Episcopal seminary sells farmland to conservation foundation

Nashotah House, an Episcopal seminary located 30 miles west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has announced plans to sell 260 acres of farmland to the Faye Gehl Conservation Foundation, a family foundation that has purchased and preserved about 700 acres of Wisconsin agricultural land.

Nashotah’s farmland, owned by the seminary since 1842 and tended by seminarians until the 1960s, has most recently been leased for planting. Although the seminary had considered selling the land for development, the foundation was willing to purchase the land at above its estimated market value. Foundation leaders plan to improve the quality of the soil by planting multiple crops, including cover crops, and eventually to place it under a conservation easement. 


According to the Rev. Steven Peay, president of Nashotah House, the foundation “is open to including our students in the work of the farm, which was part of Nashotah House’s original mission.” 


The agreed-upon sale price was not disclosed. 

Christian colleges to merge

 Hope International University


Hope International University in Fullerton, California and Nebraska Christian College in Papillion, Nebraska, have announced plans to merge.

In March 2016, the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education approved the merger, which will result in Nebraska Christian College becoming a branch campus of Hope International University. Previously, the merger received approvals from both institutions’ boards of trustees, the Association for Biblical Higher Education, and the WASC Senior College and University Commission.


The merger documents were formalized in May 2016. Previously, the schools entered into an agreement that allowed students at Nebraska Christian College to attend online courses offered by Hope International University for the 2015–16 academic year. 


Hope International’s president, John Derry, will lead the merged institution. 


 Nebraska Christian College

Seminary professor awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Columba Stewart

Benedictine Father Columba Stewart, a professor of theology at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota, has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2016. Stewart serves as executive director of St. John’s Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, the world’s largest collection of images of manuscripts from Europe, Ethiopia, India, and the Middle East. 

Father Stewart, who has written extensively on early Christian monasticism, will use the fellowship award to complete a new book, Between Earth and Heaven: Interpreting the First Thousand Years of Christian Monasticism. He plans to conduct research for the project during a sabbatical leave for the upcoming academic year. 


The Guggenheim Fellowship is funded through the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and is awarded for excellence in scholarship and the arts. This year, the foundation received almost 3,000 applications and awarded 175 fellowships, but only this one to a seminary faculty member.


Henry Luce III Fellows announced for 2016–17

The Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology program, which provides support for scholars doing significant work in the area of theological studies, has announced the fellows for the coming year. Administered by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the program offers fellowships of up to $75,000 for salary replacement and research funding, and accepts applications from full-time faculty of accredited ATS schools (and schools that are candidates for ATS accreditation). 


The fellows for 2016–17:

  • Klaus-Peter Adam
    Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
  • Gill Goulding
    Regis College
  • Judith H. Newman
    Emmanuel College of Victoria University and Toronto School of Theology
  • Dana L. Robert
    Boston University School of Theology 
  • Patrick T. Smith
    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary 
  • David VanDrunen
    Westminster Theological Seminary in California 


Oral Roberts requires freshmen to wear fitness trackers

Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, requires incoming freshmen to wear Fitbit fitness trackers. The program, which began in fall 2015, requires students to purchase the wearable trackers and submit data to faculty as part of their required physical fitness course. 

Students must walk a minimum of 10,000 steps each day, with a weekly activity requirement of 150 minutes. Heart rates are also monitored, though diet and weight are not. Students authorize university faculty to access their data, which is then fed into an online grading system. 


While the Fitbit requirement is new, the requirement that students track their fitness is not. Previously, students had to manually track the data in a fitness journal; the Fitbits streamline the process. Although tracking is required for all incoming freshmen, the university is encouraging other students to participate as well. 


This new initiative is in line with Oral Roberts’s focus on “whole person education,” an educational approach that focuses on the student holistically, preparing them “spiritually, intellectually, physically, and socially.” 





The Rev. Dr. Paul M. Martin, president and professor of pastoral theology at American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) in Berkeley, California, died on March 23 during a trip with his wife to Denver. He was 77. 


Martin was the first African American president of ABSW. Before he became head of the seminary in 2009, he served for decades as an ordained minister of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles and Macedonia Baptist Church in Denver, in addition to hosting radio ministries with several radio stations. Dr. Martin was also a member of the Graduate Theological Union board of trustees.


