Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Heather Hartung Vacek

Assistant Professor of Church History
Year Started at PTS: 2012


Contact Info



Th.D., Duke University, Duke Divinity School, 2012 
M.Div., Duke University, Duke Divinity School, 2006
MBA, Northwestern University, J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, 1996
MEM, Northwestern University, J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, 1996
BS, Northwestern University / Industrial Engineering, 1991
BA, Northwestern University / Economics, 1991


The Rev. Dr. Heather Hartung Vacek joined the faculty at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2012 and is assistant professor of church history. Her research focuses on the historical relationship between Christian belief and practice in the American context. Her most recent work explores Protestant reactions to mental illnesses from the colonial era until the 21st century. “‘Opening Heart and Hand to Them in Need’: An Account of Mental Illness, Stigma, and the Church,” appeared in The Hinge: International Theological Dialogue for the Moravian Church (Winter 2012-2013). A book length treatment of the topic will appear in 2015 from Baylor University Press. Her research interests also include American religious history, Reformation and ancient church history, practical theology, and theologies of disability and suffering. After working for a decade in corporate positions, Vacek earned an M.Div. and Th.D. from Duke University, Duke Divinity School. She was awarded the Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship in 2011-2012. Previously, she earned her bachelor’s in industrial engineering and bachelor’s in economics from Northwestern University; master’s in engineering and MBA from Northwestern University, J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Vacek is ordained in the Moravian Church in America. Her ministry experience includes service at Raleigh Moravian Church, in the Southern Province of the Moravian Church, and at John Umstead Hospital. Vacek serves as a trustee at Moravian Theological Seminary. She is a member of American Academy of Religion, American Historical Association, American Society of Church History, The Conference on Faith and History, Association of Practical Theology, Moravian Historical Society, and Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Church Associations

Ordination: The Moravian Church in North America, 2012

Professional Competencies

Area of Expertise

  • American religious history
  • History of Christianity
  • History of mental illness in America
  • Practical theology
  • Theologies of disability and suffering

Professional Service

  • Board of Trustees, Moravian Theological Seminary, 2010-


  • Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship, 2011-2012
  • Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, Workshop for Pre-Tenure Theological School Faculty, 2013-2014
  • Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, Summer Research Fellowship, 2014

Additional Resources

Complete CV
High res image 
Twitter Feed *


Chapel Audio 1

* This material expresses the research and opinion of Vacek and is not necessarily the opinion of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary faculty, staff, or Board of Directors.