PTS professor Jack Stewart welcomed the Academy of Evangelism in Theological Education
meeting this fall in Princeton by invoking the Seminary’s history: “You can hear the overtones of the
patriarchs of 1812. You can hear Archibald Alexander, Samuel Miller, and Charles Hodge. You can hear the pain of the rift in the early twentieth century. But if you listen more deeply still, you’ll hear a contemporary seminary. It’s a place where the founders hoped learning and piety would be together and never be separated.”
The academy works to keep involvement in evangelism and its development as an academic discipline together, unseparated. It is an organization for professors of evangelism in U.S. seminaries and theological schools. About sixty professors and pastors attended this three-day conference with the theme “The Gospel in Diverse Contexts.” The last time the academy met on the Seminary campus was in 1985. Richard Armstrong, PTS professor emeritus, has long been a member and was, with Jack Stewart, one of this year’s conference organizers.
Raymond Bakke, author of The Urban Christian and founder and senior associate of International Urban Associates, Inc., spoke with a contagious passion for cities, his stories jumping from city to city, leaping continents with the familiarity most people use to discuss towns in their area. He loves the city for its diversity and action, but not just that. In a seismic demographic shift in the last century, the people of the world are moving to cities—from 8% of the world population living in cities in 1900 to more than 50% today, he said. So the church needs to be there, in the cities, with the Gospel.
Malan Nel, professor of practical theology and director of the Division of Contextual Ministry at
Vista University in Pretoria, South Africa, spoke about Africa. He used elaborate DNA-like graphs, though without the pretty swirls. The charts illustrated, like a study of DNA, the stuff of life: how evangelism changes people’s lives. He spoke of the devastating problem of AIDS in Africa, saying that his continent needs “a ministry of faith for faith, of love for love, of hope for hope.” Also pointing to the importance of context in evangelism, he made the devastating comment that “in South Africa the question is not whether there is life after death, but whether there is life before death.”
“There’s a bull market for spirituality [in America today],” said speaker George Gallup Jr. He discussed religious trends in the country, pointing to the great opportunity for the church, but also warning that much of today’s spirituality “tastes great, but is less filling.”
Speaking for Peace at the U.N.
Drum rolls broke the usual solemnity of the United Nations Assembly Hall when hundreds of the world’s religious and spiritual leaders opened the
U.N. Millennium Summit last August. Among the robed delegates filing into the hall was Abuna Paulos, wearing the white robes and jeweled pectoral crosses signifying his office as patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Paulos, whom many PTS alums lovingly remember as a black-clad bishop working on his Th.M in the ’70s or his Ph.D. in the ’80s, addressed remarks on world peace to the gathered leaders. “Peace in itself emanating from God is of supreme value, and universal,” he said. “To be at peace therefore means to uphold the truth and to practice justice. I believe the root cause for conflict, and the lack of peace and harmony in this world, is the failure to love God and the lack of love among human beings.”
The patriarch knows of what he speaks. He has helped broker dialogue between his nation and its neighbor Eritrea about violent fighting along their borders after Eritrean independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Now Muslims, Orthodox Christians, Catholics, and Protestants from both countries are meeting to find peaceful solutions with help from diplomats in Norway and leaders of the All-Africa Council of Churches.
Back in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, and chairing the Ethiopian side of the dialogue, Paulos wants his nation and his church to be witnesses for peace to the rest of the world. “We will go anywhere, even to the moon, for peace. Nothing is more worthy than peace; if you have no peace, you have no life.”
Annual PTS Book
Donate your old books to help seminarians to start building their libraries. At a great price, find books full of wisdom. Raise money for seminary libraries around the world. Is it possible to accomplish these three things at once?
The 2001 Princeton Theological Seminary book sale is being held Wednesday through Friday, March 7–9 in the Mackay Campus Center. Your book donations are needed, and can be dropped off at the Mackay Campus Center.
For more information, call 609-720-1620.
