Seminaries receive major gifts

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has received a $2 million challenge grant from the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa--the largest grant from a foundation or living donor in the Texas school's history.

The grant was received as part of the seminary's $25 million centennial fundraising campaign, which will support the College of Pastoral Leaders and faculty chairs as well as the construction of a new residence, the John F. and Nancy Anderson House. The Anderson House, already under construction, will include 16 new apartments.

Duke Divinity School, in Durham, North Carolina, has received a $14 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish an initiative that will help Christian leaders combine theological insight with wise business practices.

The initiative, Leadership Education at Duke Divinity (LE@DD), will develop a variety of programs that focus on leading and managing Christian institutions, offering some programs on an open-application basis and customizing others for specific groups. It will also convene Christian leaders at Duke and across the country to address issues, and will develop a Web site where leaders of Christian institutions can interact to share resources and ideas.

Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa, has received $7.5 million from the estate of Rolland and Gladys Benson, a farm couple who never attended the school. The Bensons were members of Prairie Flower Baptist Church, whose pastors had all received their training at the seminary.

Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary

The gift is the largest in the 87- year history of the school, which has an annual operating budget of about $7.7 million. Most of the gift will support student scholarships, but a portion will support several new initiatives, including a program in missionary nursing, counseling and discipleship, a program in church planting, and master of theology and doctor of ministry degree programs.

The estate had benefited from record farmland prices, some of the land selling at auction for nearly $8,000 an acre.

The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago(LSTC) has received a gift of $1 million from the Christopher Family Foundation. This gift to the school's $56 million 5-year comprehensive campaign moves it beyond the $30 million mark in total campaign progress.

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
From left) Mark Van Scharrel, Ruth Ann Deppe, Jessica Houston, James Kenneth Echols (president of the Lutheran School of Theological at Chicago, holding $1 million check), Michael Klinefelter, Adam Wilhelm, Christine Wenderoth, Bernadine Gibson, Patti DeBias.

One of eight seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, LSTC was formed in 1964 by a merger of four schools. The impetus for the union was the consolidation that same year of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, Augustana Lutheran Church, Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America-- Suomi Synod, and United Lutheran Church in America.

Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has received $6.1 million from the estate of Charles D. Couch.

Couch was a direct descendant of Countess Benigna von Watteville, who along with her father, Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, was a benefactor of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary. More than a dozen members of his family have attended Moravian College and Moravian Seminary, one of the oldest seminaries in North America.

The school currently has a student body of more than 100 men and women representing more than a dozen Christian denominations, though most are Moravians.

Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, has announced a $15 million challenge gift from businessman Tom Benson as the lead contribution in a $30 million capital and endowment campaign. A portion of the gift will be used for a new auditorium and classroom building and renovations to another building on campus.

Oblate School of Theology
(From left) Father Louis Lougen, Father J. William Morell, Gayle and Tom Benson, Archbishop of San Antonio Jose H. Gomez, Father Ronald Rolheiser (president of Oblate School of Theology), and Deacon Robert Kusenberger, campaign chair.

Oblate School of Theology was founded in 1903 by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate to train priests for missionary work in Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mexico and the Philippines. Today it prepares men and women from Roman Catholic and other denominational backgrounds for a variety of ministries.

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, has received a $1.5 million gift from a disbanding Lutheran congregation. The gift will support a new endowed professorship, the First Lutheran Los Angeles/Southwest Synod Chair for Reformation Theology and History.

First Lutheran Church of Los Angeles closed its doors in 2006 after 119 years. The dissolving congregation voted to give its property to the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with the understanding that a portion of the assets would establish a named chair at the seminary. This year, synod bishop Dean W. Nelson presented Pacific Lutheran president Phyllis Anderson with funds from the sale of the congregation's property.

Changes at the top

Bangor Theological Seminary has named the Rev. Kent J. Ulery as its 10th president. He succeeds the Rev. William C. Imes, who is retiring after serving as president since 2001.

An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Dr. Ulery has been conference minister for the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ for the past twelve years. He is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and McCormick Theological Seminary. Bangor Theological Seminary, an ecumenical seminary in the Congregationalist tradition of the United Church of Christ, is the only accredited graduate school of religion in northern New England. It has campuses in Bangor and Portland, Maine.

Conventual Franciscan Father John Burkhard has been named interim president of Washington Theological Union, replacing Father Louis V. Iasiello. Father Burkhard also served as interim president from 2005 to2006.

Father Burkhard, who teaches systematic theology, joined Washington Theological Union in 1991. He previously taught at theological schools in Ghana, Washington, D.C., and Minnesota. He is a graduate of St. Hyacinth College and Seminary in Granby, Massachusetts, Collegium Canisianum in Austria, and the Université des Sciences Humaines in Strasbourg, France.

Washington Theological Union was founded in 1968, when six Catholic religious orders pooled their seminary facilities and faculties. It provides theological education to lay people, members of religious communities, and ordination candidates. Its president from 1975 to 1999, Franciscan Father Vincent Cushing, is a former chair of the board of In Trust Inc.

Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, has named as president the Rev. Timothy L. Brown. His predecessor, the Rev. Dennis N. Voskuil, is retiring after 14 years as president.

Timothy BrownDr. Brown earned his master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees at Western and has been the Henry Bast Professor of Preaching at the seminary since 1995. Before joining the faculty, he pastored churches in Michigan and Illinois. He and his wife, Nancy, have three children and six grandchildren.

Western Theological Seminary was established by the Reformed Church in America in 1866, and today serves approximately 225 full- and part-time students.

The Rev. Alistair Brown has been elected president of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, replacing John Kirn, who was appointed interim president in 2006. Kirn, a former executive with Sears Roebuck and Discover Card, had previously served on the seminary's board of trustees. His appointment as interim president came after the school's former head, the Rev. Charles Moore, resigned to become pastor of a Christian and Missionary Alliance congregation in Ohio.

Born in Scotland, Dr. Brown entered Christian ministry after a career in journalism. He earned several degrees from the University of Edinburgh and pastored churches in Livingston and Aberdeen for more than ten years before becoming general director of the Baptist Missionary Society World Mission. He and his wife, Alison, have four children.


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