Dear Friends of Pittsburgh Seminary,

Early last month we had the pleasure of installing our long-time friend and colleague the Rev. Dr. Andrew Purves as the first Jean and Nancy Davis Professor of Historical Theology. The inauguration of this new faculty chair, established last spring, was made possible by identical twin sisters who partnered in their bequests to provide a substantial gift to Pittsburgh Seminary.

Jean and Nancy were lifelong Pittsburghers who died within four months of each other at age 97—Jean in October 2012, and Nancy in February 2013. Neither of them married, and they lived their entire lives in a red-brick house built by their father on South Braddock Ave. in Pittsburgh’s East End. Their pursuit of a modest lifestyle allowed them to be faithful stewards of a substantial inheritance from their parents.

It has been people like Jean and Nancy who, over the more than two centuries of Pittsburgh Seminary’s existence, have allowed professors such as Dr. Purves to reflect, “The inauguration of [this new chair] is an important event for the future of PTS. It emphasizes the Seminary’s continuing commitment to teaching and scholarship for the church.” I would note that we are able to continue this commitment because of the many people who both share it and partner with us tangibly to ensure it.

As is typical of our supporters, Jean and Nancy Davis lived out their vocations with ‘others-oriented service’ stemming from their Christian convictions. Jean served with the USO in Germany and headed the music department in the Tarentum schools. Nancy served with the WAVES in the U.S. Navy and worked as a secretary at Westinghouse. Both college graduates, they recognized the great value of higher education and joined that value with their Christian faith in leaving their bequest to Pittsburgh Seminary. Praise God for them—and for you!

Throughout this Christmas season, may you sense anew the depths of God’s goodness and love, “lavished upon us” through the gift of Jesus, the Christ.


William J. Carl III
President and Professor of Homiletics

P.S. Don't miss pictures from the event.

Professor, Recognized Expert on the Russian Orthodox Church Writes New Book

When the Rev. Dr.  John Burgess, James Henry Snowden Professor of Systematic Theology, first traveled to Russia nearly a decade ago, he was hoping to expand his theological horizons and explore the rebirth of the Orthodox Church since the fall of communism. But what he found changed some fundamental assumptions about his own tradition of North American Protestantism. In his new book, Encounters with Orthodoxy: How Protestant Churches Can Reform Themselves Again (WJK, 2013), John asks how an encounter with Orthodoxy can help Protestants better see both strengths and weaknesses of their own tradition. Read the full article online.

Seminary’s Advent Devotional Available Online

The Seminary is pleased to again offer its Advent devotional. This online resource provides a devotional for each day of Advent based on the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s daily lectionary. The devotionals are written by alumnae/i and are available in two formats—PDFs of the written text and audio files recorded by current seminarians. The devotional is accessible online. Additionally, you can elect to have the messages sent via e-mail each day. E-mail with your request. If you signed up last year, you should have already received the first devotional. You can also read the devotionals on the Seminary’s Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Archaeology Lecture Held Dec. 17

The Seminary will host Janet Soskice from the University of Cambridge, Tues., Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. for the archaeology lecture “Sisters of Sinai: The Incredible Lady Bible Hunters.” Come hear Professor Soskice recount the fascinating story of Agnes and Margaret Smith. In an era when most Westerners—male or female—feared to tread in the Middle East, they slept in tents and endured temperamental camels, unscrupulous dragomen, and suspicious monks to become the unsung heroines in the continuing effort to discover the Bible as originally written. The Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology will be open from 6:30-7:15 p.m. and after the lecture. The lecture and reception to follow are free and open to the public.

Upcoming Advent Service Dec. 18

Join us Wed., Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. in Hicks Chapel for our special service "The Stations of Advent." This is a contemplative service of Scripture, image, and song prepared by members of the PTS community. Come and prepare your heart for the season!

Support the Seminary with a Year-End Gift

Looking for meaningful Christmas gifts? We have some suggestions for you! Invest in the future of Christ’s church by funding a living endowment: a Pittsburgh Seminary student preparing for full-time Christian service. Check out the Seminary’s gift catalog online. Make your gift by Dec. 31 to ensure your tax deduction for the year.

Also, please remember that there is still time to make a charitable gift from your traditional or Roth IRA before Dec. 31. If you are 70½ or older, you can transfer up to $100,000 from your IRA directly to PTS. A charitable IRA rollover satisfies your required minimum distribution. Your gift is not reportable as income so you pay no taxes on the distribution. However, you do not receive a charitable income tax deduction for this gift so consult with your tax planner as state taxes may still apply. Please call Amanda Kile at 412-924-1422 if you have questions about making a gift from your IRA. You can also consult the Seminary’s website.