On November 17, Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, presented PTS professor of homiletics and liturgics
James F. Kay with its Alumnus of Point Loma award.
In August, Inn Sook Lee, PTS lecturer in Christian education, addressed participants at the summer retreat event for the Church of the Lord at Kwang Neung Seminar House near Seoul, Korea. The title of her lecture was “Caring Ministry and the Family Systems Theory.” She also gave the keynote address for the Association of Korean Presbyterian Women of the Synod of the Northeast in New York City in September. Her address focused on the leadership role of Korean American women in the new millennium.
Mark Taylor, PTS professor of theology and culture, published a recent opinion article titled “Another Test for Justice, Philly-Style” in the
Philadelphia Daily News. The article addresses a federal trial case about free speech.
Who are the New Students in the M.Div.
|The Seminary welcomed 127 new M.Div. students to campus this year. Here is a statistical snapshot of the class.
72 men (57%)
55 women (43%)
13 Black (non-Hispanic)
7 Asian/Pacific Islands
32 total minority students (25%)
Presbyterian students: 68 (54%)
Max Stackhouse and
Peter Paris have contributed to
Religion, Pluralism, and Public Life: Abraham Kuyper’s Legacy for the Twenty-first
Century, which was edited by Luis E. Lugo and published by Eerdmans.
Patrick Miller authored The Religion of Ancient Israel (Westminster John Knox Press). Miller also has a book of essays coming out soon:
Israelite Religion and Biblical Theology (Sheffield Academic Press).
Max Stackhouse and Scott Paeth (PTS Ph.D. candidate) have coedited, with Tim Dearborn of Seattle Pacific University,
The Local Church in a Global Era: Reflections for a New Century (Eerdmans).
Rick Osmer is one of the contributors.
Brian Blount and Leonora Tubbs Tisdale have coedited
Making Room at the Table: An Invitation to Multicultural Worship
(Westminster John Knox Press). All the contributors are PTS faculty.
The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth—edited by John Webster and published by Cambridge University Press—includes contributions by George Hunsinger and
The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought, containing more than 600 entries, has just been published by Oxford University Press. Three PTS faculty members contributed to the project:
Diogenes Allen on “Philosophy,”
James F. Kay on “Rudolf Bultmann,” and
Bruce L. McCormack on “Karl Barth.”
Books Finally Arrive!
In the last issue we reported that 1000 donated volumes were lost on the way to the Institute of Theology at Eglise Evangelique Presbyterienne du Togo in West Africa, the institute where Kossi Ayedze, a 2000 Ph.D. graduate, is now on the faculty. They have been found! The books are now part of the library for this growing seminary in Togo.
2001 Summer Institute of Theology
By What Authority?”
Leaders include Diogenes Allen, Charles Cousar, Cynthia Rigby, Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, and many more.
For more information, please call the Center of Continuing Education at 609-497-7990.
Prophet of the American Church
Historian John Piper met Robert E. Speer in the 1960s when Piper was writing a book about the American churches during World War II. Now forty years later Piper has written the first comprehensive biography of the churchman he considers “one of the most remarkable personalities in the history of Christianity in America.”
The book, Robert E. Speer: Prophet of the American Church, was published in October by Geneva Press, and Princeton Seminary is thrilled that the man it honors in the name of its library will be more widely recognized for his myriad contributions to the church.
Piper, who teaches history at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, waxes eloquent about the man whose prophetic leadership in the church has been largely understated. “Speer became the outstanding missionary statesman of his era and one of the foremost
American church leaders,” he writes. “In a dramatic conversion experience during his college years [at Princeton University], he heard God call him to be a foreign missionary. He understood himself to be a minister from that moment and never wavered from his call. At virtually every turn in his life he was in a position of leadership, chosen by others to be one of a small handful of spokespersons or called to the front as the leader.”
