Credit: Alex Leung

Baptist seminary sells campus, discontinuing residential model

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary has announced that it has sold its 100-acre property in Mill Valley, California, to North Coast Land Holdings, a trust controlled by a family foundation. Local media reports indicate that the developer will build housing and a school campus on the property, which overlooks Richardson Bay, an arm of San Francisco Bay seven miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge (see views above). Seminary trustees purchased the property for $400,000 in 1953 and the campus opened in 1959. Terms of the sale were not announced, but nearby homes currently sell for up to $3 million. 

Affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Golden Gate Seminary plans to discontinue the residential model of theological education and instead will open a commuter campus in a more accessible location in the Bay Area. Its main operations will move to a new location in Southern California.

President Jeff Iorg says that the seminary will remain in Mill Valley for two more years, allowing students to finish their degree programs before the move. About 90 employees will be affected.

Golden Gate already operates extension sites in Southern California; Vancouver, Washington; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Denver, Colorado. In addition, this year the Association of Theological Schools approved the seminary’s all-online master of divinity and master of theological studies degrees.

Methodist seminary parts ways with interreligious university

Claremont School of Theology

In April, the board of trustees of Claremont School of Theology announced that it has ended its formal relationship with Claremont Lincoln University. The school of theology, a United Methodist institution, gave birth to Claremont Lincoln with plans that Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim religious education would take place within a single university setting. But last year, the two institutions separated formally so that the university could establish independent regional accreditation. (Claremont Lincoln never sought accreditation through the Association of Theological Schools.)

In announcing the formal split, Claremont School of Theology reiterated its commitment to interfaith education, saying that students of local Buddhist and Jewish institutions will continue to be welcome “in our classrooms, our library, and our worship spaces.” Claremont Lincoln students will also be able to transfer to the school of theology to complete their degrees, if they so wish.

Changes at the top

 James Lewis

■ The Rev. James Lewis has been named seventh dean of the Anderson University School of Theology. He succeeds the Rev. David Sebastian, who has retired after serving as dean since 1995.

Lewis has been a member of the faculty at Anderson University since 1992, most recently as associate dean and professor of theology and ethics. A graduate of Texas A&M University and Duke University, he served as pastor of the First Church of God of Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married to Barbara Lewis.

The School of Theology holds special standing within Anderson University, with the dean serving on the university president’s executive staff. The School of Theology, and the university at large, are affiliated with the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), an evangelical body of Wesleyan heritage.

 Andrew McGowan

■ The Rev. Canon Andrew McGowan has been appointed president and dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and associate dean for Anglican studies at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. He succeeds the Very Rev. Joseph H. Britton, dean for the past 11 years, who has been named interim rector of Christ Church in New Haven.

Since 2007, McGowan has been warden of Trinity College at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Ordained in the Anglican Church, he is a graduate of the University of Western Australia, Trinity College in Melbourne, and the University of Notre Dame. He was serving on the faculty of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when he was called to return to Australia. His wife, Felicity Harley-McGowan, is a historian of late antique and medieval art at the University of Melbourne.

Berkeley Divinity School, an Episcopal seminary founded in 1854, has been affiliated with Yale Divinity School since 1971. Its students receive formation and education in Anglican studies at Berkeley Divinity School as they study for master’s degrees at Yale Divinity School. 

 Javier A. Viera

■ The Rev. Javier A. Viera has been named dean of Drew University Theological School. He succeeds the Rev. Virginia Samuel, associate dean of contextual education, who has been leading the school on an interim basis since last year. The previous dean, the Rev. Jeffrey Kuan, departed in 2013 after two years to become president of Claremont School of Theology. Since 2006, Viera has been on the pastoral staff of Christ Church in New York City, a United Methodist congregation on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Previously he was senior minister at Mamaroneck United Methodist Church in Mamaroneck, New York. 

Viera is a graduate of Florida Southern College, Duke Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, and Columbia University. A native of Puerto Rico who was raised in Florida, he has two daughters. 

 Robert G. Duffett

■ In 2013, Dr. Robert G. Duffett was named ninth president of Eastern University, a school in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA. He succeeded Dr. David Black, who retired after 15 years at the helm of the university.

Before being named to his new post, Duffett was for 12 years president of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota. Previously he was provost and academic dean at Ottawa University and director of doctoral studies at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. He began his academic career as campus pastor and dean of Christian faith and life at Bethel University. 

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Duffett is a graduate of Bethel University, Bethel Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Iowa. He and his wife, Connie Duffett, have two adult children.

 Edwin David Aponte

■ This year, Dr. Edwin David Aponte was named dean of Palmer Theological Seminary, an American Baptist seminary that is also a graduate division of Eastern University. He succeeds Dr. Diane Chen, who in 2013 was appointed to a one-year term as interim dean after Dr. Christopher A. Hall, former dean of Palmer Seminary and chancellor of Eastern University, returned to the faculty as professor of theology.

From 2012 until this year, Aponte was vice president for academic affairs, dean of the faculty, and professor of Christianity and culture at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. Previously he was research professor of Latina/o and Latin American Christianity in the Center for World Christianity at New York Theological Seminary. He has also served on the faculty and in administrative roles at Lancaster Theological Seminary, Southern Methodist University, and North Park University. 

