Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

11/10 2011

Bridging the Classroom and the Community

The academic demands of seminary have their necessary counterpart in the call of community. Ideas gleaned from books, lectures, and seminars find their outward projection in the formation of pastor-theologians in local and international mission. Often these projections find form in student organizations.

The Peace and Justice Fellowship, a student organization dedicated to raising awareness of social justice issues, has brought one such idea to the forefront of community discourse for November and December: fair trade.

What is fair trade? Fair trade is an organized social awareness movement that promotes equitable market-based solutions for goods produced in developing countries. Fair trade certifiers ensure that goods like coffee, chocolate, and crafts sell at fair market value, giving the producers of these goods an adequate, living wage. While millions of Americans purchase billions of dollars of goods in November and December, fair trade allows us to promote a changing face of the world marketplace, one that includes economic justice.

The Peace and Justice Fellowship will sponsor lectures, discussion, and opportunities for action on fair trade at its weekly meetings, Mondays at noon. Remember to look for opportunities to buy fair trade goods around campus and in your communities in the coming months. We’re always mindful that our call in the classroom leads us to enact justice in the world.

Will, Senior MDiv student


10/20 2011

No One is an Island

Coming to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary was a huge adjustment for me. It wasn’t just an issue about being away from home. In all honesty, it was an issue about how I was outside of my comfort zone. I had my own personal circle of friends. We would spend a lot of time together. Togetherness was a part of that plan.

When my wife and I moved to Pittsburgh (in the middle of the second term of my first year), I was losing close-knit relationships with my friends from home. It quickly became apparent to me that no one truly was an island unto themselves. I needed to reach out and make new friends.

Of course there was apprehension at first. After all, I was worried about looking like a fool or saying something stupid. What if I could not find anyone that shared my interests? It was then, at that point, that I decided that I was going about this the wrong way. I was not here just because I wanted to be here. I felt the call of God in my life. I was sure that God had called me to this place at this time. Why, then, was I worried about being happy here?

The good news came when I finally let go and trusted God to fulfill God’s promises. God opened up to me some of the best friends I have ever had the honor of knowing. The idea of community is talked about often here on campus. People worry about this idea and want community to be this important idea. The good news is that it really is! The love of Christ abounds here. God has formed this place to be a community of believers and friends and we can be thankful for that.

Sam, senior MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary


10/6 2011

Missional Theology

Missional Theology

Missional Theology

As seminary students we often hear the importance of prioritizing our spiritual disciplines in the midst of academia. While we work to maintain a semblance of routine, the rigors of our studies, responsibilities to our families and friends, and the demands of work and ministry often leave very little by way of devoted time with our Lord. We relegate our offerings to the Almighty God to mere leftovers. Yet we know that meditating on God’s Word and praying for our neighbors, praying for the nations, even praying for our enemies, allows us to be centered in Christ. Consequently, everything else in our day is an extension of that gracious encounter with the Almighty.

One of the various ways that Pittsburgh Theological Seminary encourages this sustaining practice is through the Company of New Pastors program. A group of seminary students in their senior year of their theological education who are preparing to enter the ordained ministry in the PCUSA, convene monthly with a faculty member and discuss the meaning of each ordination vow. This group which I am grateful to be a part of, covenants to follow the daily lectionary readings of Scripture as well as the Confessional readings from the Reformed tradition, while being committed to pray for the Church and for one another.

This morning, I was struck by the passages from our daily readings which lifted out themes of healing and renewal by faith (2011 Lectionary Schedule). The Confessional reading today comes from the Westminister Confessions of Faith 6.187-.190, Of the Gospel of the Love of God and Missions. “Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinances of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole Earth.”

I am grateful that in response to these readings, we as students at PTS are afforded the opportunities to live this out faithfully WHILE we are here. We have opportunities to learn about the urban context and urban ministry through the Metro-Urban Institute. We are encouraged to participate in global missions through trips offered by the World Mission Initiative located right here on campus. There are even student organizations like the Peace and Justice group that provide ways to engage in our local community and to give rise to the voice of justice in the world.

It is a privilege to participate in the minstry of Christ through these various means on our campus. However, all that we do for the sake of the Kingdom cannot come from us. When we neglect our own spiritual lives we risk the very work that we have been called to be a part of. The work of the Kingdom happens when we orientate our hearts, our minds, and our lives to the One who was, who is ,and is to come. I’m so glad that I am in a community that teaches me how to do this more faithfully at every turn.

Melanie, senior MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

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