Robert E. Speer
Speer was a student at Princeton Seminary for one year, but left in 1891 to become assistant secretary of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Missions. He went on to become the board’s secretary and to take missionary trips and attend missionary conferences throughout the world—in Mexico, South America, India, Persia, China, Japan, and Korea. He participated in the founding meeting of the Federal Council of Churches and later served as chair of its Commission on Foreign Missions.
Piper also highlights Speer’s important role in the history of the Seminary. He was elected to its board of directors in 1914 and to its reorganized board in 1929, and in 1937 became the board’s chair.
“One of Speer’s favorite people was John Mackay,” Piper recollects. “Mackay heard him lecture in Edinburgh,
Scotland, and later said he was the greatest man he ever knew. One of the things that Speer felt best about was chairing the committee that called Mackay to Princeton’s presidency. When Robert Speer died, Mrs. Speer wrapped up his robe and sent it to John Mackay, it was like he had been passed the mantle.”
As its title reveals, Piper’s book lifts up Speer’s prophetic role as an ecumenist and churchman. “Robert E. Speer was frequently described by colleagues as a prophet of God,” he writes. “A prophet can be a person who sees the future. Many believe he did that, in his vision of the role of women in the church, his conviction of the need for churches to confront and help resolve racism, and his belief in the centrality of the ecumenical movement in the life of the church. A prophet can also be one who has a gift of spiritual insight. [Speer’s] gift was insight into the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.”
Ordained as an elder but never a minister, Speer was nonetheless chosen as one of the leading preachers in America by
The Christian Century in 1924. He was also elected as moderator of the
Presbyterian Church, his denomination’s highest office.
His biographer finds a likely explanation for Speer’s relative anonymity since his death (in 1947) in Speer’s conception of himself and his attitude toward his ministry. “He was very modest and often withdrawn in the face of public recognition or honors. He accepted academic honorary degrees but did not use them or any titles in his personal address. He began a family history in the 1930s but refused to write an autobiography.”
So, according to Piper, what appears to have been legitimate modesty has led to histories of the American church that have omitted mention of Speer, to their own disadvantage.
He hopes that his book will offer redress.
Robert E. Speer: Prophet of the American Church is available from Princeton Seminary’s Theological Book Agency at a cost of $29.71.
A Grand Inauguration
Pianist Jay H. Cho inaugurated the new Steinway grand piano in Miller Chapel with a recital on December 9 to a packed audience. The piano is a gift of the Rev. Dr. Sun Hee Kwak, pastor of So-Mang Presbyterian Church in Seoul, Korea, and his congregation of 35,000 members. Kwak is a 1965 graduate of the Seminary and was named Distinguished Alumnus in 1996. Kwak’s son, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Kwak, associate pastor of So-Mang Presbyterian Church, also a PTS graduate, came from Korea to attend the recital.
Cho, a twenty-nine-year-old who began piano studies at the age of five in his native Korea, graduated from The Julliard School in New York City and made his debut in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 1993.
Spring Ahead with Barth!
Princeton’s Center for Barth Studies has scheduled three conferences this spring on
Karl Barth’s theology for preaching and
March 2–3 Northeast/Boston area
Campion Renewal Center, Weston, Massachusetts
March 16–17 Midwest/Holland, Michigan area
Haworth Conference Center, Holland, Michigan
April 20–21 Southeast/Atlanta area
Harrington Center, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia
For more information or to register, contact the Center for Barth Studies at 609-252-1715 or
Scholarship Initiated with $100,000 Gift
Many people intend to support causes and institutions they care about by leaving money in their wills. Two PTS alumni/ae, a clergy couple from the Class of 1983, were moved to act sooner! They have given a gift of $100,000 to establish a
scholarship endowment fund at the Seminary.
In a letter accompanying their gift they wrote: “We both feel such a strong desire to help provide quality theological education for leaders and churches in developing countries, and especially for women who feel called to pastoral or teaching
ministry in their homelands. A scholarship to one of the finest seminaries in the country seemed a great way to act on our values and passions. Our original intention was to leave money in our wills to establish a fund after our deaths, but as time went on, we thought ‘Why are we waiting?’
