New grants available to seminaries

 As part of the Educational Models and Practices project, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) is making innovation and faculty development grants to ATS member schools. As many as 40 grants of up to $50,000 each will assist schools as they develop or advance creative educational models or practices. In order to support faculty as they adapt to new models or practices, ATS will also provide as many as 30 grants of up to $15,000 to member schools. Recipients will report their learning for the benefit of the ATS membership and the broader theological education community.

Requests for proposals for both grants were sent to chief executive and chief academic officers of member schools in late December. The deadline for proposals is March 15, 2017.

More information: Contact Stephen R. Graham at

 The Henry Luce Foundation has announced that the Luce Fund for Theological Education is accepting two-page letters of inquiry between now and March 15, 2017. Select institutions will be invited to submit full proposals for amounts of $250,000 to $500,000.

The Luce Fund supports the development of new models of teaching and learning, research and publication, leadership development, and educational program design. The fund is structured as an open competition for seminaries, divinity schools, and other institutions that support theological education.

In November, the foundation announced the first recipients of grants from the Luce Fund:

  • American Baptist Seminary of the West: $425,000 to establish a public theology certificate.

  • Chicago Theological Seminary: $425,000 to launch an interreligious institute.

  • Methodist Theological School in Ohio: $425,000 to enhance seminary environmental engagement.

  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College: $425,000 for a project on campus chaplaincy and religious diversity.

  • University of Edinburgh School of Divinity (Scotland): $425,000 to launch a global network of Christian-Muslim studies.

  • Western Theological Seminary (Michigan): $425,000 for a program on disability and ministry.

More information: Visit

Mergers Partnerships Alliances

Steps towards affiliation

Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, and Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, have entered into a partnership that, if completed, will result in Andover Newton relocating to the New Haven campus in 2018.

Andover Newton recently agreed to sell its Newton Centre campus to a foundation that wishes to remain anonymous until the agreement is finalized. The seminary will continue to operate on its current campus until the 2017–18 academic year. If a formal agreement is finished by then, Andover Newton will relocate to New Haven, affiliating as a unit within Yale Divinity School.

Erskine Theological Seminary faculty votes to delay action on relocation or separation

At a recent meeting, the faculty of Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, South Carolina, passed a motion to request that the board of Erskine College delay any action towards separating the seminary from the college or relocating from their Due West location.

Erskine College is currently undergoing a transition in leadership, as president Paul Kooistra retired on October 31 and Rob Gustafson assumed the interim presidency on November 1. In their motion, seminary faculty affirmed their support of Gustafson.

The statement from seminary faculty on the vote:

The Faculty of Erskine Theological Seminary affirm our support of President Rob Gustafson and his expressed plan to encourage growth in Due West, Columbia, and our extension sites . . . and we ask that any decision regarding separation be tabled until the College and Seminary can be stabilized. We further affirm Dr. Gustafson’s desire to strengthen Erskine’s alignment with the [Associate Reformed Presbyterian] Church. The vote was unanimous.

Sulpicians withdraw from St. Patrick’s Seminary

The Society of the Priests of St. Sulpice announced that after the end of this academic year, its members will no longer teach or provide administrative oversight at St. Patrick’s Seminary, which is owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The society’s members, called Sulpicians, have been providing theological education at St. Patrick’s since its founding in 1898. The announcement was made October 21 in a letter from Father John C. Kemper, the head of the U.S. branch of the Sulpicians, to San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone.

The decision came after the seminary’s board of trustees, whose chancellor is Archbishop Cordileone, sought to change the role of the Sulpicians so that the society would provide faculty but no longer administrative oversight— a violation of the current contract between the archdiocese and the Sulpicians. Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, follows a different model — the vice rector, director of spiritual formation, and spiritual director are Sulpicians, but not the rector or other faculty.

“We have recently been informed that we are no longer invited to provide Sulpician administrative leadership to St. Patrick’s,” the Sulpician Provincial Council wrote in a statement released on October 22. “As a consequence, we will not be able to serve the seminary according to the Sulpician tradition. After consultation, discussion, and prayerful discernment, the Provincial Council has decided to withdraw totally from St. Patrick’s as of June 30, 2017.”

In 2013, a previous Sulpician rector, Father James McKearney, was asked to resign; he was replaced on an interim basis by Bishop Thomas Daly, who was then auxiliary bishop of San Jose, California, and now heads the Diocese of Spokane, Washington. In 2014, Father Gladstone Stevens, a Sulpician who served as the seminary’s vice rector and academic dean, was named rector-president.

The seminary board has announced the formation of a search committee, composed mostly of trustees, to help Archbishop Cordileone find a new rector-president by June.

Real estate news

Architectural rendering of the proposed Freedom Tower at Liberty University.

