Unitarians sell campus, move downtown

Meadville Lombard Theological School, a Unitarian Universalist institution based in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, has announced the sale of its buildings to its neighbor, the University of Chicago. The university is buying Meadville Lombard's 14,000-square-foot main building and two adjacent houses. The school sold a third house to the Chabad Jewish Center, which will use it for offices, programs, and meals.

The Spertus Building, new home of Meadville Lombard Theological School
(Photo courtesy of Karla Kaulruss) 

Officials at Meadville Lombard said that the Hyde Park campus is no longer suitable as the school changes its focus to distance learning combined with periodic intensive coursework. In December, Meadville Lombard will move to Chicago's downtown "Loop," where it will share space with the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. Meadville Lombard will occupy one floor of the Spertus Building, and its library collection will be housed within the Spertus library.

Washington Theological Union to close in 2013

Washington Theological Union (WTU), a Catholic school providing theological education to lay students and members of religious orders, has announced that it will close due to insufficient financial resources. No new students will be admitted after September 2011.

Connelly Chapel of Holy Wisdom at Washington Theological Union. 
(Photo courtesy of Bruce Katz)

WTU was incorporated in 1969 after six Catholic religious orders for men pooled their faculties, students, and resources to form a single theological school. By 1972, women in religious orders and lay students of both sexes were permitted to be full-time students. In 1996, WTU moved to a new home in the Takoma Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Its Connelly Chapel of Holy Wisdom won the 1997 American Institute of Architects award for religious architecture.

In Trust magazine was founded in 1988 by a group of Protestant and Catholic religious leaders meeting at Washington Theological Union, and the first chair of its editorial council was Franciscan Father Vincent Cushing, who was then president of WTU. After In Trust was incorporated as nonprofit organization, Cushing became its first board chair.


Social media's effect on the church is focus of new seminary initiative

Union Theological Seminary in New York recently announced the launch of its New Media Project, an initiative that will explore the rapidly changing landscape of communication and its effects on religious leaders and communities of faith.

Project director Verity Jones said the goal of the New Media Project is to help leaders become theologically savvy about technology. "We hear a lot of talk these days about social media and new technologies and how they impact church life, but most of that talk centers on the technical skills that pastors and leaders need to move into this brave new digital world," Jones said. "What this project is interested in, however, is what these new patterns and tools of communication mean for the church and its understanding of mission, ecclesiology, practice, and theology."

Serene Jones, president of the seminary, has argued that the study of new social media "must be a part of the curriculum we offer to emerging church and community leaders" and should be "grounded in Scripture, history, ethics, liturgics, pastoral care and practice, and the arts."

The project relies on six researchers and writers who are conducting six case studies and contributing to the project blog through regular commentary and reflection. "We share research findings on the website — www.NewMediaProjectAtUnion.org — as they are compiled so that we can demonstrate practices of social media as we study social media," Verity Jones said.

People interested in media and faith can follow along at the project website and through its e-newsletter, and they can contribute to the work through Facebook, Twitter, and blog comments.

Changes at the top

■ Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati has appointed Father Benedict O'Cinnsealaigh to lead The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Cincinnati. He succeeds Father Edward P. Smith, president for the last seven years, who will return to parish ministry. Archbishop Schnurr serves as chancellor of the Athenaeum and chairs the board of trustees.

The Athenaeum is a Catholic theological school operated by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Its three divisions include a lay pastoral ministry program, a special studies program, and Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West, the third oldest Catholic seminary in the United States, which trains candidates for the diocesan priesthood. Father O'Cinnsealaigh's titles are president of the Athenaeum and rector of the seminary.

At the time of his appointment, Father O'Cinnsealaigh held the Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk Chair in Systematic Theology at the Athenaeum. A native of Dublin, Ireland, he is a graduate of All Hallows College in Dublin, the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, and the International Marian Research Institute in Dayton, Ohio. Before joining the Athenaeum faculty, he was head of the religion department and campus minister at Lehman Catholic High School in Sidney, Ohio.

■ The Rev. Terry Wiebe has been appointed principal of the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He succeeds the Rev. William Richards, professor of New Testament language and literature, who has been serving as interim principal since 2008. Richards will take a year of sabbatical before returning to the classroom.

Ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada, Wiebe has been in parish ministry since 1979, serving urban, rural, and aboriginal parishes in the dioceses of Saskatchewan and Saskatoon. He is a graduate of Wycliffe College in Toronto and Briercrest Seminary.

The College of Emmanuel and St. Chad is an Anglican theological school affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan. The college is part of a consortium, the Saskatoon Theological Union, that also includes two other theological schools on the same university campus — Lutheran Theological Seminary (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada) and St. Andrew's College (United Church of Canada).

■ The Rev. Lawrence R. Rast Jr., academic dean at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has been named president-elect of the school. He will succeed the Rev. Dean O. Wenthe, president since 1996, who announced his retirement in January but said he would continue in leadership through the transition period.

Rast has been on the seminary faculty since 1996, when he joined the department of historical theology after serving as pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in Madison, Tennessee. He is a graduate of Concordia College (River Forest, Illinois), Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne), and Vanderbilt University.

Founded in 1846, the seminary has occupied its current Fort Wayne campus since 1976, when it moved from Springfield, Illinois. The seminary is affiliated with The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.


■  Dr. Stephen D. Lowe has been named interim head of Erskine Theological Seminary, the graduate division of Erskine College, in Due West, South Carolina. The seminary and college, founded in 1836, are affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Lowe succeeds the Rev. Neely Gaston, who is now chief advancement officer on the Charlotte, North Carolina, campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Gaston led the seminary for eight years.

