Gifts and capital campaigns

Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, has received a $10 million gift to support financial aid for graduate theological students. Graduate school of theology dean Jack Reese cited the Auburn Center's report The Gathering Storm in accepting the gift, noting that increased financial aid would allow students to graduate with less debt.

The donation was given by Lacy Harber, a local businessman who attended the university, and his wife, Dorothy Harber. The gift will support 50 full-tuition scholarships for graduate students who are training for ministry. Abilene Christian University is affiliated with the Churches of Christ.

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) school in Austin, Texas, has completed a $25 million capital campaign, including $8.3 million for faculty chairs, $3.2 for scholarships, and $2.1 for new student housing.

The seminary has reported that 2,165 of the campaign's 3,832 donors were first-time donors to the school. For a more complete report on the campaign while it was still in progress, see "More than a Lovely Dream" (New Year 2005).

Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, has received a $1 million grant from the Lynch Foundation to establish a chair in field education. It is the largest foundation grant in the 41-year history of the seminary, which serves only second-career seminarians who are typically 30 to 60 years old.

Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology became the recipient of $1.1 million when it sold 389 acres of Texas real estate donated by a Tybee Island, Georgia, businessman. Charles Masterpolis, whose family founded Christy's department store, gave the land in Dripping Springs, Texas, to the Brookline, Massachusetts, school in August 2004.

Changes at the top

Frederick Finks

■  In December the Rev. Frederick Finks was named president of Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, succeeding Dr. G. William Benz, who will retire June 30. Since 1982, Finks has been president of Ashland Theological Seminary, where he oversaw expansion of the student body to 900 students. This year the seminary is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a series of conferences and festivities.

Dr. Finks is a graduate of Ashland University, Ashland Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary and is president of the executive committee of the Fellowship of Evangelical Seminary Presidents.

Ashland Theological Seminary is a graduate division of the university, and both are affiliated with the Brethren Church. The seminary has begun a nationwide search for a new president. 

Eugene C. Bay

■ In January the Rev. Eugene C. Bay was named president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York, replacing Dr. G. Thomas Halbrooks, who retired after serving the school since 2000. In 2004, Dr. Bay retired after 17 years as pastor of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Bay begins his duties immediately. He and his wife, Jean, have three children and seven grandchildren. He is a graduate of the College of Wooster, Princeton Theological Seminary and McCormick Theological Seminary. Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School was founded in 1817 and is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches.

L. Gregory Jones

■ The Rev. L. Gregory Jones has been appointed to a third five-year term as dean of the Duke University Divinity School. His reappointment is subject to formal approval by the university board of trustees. During Jones's tenure, the United Methodist divinity school completed a $22 million addition that was reported in the last issue of In Trust. He also oversaw a $102 million capital campaign, completed in 2003, which was part of a larger university-wide campaign.

Dr. Jones also serves on the board of trustees of the Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey, and is a member of the University Senate of the United Methodist Church. He is president of the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools. 

Luder Whitlock

■ The Rev. Luder Whitlock has been named interim president of Erskine College and Seminary, replacing the Rev. John L. Carson, who stepped down last year after serving as president for seven years. The school is located in Due West, South Carolina, and is affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Whitlock is executive director of the Trinity Forum, a leadership training institute. In 1998 he retired from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, after 23 years as president. He graduated from the University of Florida, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Vanderbilt University. With his wife, Mary Lou, he has three children and 11 grandchildren.

James Emery White 

■ The Rev. James Emery White has been named the next president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, succeeding Dr. Walter C. Kaiser Jr., who will retire June 30 after nine years as president. Dr. White has also been appointed professor of theology and culture at the nondenominational evangelical school, which has about 2,000 students on three campuses, including its main campus in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.

Dr. White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. A graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has also served as an adjunct professor at Gordon-Conwell's Charlotte campus. He and his wife, Susan, have four children. 

James F. Checchio

■ Msgr. James F. Checchio, a priest of the diocese of Camden, New Jersey, has been named rector of the North American College, the theological seminary in Rome for candidates from the United States and Canada. Msgr. Checchio has been vice rector for administration at the seminary since 2003. He succeeds Msgr. Kevin C. McCoy, who will move to Washington to direct the school's $25 million capital campaign.

The North American College has 170 seminarians and 60 priests enrolled in its continuing formation program.

Msgr. Checchio is a graduate of the North American College, La Salle University in Philadelphia, and Angelicum University in Rome. He was ordained a priest in 1992 and previously served as director of communications for the diocese of Camden.

■ Msgr. James McDonald, pastor of St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Dix Hills, New York, has been named rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York. He replaces Msgr. Francis J. Schneider, who resigned last year.

Ordained a priest in 1967, Msgr. McDonald is a native of Brooklyn who graduated from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. The seminary trains priests primarily for the dioceses of Rockville Centre and Brooklyn, New York.

Kita McVay

■ Kita McVay has been named interim president of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, replacing the Rev. R. Scott Colglazier, who resigned in December after three months as president of the United Church of Christ school. Colglazier had previously served as a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor for 20 years.

McVay is an officer and director of the Minnwest Corporation of Minnetonka, Minnesota. She is a graduate, longtime trustee, and past board chair of the seminary. 

Louis V. Iasiello

■ Rear Admiral Louis V. Iasiello, a Franciscan priest who is currently Chief of Navy Chaplains, has been named the next president of the Washington Theological Union, a Catholic graduate school of theology and ministry in Washington, D.C. He will assume his new post immediately after his retirement from the U.S. Navy, scheduled for June 2006. He succeeds interim president Father John Burkhard, a Conventual Franciscan, who will return to the classroom as associate professor of systematic and moral theology.

As Chief of Navy Chaplains, Father Iasiello oversees more than 2,400 active and reserve chaplains and religious program specialists in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. He joined the Franciscans in 1973 and graduated from the Washington Theological Union in 1978, when he was also ordained a priest. He is also a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, Niagara University, Salve Regina College and the Naval War College.

Chapel receives architectural award

Bigelow Chapel, the 5,000-square foot addition to United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities that was reported in the Autumn 2005 issue of In Trust, has received an honor award from the American Institute of Architects. The award jury stated, "The architectural language in the chapel is beautifully executed with immaculate detailing and elegant use of natural light." The United Church of Christ school is in New Brighton, Minnesota.

Peter Jennings on media coverage of religion

"I would venture to say that in the overwhelming majority of newsrooms in America there is an appalling ignorance of religion and faith...

"We must stop treating religion as if it were like building model airplanes, a hobby, not really fit for intelligent adults. The sooner we do, the sooner we will have greater grasp of our nation."

Canadian-born ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, during a 1999 speech at Harvard Divinity School, as reported by the Centre for Faith and the Media. Jennings died of lung cancer on August 7, 2005, at age 67.

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