Three new partnerships
Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, and Trinity Church Wall Street, an Episcopal parish in New York, have announced that Trinity Church will acquire the California seminary. Under the agreement, the seminary’s assets will belong to the parish and the parish vestry (its governing board) will be the governing body of the seminary. Seminary staff will continue the day-to-day management of the school.
According to the seminary’s president and dean, the Rev. W. Mark Richardson, the acquisition will put the seminary on solid financial footing and allow for future growth. Trinity Church and Church Divinity School anticipate maintaining the seminary’s current management, faculty, staff, and curriculum for the near future. The agreement, however, will allow for future development and expansion of the curriculum and faculty. In February 2019, the New York Times reported that Trinity Wall Street’s portfolio of assets, valued at $6 billion, includes 12 Manhattan buildings with 6 million square feet of leasable office space.
The Association of Theological Schools has agreed to continue to accredit Church Divinity School of the Pacific under the new governance structure.
The College of Biblical Studies in Houston has entered into an agreement to merge with Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis. If approved by the accreditors of both schools, the merger is expected to take place in July 2019.
In a joint statement, the schools said that merging resources will strengthen both institutions and increase offerings to students. For the College of Biblical Studies, the merger will expand its reach with the addition of an Indianapolis campus, regional locations, and online offerings. For Crossroads, the merger will increase opportunities for students. Both schools are dedicated to multiethnic urban ministry and have student bodies in which students of color predominate.
The University of Redlands, a secular Southern California institution with historic ties to the American Baptist Churches, has announced plans to acquire San Francisco Theological Seminary, a 150-year-old seminary of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The presidents of the two institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding that a new Graduate School of Theology will be created within the University of Redlands. The university will also acquire the seminary’s campus, which is nearly 500 miles north of Redlands, to use as a new regional campus for teaching education, business, and other courses that are already offered at its existing Southern California site and at other regional campuses.
According to the University of Redlands website, “Within the new U of R Graduate School of Theology, SFTS will continue as a multi-faith seminary, founded and based in the Reformed tradition with historic ties to the Presbyterian Church.”
The merger will not be finalized until it has been approved by the regional accrediting agency, the Association of Theological Schools, the California attorney general, and the U.S. Department of Education. The acquisition is expected to be complete later this year.
President emeritus receives Biblical Higher Education Award
Brian C. Stiller, president emeritus of Tyndale University College & Seminary in Toronto, has received the Biblical Higher Education Award from the Association of Biblical Higher Education. According to a statement from Tyndale, the award is given to an individual “who demonstrates a life of integrity, strong leadership in higher education and an educator who has championed the cause of biblical higher education.” Stiller served as president of Tyndale from 1995 to 2009 and has been global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance since 2011. In addition, he was the founder and former editor-in-chief of Faith Today magazine and is a member emeritus of the board of directors of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools.
Urshan College acquires new campus
Courtesy Urshan College
Citing increasing enrollment and a need for an expanded infrastructure, Urshan College in Florissant, Missouri, near St. Louis, has purchased new property 30 miles west in Wentzville, Missouri. The new property, consisting of five buildings on more than 40 acres, will accommodate the school’s growth. Urshan intends to move to the new campus by the beginning of the 2019–20 academic year.
Boston consortium adopts a slimmed-down program
The board of trustees of Boston Theological Interreligious Consortium has approved the recommendation of its executive director, Dr. Ann B. McClenahan, to create a slimmer program. In response to financial pressures, the consortium will reduce its budget and a number of its programs but will continue operations.
Made up of nine theological schools, the consortium will continue the robust cross-registration of students between member schools and will also continue to facilitate the sharing of library resources. The leadership structure will be reduced from a two-person to a one-person staff. McClenahan will step down from her position as executive director on June 30, 2020.
REQUIESCAT IN PACE
John E. Neihof, 1961–2019
Dr. John E. Neihof, president of Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, died on March 8, 2019, of an apparent heart attack. He was 58. Neihof was president of Wesley from 2013 until his death. Previously, he was a professor of communications and administrator at Kentucky Mountain Bible College for 23 years.
He is survived by his wife, Beth; his son and daughter; three grandchildren; and his parents. More information is available at bit.ly/JohnNeihof.
Changes at the top
■ The board of directors of the ACTS Seminaries of Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, has appointed Ryan Klassen executive director. He succeeds Dr. Guy Saffold, who has been named executive director emeritus and will continue on the administrative staff as part-time director for the doctor of ministry program.