It brings us so much joy to act now and begin to see the fruit of this investment in current and future church leaders around the world.”
Each year the fund will assist one foreign national woman “of deep Christian faith, who has a vision and commitment to ministry in her country of origin.”
You ask, “Why?”
Once upon a dream,
reverberates around the globe.
there and here.
—written by one of the donors
For additional information about creating scholarship endowments at PTS, contact the Office of Seminary Relations at 609-497-7750.
Finding a Niche
You never know where a work of art will take you,” says sculptor Thomas McAnulty, whose exhibit “Niches” graced the Seminary’s Erdman Gallery in the fall.
Addressing gallery visitors while himself standing in a niche in the Erdman foyer, he explained that ten or fifteen years ago when he was “trying to figure out a way to put figures together” he decided to make small figurines so that he could move them around to study positions for a larger piece. “I started enjoying what they looked like and decided to put one in a niche. That
probably goes back to being raised a Catholic,” he laughs.
But almost immediately McAnulty rejected the idea: “If I do this, I’ll be considered a religious artist!”—a description he wanted to stay as far away from as possible. The idea wouldn’t let him go, though. “I started carving niches and thought I ought to do an Annunciation, a Visitation,” he says. “I think I was feeling my way into the imagery of my childhood religion.”
Using wax, he molded a small annunciation piece. His New York gallery dealer liked it, so McAnulty kept going, putting chairs, brooms, tables, and more figures into his niches, now of stone and bronze. He liked “the mystery of the figure in relationship to the mystery of the object.”
Now he no longer flinches when called a religious artist. “My figures, images, niches are about me, not about my career,” he says. “You do your art because you have to do it, not because it gets you on the cover of
Art in America.”
Ironically, however, McAnulty’s career took off in ways he did not envision. He was contacted by St. Meinrad’s Church in Indiana to design an altar that when built won the 1998 Bene Award from Modern Liturgy. (“It was such an exciting project,” he says. “I read the Bible and did sketches, and went to talk to the monks about theology and I was happier than I’d ever been!”) His work also appears in the illustrated version of Thomas Moore’s
Care of the Soul.
Now he is pleased to have had concurrent shows at the Seminary’s Erdman Gallery and at a gallery in Soho. “Today you can throw hay in a corner and call it art, or you can make an altar for monks and call it art. Anything can be art, but not everything is art. What’s important to me is that what you do as an artist has some kind of worth in the society you live in.”
|New Director of Student Relations
Catherine Cook Davis, a 1985 PTS M.Div. graduate, is the new director of student relations in the Office of Student Affairs. On board since October 9, Davis sees her primary role as “supporting students both academically and pastorally, while working with their respective denominations and judicatories to make the ordination process as unproblematic as possible.”
Having served as a healthcare chaplain for more than fourteen years and then most recently as an interim associate minister for pastoral care, she describes her new position as a “wonderful joy thus far.” She will complete a D.Min. at The Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in the spring. Her research focus is healing techniques in pastoral care. Davis is married to the Reverend David Davis, who is the new pastor at Princeton’s Nassau Presbyterian Church and a Ph.D. candidate at PTS.
Endowing Theological Education for Women
In every part of the world, the number of women involved in theological education is growing. Yet, according to PTS alumna Nyambura Njoroge (1992 Ph.D.), financial limitations prevent many dedicated and qualified women from southern hemisphere countries and from Central and Eastern Europe from receiving the education they need to be leaders in the church.
Njoroge, who is executive secretary for ecumenical theological education for the
World Council of Churches, hopes that PTS alums and the women and men with whom they do ministry can help.
How? By supporting the Sarah Chakko Theological Endowment Fund.
Named for an Eastern Orthodox educator from India who was the first woman president of the World Council of Churches, the fund was inaugurated in 1998 when the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women concluded in Harare, Zimbabwe. Its goal is to raise a capital endowment of three million dollars over a five-year period from individuals and institutions. The endowment will support theological formation for both lay and ordained women in three areas: Bachelor of Divinity degree programs at ecumenically committed seminaries (usually undertaken in the student’s home country) that are sensitive to women’s theologies, the international feminist Doctor of Ministry program at San Francisco Theological Seminary, and short-term ecumenical seminars.
