Goats cut grass and costs

Hungry goats reduce landscaping expenses for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. (PHYLLIS EVANS)

For each of the past five years, 400 goats have been stationed on the steep hillsides of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary's main campus for three-week groundskeeping stints. Managed by a Chilean goatherd and two border collies, as well as a portable electric fence, the goats are supplied with water, a salt lick, and all the grass and poison oak they can eat on about 50 acres of the 120-acre site.

"We save approximately $5,000 in labor and materials by contracting with Goats-R-Us," said Robert Dvorak, facilities management director at the school's main campus in Mill Valley, California.

Golden Gate Seminary, founded in 1944, is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and operates auxiliary campuses in California, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, and Colorado.

Sale of campus leads to new educational model

Northern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced plans to sell most of its 28-acre campus in Lombard, Illinois. Under a new educational model, classes will be taught on satellite campuses in the Chicago area and online. Administrative offices will move to Elgin, Illinois.

Founded in 1913, the school is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches.

"We're willing to explore and even to take risks," says President Alistair Brown. "God will guide, and I believe he'll bring good from all these new ventures."

Requiescat in Pacem 

Dean R. Hoge, an eminent sociologist of American religion, has died of stomach cancer at the age of 71.

For 32 years, Dr. Hoge was a professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In the fall of 2007, he was elected president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

A graduate of Harvard University, Dr. Hoge wrote 25 books about trends reshaping American Christianity. He chronicled the loss of attachment to historic denominations among American Protestants, examined trends in church giving, and researched the influence of churches upon immigrants.

His colleague at Catholic University, William V. D'Antonio, told The New York Times that his most groundbreaking studies were those on the Catholic priesthood. Dr. Hoge examined the reasons for the shortage of priests, the challenges clergy face in their first five years after ordination, the aging of the priesthood, and problems with morale.

Marianist Brother Bernard F. Stratman, executive director of the seminary department of the National Catholic Educational Association, told The Times that Hoge's research was not always easy for church leaders to receive. "But Dean was determined to tell the truth and name the proverbial elephant in the room," he added.

Dr. Hoge was a member and lay leader at the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church in Takoma Park, Maryland. His survivors include Josephine, his wife of 43 years, a son, and a daughter.

New chair takes helm of Chicago seminary association

Father Thomas A. Baima, provost of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, has been elected chairman of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS). He will serve a two-year term as the head of a consortium of theological schools in metropolitan Chicago. He replaces Dr. David V. Esterline, dean of McCormick Theological Seminary.

Father Baima, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, was ordained in 1980. He is a graduate of Butler University, the University of Saint Mary of the Lake and the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Father Baima served as a parish priest for 12 years, and then as director of the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. He became provost at Mundelein in 2000, where he also teaches systematic theology and ecumenical studies. ACTS is composed of eleven theological schools: Catholic Theological Union, Chicago Theological Seminary, Garrett- Evangelical Theological Seminary, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, McCormick Theological Seminary, Meadville-Lombard Theological School, North Park Theological Seminary, Northern Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary. All offer the M.Div. as well as other degrees in theology and ministry.

Pursuing a loftier goal

Chase Hilgenbrinck retired from professional soccer this summer to become a candidate for priesthood in the Catholic Church. He's currently studying at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Hilgenbrinck played soccer for Clemson University, and after graduation he became a star fútbol player in Chile. Later signed by the New England Revolution, he played four games of professional soccer with the team, which wanted to extend his contract. However, Hilgenbrinck had determined by that time that he had a higher calling. He was accepted as a candidate for priesthood in the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois.

"I don't have any regrets," he told ESPN. "I look at the priests around me. And in my heart, I genuinely want what they have. There was a time, three years ago, that this was the last thing I wanted for myself. Now it's the only thing I want."