At the time of his appointment, Klassen had been the director of enrollment and marketing at ACTS Seminaries for three years.
A graduate of Briercrest College and Providence Theological Seminary, Klassen is nearing completion of a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Toronto.
ACTS (which stands for Associated Canadian Theological Schools) is a 35-year-old multidenominational consortium of four Canadian seminaries located on the campus of Trinity Western University, which also has new leadership. Trinity Western’s board of governors has named Dr. Mark Husbands as the next president. He succeeds Bob Kuhn, president since 2014, who is stepping down to return to practicing law part-time.
Prior to his appointment, Husbands was vice president for academic affairs at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. Before joining Northwestern’s administration, he held the Leonard and Marjorie Maas Chair of Reformed Theology and was director of the Emmaus Scholars Program at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
Husbands is a graduate of York University and University of Toronto. He and his wife, Rebekah, have three adult children.
■ Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, has named the Rev. Dr. Sarah Drummond as dean. She succeeds the Rev. Martin Copenhaver, president of Andover Newton since 2014, as head of the seminary. Copenhaver will continue to serve as a part-time senior fellow. This is the first leadership change since the long-independent Andover Newton became affiliated with Yale in 2017 and changed its name and the title of its chief executive.
Drummond will also serve as president of the continuing Massachusetts legal entity that retains the name Andover Newton Theological School, and she will be responsible for fulfilling its remaining legal and fiscal responsibilities until 2022, when Andover Newton and Yale will make their affiliation permanent.
Drummond joined the Andover Newton faculty in 2005 and was the school’s chief academic officer from 2011 until 2017. Since then, she has been assistant dean and visiting professor of ministerial leadership at Yale. She also served as Andover Newton’s senior on-site administrator at Yale during the affiliation process.
A graduate of Yale University, Harvard Divinity School, and University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Drummond is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She and her husband, Dan, have one daughter.
Mark E. Wedig
■ The board of trustees of Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri, has named Dominican Father Mark E. Wedig as president. He succeeds Father Seán Martin, president since 2014, who has been named president emeritus. After a sabbatical, Father Martin will return to the Aquinas faculty to teach biblical studies.
Father Wedig’s appointment was approved by the Provincial Council of the Dominicans’ regional body, the Province of St. Albert the Great. Previously he worked at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, as professor of theology and associate dean of graduate studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. Before that, he served for 19 years as chair of Barry’s department of theology and philosophy. Four the past four years he has also been a member of the Aquinas Institute’s board of trustees.
Father Wedig is a graduate of Southern Methodist University, the Graduate Theological Union, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, and Catholic University of America.
Douglas A. Sweeney
■ Dr. Douglas A. Sweeney has been named dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He succeeds the divinity school’s founding dean, Timothy George, who has stepped down after 30 years.
Sweeney was most recently distinguished professor and chair of church history and history of Christian thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), where he had been on the faculty since 1997. A scholar of the American theologian Jonathan Edwards, Sweeney is the founding director of the Jonathan Edwards Center at TEDS. Previously he was a lecturer in church history and historical theology at Yale University.
Sweeney is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Wheaton College. He and his wife, Wilma, have one adult son.
David M. Mellott
■ The board of trustees of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis has appointed Dr. David M. Mellott as the seminary’s new president. He succeeds Dr. William B. Kincaid III, who has served as interim president since 2017. Kincaid, who is also Herald B. Monroe Associate Professor of Leadership and Ministry Studies at the seminary, succeeded Matthew Myer Boulton, stepped down after leading the seminary for six years.
Mellott has been a faculty member of Lancaster Theological Seminary since 2005, most recently as vice president for academic affairs, dean of the seminary, and professor of theological formation.
In addition, he is a spiritual and retreat director. Prior to pursuing doctoral studies, Mellott was a residential faculty member and coordinator of worship at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore.
Originally ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1982, he is now an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.
Mellott is a graduate of Pontifical College Josephinum, Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and Emory University. He is married to the Rev. Lance Mullins.
Kevin G. Creagh
■ Vincentian Father Kevin G. Creagh has been named president-rector of Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, New York. He succeeds Father John M. Staak, a priest of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who was named interim president-rector late last year. The seminary’s previous rector, Father Joseph C. Gatto, resigned suddenly in September 2018 and was placed on administrative leave amid allegations of sexual misconduct allegations.
