Category Archives: Seminaries

Union Presbyterian Seminary – Upcoming Continuing Education

Click the course titles for more info or to register.

Christian Educator Certification Course — Hybrid course style

  • CourseHuman Growth & Faith Development
  • Dates: January 21 – February 212019 (at home and online), with February 19 – 21, 2019, scheduled for on campus learning in Richmond
  • Location: On campus portion at Union Presbyterian Seminary — Richmond campus
  • Led by: Dr. Becky Davis, Associate Professor of Christian Education at Union Presbyterian Seminary
  • Cost: $295, for both at home and on-campus learning
  • Note: This hybrid course meets the requirements for Christian Educator certification in the PC(USA), but is open to anyone who would like to participate.

Online Courses: Pathways to Learning and Leadership

  • Dates: Beginning January 2019 (check schedule below for specific course dates)
  • Location: Wherever you and your computer go (internet connection required)
  • Led by: Various faculty members and friends of Union Presbyterian Seminary
  • Cost: $ 100 for each five-week course
  • Note: These courses offer an excellent, affordable way to learn from and engage with theological and biblical scholars from the comfort of home (or wherever your computer may be), while interacting with fellow participants as well.

All courses are online and are tailor-made for church members, pastors, educators, those preparing to become Commissioned Ruling Elders/Commissioned Pastors, and anyone else who is interested in learning more. Here’s the winter and early spring line-up:

  • January 3 – 31: Preaching the Bible – led by Dr. Richard Voelz, Assistant Professor of Preaching & Worship (Thursdays)
  • January 8 – February 5: The Christian Life – led by Dr. Cindy Kissel-Ito, Associate Professor of Christian Education (Tuesdays)
  • February 14 – March 14: Pastoral Care – led by Dr. Carol Schweitzer, Associate Professor of Pastoral Care (Thursdays)
  • February 18 – March 18:  Mission & Evangelism – led by Dr. John Vest, Visiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism (Mondays)
  • Self-directed study available: New Testament Survey – led by Dr. John Carroll, Professor of New Testament (all web-based and paced by you)

Multidisciplinary Conference on Immigration Coming to CTS in 02/2019

Artists, Leading Theologians, Legal Scholars, And Community Leaders To Explore Migration And Border Crossings In Multidisciplinary Conference

Decatur, GA—Columbia Theological Seminary and Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion are excited to co-host a multidisciplinary conference on immigration—Migration and Border CrossingsFebruary 7-9, 2019 at Columbia Seminary.

“This conference will bring together leading theologians, legal scholars, artists, and leaders of faith communities to explore global migration,” says Leanne Van Dyk, president of Columbia Theological Seminary. “The speakers at this conference are extraordinary: Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States from 2015-2017 and the winner of National Book Critics award, will give the opening keynote titled ‘The Journey of the Migrant.’ Emilie Townes, Dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School, will give the closing keynote focusing on displacement and trauma.”

Other notable presenters include: Kwok Pui LanKhaled Beydoun,  Heval Mohamed Kelli,  Daniel CarrollKristin HeyerPeter C. PhanTodd GreenRose Cuison VillazorJehu HancilesClaudio CarvalhaesAzadeh N. Shahshahaniand Michele R. Pistone.

In addition to the presenters, the conference has made space for a strong presence of the arts during the three-day event. Emory University’s Staibdance group will present an original dance performance called “Moat,” an evening length exploration of human migration from Iran to a small Pennsylvania town during the Iran hostage crisis.

“Columbia Seminary’s proximity to Clarkston, GA, which is home to immigrants and refugees from about 50 countries and is often called ‘the most diverse square mile in America’ makes us the ideal seminary to host this major conference on immigration,” says conference co-convener Raj Nadella, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Director of MATS Program at Columbia Theological Seminary.

“We have observed that the issue of immigration moved to the center of our national discourse in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election and has become much more significant in the last two years. Although the issue is widely discussed in legal, political, and ecclesial circles, such conversations occur mostly in a piece-meal fashion. There have been few attempts to address various aspects of immigration—historical, political, religious, racial/ethnic, and theological/ethical—in a coherent and substantial manner,” says Nadella.  “Many scholars and faith communities across the United States have been attempting to address this issue that is affecting their communities, but they lack substantial resources to facilitate constructive conversations and take steps towards participatory action.”

