Two seminaries will move from suburbs to city 

Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, has announced an upcoming name change and relocation. Dr. Frank James, the seminary president, made the announcement on May 15, 2018. He said that the school’s new name, as of October 2018, will be Missio Seminary. Three months later, the seminary will relocate from its current location in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, to downtown Philadelphia, near the city’s art museums and convenient to many public transit options. 

James says that the new location, about 25 miles from the current campus, will position the school closer to a more diverse and younger population and will enable the seminary to engage with the community more directly. 

Biblical Theological Seminary will change its name to Missio Seminary and move to a renovated office building near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Above, an architectural plan of the new space.

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in New Brighton, Minnesota, has announced plans to sell its campus and relocate to nearby St. Paul. 

The buyer is Global Academy Affiliated Building Co., which will lease the campus to Global Academy, a charter school that serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade. State law prohibits public charter schools from owning their own buildings. 

The seminary’s on-campus apartments have been excluded from the sale.

According to United’s president, Dr. Lewis Zeidner, seminarians will benefit from the school’s move to St. Paul’s Hamline-Midway neighborhood. The undetermined new location will be closer to mass transportation, and a smaller campus will allow for the school to invest in scholarships and new technology. 

The seminary also plans to continue its connection with the buyer by having seminarians volunteer as tutors and mentors for Global Academy students, many of whom are recent immigrants. The $5.75 million sale closed on June 1, 2018. 

Religious Formation Conference receives grant to train Catholic religious 

The Religious Formation Conference, a Roman Catholic organization that serves women’s and men’s religious orders and institutes, has received a grant from the GHR Foundation to support a partnership with Catholic Theological Union. 

The grant, in the amount of $206,357, will fund a community-based, residential theological program called Together: A Collaborative for Theological Education, Formation, and Community. It will consist of religious sisters and brothers, all of whom will have already completed at least one year of their novitiate, who will study at Catholic Theological Union and participate in formation together. The pilot program begins in the fall of 2018. 



The Rev. Dr. James Hal Cone, 79, died April 28, 2018, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Cone was known as the founder of black liberation theology. His Black Theology and Black Power (1969) is widely considered to be the foundational text for the movement, and his 2011 book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, won the 2012 Nautilus Silver Award in Religion and Spirituality and the 2018 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. His final work, a memoir titled Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody, will be published later this year.

Cone had been a member of the faculty at Union Theological Seminary since 1969, most recently as the Bill & Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology. An ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, he was a graduate of Garrett Theological Seminary and Northwestern University.

He is survived by his two sons and two daughters, as well as two grandchildren.

Read a full obituary at


Changes at the top

Joel N. Lohr

  Dr. Joel N. Lohr has been appointed as president of Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. He succeeds Dr. Heidi Hadsell, who is retiring after 18 years as president.

Lohr has served on the faculty of the University of the Pacific since 2012, most recently as dean of religious life. Before 2012, he was a postdoctoral research fellow and then a visiting scholar at Wycliffe College in Toronto.

Concurrently with his appointment as president of Hartford Seminary, Lohr will serve on the faculty as professor of Bible and Interreligious Dialogue.

Before beginning graduate studies in theology, Lohr had a career in construction management. He is a graduate of Trinity Western University and the University of Durham in England. Lohr and his wife, Teresa, have one daughter. 


Greg Thornton

■  The board of trustees of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago has named Greg Thornton as interim president. He succeeds Dr. J. Paul Nyquist, president since 2009, who resigned in January 2018.

Thornton has served Moody Bible Institute since 1981, when he joined the institution as advertising administrator for its publication arm, Moody Publishers. Since 2011 he has been senior vice president of media at Moody Bible Institute, and he will continue in that position while serving simultaneously as interim president.

Thornton is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and Loyola University Chicago and serves as an elder in The Moody Church. He and his wife, Grace, have three grown children and five grandchildren.


Wonsuk Ma 

Dr. Wonsuk Ma has been named dean of Oral Roberts University College of Theology and Ministry in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He succeeds Dr. Vinson Synan, who was interim dean from August 2016 until May 2017, and Robert Samuel Thorpe, interim dean since May 2017.

Ma has served on the faculty of Oral Roberts University for two years as distinguished professor of global Christianity and has been working to establish a Ph.D. program in theology. Prior to his time at Oral Roberts, he served for 10 years as executive director of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies in England. Before that, he worked as a pastor and church planter in the Philippines for 27 years. While in the Philippines, he was academic dean and vice president for academic affairs of Asia Pacific Theological Seminary in Manila. .

Ordained in the Korean Assemblies of God, Ma is a graduate of Hansei University (in Seoul), Asia Pacific Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary. His wife, Julie Ma, is associate professor of mission and intercultural studies at Oral Roberts. They have two adult sons.


J. Dorcas Gordon

■  The board of trustees of Toronto School of Theology has appointed the Rev. Dr. J. Dorcas Gordon as interim director. Beginning in July, she will succeed Dr. Alan L. Hayes, who is stepping down after 11 years as director. 

After a terminal sabbatical year, Gordon retired from Knox College in 2018; she had served as principal of Knox, a member school of the Toronto School of Theology, from 1999 until 2017. Gordon was president of the Association of Theological Schools from 2012 to 2014.

Ordained in the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Gordon is a graduate of the University of Toronto, Knox College, and Newman Theological College.


Nancy Claire Pittman

The board of trustees of Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has named the Rev. Dr. Nancy Claire Pittman as interim president. Pittman succeeds Gary Peluso-Verdend, who is stepping down from the position after serving since 2009. After a one-year sabbatical, Peluso-Verdend will return to the seminary to initiate a new Institute for Religion and Public Life.

Pittman currently serves Phillips as vice president of academic affairs and dean. She has been a member of the seminary faculty since 2001, first as an adjunct instructor then as a full-time faculty member beginning in 2005. Previously, Pittman was a missionary of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), serving in Taiwan as assistant professor of New Testament Studies at Tainan Theological College and Seminary.

Pittman is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and an accredited spiritual director. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University, Brite Divinity School, and Southern Methodist University. Pittman and her husband, Don, have one adult daughter.

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