At the time of his appointment, Father Creagh was vice president for international relations and special assistant to the provost at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, New York. Previously he was associate vice president for international sites and assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. He has also served on the board of trustees of St. John’s University, Christ the King Seminary, and Niagara Community Center Inc.
Prior to ordination, Father Creagh served in the United States Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in 1991. A graduate of St. John’s University, Immaculate Conception Seminary, and the University of Pennsylvania, he was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1996.
Juan R. Mejías Ortiz
■ The board of directors of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico in San Juan has appointed Dr. Juan R. Mejías Ortiz as interim president. He succeeds Dr. Doris J. García Rivera, who has stepped down after having led the seminary since 2014.
At the time of his appointment, Mejías Ortiz was the seminary’s associate professor of practical theology, where he has been a member of the faculty since 2016. Previously he had served on the faculty of Bayamón Central University in Puerto Rico since 1998. He is a pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Mejías Ortiz is a graduate of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, the University of Phoenix, the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, and University of Puerto Rico.
Scott William Sunquist
■ The board of trustees of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, has named Dr. Scott William Sunquist as the school’s next president. He succeeds Dr. Dennis P. Hollinger who has retired after leading the interdenominational seminary since 2008.
At the time of his appointment, Sunquist was dean of the School of Intercultural Studies and professor of world Christianity at Fuller Theological Seminary. Before assuming his position at Fuller in 2012, he taught at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for 17 years and was a missionary in Singapore. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Sunquist is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Princeton Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Nancy, have four adult children.
■ Dr. Ben Gutierrez has been named president of Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He succeeds Dr. Peter W. Teague, who will retire in August after 20 years at the helm.
Gutierrez is currently professor of divinity at Liberty University, where he has been on the faculty since 2001. He has served Liberty in numerous positions, including as co-provost and vice president for academic affairs, vice provost for academic administration, vice provost for undergraduate programs, and academic dean for Liberty University Online.
Gutierrez is a graduate of Word of Life Bible Institute, Liberty University, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, and Regent University. He and his wife, Tammy, have two daughters.
Publisher’s note: In July 2019, Lancaster Bible College announced that the planned leadership transition from Dr. Peter Teague to Dr. Ben Gutierrez would not proceed, citing “incongruent leadership expectations.” Teague has agreed to postpone his planned retirement by one year.
William H. Smith
■ The board of trustees of the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Arlington, Virginia, has elected the Rev. Dr. William H. Smith as president. He succeeds the Rev. J. Brent Walker, who was interim president from 2017 to 2018.
Smith has been a part of the John Leland Center since its founding and taught its first class. The Leland Center’s board has directed him to implement a newly adopted expansion plan made possible by a $6 million gift of property from Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia.
Smith previously served as pastor of congregations in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. He is a graduate of Baylor University and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary). He is married to Judy Smith.
Mary Hinkle Shore
■ The Rev. Dr. Mary Hinkle Shore has been named rector and dean of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Columbia, South Carolina.
She succeeds the Rev. Dr. David Ratke, who served as the first dean of the College of Theology at Lenoir-Rhyne University, beginning in 2017. Ratke stepped down as dean when the seminary was restructured within the organization of the university, and he continues to serve on its faculty as a professor of religious studies.
Shore will serve as the lead academic and church administrator for the seminary.
From 2013 until earlier this year, Shore was pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Brevard, North Carolina. For the previous 16 years she was a member of the faculty of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she served as professor and associate dean. She is also a former member of the board of Lenoir-Rhyne University.
Shore is a graduate of Capital University, Luther Seminary, and Duke University. She is married to Hank Shore.
■The board of trustees of New York Theological Seminary in New York City has named the Rev. Dr. LaKeesha Walrond as president. She succeeds the Rev. Dr. Dale T. Irvin, president since 2006, who is stepping down from the presidency but will continue to serve on the faculty. Walrond will be the seminary’s first African American and female president.
Prior to her appointment, Walrond served for more than a decade as executive pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem.
She is a graduate of Spelman College, Union Theological Seminary, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Walrond’s husband is the Rev. Michael A. Walrond Jr., senior pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church, and together they have two children.
■ The Rev. Raúl Gómez-Ruiz has been named to a five-year term as president-rector of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. He succeeds the Rev. Thomas Knoebel, who came out of retirement in 2017 to accept the appointment to interim president-rector, a role he has held two times in the past. Father Knoebel was on the Sacred Heart faculty from 1981 to 2013.
