Board plans to phase out tenure at Baptist seminary

On the recommendation of President Paige Patterson, the board of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has unanimously approved a motion to cease offering tenure to faculty. Approved on April 3, the motion states: “Believing that the majority of trustees . . . agree in principle with the cessation of tenure for this institution, I move that the Bylaws and Policies Committee bring revisions to cease future extension of tenure to the fall 2013 trustee meeting.”

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary 

Credit: Jay Blossom

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, with a headcount of 2,338 students (and a full-time–equivalent student body of 1,241), is one of the largest schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.

$10 million gift to Harvard Divinity School

Harvard Divinity School

Susan Shallcross Swartz, a painter, and her husband James R. Swartz (above), a founder of the venture capital firm Accel Partners, have given $10 million to Harvard Divinity School to found a new Susan Shallcross Swartz Endowment for Christian Studies. Dean David N. Hempton says that a small advisory board will decide how income from the endowment will be spent, but it is likely to reflect Susan Swartz’s interests in the arts, social justice, environmental issues, and service. She was artist-in-residence at the divinity school in 2005.

Pennsylvania Bible college acquires Maryland college and seminary

On October 20, 2012, the board of directors of Washington Bible College and Capital Bible Seminary voted to be acquired by Lancaster Bible College, an institution based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. On January 21, academic programs were formally transferred. Capital Bible Seminary had been accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), but the newly merged school voluntarily withdrew, with the ATS Board of Commissioners accepting their withdrawal at its February 2013 meeting. (Lancaster Bible College retains accreditation with the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association for Biblical Higher Education.)

The Lanham, Maryland, campus of Washington Bible College and Capital Bible Seminary is being sold, and classes have moved to the Patriot Business Park in Greenbelt, Maryland, where the school is leasing an 18,575-square-foot facility with 11 classrooms, study areas, offices, and a library. The undergraduate division of the Maryland school, focusing on adult learning, is becoming the “LBC iLead Center, Capital Region,” while the graduate division is now called “Lancaster Bible College/Capital Bible Seminary, Capital Campus.”

Washington Bible College was founded in 1938 from a merger of three earlier Bible institutes in the Washington area. Capital Bible Seminary was founded as the graduate division of the school in 1958. Lancaster Bible College was founded in 1933. Both are nondenominational, evangelical institutions.

Changes at the top

Frank A. James III 

■ The board of trustees of Biblical Seminary has named Dr. Frank A. James III as president of the school in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. He succeeds the Rev. David G. Dunbar, who is retiring after 27 years at the helm. 

James was provost and professor of historical theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary from 2009 until the time of his appointment. From 2004 to 2009 he was the third president of Reformed Theological Seminary’s Orlando campus. He has also taught at Villanova University and Westmont College.

A graduate of Texas Tech University, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Oxford University, James is married to author Carolyn Custis James, and they have one adult daughter.

 Kurt Burnette

■ Metropolitan William C. Skurla, archbishop of the Byzantine archeparchy of Pittsburgh, has appointed Father Kurt Burnette as rector of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He succeeds Archpriest John G. Petro, who resigned last year because of ill health after 17 years of service to the seminary.

Burnette was pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the time of his appointment. A native Texan who graduated from Rice University, the University of Utah, Newport University in California, the Byzantine Catholic Seminary, and the Oriental Institute in Rome, Burnette was ordained in 1989 and later taught mathematics at the University of California, Irvine, while serving a Byzantine parish in Fontana, California.

The Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh (sometimes called the Ruthenian Catholic Church) is the only self-governing Eastern Catholic Church in the United States—it is directly under the authority of the pope rather than under a Catholic patriarch in Europe. It includes 58,000 parishioners and 65 priests in 78 parishes, and three other American eparchies (dioceses) are suffragan to it. The Byzantine Catholic Seminary was founded in 1950.

Mark Dalbey 

■ At their spring meeting in 2012, the board of trustees of Covenant Theological Seminary appointed the Rev. Mark Dalbey as interim president, succeeding the Rev. Bryan Chapell. Chapell was appointed chancellor of the seminary, but he resigned from that role earlier this year to become pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois. At the January 2013 meeting, the board of trustees named Chapell president emeritus. 

Since 1999 Dalbey has been assistant professor of practical theology at the seminary; he has also served as dean of students and vice president of academics. Previously he was pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Indiana. 

Dalbey is a graduate of Tarkio College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Covenant Seminary. He and his wife, Beth, have three adult children.

 Rick Reed

■ The board of Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, has named the Rev. Rick Reed as president. He succeeds Marvin Brubacher, president for 21 years, who stepped down in 2011 and was named executive director of MentorLink Canada.