He is survived by his wife, Dr. Agnes Martin, their four children, and their grandchildren. In honor of Dr. Martin, American Baptist Seminary of the West has established the Rev. Dr. Paul M. Martin Presidential Scholarship, which will be awarded by the president of the seminary each year.


Read more on his life at www.gtu.edu/news

Changes at the top

Mark Harden

■ Dr. Carlos Campo, president of Ashland University, has announced that Dr. Mark Harden will be the next president of Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. Harden succeeds the Rev. John Shultz, president for the last 10 years, who retired at the end of the 2015–16 academic year. A licensed psychologist, Shultz began his career at the seminary in 1981 as the first professor of counseling; he has been named professor emeritus of counseling.

Since 2012, Harden has been dean of the Boston campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Previously he was dean of intercultural relations at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, while also serving on the faculty as associate professor of community development and outreach. Harden has also served as a minister in several Baptist congregations over more than 30 years.


Harden is a graduate of Oakland University, Marygrove College, Northern Seminary, and Michigan State University. He is married to Sharon Peters-Harden. 


Kevin F. O'Brien

 Jesuit Father Kevin F. O’Brien has been named dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. On August 1, he will succeed Jesuit Father Thomas Massaro, who has headed the school for the past four years. Father Massaro will return to the faculty, teaching moral theology.


At the time of his appointment, Father O’Brien was vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Prior to his tenure at Georgetown, he served on the faculty of Fordham University in New York City, Loyola University in Baltimore, and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He is a member of the board of trustees of Marquette University.


Father O’Brien is a graduate of Georgetown, the University of Florida College of Law, Fordham, and Weston Jesuit School of Theology. He joined the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1996 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2006 by Cardinal Edward Egan of New York.


Founded in 1934 as Alma College, Jesuit School of Theology is a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. In 2009, it became a graduate division of Santa Clara University.


Craig C. Hill

 Dr. Craig C. Hill has been named dean of the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He succeeds Dr. William B. Lawrence, who is retiring after leading the school since 2002. Lawrence will take a leave of absence during the 2016–17 academic year; he remains on the faculty as professor of American church history. 

From 2010 until this year, Hill was executive director of the doctor of ministry and master of arts in Christian practice programs at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. From 1995 to 2010, he held a number of positions at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., including executive director of academic outreach, director of the Wesley Ministry Network, and professor of New Testament. During that time, he also served as a visiting professor at seminaries and universities in Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 


Hill is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and the University of Oxford. 

Phillip J. Brown


 With the approval of Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, the Provincial Council of the U.S. Province of the Society of St. Sulpice has named Father Phillip J. Brown as president-rector of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. Father Brown, whose term begins July 1, succeeds Father Thomas R. Hurst, president-rector for the last nine years. After taking a sabbatical leave, Father Hurst will return to the seminary faculty. 


Father Brown was ordained in 1989 by the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, and in 2005 he joined the Sulpicians, an association of priests devoted to theological education and formation. He was rector of Theological College in Washington, D.C., another Sulpician institution, from 2011 until this year. 


Before his ordination, Father Brown practiced civil law for six years in North Dakota. After ordination, he served as a judge on the marriage tribunal for the Diocese of Bismarck from 1999 to 2001 and taught canon law at the Catholic University of America from 2006 to 2010. He is currently president of the Canon Law Society of America.


Father Brown is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of North Dakota, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and Theological College. 


Gerald D. McBrearity

■ To succeed Father Brown, the Sulpicians have named Father Gerald D. McBrearity as rector of Theological College in Washington, D.C. His appointment was made with the approval of Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and Dr. John H. Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America. Theological College provides spiritual and human formation for priesthood candidates for the Archdiocese of Washington and other dioceses; its students receive their academic training at Catholic University. 

At the time of his appointment, Father McBrearity was vice rector of Theological College, a position he had held since 2011. He was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1973 and joined the Sulpicians in 1975. Since then, he has taught and served on the administrative staffs of St. Mary’s Seminary, Theological College, and Oblate School of Theology. An experienced spiritual director, he has also served since 1996 as director of formation for the U.S. province of the Sulpicians.


Father McBrearity is a graduate of the Catholic University of America and Theological College.      


News summaries by Shannon Beaudry.



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