name change

Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, with campuses in Richmond, Virginia and in Charlotte, North Carolina, is becoming Union Presbyterian Seminary.

Union was founded in 1812 as the theological department of Hampden-Sydney College. A complementary institution, the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, was established in North Carolina in 1914 and took its present name in 1959. The two schools joined in federation in 1997. 

A seminary of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the school includes students from more than 20 denominations. It is a member of the Richmond Theological Consortium and the Washington Theological Consortium.

Extension program cut

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has announced the closing of its Houston extension program effective July 2010. The board of trustees cited a need for the seminary to remain focused on its core mission - the residential formation model of theological education - and to be mindful of the goal of reducing the seminary's annual budget. The decision was made after a months-long board-appointed review process.

The Houston extension is a non-degree graduate-level program that began in 1986.

The school, founded in 1902 in Austin, Texas, is a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  

Recent grants

Henry Luce Foundation

• $370,000 to Andover Newton Theological School for interreligious leadership training.

• $300,000 to Baylor University to support the development of a global mission leadership initiative in the George W. Truett Seminary and the School of Social Work.

• $375,000 to Boston University School of Theology to support a program on religion, conflict, and peace.

• $390,000 to the Catholic Theological Union to support a master's degree program in interreligious dialogue.

• $300,000 to Central Baptist Theological Seminary to support joint programs with the Myanmar Institute of Theology.

• $330,000 to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary to support a professorship in missions and world religions.

• $20,000 to Hartford Seminary to support an interfaith conference.

• $325,000 to the Lutheran School of Theology at Philadelphia to support the Asian Theological Institute.

• $75,000 to Memphis Theological Seminary to support the Institute on Theology and the Arts.

• $400,000 to Nazarene Theological Seminary to develop collaborations with international seminaries.

• $200,000 to Oblate School of Theology, to support a pastoral leadership development program for lay women.

• $375,000 to Starr King School for the Ministry to integrate multireligious understanding into the curriculum.

• $275,000 to Virginia Theological Seminary to support Muslim visiting professors.

• $275,000 to Wake Forest Divinity School to develop a program in multicultural studies.

• $400,000 to Yale University Institute of Sacred Music to support an initiative on the study of religion and visual culture.

Changes at the top

Howard Wilson

■ The Rev. Howard Wilson has been named president of Ambrose University College in Calgary, Alberta. He replaces the Rev. George Durance, who stepped down in 2008 after 12 years at the helm of the school in order to return to missionary service. Durance began his tenure as head of Canadian Bible College/ Canadian Theological Seminary in Regina, Saskatchewan, which relocated to Calgary in 2003 and later merged with Nazarene University College to become Ambrose University College. The school is affiliated with both the Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Church of the Nazarene. 

Wilson was formerly executive vice president for administration at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he had also previously served as vice president for student life. Prior to his service at Fuller, Wilson was dean of enrollment management at LeTourneau University and dean of students at Providence College and Seminary. 

Wilson and his wife, Vivian, have two children. A graduate of LeTourneau University and Providence Theological Seminary, he is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Timothy Tennent

■ The board of trustees of Asbury Theological Seminary has elected the Rev. Timothy Craig Tennent as president, succeeding the Rev. J. Ellsworth Kalas, who served as interim president following the resignation of the Rev. Jeffrey Greenway in 2007. 

Tennent, a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Edinburgh, has ministered and taught in China, Thailand, Nigeria, and eastern Europe. He has served as professor of world missions and Indian studies at Gordon-Conwell since 1998. 

Tennent is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. He and his wife, Julie, have two adult children. 

Asbury Theological Seminary, an interdenominational school in the Wesleyan tradition, has campuses in Wilmore, Kentucky, and Orlando, Florida.

Lorne Calvert

■ The Rev. Lorne Calvert, former premier of Saskatchewan, has accepted a five-year appointment as principal of St. Andrew’s College, a theological school of the United Church of Canada in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He succeeds retiring principal Laura Balas. 

A graduate of St. Andrew’s College, Calvert was ordained in the United Church of Canada and served churches in Saskatchewan for ten years before entering public service. 

Established in 1912, St. Andrew’s is a theological school of the United Church of Canada and a member of the Saskatoon Theological Union, affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan.

 Mary E. McNamara

■ The board of trustees of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities has appointed the Rev. Mary E. McNamara as president. McNamara serves as treasurer of the board of the Association of Theological Schools. She replaces Kita McVay, a member of the seminary’s board who was appointed president in December 2005 after the sudden resignation of the Rev. R. Scott Colglazier. 

McNamara was formerly executive vice president of Union Theological Seminary in New York. From 1990 to 1999, she was president and executive director of the Interchurch Center, a nonprofit high-rise office building in New York that is home to religious and other nonprofit organizations. A graduate of Carleton College and Harvard Divinity School, she is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). McNamara has two adult sons. 

United Theological Seminary, in New Brighton, Minnesota, was established in 1960 by the United Church of Christ through the merger of Mission House Seminary of Plymouth, Wisconsin, and Yankton School of Theology in Yankton, South Dakota.

 Frederick J. Tillotson

The trustees of the Washington Theological Union have named Carmelite Father Frederick J. Tillotson as the school’s new president, succeeding Father John Burkhard, a Conventual Franciscan who will return to the classroom. 

A graduate of the Gregorian University in Rome and the University of San Francisco, Father Tillotson was formerly principal and head of school at Salpointe High School in Tucson, Arizona. He has previously served as director of clinical ethics for the Franciscan Health System of Philadelphia, president of Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, California, and director of the Kino Institute in Phoenix. 

Washington Theological Union was founded in 1968 when six Catholic religious orders pooled their seminary facilities and faculties. It provides theological education to lay people, members of religious communities, and ordination candidates. Franciscan Father Vincent Cushing, president from 1975 to 1999, was the first chair of In Trust’s board of directors.


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