Courtesy Liberty University 

■ The board of regents of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California, has voted to relocate the seminary to downtown Berkeley beginning in the fall of 2017. The new property, a four-story building also occupied by Berkeley City College, will be closer to the Graduate Theological Union, of which Pacific Lutheran is a part.

■ Clarks Summit University in South Abington Township, Pennsylvania, has sold its seminary building to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. The fraternity of Catholic priests bought the vacated building, which previously held Clarks Summit’s Baptist Bible College classes, for $1.2 million and will use the space as the fraternity’s headquarters, wherein twelve lay people will coordinate the work of the fraternity’s priests in the United States and Canada.

■ Citing the growth in the number of men entering St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, the Archdiocese of Boston has bought back space from Boston College that was previously owned by the seminary. St. John’s rector, Monsignor James Moroney, signed an agreement to purchase the 13,000 square feet of space, which they sold to Boston College in the early 2000s.

The new Zimmerman Chapel at United Theological Seminary. 

Credit: United/Rachel Hurley

■ Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, has received a donation of $2 million to complete construction of their new Rawlings School of Divinity facility. The new facility, called Freedom Tower, will be 275 feet high and is projected to open January 2018. The donors, children of the late John Rawlings, also donated a collection of rare books worth more than $1 million to be housed in the tower’s scriptorium.

■ United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, dedicated their new Richard A. and Nancy Zimmerman Chapel in a ceremony on October 11. The chapel, which will serve as the seminary’s worship space with a capacity of over 200, was funded in part through a $500,000 bequest from Richard A. Zimmerman, former CEO of the Hershey Company and chair of United’s board.

Changes at the top

Robert Gustafson

■ The board of trustees of Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina, has named Robert E. Gustafson Jr. as interim president. He succeeds Dr. Paul Kooistra, president since 2014, who retired October 31. Erskine Theological Seminary is the graduate division of Erskine College, which is affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Between 1997 and 2012, Gustafson led the Stony Brook School, a Christian boarding and day school in Stony Brook, New York. Prior to that, he was head of Jackson Preparatory School, a day school for grades 7 to 12 in Jackson, Mississippi.

Gustafson is a graduate of the University of Virginia, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Teachers College of Columbia University, and Erskine Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Marjorie Graham Gustafson, have two adult children.

■ The board of governors of Lutheran Theological Seminary Saskatoon has named Michael Nel as acting president for a two-year term, which began July 2015. He succeeded Kevin A. Ogilvie, who stepped down from the presidency after nine years to become pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Lexington, South Carolina.

Nel is a registered clinical counselor with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors and has served in parish ministry in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. He is a graduate of the seminary and of the University of South Africa.

Lutheran Theological Seminary Saskatoon is owned by the four western synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and is a member of the Saskatoon Theological Union.

F. David Bronkema

 F. David Bronkema has been named interim dean of Palmer Theological Seminary, a graduate division of Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He succeeds R. Keith Iddings, provost of the university, who served as interim seminary dean after Edwin David Aponte departed to become executive director of the Louisville Institute at Louisville Theological Seminary.

Bronkema is associate professor in the university’s Campolo School of Social Change, where he holds the Templeton Chair for Christian Service through Entrepreneurship. He has served at Eastern for 10 years in several positions, including as director of the master’s program in international development and as chair of the School of Leadership and Development. From 1998 to 2006, he supervised Central American and Andean programs for the American Friends Service Committee.

Bronkema is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Yale University. He and his wife, Robin, have three children.

Vinson Synan

■ Vinson Synan has been named interim dean of the College of Theology and Ministry at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He succeeds Dr. Thomson Mathew, dean for the past 16 years, who will return to teaching upon completion of a sabbatical year.

Synan stepped down from the board of trustees of Oral Roberts University to take up his new role as interim dean. From 1990 to 1994, he was a member of the Oral Roberts faculty and directed the university’s Holy Spirit Research Center. He then moved to Regent University in Virginia to serve as dean of that university’s School of Divinity from 1994 to 2006, when he was named dean emeritus.

Synan is a graduate of the University of Richmond and the University of Georgia. He and his wife, Carol, have four grown children.

Paul Lowell Haines

■ The board of trustees of Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, has named Paul Lowell Haines as president. He succeeds Dr. Eugene Habecker, president since 2005, who was named president emeritus effective May 31, 2016.

Haines has practiced law with Faegre Baker Daniels, an Indianapolis law firm, for 25 years. Previously he served Taylor in a number of capacities, including as vice president for student development and as dean of students. Until his appointment as president, Haines had been a member of Taylor’s board of trustees for 13 years.

A graduate of Taylor, Ball State University, and Indiana University, Haines is currently pursuing a doctor of education degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Sherry, a fellow Taylor graduate, have one adult daughter.

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