For the last six years, Father Gómez-Ruiz has been vicar general of the Society of the Divine Savior (also called the Salvatorians) in Rome. Before that, he served at Sacred Heart Seminary for 25 years in various roles, including vice rector and vice president for academic affairs. He also worked for a short time as a director of accreditation and institutional evaluation at the Association of Theological Schools.
Father Gómez-Ruiz professed his vows to the Salvatorians in 1982 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1987. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona; California State University, Sacramento; Franciscan School of Theology; and the Catholic University of America.
Robert F. Christian
■ Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Christian has been appointed rector-president of St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, California. He succeeds Jesuit Father George Schultze, who led the seminary from 2017 until his sudden departure earlier this year. After taking some time away for prayer, study, and personal enrichment, Father Schultze will return to his original vocation of spiritual direction.
A member of the Dominican order, Bishop Christian has held various teaching and administrative positions for 35 years at the Dominicans’ academic home in Rome, the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (also called the “Angelicum”). From 1997 to 1999, he was vicar provincial of the Western Province of the Dominicans, in Oakland, California. He was also a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission and a consultor to the Pontifical Commission for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
In 2018, Christian was appointed by Pope Francis as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He is a graduate of Santa Clara University and the Angelicum in Rome.
J. Derek McNeil
■ Dr. J. Derek McNeil has been named acting president of the Seattle School of Theology & Psychology in Seattle,Washington. He succeeds Dr. Craig Detweiler, president since January 2018, who announced his resignation in February of this year.
At the time of his appointment, McNeil had been senior vice president of academics at the Seattle School since 2011. He was academic dean for one year, from 2010 to 2011, and had previously been a member of the school’s board of trustees. He has also worked as a psychologist in private practice and was associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College for 15 years.
McNeil is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and Northwestern University. He and his wife, Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, have two grown children.
Adam W. Greenway
■ Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has elected Dr. Adam W. Greenway as president. He succeeds Dr. D. Jeffrey Bingham, who was named interim president in 2018 when the seminary’s board fired its long-time head, Dr. Paige Patterson.
Recently, Greenway was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He has served the Southern Baptist Convention in a variety of roles, including as assistant parliamentarian, vice chair of the committee on nominations, and chair of the committee on order of business. In 2011 he was elected as the youngest-ever president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. In addition to denominational service, Greenway has led congregations in several states.
Greenway is a graduate of Samford University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the University of Notre Dame. He and his wife, Carla, have two children.
■ The board of directors of Urshan College and Urshan Graduate School of Theology in Florissant, Missouri, has appointed the Rev. Dr. Brent Coltharp as president. He succeeds the Rev. Jennie Russell, who had been interim president since January 2018. Urshan’s previous president, Dr. David K. Bernard, led the school for 17 years before returning to the faculty in 2018. Bernard remains on the faculty of Urshan as professor of biblical theology and remains general superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International, a role he has held since 2009.
Coltharp is currently the lead pastor of the First Apostolic Church of Aurora, Illinois, and is superintendent of the denomination’s Illinois District —roles he will continue to fill while simultaneously leading Urshan. He has served his congregation since 1996, first as associate pastor, then co-pastor, and finally as lead pastor since 2008. He has also taught at Gateway College of Evangelism as an adjunct professor.
Coltharp is a graduate of Indiana Bible College, Wheaton College, and Regent University. He and his wife, Rachel, have four children.
■ The board of trustees of Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, has named Dr. John Oswalt as interim president. He succeeds Dr. John Neihof, president since 2013, who died on March 8, 2019, of an apparent heart attack.
Since 2009, Oswalt has been visiting distinguished professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He has worked at Asbury twice before, first as professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages from 1970 to 1982, and then as professor of Old Testament from 1989 to 1999. Additionally, he has been professor of Old Testament at Wesley Biblical Seminary, president of Asbury College, and a faculty member at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.
A graduate of Taylor University, Asbury Theological Seminary, and Brandeis University, Oswalt and his wife, Karen, have three grown children.
■ Dr. Felix Theonugraha has been named president of Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. He succeeds Dr. Timothy Brown, who is retiring after 11 years at the helm and who will return to the seminary faculty as Henry Bast Professor of Preaching.
Theonugraha was most recently vice president for student life and university services at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, where he oversaw the enrollment team, chapel, athletics department, alumni office, and student life divisions.
