Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

4/19 2012

Guest Speakers: Formation for Students and the Community

There is a lot happening on our campus next week. It’s amazing how our little corner of Western Pennsylvania on the PTS campus, draws guests from around the country and the world. These guests are leaders in the church, biblical scholars, biblical archaeologists, missionaries, and leaders in the community advocating for justice. Guests come to this campus to share their work and what they are doing in their specific corner of God’s Kingdom.

The presentations are always thought provoking and engaging. Yet, something beyond just hearing happens at the many events that take place here. These presentations often illicit a transformation – coupled with a spirit of action. Ministry partnerships are born out of these events. As students, we are always welcomed and encouraged to participate in the lectures and conferences. In doing so, our education takes on a more enriched quality. Hearing about the faithful work of others deepens our own sense of call and in some cases clarifies it. So, take a moment and mark your calendars for these upcoming events!

Archaeology Lecture Explores Beekeeping: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary will host archaeologist Amahai Mazar Mon., April 23, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. as he examines the role of beekeeping within ancient Israel and its significance to understanding the use of honey and wax production there and in the surrounding regions. Mazar is the Eleazar Sukenik Chair in the Archaeology of Israel at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Seminary will host its annual Albright-Deering Lectures in Methodist Studies Thurs., April 26, 2012 and the The J. Hubert Henderson Conference on Church and Ministry Fri., April 27, 2012. These lectures are free and open to the public. Edward P. Wimberly, Jarena Lee Professor of Pastoral Care at Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Ga., will present two lectures on the theme “No Shame in Wesley’s Gospel: A 21st Century Pastoral Theology.” Special lectures include “No Shame in Wesley’s Gospel: The Shame Factor” at 2:00 p.m. and “Public Theology, Civil Rights, and the Wesleyan Spirit” at 3:45 p.m. The Henderson Lectures will feature keynoter R. Gustav Niebuhr, associate professor in religion and the media at Syracuse University. He will address “The Church and the News Media: A Difficult, Necessary, and Inseparable Relationship.” Lectures include “Bound Together by the First Amendment” at 11:00 a.m., “The Problem of Differing Directions in Storytelling” at 2:00 p.m., and “Common Challenges in Contemporary Culture” at 4:00 p.m.

Melanie, Senior MDiv student

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4/13 2012

The Art of Listening

As graduation quickly approaches, I can’t help but to feel a sense of responsibility to begin the work of reflecting on my time here at PTS. As the adage goes, “Hindsight is 20/20” meaning, there is clarity when an experience or an event is behind us. Consequently, it feels slightly foolish to start looking behind me when I’m still in the midst of closing this chapter. Yet, it also makes perfect sense to want to find continual meaning and purpose in the three years that I have been here. I think it goes without saying that the lessons that we take away from this season of study and preparation for ministry go well beyond the classroom setting. Each one of us has been unavoidably touched with life experiences while a student. I look around me and I witness my brothers and sisters in Christ having experienced profound loss, grief, illness, love, companionship, loneliness, success, failure, and so on and so on.

In this grain, I have been thinking about what it means to truly listen. We hear a lot of things in this place. We hear professors lecture, we hear voices in classroom discussions, we hear opinions and convictions being shared around the table, we even hear the voices of those who have penned the countless textbooks that we use. With all the voices that we hear, how often do we actually listen? And if we cannot listen properly to those around us, how can we hear God? Listening is a theological theme that is weaved throughout the narratives in Scripture. Specifically, Samuel’s call story comes to mind. Samuel heard God call him three times and each time he ran to Eli, believing that it was his teacher who beckoned. Eli perceived that it was God calling out to Samuel and instructs Samuel on how to respond if it should happen again. God does call Samuel again and this time Samuel responds saying “Speak, for your servant is listening.” We know the rest of the story. It was necessary for Samuel to cultivate the skill of listening and responding to God.

As a student, I am grateful that this place has taught me how to listen. I’m taking my cues from Samuel. Truthfully, I haven’t always liked what I have heard or agreed with what I have heard, but I have always needed to hear ALL of it. I have been humbled and I have been opened to God through so many of the varying voices in this place. As many of us disperse from PTS after graduation, my prayer is that we will all recall the many voices that we have been privileged to hear and find ways to continue to reflect on the many gifts of the lessons that we have received in this place.

Melanie, senior MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

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3/16 2012

Call to Ministry through Global Missions

When I was looking at seminaries I was intrigued by Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s affiliated program, World Mission Initiative. I grew up in a family that was very committed to participating in God’s mission by traveling each summer around the United States with our fellow church congregants on week-long mission trips. During college I participated in international mission trips and found that world travel, building relationships with brothers and sisters from other countries and cultures, and building community with my traveling companions was part of my call as a church leader.

While considering PTS, I was delighted to see that World Mission Initiative evokes this call in all those who participate in their mission trips, their mission discernment programs, and mission conferences. When I began my studies at PTS I also was hired as a student staff member for World Mission Initiative as my work support position. It has been a blessing to participate in projects, presentations, and the planning for WMI trips over the past three years.

This year WMI is hosting their biennial mission conference at PTS. Through my position as student worker, I am helping to coordinate the logistics for the conference. PTS students, faculty, and staff, local and regional pastors, ordained lay people, and community members are all preparing to gather together at the Seminary March 23-24, 2012 to learn more about what it means to be “The Revelant Church in a Changing World”. The conference will look at the ways that the church today can do mission and ministry well in their American context and globally.

Working for WMI has been so rewarding during the past three years. I am thankful for World Mission Initiative and for the Seminary’s commitment to nurture a program like WMI for its students.

Katie – Senior, M.Div.

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