Those who wish to make a contribution or to learn more can contact Njoroge at the World Council of Churches, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, or by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org . Checks can be made out to the World Council of Churches, marked clearly “for the Sarah Chakko Fund,” and sent to the above address.
Life and Death
by Jon Paul Sydnor
Last September 250 Christians, Jews, and Muslims gathered at Princeton’s Nassau Presbyterian Church to attend Dilemmas on the Death Penalty, a conference sponsored by Interfaith Communities. Among them was Sister Helen Prejean, author of the book
Dead Man Walking, later turned into a box office hit movie of the same name. Prejean was the keynote speaker. Two Princeton alumni who have long worked to free those wrongfully convicted of capital crimes were also featured speakers.
As a PTS student in the late ’50s, Stan Tate, who now lives in Moscow, Idaho, volunteered to do field work in the Trenton State Prison. While working on death row, he met Bland Williams, who was convicted of using a baseball bat to kill a night watchman. Tate intuitively trusted Williams and began to research his conviction. After much work, another inmate eventually confessed to providing false testimony at Williams’s trial. Eventually, after years of legal wrangling, Bland Williams was spared the electric chair, but only after having served seventeen years in prison for a crime that Tate insists he did not commit. As a result of this experience, Tate is now an opponent of all capital punishment, simply due to the inevitability of killing an innocent person. “We almost put two innocent men to death,” he warns. Today he still struggles to prevent that atrocity. At the conference he spoke briefly and introduced Williams, who told his story of narrowly avoiding execution.
Jim McCloskey, M.Div. Class of 1984, spoke about Centurion Ministries, an organization he founded that is run from an office in Princeton and that is dedicated to freeing innocent people who have been sentenced to death or to life in prison. He came to this work through an experience similar to Tate’s. Also working at Trenton State Prison, like Tate he encountered an inmate and became convinced of that inmate’s innocence. Working to free him, McCloskey found not only a broken legal system but a compelling vocation. Since 1983, Centurion Ministries has freed twenty-five factually innocent people from prison, two of whom were on death row. Each case costs an average of $300,000 and takes three to ten years of work by lawyers, investigators, and forensic experts. “It’s a long, laborious process,” explains McCloskey.
While working on individual cases, McCloskey also expresses concern about the death penalty as a practice. In the twenty-five years since the reintroduction of capital punishment in this country, more than 500 people have been executed; but during that same period, eighty death row inmates were exonerated. McCloskey has encountered many factors that contribute to false convictions: shoddy police work, police perjury, juror presumption of guilt, coerced testimony, falsified confessions, prosecutorial misconduct, incompetent defense counsel, manipulation of evidence, and racism. Most disturbingly, he says, few involved in the legal system seem concerned about these problems: “Ninety-nine percent of the time, when it comes to light that an innocent person has been convicted, there’s not even a slap on the wrist. The people responsible just go about business as usual.”
Jon Paul Sydnor is a 1999 PTS graduate.
Dr. Daniel Theron, PTS Class of 1950 (Ph.D.), is committed to Princeton Seminary’s mission of preparing men and women to be witnesses to God’s kingdom. He is also committed to sharing the message of the coming of that kingdom throughout the world, and particularly in his homeland of South Africa.
To make those two commitments concrete, he has made a major gift to the Seminary to establish the Daniel Johannes Theron Endowment Fund.
The fund will support future PTS students by providing financial aid to students through scholarships in honor of the Class of 1950, and at the same time will provide for the distribution of Bibles in South Africa.
“The essential message of the Bible is God’s love for his children, the coming of his kingdom, and the requirement that love should reign among his children,” says Theron. “Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, and especially in the Republic of South Africa, the culture of violence is much in evidence. The Bible has spoken forcefully to the human heart and mind through the ages and still speaks to mankind today. I want to support the Bible’s speaking within South Africa.”