As head of the seminary within a college context, Love's new title is interim vice president. A United Methodist, he previously served as dean of the seminary's virtual campus and professor of Christian education. Lowe is a graduate of Calvary Bible College, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and Michigan State University. His wife, Dr. Mary Lowe, is the new dean of Erskine's virtual campus.


■ The Rev. Anthony L. Blair, professor of church history at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Myerstown, Pennsylvania, has been named president of the school. He succeeds the Rev. Michael W. Sigman, who is now interim pastor at Grace Community Church in Willow Street, Pennsylvania. Sigman is continuing as executive director of the seminary's Center for Leadership Impact.

Ordained in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Blair is co-senior pastor of Hosannah! A Fellowship of Christians, a nondenominational evangelical church in Lititz, Pennsylvania. He has taught at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, since 1997, most recently as associate professor of leadership studies. He is a graduate of Messiah College, Huntington University, Evangelical Theological Seminary, Shippensburg University, Temple University, and George Fox University.

Founded in 1953, Evangelical Theological Seminary is affiliated with the Evangelical Congregational Church, an association of Wesleyan congregations of German heritage.

■  Dr. Stephen McClatchie has been appointed principal of Huron University College, the founding college of the University of Western Ontario. McClatchie succeeds Dr. Ramona Lumpkin, who departed to become president and vice chancellor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dr. Trish Fulton has served as interim principal since October 2010.

From 2006 until 2011, McClatchie was provost and vice president, academic and research, at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Previously he was associate vice president (academic) at the University of Regina. A musicologist who has published works on Mahler and Wagner, he is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario.

Huron University College, located in London, Ontario, enrolls undergraduate and graduate students in the liberal arts and theology. It is affiliated with the Anglican Church of Canada.

■ The board of trustees of McCormick Theological Seminary has elected the Rev. Frank M. Yamada as the seminary's 10th president. He succeeds the Rev. Cynthia M. Campbell, who retired this year after leading the seminary since 1995. 

At the time of his appointment, Yamada was associate professor of Hebrew Bible at McCormick and director of the seminary's Center for Asian American Ministries. Before joining the faculty in 2008, he was associate professor at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. He graduated from Southern California College (now Vanguard University) and Princeton Theological Seminary.

McCormick Theological Seminary, located in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, is a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that was founded in 1829.

■  Bishop Edward L. Salmon Jr., the chair of the board of trustees of Nashotah House, an Episcopal seminary, has been named dean and president of the school. He replaces the Very Rev. Robert S. Munday, who stepped down in June after 10 years as head of Nashotah House, which is located 30 miles west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Munday has been named research professor of theology and mission and will continue to live on campus.

Bishop Salmon is a graduate of the University of the South and Virginia Theological Seminary. A member of the board of trustees of Nashotah House since 1993, he has served as chair since 1996. From 1990 to 2008, he was the head of the South Carolina diocese of the Episcopal Church, and from 2008 until this summer, he was rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Nashotah House, established in 1842, is the oldest institution of higher education in Wisconsin. From its founding, it has been a flagship seminary of the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Episcopal Church, which emphasizes elaborate liturgy and Catholic sacramental theology.

■ The board of trustees of San Francisco Theological Seminary has named the Rev. James L. McDonald as 11th president of the school, succeeding Laird J. Stuart, who served as interim president for the last 18 months.

McDonald has spent the last 13 years with Bread for the World, a faith-based hunger advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., where he has served as managing director and acting president. An ordained Presbyterian minister, he was formerly pastor of Tabernacle United Church in Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Princeton University, Union Theological Seminary in New York, and the American University in Washington, D.C.

San Francisco Theological Seminary, founded in 1871, is located in San Anselmo, California. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), it is also part of the Graduate Theological Union.

■  The Provincial Council of the Society of St. Sulpice has appointed Sulpician Father Phillip J. Brown as the new rector of Theological College in Washington, D.C. He succeeds Sulpician Father Melvin C. Blanchette, rector since 2007, who is remaining on the faculty of the college.

Father Brown is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of North Dakota, Theological College, and the Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained in 1989 in the diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, after practicing law for five years. From 2001 to 2006 he was professor of canon law at St. Mary's Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland, serving concurrently as dean of the seminary's School of Theology during the last two years. From 2006 until 2010, he taught canon law at Catholic University of America.

Theological College provides spiritual and human formation for candidates for the Catholic priesthood; its students receive their academic training at Catholic University, which is adjacent to it. Founded in 1917, Theological College is owned and operated by the Society of St. Sulpice, a community of priests that provides theological education at five seminaries in the United States and Canada, and at others worldwide. Father Brown is also general treasurer for the international Sulpician organization, based in France.

Georgia and New York schools partner to share books, students

Candler School of Theology at Emory University is entering into a partnership with The General Theological Seminary in New York — an unusual long-distance relationship between a United Methodist institution in Atlanta, Georgia, and an Episcopal school in New York City.

This fall, the Keller Library at General will transfer 80,000 to 90,000 volumes to the Pitts Theological Library at Candler, boosting Candler's holdings in biblical studies, English history, and church music. In return, Pitts Library, which already has 560,000 volumes, will extend certain privileges to General, including the loan of books and access to special collections.

A student exchange program between the two schools will begin during the 2012-13 academic year. Participants will remain enrolled at their home institution while studying at the host school for a semester or a year.

The Rev. Lang Lowrey, interim president of The General Theological Seminary and a graduate of Candler, said that the new partnership "represents the kind of sharing of resources between denominations that we expect to become an increasingly familiar feature in the future landscape of theological education." Candler dean Jan Love said that collaborating with General would allow her school to "strengthen our respected library, our links to the Episcopal Church, and our commitment to ecumenical openness."


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