Dear Friends of Pittsburgh Seminary,

October was a busy month at PTS! The many on-campus events included the annual Scholarship-Leadership Dinner, which featured a program run entirely by student scholars and graduates of the Seminary. Their stories, gifts, and calls are unique and inspiring, and soon PTS will be expanding our programmatic support of those students called to non-traditional ministries.

Thanks to a $200,000 grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Pittsburgh Seminary is establishing the Church Planting Initiative—an expansion of our Church Planting Emphasis within the M.Div. program. The Initiative recognizes that, historically, theological education has focused on preparing students to lead already established churches. Today’s seminary graduates, however, face a world that also, and increasingly, needs entrepreneurial, mission-minded pastors who are equipped to take the gospel to people in a wide variety of non-traditional settings.

As a number of our more recent, church-planter graduates have discovered, non-traditional congregations are important for the future of the Church because they provide laboratories in which to explore the effectiveness of new models—part-time co-pastoring on a small church budget; holding worship services in nontraditional spaces, such as living rooms and storefronts; and reaching new groups of people with the gospel through different styles of music and liturgy, for example. Supporting church planters with resources and the permission to try “new things” brings life and energy to the broader Church.

The most effective way of ensuring this revitalization is to come alongside people who are passionate, committed, and inspired to establish a new church and to support their vision to launch a new ministry. A large part of that support involves providing the kind of educational preparation relevant to such ministry—the kind of preparation that will be available through the Church Planting Initiative.

As a seminary, PTS is intent on observing, listening to, and responding to the movement of the Holy Spirit in forming Christ’s Church in our time. And we believe that God is calling us to provide an even greater level of leadership in the task of preparing well-educated, practically equipped Christians to plant churches—pastor-theologians who translate their academic work culturally and address contextually the contemporary issues confronting the Church. I am grateful for the vision of The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations both in recognizing this need and partnering with PTS in helping to fulfill it.


William J. Carl III
President and Professor of Homiletics


Seminary Mourns the Loss of Professor Emeritus Bob Kelley

The Seminary is mourning the loss of long-time friend the Rev. Dr. Robert L. Kelley Jr. ’51 who died Oct. 30, 2013, at the age of 85. Bob dedicated his life to the teaching and preaching of the Gospel of Christ Jesus. He served Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with a joyful heart throughout his more than 63 year affiliation. He has offered hope and encouragement to both seminary students and students in church congregations. Read more about how Dr. Kelley touched the lives of so many at PTS.

WMI Offers the Chance to Discern Your Call

Join the Seminary’s World Mission Initiative Sat., Nov. 2 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. for the chance to explore whether God is calling you to mission. Spend the day listening, studying God’s Word, sharing, and praying in small groups. Sessions will be led by WMI staff, a missionary guest, and a spiritual director. Individuals and church groups are welcome. Admission and lunch are free. Register by e-mailing or calling 412-924-1402.

Purves to be Installed in Faculty Chair

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Purves, professor or Reformed theology, will be installed into The Jean and Nancy Davis Chair of Historical Theology Tues., Nov. 12. A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Dr. Purves received degrees in philosophy and divinity from the University of Edinburgh, and a Th.M. from Duke Divinity School. His Ph.D. is from the University of Edinburgh. Purves came to the US in 1978 and was ordained by Philadelphia Presbytery. He served as minister of the Hebron Presbyterian Church, Clinton, Pa. until 1983, when he was called to join the faculty of Pittsburgh Seminary. Purves has a long list of publications, both books and articles, academic and popular including his most recent The Resurrection of Ministry. The Chair is named in honor of identical twin sisters Jean and Nancy Davis, lifelong Pittsburghers who died within four months of each other at the age of 97. 

Archaeology Lecture Held Nov. 19

Dr. Christoph Uehlinger from the University of Zürich will present the archaeology lecture “Kuntillet 'Ajrud Yahweh, ‘His Asherah,’ and Much More” Tues., Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m. When archaeologists excavated the site of Kuntillet 'Ajrud (Horvat Teman), situated on the Judah-Sinai border, they discovered an early eighth-century BCE caravanserai that yielded, according to most interpretations, a number of religious artistic and epigraphic works. The recent publication of the team’s final report allows for a thorough reevaluation of this hitherto unique place, which has stood at the heart of scholarly debates on the religion of ancient Israel during the Iron Age II period. The Kelso Museum 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.

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. Sign up now! Select "Advent Devotional." If you signed up last year, you will automatically receive the 2013 devotionals. You can also read the devotionals on the Seminary’s Facebook or Twitter pages.