A native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Aponte is a graduate of Gordon College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Temple University. He serves on the board of the Louisville Institute and is an ordained minister of word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). 

 Stephen Butler Murray

■ The Rev. Stephen Butler Murray has been named president and professor of systematic theology and preaching at Ecumenical Theological Seminary, an interdenominational school in Detroit. He succeeds the Rev. Marsha Foster Boyd, who headed the school from 2006 to 2013 and was named president emerita after her retirement.

At the time of his appointment, Murray was founding dean of the college and associate professor of theology at Barrytown College, a new liberal arts college in Barrytown, New York, affiliated with the Unification Church. He was simultaneously pastor of First Baptist Church of Boston, Massachusetts, and a lecturer in ministry at Harvard Divinity School.

Previously Murray served on the faculty of Endicott College, Skidmore College, and Suffolk University, and served parishes in Massachusetts and New York. A graduate of Bucknell University, Endicott College, Yale Divinity School, and Union Theological Seminary in New York, he is married to Cynthia Murray, a harpist; the two have one son.

 James Seung-Hyun Lee

■ The Rev. James Seung-Hyun Lee has been named president of International Theological Seminary in El Monte, California. He succeeds Dr. C. Melvin Loucks, president from 2010 to 2013, who has returned to the faculty as professor of systematic theology. 

Lee was assistant professor of Old Testament at the seminary at the time of his appointment. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and Union Presbyterian Seminary, he is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Lee is married to Charlene Jin, assistant professor of education and director of student formation at the Southern California campus of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and they have two children.

Founded in 1982 by Korean immigrants to serve an international student body, International Theological Seminary is governed by an executive board that includes members from China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the United States.

 Carla D. Sunberg

■ The Rev. Carla D. Sunberg has been named president of Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. She succeeds the Rev. David A. Busic, who was president for two years before being elected general superintendent of the Nazarene denomination in 2013.

The daughter of Nazarene missionaries to West Germany, Sunberg was ordained in the Church of the Nazarene in 2004 while a missionary in Moscow. She and her husband, Charles H. Sunberg, were pioneering Nazarene missionaries to the former Soviet Union, serving there from 1992 until 2005. Returning to the United States, she and her husband co-led the Grace Point Church of the Nazarene in Fort Wayne, Indiana, until 2011, when they were appointed joint district superintendents of the church’s East Ohio District. 

Sunberg is a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University, Nazarene Theological Seminary, and the University of Manchester. She and her husband have two adult daughters.

 Bernard Schlager

■ Dr. Bernard Schlager, dean and vice president of academic affairs at Pacific School of Religion, has been named interim president of the school, succeeding the Rev. Stephen Sterner, an interim leader who had previously agreed to serve in the role for one year. Sterner is returning to his residence in South Carolina.

A graduate of Yale University, Schlager has been on the faculty of the Pacific School of Religion since 2000 and is now associate professor of cultural and historical studies; he is also executive director of the school’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry. 

Schlager is a member of the core doctoral faculty of the Graduate Theological Union, of which the Pacific School of Religion is a member. He previously taught at the University of New Hampshire, Trinity College, Middlebury College, and Yale University. He and his partner, Brian Byrnes, president and CEO of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, are parents to three grown sons.

Pacific School of Religion, founded by Congregationalist missionaries in 1868, is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. It is located in Berkeley, California.

 Rosemary Bray McNatt

■ The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt has been named president of the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. She succeeds the Rev. Rebecca Parker, who retired this year after 25 years at the helm of the school. Starr King, a Unitarian Universalist school, is one of the constituent members of the Graduate Theological Union.

Since 2001, McNatt has been senior minister of the Fourth Universalist Society in New York City. She served on the board of trustees of the Starr King School for the Ministry from 1992 until 1999 and was board chair from 1999 to 2001. She has also served on the board of trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association and was a member of the denomination’s Panel on Theological Education from 2001 to 2007. 

Born in Chicago, McNatt is a graduate of Yale University and Drew University School of Theology. She is an adjunct faculty member at Union Theological Seminary and a former editor for the New York Times Book Review. She and her husband, Robert, are the parents of two sons.

 John E. Neihof

■ In 2013, the Rev. John E. Neihof was named seventh president of Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. He succeeded the Rev. James L. Porter, president from 2010 to 2013, who is now pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in McComb, Mississippi.

From 1991 to 2013, Neihof was on the faculty and administrative staff of Kentucky Mountain Bible College in Vancleve, Kentucky. There he served as communications professor, vice president for student life, director of institutional effectiveness, and vice president for development. For 12 years he was also an accreditation team member for the Association for Biblical Higher Education.

Ordained in the Kentucky Mountain Holiness Association, Neihof was also a pastor in Vancleve, Kentucky, for 10 years and ministered as in itinerant evangelist, preaching in 15 states. Neihof is a graduate of Kentucky Mountain Bible College, Asbury University, and the University of Kentucky. His wife, Beth Neihof, is a librarian at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Wesley Biblical Seminary, founded in 1974 by the Association of Independent Methodists, is an interdenominational seminary in the evangelical Wesleyan tradition. 


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