Thus part of the endowment will go to the Suid-Afrikaanse Bybel Genootskap (South African Bible Society) for the cost of acquiring and distributing Bibles in South Africa, as well as Namibia, for missionary purposes, regardless of denominational affiliation, in any language or dialect as needed. Theron has suggested that the Bibles be given as Christmas gifts and at confirmation services.
Theron has also just published a 256-page book titled Out of Ashes: The Boers’
Struggle for Freedom through the English War 1899–1902 that can be ordered from the Seminary’s Theological Book Agency. It deals with the spiritual and social struggles of that war. He is also preparing for the publication of a book of prayers and has just finished a life of Christ on which he has been working for the past forty years.
Theron was on the faculty of the Seminary in the New Testament department in the 1950s.
Alumni/ae Events Winter/Spring—2001
Tuesday, March 6
Scottsdale, Arizona—Luncheon Gathering at Valley Presbyterian Church from noon to 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 11
Newport Beach, California—President Gillespie preaching at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
Monday, March 12
San Diego, California—Breakfast Gathering with President Gillespie at Stadium Marriott Hotel from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.
Monday, March 12
Gainesville, Florida—Luncheon Gathering with Professor Pat Miller at the First Presbyterian Church from noon to 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 13
Los Angeles, California—Luncheon with President Gillespie at Monte Vista Grove Retirement Community from noon to 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 13
Los Angeles, California—Dinner Gathering with President Gillespie at La Cañada Presbyterian Church from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 14
Santa Barbara, California—Luncheon Gathering with President Gillespie at the First Presbyterian Church from noon to 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 22
Jacksonville, Florida—President Gillespie preaching at Palms Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville Beach
Monday, April 23
Jacksonville, Florida—Breakfast meeting from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. Site to be determined.
Monday, April 30
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—Luncheon Gathering with President Gillespie at Old Pine Presbyterian Church from noon to 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 6
Omaha, Nebraska—President Gillespie preaching at Dundee Presbyterian Church
Sunday, May 6
Omaha, Nebraska—Reception with President Gillespie at West Hills Presbyterian Church from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Monday, May 7
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—Continuing Education and Dinner Gathering with faculty and President Gillespie, Third Presbyterian Church, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Thursday and Friday May 24–25
Princeton, New Jersey—Annual Alumni/ae Reunion on the Seminary campus
Wednesday, June 13
Louisville, Kentucky—Annual General Assembly Luncheon from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Poetry That Sings
by Donnie Mitchell
Michael Hegeman, PTS lecturer and Ph.D. candidate in homiletics and composer-in-residence with the Lauda! Chamber Singers, recently composed a three-movement piece dealing with requiem texts for a concert of sacred music at the First Presbyterian Church in Pitman, New Jersey. He is also a sort of unofficial composer-in-residence for PTS. Working in conjunction with professors Charles Bartow and Robert Lanchester, he has found incidental music for theatrical productions and has composed numerous pieces for the PTS choir.
Last summer Hegeman taught in Israel before returning to PTS in the fall to continue working on his dissertation and other compositions. In February, he
was a leader for the Center of Continuing Education event titled
“The Faces of Mary” that will include Seminary and Princeton University choirs.
For his recent composition, Hegeman incorporated two modern poems with sacred texts—one written by Bartow, PTS professor of speech communication in ministry, and another by Walt Whitman—for the Lauda! Chamber Singers Summer Concert series.
Dr. Bartow’s “Sonnet on Grief” (below) was a part of this production.
I think I’d rather curse my God and die
Than bear the empty silence grief imparts
To those who cannot grieve, whose grieving starts
No flow of thought, no feeling deep or high,
No fretting for what might have been, no sigh,
No discontent, no working of the arts
Of grief, no poetry of rage, no darts
Of perfect hate. So venture this: To try
The silence with a silence dreadful, still,
A still-life gesture, vacant, dumb and cold,
Indiff’rent, vast and deep as silent night,
More quiet, more reserved, more terse, more chill
Than death. I’d grieve grief with a silence bold,
A curse on empty night till God speaks light.