Born in Indonesia, Theonugraha is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. He and his wife, Esther, have two children.
News for schools serving Hispanic students
You may be eligible for federal grants
Courtesy LABI College
In Trust recently spoke with Dr. Marty Harris, president of LABI College and Seminary, about federal funds that are available to institutions serving Latino and Hispanic students. An award-winning academic psychologist, Harris has been helping institutions apply for federal grants for 20 years. He is the founder of a brand-new organization, the Hispanic Association of Christian Higher Education.
LABI College and Seminary was founded in 1926 as the Latin American Bible Institute. Located in La Puente, California, LABI focuses on preparing men and women for bilingual and bicultural ministry.
Q. Are Christian institutions eligible for federal grants?
All colleges or universities can apply to be designated as a “Hispanic-Serving Institution” (HSI) if at least 25 percent of undergraduate students identify as Latino or Hispanic. The percentage applies to full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment, not headcount. Several institutions with embedded seminaries, like Fresno Pacific University and Azusa Pacific University, have been designated as HSIs.
Once an institution has gained HSI designation, it’s possible to apply for generous but competitive awards through the U.S. Department of Education’s “Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program,” which is also called Title V. Awards are typically $500,000 to $600,000 per year over five years.
Q. What if my institution doesn’t enroll the required number of Hispanic students?
There’s another grant program, Title III-A, the “Strengthening Institutions Program,” for colleges that serve low-income students. If your student body is only 5 or 7 percent Hispanic, but these students come from lower socioeconomic populations, you may be eligible.
Q. Are graduate schools eligible? How can schools find out more about this?
The eligibility of graduate-level institutions has varied over the years. I’d encourage any school serving a significant Hispanic population to get in touch with me. I’m willing to help schools that are connected with the In Trust Center, free of charge.
Interested in more information on federal grants for Hispanic-serving institutions? Contact Dr. Marty Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or (626) 968-1328.
An update on the state of Christian stewardship
By Holly G. Miller
Christians continue to be “cheerful givers,” with 31 percent of the $410 billion in charitable contributions made in 2017 having gone to faith-based organizations. That $127 billion — 70 percent of which came from individuals — is twice the amount given to the next two categories (education and human services). This is good news for seminary development officers and trustees as well as pastors and lay leaders charged with bottom-line oversight.
Less positive is the fact that significant generational and behavioral change is underway, which could negatively affect giving levels. This is the conclusion of Russ Bredholt Jr., president of Bredholt & Co., who recently completed a study on stewardship for Thrivent Financial. Bredholt presented his findings at a conference called Gathering First Fruits: National Summit on the Economics of Ministry, which took place in Indianapolis in January.
Among the evidence confirming the link between faith and generosity, Bredholt cited these facts:
- Americans with a religious or spiritual orientation make charitable gifts at a higher rate than other Americans.
- Christian donors view generosity as an expression of faith, and their commitment to religion is an important motivation for charitable giving.
- Most donors say they make charitable gifts to achieve change or to have a positive impact.
Because church attendance strongly correlates with charitable giving to faith-based organizations, he noted some encouraging trends:
- On average, religiously affiliated Americans are more devout than they were a few years ago.
- Of the 51 percent who say they attend church at least once a month, nearly half attend more frequently.
- Although the rise of the “nones” has gained attention, the number of believers on the other side of the faith spectrum — the intensely religious — remains steady.
Despite the promising findings, Bredholt advised that Christian organizations can’t afford to become complacent. The assumption that charitable giving will remain constant may not fit with new realities.
The number of adults who say they believe in God, pray daily, and attend church regularly has decreased in recent years. The decline is particularly evident among millennials (23 to 38 years old) who are significantly less religious than previous generations at the same age. Because most weekly churchgoers are 50 or older, Bredholt cautioned that it seems unlikely the current levels of attendance and stewardship will be maintained in the future.
As faith-based organizations consider ways to reach out to members of a new generation, Bredholt suggested that they need to be aware of who potential donors are, what those donors are likely to support, why they might feel motivated to give, and how they like to make their charitable contributions.
He noted that since 2010, the number of churches offering website or online giving has increased from 29 percent to 79 percent, and the number of churches that allow donors to give via text message or on a mobile device has increased from 4 percent to 46 percent. When donors choose to give has changed too, with almost three-quarters of all church giving now occurring during the week instead of on Sundays.
For a copy of the full report, contact Russ Bredholt at email@example.com.