At the time of his appointment, Reed had been senior pastor of Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa, Ontario, for 14 years. During that time he taught at Heritage as an adjunct professor and also taught at Nassa Theological College in Mwanza, Tanzania. Before moving to Ottawa, he had served congregations in Atascadero and Cupertino, California.

Reed is a graduate of Biola University, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife, Linda, are parents of three adult children.

Heritage College and Seminary is affiliated with the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.

Jason K. Allen 

The Rev. Jason K. Allen has been named fifth president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. He succeeds the Rev. Robin D. Hadaway, the seminary’s professor of missions, who had been appointed interim president in early 2012 following the sudden resignation of President R. Philip Roberts. Roberts is now president of the Foundation for International Theological Education, an organization he co-founded. Hadaway, the former interim, is now assistant to his successor and also vice president for institutional administration at the seminary.

Allen was formerly vice president for institutional advancement at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, executive director of the Southern Seminary Foundation, and pastor of Carlisle Avenue Baptist Church, all in Louisville, Kentucky. A graduate of Spring Hill College and Southern Seminary, he served on Southern’s executive cabinet from 2006 until he was named Midwestern’s president. Allen and his wife, Karen, have five children.

David Johnson 

■ The board of governors of Providence University College and Seminary have appointed the Rev. David Johnson as interim president succeeding the Rev. August Konkel, who was named president emeritus last year after 11 years at the helm of the school. Konkel is now professor of Old Testament at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario.

Johnson was executive vice president and provost at the time of his appointment as interim president and CEO. He has taught New Testament at the school since 1990 and was appointed full professor in 2000 and dean of the seminary in 2002. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Trinity International University, he is ordained in the Evangelical Free Church. Johnson and his wife have three adult children.

Providence University College and Seminary was founded in 1925 as Winnipeg Bible Training School. In 1970 the college moved to Otterburne, Manitoba, 30 miles south of Winnipeg.

Peter Vaccari

■ Msgr. Peter Vaccari was named rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, in July 2012. He succeeded Bishop Gerald T. Walsh, an auxiliary bishop in the New York archdiocese, who had served as rector of the seminary from 2007 until last year, when he was appointed archdiocesan vicar for clergy.

Msgr. Vaccari, ordained a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1977, was previously rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York; he had also taught church history there since 1988. He prepared for the priesthood at Cathedral College in Queens, New York, and the University of St. Thomas Aquinas (“the Angelicum”) and the North American College in Rome. His brother, Msgr. Andrew J. Vaccari, is former chancellor of the Brooklyn diocese.

St. Joseph’s Seminary, known as Dunwoodie, trains priests for the Archdiocese of New York, the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, and other dioceses.

Richard Henning

■ Msgr. Richard Henning has been appointed rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York, succeeding Msgr. Peter Vaccari. Henning will also be the director of the new Sacred Heart Institute for the Ongoing Formation of Clergy.

Msgr. Henning, who is also professor of scripture at the seminary, is a graduate of St. John’s University, the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Catholic University of America, and the University of St. Thomas (“the Angelicum”) in Rome. He previously directed the Parresia Project, a grantfunded initiative to help international priests adjust to serving in the United States.

Msgr. Henning was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 1992.

Emilie Townes 

■ The Rev. Emilie Townes has been named to a five-year term as dean of Vanderbilt University Divinity School. She succeeds the Rev. James Hudnut- Beumler, dean since 2000, who will return to the divinity school’s teaching faculty after a yearlong sabbatical.

At the time of her appointment, Townes was associate dean of academic affairs at Yale Divinity School, where she also taught African American religion and theology. Previously she was professor of Christian ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

An ordained American Baptist, Townes is a graduate of the University of Chicago, the University of Chicago Divinity School, and the joint doctoral program of Northwestern University and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. A former president of the American Academy of Religion, Townes is currently president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion.

Richard Topping

■ The board of governors of Vancouver School of Theology has named the Rev. Richard R. Topping as the school’s next principal, effective July 1, 2013. Topping will succeed the Rev. Stephen Ferris, who has remained the head St. Andrew’s Hall in Vancouver while serving as acting principal of the Vancouver School of Theology. Ferris was named acting principal during the sabbatical of Dr. Wendy Fletcher, who had served as dean since 2000 and principal since 2005. Fletcher has returned to the faculty as professor of the history of Christianity.

For the past four years, Topping has taught Reformation history and theology on the faculty of St. Andrew’s Hall, a partner institution to Vancouver School of Theology. Previously he taught at Presbyterian College, part of the Montreal School of Theology, while serving as senior minister of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul in Montreal.

A graduate of the University of Waterloo and St. Michael’s University in the University of Toronto, Topping is ordained in the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

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