Pew Research Center report shows decline in religious identification

A new survey of more than 35,000 Americans shows that the number of adults who call themselves Christians has fallen from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent in the last seven years. During the same period, the number of adult Americans who say they are members of non-Christian religions has grown from 4.7 percent to 5.9 percent, while the number of those who call themselves atheists, agnostics, or “nothing in particular” has risen from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent.

These statistics come from a 2014 report from the Pew Research Center, which was a follow-up on an earlier U.S. Religious Landscape Study in 2007.

While the summary of the report emphasizes growth in the evangelical Protestant tradition and decline among Catholics and mainline Protestants, the detailed data tables reveal a more nuanced story. Membership in large groups like the Southern Baptist Convention has declined (from 6.7 percent of the total population in 2007 to 5.3 percent in 2014), while membership in nondenominational churches has risen from 4.5 percent to 6.2 percent during the same period. Overall, more than 85 percent of American adults say they were raised in some Christian faith, but a quarter of those raised Christian no longer identify with Christianity. Former Christians represent almost a fifth of all American adults.

The full report from the Pew Research Center is available at (click on “America’s Changing Religious Landscape”).

A new head for the Louisville Institute

 Edwin David Aponte

An experienced scholar and administrator has been appointed as the next executive director of the Louisville Institute. The Rev. Edwin David Aponte succeeds Dr. Terry C. Muck, who is retiring after leading the institute since 2012.

At the time of his appointment, Aponte was the dean and chief executive administrator at Palmer Theological Seminary, a graduate division of Eastern University, as well as professor of religion and culture at the university. Previously he was vice president for academic affairs at Christian Theological Seminary.

Aponte is a graduate of Gordon College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Temple University. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The Louisville Institute, a 25-year-old program funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., provides grants to foster collaboration among scholars, theological educators, and religious leaders, with the purpose of revitalizing faith communities. It is housed at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Changes at the top

 Carlos Campo

■ The board of trustees of Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio has named Dr. Carlos Campos as the university’s 30th president. He succeeds Dr. William Crothers, who served as interim president during the search. Retired president Dr. Frederick J. Finks, who had led the university since 2006, was named chancellor in October 2014.

At the time of his appointment, Campo was an educational consultant for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and served as chair of the Alliance for Hispanic Education for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. From 2008 to 2013, he was provost and then president of Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Campo is a graduate of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and previously served as chief academic officer and dean at the College of Southern Nevada. He and his wife, Karen Campo, have three adult children.


 Mark Hausfeld

The president of Evangel University, Dr. Carol Taylor, has named the Rev. Mark Hausfeld as president of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He succeeds the Rev. Byron Klaus, president of the seminary since 1999, who has been helping to oversee the consolidation of three Assemblies of God institutions in Springfield, Missouri — the seminary, Evangel University, and Central Bible College. Klaus is retiring this summer.

Hausfeld’s appointment was approved by the university board of trustees in June. At the time of his appointment, he was international director for Global Initiative: Reaching Muslim People, and director of the Summer Institute for Islamic Studies at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He has been associate professor of urban and Islamic studies at the seminary since 2009 and was previously a missionary to Pakistan.

 An ordained Assemblies of God minister, Hausfeld is a graduate of Evangel University, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and Northern Seminary. His wife, Lynda Hausfeld, is international director of Say Hello: Serving Muslim Women, and they have three adult children.  

 Alicia Vargas

■ The president of California Lutheran University, Dr. Chris Kimball, has appointed Dr. Alicia Vargas as interim dean of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. She succeeds the Rev. Karen L. Bloomquist, who served as the seminary’s dean and chief academic officer for one year before stepping down in January 2015 to pursue other avenues of ministry.

At the time of her appointment, Vargas was associate dean and associate professor of multicultural and contextual ministry. She has also served as the seminary’s director of contextual education and as a prison chaplain in Santa Clara County, California. Before moving to Pacific Lutheran Seminary in 1992, she taught Hispanic literature at Vassar College.

 Todd D. Still

The president and chancellor of Baylor University, Ken Starr, has named the Rev. Todd D. Still as fifth dean of the university’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary. He succeeds Dr. David E. Garland, the seminary dean for the past eight years, who is returning to the seminary’s teaching faculty.