PTS Corner of History: Miller Chapel
by William O. Harris, librarian for archives and special collections
For 166 years Miller Chapel has been the center of intense emotions and quiet reflections offered in the presence of God: weddings, baptisms, ordinations, funerals, inaugurals, communions, deep personal prayers, flashes of divine illumination, and solemn life-changing answers to the Spirit’s call. Since 1834, every weekday during the academic year, with the exception of last year when the chapel was undergoing renovation, the Seminary community has gathered there for daily worship and spiritual renewal. Until the Second World War, church services were also conducted there each Sunday morning and evening. Although the chapel could tell countless stories, I have selected two events to illustrate its interior life.
The Reverend Joshua Russell, Class of 1867, recalled many years afterward the extraordinary service in the chapel on Saturday morning, April 15, 1865. “The news of the assassination of President Lincoln convulsed the Seminary like an earthquake. Upon hearing the news from students, Dr. Charles Hodge burst into a flood of tears uttering ‘my poor country’…. About an hour later the bell rang and the professors and students gathered in the chapel. There Dr. Hodge prayed, and such a prayer. Not the words, for we could not always follow them, the petitions began and ended with a sob, and his great heart seemed to break with the weight upon it. He wrestled with the angel as did Jacob that he might learn the secret of God’s dealings with us and wring from him the promise of peace for our stricken land. His voice as I heard it that day we wept for Lincoln has come to me a thousand times since.”
Another event in Miller Chapel that marked the memories of many who were there occurred on a morning in early January 1945. The service was conducted by Professor Otto Piper, who had come to Princeton from a German university in 1937 to teach New Testament. Following Dr. Piper’s prayer, President John Mackay arose to give the announcements, as was his custom before the last hymn, and concluded by saying that Dr. Piper had something more to share. Dr. Piper quietly read a telegram to the congregation from the War Department informing him that his eldest son, Gerd, a member of General Patton’s Army in France, had been killed in action on Christmas Eve in the German attack known as the Battle of the Bulge. In their letters, several alumni recalled that Professor Piper had a class on I John immediately after chapel. The students, shocked by his revelation, did not expect him to appear. “After opening the class with prayer, he began his lecture on I John 3 and challenged the class that day by that beautiful passage about God’s love and peace. It was a peace into which Dr. Piper himself had passed. He shared with us the love by which we know that we have passed from death into life,” wrote the Reverend Manfred Geisler, Class of 1946.
“How awesome is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Genesis 28:17
The Princeton Theological Seminary Institute for Youth Ministry has been awarded a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. for a three-year project titled
Bridges: Linking Theological Education to the Practice of Youth
Ministry. The project is designed to develop strategies of support and education for those making the transition from seminary to professional ministry.
It will also develop a body of research on effective, life-giving practices of youth ministry. In response to the high burnout rate in the field of youth ministry, the Bridges Project will focus on the discovery and implementation of alternative approaches to ministry through which leaders and young people thrive. The project’s hypothesis is that developing life-giving practices of ministry during the earliest years of pastoring “offers both youth and pastors a framework for ministry that can be sustained—and is sustaining—over the long haul,” explains the Rev. Leslie Dobbs-Allsopp, project coordinator.
The project design includes a pilot program of support and theological education for new pastors making the transition from seminary to call (beginning with the Class of 2001). Participants will be nominated by administrators and professors from several theological institutions. The project will also involve surveys and focus groups with a set of pastors who have been serving for one to three years in youth ministry, and with a cohort of pastors who have been thriving in youth ministry for more than five years.
For more information about the Bridges Project (especially if interested in participating in a focus/survey group),
please click here
© Copyright 2001 Princeton Theological Seminary
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