Theology embraces jazz

Memphis Theological Seminary has named saxophonist Kirk Whalum to a two-year position as Varnell Artist-in-Residence. Whalum will collaborate with the theology and arts program, which is designed to bring together seminarians, artists, pastors, and lay persons to reflect on the use of the visual and performing arts in worship. 

Whalum, a Dove Award winner, has received eight Grammy nominations.

The seminary, located in Memphis, Tennessee, is affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Changes at the top

■ Mary Elizabeth Moore will become dean of the Boston University School of Theology on January 1, 2009. She succeeds Ray L. Hart, interim dean since 2003, who will continue as professor of theology and philosophy of religion.

A graduate of Southern Methodist University and the Claremont School of Theology, Dr. Moore is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. Until the end of 2008, she was professor of religion and education at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where she directed the Women in Theology and Ministry program

Established in 1839, the School of Theology is the founding school of Boston University and the country's oldest Methodist seminary.

■ The board of trustees of Denver Seminary has appointed the Rev. Gordon MacDonald as interim president, following the June resignation of the Rev. Craig Williford. Simultaneously, Dr. Randy MacFarland has been named provost/dean for the duration of the presidential vacancy. In this interim position, Dr. MacFarland oversees day-to-day operations of the seminary, which is located in Littleton, Colorado.

Dr. MacDonald is pastor emeritus of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts. He received degrees from the University of Colorado, Denver Seminary, and Barrington College. He and his wife, Gail, have two children and five grandchildren. Dr. MacFarland, vice president/dean of the seminary since 2001, is a graduate of Hartwick College, Denver Seminary, and Andover Newton Theological School.

Denver Seminary was founded in 1950 by the Conservative Baptist Association of Colorado.

■ The Rev. James P. Johnson has been named president of Lexington Theological Seminary, succeeding the Rev. R. Robert Cueni, who retired after six years as president and is currently Renner Visiting Scholar at Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia. Johnson was formerly director of planned giving for the Mayo Foundation in Rochester, Minnesota.

An ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Johnson is a graduate of Wabash College, Lexington Theological Seminary, and Eden Theological Seminary. He also received a joint degree from Christian Theological Seminary and Butler University, both in Indianapolis. Before joining the Mayo Foundation, he was president of the Disciples of Christ's Church Finance Council and then president of the Christian Church Foundation.

Lexington Theological Seminary, in Lexington, Kentucky, is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and was founded in 1865. Today it shares its campus with the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, a school of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

■ In 2007 Father Arthur L. Kennedy was appointed president-rector of St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, succeeding Dominican Father John A. Farren, who is now serving as director of advancement for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph in Washington, D.C.

Father Kennedy is a graduate of St. John's Seminary, the Gregorian University in Rome, and Boston University. Ordained in Boston in 1966, he served area parishes before accepting a position on the faculty at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he directed the master of arts in theology program. He has also served as executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

St. John's Seminary, established in 1883, serves dioceses throughout New England.

■ Dr. David E. Garland, dean of the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University since last year, has been named interim president of the university following the abrupt departure of former president John M. Lilley. Dr. Lilley was dismissed by the board in July 2008, less than three years into his fiveyear contract. Garland will continue as seminary dean during the search for a new university president.

Dr. Garland has taught at Truett Theological Seminary since 1997; he was named William M. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures in 2005. He is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before moving to Baylor, he was chair of the biblical division at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His wife, Diana, is dean of the School of Social Work at Baylor.

Truett Seminary opened in 1994; it is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

■ The board of trustees of Western Seminary has appointed the Rev. Randal Roberts, a longtime faculty member and administrator, as its 12th president. He succeeds Dr. Bert Downs, who retired after 10 years as president but who has been named chancellor of the school.

A graduate of Western Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Dr. Roberts returned to Western in 1987 to teach and was named academic dean and provost in 1999. He has been married to his wife, Susan, for 29 years.

In 1927, Western Seminary was founded in Portland, Oregon, as Western Baptist Theological Seminary. Today it has branches in San Jose and Sacramento, California.


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