Still is William M. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures at the seminary, where he has been a member of the faculty since 2003. Previously he taught New Testament at Dallas Baptist University and at the School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University. An ordained Baptist minister, he has also ministered at various churches, including First Baptist Church of Midland, Texas.

Still has served three terms as faculty regent on the Baylor board of regents and was chair of the faculty senate from 2012 to 2013. He is a graduate of Baylor, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the University of Glasgow. He and his wife, Carolyn Still, are parents of two sons.

Truett Seminary held its first classes in 1994. A graduate division of Baylor University, it is located in Waco, Texas. 

Christopher T. Metropulos

■ The board of trustees of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology has named the Very Rev. Christopher T. Metropulos as the school’s next president. He succeeds the Very Rev. Nicholas C. Triantafilou, who is retiring after 15 years at head of the school in Brookline, Massachusetts. Hellenic College and Holy Cross are jointly operated as undergraduate and graduate divisions of a single institution, and both prepare students for leadership within the Greek Orthodox community.

Father Metropulos has been pastor of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, since 1989. He is a graduate of Hellenic College, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Father Metropulos is the founder, host, and executive director of Orthodox Christian Network, a radio and Internet ministry established in 1996. He has served the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in several capacities, including as representative to the United Nations and as president of the Archdiocesan Presbyter’s Council, and he previously served as dean of admissions at Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology.

 Edward L. Wheeler

The Rev. Edward L. Wheeler has been named president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. He succeeds the Rev. Edward P. Wimberly, who was appointed interim president in 2013 after the resignation of the previous head, Dr. Ronald E. Peters.

In 2011, after 14 years as head of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Wheeler was named president emeritus of that school. Previously he was dean of the chapel and professor of religion and society at Tuskegee University, pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Cincinnati, and dean of the Morehouse School of Religion.

Wheeler is a graduate of Morehouse College, Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, and Emory University. He and his wife, Mary Susan Wheeler, have three adult daughters.

The Interdenominational Theological Center is composed of six historically African American theological seminaries. It is governed by a 45-member board of trustees, which includes 24 representatives from its member institutions, 15 at-large trustees appointed without regard for denominational affiliation, and additional representatives from the alumni, faculty, and student bodies.

 Ian H. Henderson

Dr. Ian H. Henderson has been named interim dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University. He succeeds the Rev. Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, who served as dean from 2007 until her death from cancer in 2014. Henderson is associate professor of New Testament at McGill. He is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, the University of St. Andrews, McMaster University, and Oxford University.

McGill University is a public research university founded by royal charter in 1821. The Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill offers graduate programs on its own and as part of a consortium, the Montreal School of Theology, whose members include Presbyterian, Anglican, and United Church theological colleges adjacent to the university’s main campus in Montreal.

 Jeffrey P. Greenman

Dr. Jeffrey P. Greenman has been named president of Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He succeeds Dr. Rod J. K. Wilson, president since 2000, who previously announced his intention to step down after three terms as head of the theological school. Wilson will continue on the faculty as professor of counseling and psychology.

Greenman was academic dean and executive vice president at the time of his appointment. He will continue to hold a faculty appointment as professor of theology and ethics. Between 2005 and 2013, Greenman was associate dean of biblical and theological studies and professor of Christian ethics at Wheaton College in Illinois. Previously he served nine years at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, where he served as vice president and academic dean and also held a chair in leadership studies.

A graduate of Oxford University, Regent College, and the University of Virginia, Greenman is a member of the Canadian board of Langham Partnership and a former member of the board of Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He and his wife, Dr. Janet Greenman, a pediatrician, have two children.

 Louise N. Johnson

■ The board of directors of Wartburg Theological Seminary has named the Rev. Louise N. Johnson as the school’s 14th president. She succeeds the Rev. Stanley N. Olson, who retired after four years at the helm of the seminary.

At the time of her appointment, Johnson was vice president for mission advancement at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. She was previously associate director of admissions at Wartburg and pastor of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Spragueville, Iowa. She is a graduate of Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and Wartburg Seminary.

Wartburg, located in Dubuque, Iowa, was founded in 1854 and is one of eight seminaries affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

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