Lutheran seminary and university considering merging

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California, has announced that it is exploring a merger with California Lutheran University, a 4,000-student institution in Thousand Oaks, California. This fall, both institutions' boards gave endorsement to the exploration process. A formal decision and timeline could come as early as May 2012.

Leaders at the two schools hope that a merger would strengthen undergraduate and graduate programs, build enrollment, enhance connections with Lutheran synods and congregations throughout the western United States, and increase fundraising capacity. The seminary and university are 385 miles apart; both are affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary would remain in Berkeley and continue to participate fully in the Graduate Theological Union, a partnership of nine Bay Area seminaries that share a library, technology services, cross-registration, and a doctoral program.

Higher enrollment at Catholic seminaries

Catholic seminaries are reporting higher enrollments this year, in some cases filling their available on-campus space, a Catholic News Service report says. Theological College in Washington, D.C., has 90 seminarians this year. Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, has 40 new seminarians and a total head count of 186, its highest enrollment since the 1970s. St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minnesota, has 30 new graduate-level seminarians and a total enrollment of 100. Two priests and 24 seminarians are living off campus in rented space because of overcrowding.

The Catholic News Service report says that overall, there were 3,608 post-baccalaureate seminarians in the United States last year — 125 more than the previous year and the highest number since the early 1990s. Of those, about 75 percent were preparing for ordination in the diocesan priesthood, while 24 percent were planning to be ordained in religious orders.

Changes at the top

■ The board of trustees of Bangor Theological Seminary has named a member of the board, the Rev. Robert Grove-Markwood, as interim president. He began his new role on July 1, 2011, succeeding the Rev. Kent J. Ulery, president since 2008, who is now interim associate conference minister for the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCC). With campuses in Bangor and Portland, Maine, the seminary is one of seven affiliated with the UCC.

Grove-Markwood is pastor of the Presque Isle Congregational Church in Presque Isle, Maine, and will continue in a reduced role during his interim presidency. He has chaired the board's advancement and information technology committees.

A graduate of Oberlin College, Bowling Green State University, and Bangor Theological Seminary, Grove-Markwood has been an ordained UCC minister for 29 years. He and his wife, Susan, have four adult children. 

■ The Rev. Matthew Myer Boulton has been named sixth president of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He succeeds the Rev. Edward L. Wheeler, who led the school for 14 years and was named president emeritus on July 1, 2011.

Boulton was previously associate professor of ministry studies at Harvard Divinity School, a position he had held since 2007. He had concurrently served as assistant music director of Old South Church in Boston. Ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), he is a graduate of Northwestern University, Harvard Divinity School, and the University of Chicago

Boulton and his wife, the Rev. Elizabeth Myer-Boulton, are co-founders of a folk-bluegrass band, Butterflyfish, and collaborate in a nonprofit project called Salt, which provides resources for "reclaiming and sharing the beauty of Christian life through film, photography, music, poetry, and ideas."

Christian Theological Seminary is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Formerly the School of Religion of Butler University, it became an independent institution in 1958.

■ The board of trustees of Lancaster Theological Seminary has named the Rev. Carol E. Lytch the 11th president of the school, which is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and is one of seven seminaries affiliated with the United Church of Christ. She began her new role in August 2012, succeeding the Rev. Riess Potterveld, the school's head since 2002, who departed in 2010 to become president of Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

Lytch was formerly assistant executive director at the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, and previously she was coordinator for Lilly Endowment's Program for Strengthening Congregational Leadership. She has served on the board of directors of In Trust since 2005.

Lytch is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Emory University. An ordained Presbyterian minister, she served earlier in her career as co-pastor (with her husband, the Rev. Stephens G. Lytch) of the First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury, New Jersey. 

■ The Rev. David A. Busic has been named ninth president of Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. Following seminary bylaws, Busic was nominated by the Nazarene denomination's six-member national leadership body, the Board of General Superintendents, and his nomination was reaffirmed by the seminary's board of trustees.

Busic replaces the Rev. Ron Benefiel, president for 11 years, who left on July 1, 2011, to become dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministry at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. The Rev. Jeren Rowell, chair of the seminary's board of trustees, served as acting president from July until Busic assumed office in October.

Busic, senior pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene in Bethany, Oklahoma, since 2004, declined the invitation to become president in June. After being approached again by the Board of General Superintendents, he reconsidered.

A graduate of Southern Nazarene University and Nazarene Theological Seminary, Busic was a member of the seminary's board from 2005 until 2009, where he served on the Faculty and Curriculum Committee. He and his wife, Christi, have three children.

■ Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki has appointed Father John D. Hemsing as rector of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary. Father Hemsing took on his new role on October 1, 2011, replacing Bishop Donald J. Hying, who was appointed an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1988, Father Hemsing most recently served as pastor of Lumen Christi Parish in Mequon, Wisconsin. Previously he was pastor of St. Clare Parish in Wind Lake, Wisconsin, from 1996 to 2008.

Father Hemsing is a graduate of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary and the Graduate Theological Foundation in South Bend, Indiana. Founded in 1845, Saint Francis de Sales Seminary is operated by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Its 32 students take classes at the nearby Sacred Heart School of Theology while they live at Saint Francis Seminary and receive their human, spiritual, and pastoral formation from its staff.

New grant supports communication

In Trust has been awarded a grant of $66,600 from Good Samaritan Inc., a foundation based in Wilmington, Delaware. The new grant will assist in advancing In Trust's communication network over the next two years, supporting electronic delivery systems and the customized negotiations and coaching required to maintain the quality of the Governance Mentor service.

In Trust president Christa R. Klein expressed her appreciation to Good Samaritan Inc. for the award. "We have found that frequent, personal communication with our members — beyond our award-winning In Trust magazine — is the key to providing the services that boards need to address deep challenges and embrace new opportunities," she said. "This new grant will advance our service to our member institutions in significant ways."

Clergy renewal grant program deadline approaches

Lilly Endowment has announced that its National Clergy Renewal Program will continue in 2012. The 12-year-old program awards grants to Christian congregations throughout the United States, allowing their pastors a time of extended time away for renewal and reflection. Most pastors spend three to four months away from their congregations in travel, study, and reflection.

Completing the application requires a joint effort of pastor and congregation and takes significant time. Eligible congregations may receive up to $50,000, including up to $15,000 for congregational support during the time the pastor is away (for example, for stipends for extra clergy support).

An application brochure that describes the program and eligibility requirements in detail and provides application forms and instructions is at The deadline for proposals is May 11, 2012.

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