The conference will feature three plenary sessions that explore the causes, the processes, and the effects of migration as well as multiple workshops that will offer insights and tools for addressing immigration related issues.

“Other entities are partnering with us to make this a truly international conference of global significance,” says Silas Allard, Managing Director of Emory University’s Center for Law and Religion, Harold J. Berman Fellow in Law and Religion and conference co-convener. “We are grateful to the World Council of Churches and the Council on American Islamic Relations for their partnership.”

More information on the even can be found on the Migration and Border Crossing webpage.

The Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University produces and promotes path-breaking scholarship, teaching, and public programs on the interaction of law and religion around the world. CSLR is a thought leader dedicated to producing innovative scholarship, facilitating challenging conversations, convening the best minds, and training the next generation of academics, lawyers, and religious leaders to advance the global conversation on law and religion. 

Columbia Theological Seminary is “cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry, leadership development, and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia Seminary offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit

Media Contact:

Michael Thompson
Director of Communications

For program information, please contact:

Dr. Raj Nadella
Assistant Professor of New Testament; Director of MATS Program,
Columbia Theological Seminary
404 687-4544

Silas W. Allard
Managing Director and Harold J. Berman Fellow in Law and Religion, Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University

Social Justice Forum to Examine Systematic Racism

The original article may be found on the Hanover College website, here.

The Bill and June Rogers Peace and Social Justice Speakers Forum will present theologian Christine Hong, Wednesday, March 29. The lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Science Center atrium.

Hong, an assistant professor of worship and evangelism and chapel worship coordinator at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, will examine systemic racism and its impact on the lives of all people.

The event is open to the public, free of charge.

Hong is a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and has spent time as a religious educator and young-adult minister in New York and Southern California. Her research interests include de-colonial approaches to worship and critical examination of historical and contemporary forms of evangelism in a multi-religious world, in addition to inter-religious learning, Asian American spiritualities and the spiritual and theological formation of children and adolescents among communities of color.

Prior to joining the Louisville Seminary’s faculty in 2015, she served the Presbyterian Mission Agency at the national offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as an associate for theology: interfaith relations in the theology and worship ministry area. She is also currently co-convener for the National Council of Churches of Christ’s Interreligious Table and the Muslim Christian dialogue.

Hong’s first book, “Identity, Youth and Gender in the Korean American Church,” was released in July, 2015.

Refreshments will be provided by the Hanover Presbyterian Church.

Columbia Seminary Faculty Contribute to “American Values, Religious Voices”

Decatur, GA—Three faculty from Columbia Theological Seminary will participate in a new initiative called “American Values, Religious Voices.” The project has been described as: a national nonpartisan campaign that brings together 100 scholars from a diverse range of religious traditions to articulate core American values that have grounded our nation in the past and should guide us forward at this time of transition. For the first 100 days of the new administration, the organizers will send a one-page letter, each written by one of the 100 scholars, to President Trump, Vice-President Pence, Cabinet Secretaries, and Members of the House and the Senate. The letters offer insight and inspiration drawn from the collective wisdom of our faith communities and their sacred texts.

Columbia Seminary scholars include Dr. William Brown, the William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament; Dr. Raj Nadella, Assistant Professor of New Testament; and Dr. Ryan Bonfiglio, Lecturer in Old Testament. The full group of 100 scholars come from a range of religious backgrounds: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh. The Christian scholars are Catholic, Evangelical, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Orthodox, Mormon, and Quaker. The Jewish authors come from the Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox Jewish communities. The contributors are rabbis, ministers, a Buddhist nun and a Catholic Sister, ordained clergy and active laypeople in houses of worship nationwide.

When asked what questions will be addressed in the letters, Dr. Bonfiglio responded, “Each one will address a different question. Generally, all of the scholars were asked, ‘What issues animate you at this particular moment in our nation’s history? What passages from your religious tradition have you been thinking about in the wake of the election? How does your religious heritage speak to the matters that concern you most? What message–rooted in the texts you study and teach–would you most like to deliver to our national leaders and to a wider interfaith audience?’ My letter will reflect on ‘Who exactly is our neighbor?’”

“The intersection of politics and faith can be a challenging place,” stated Dr. Bonfiglio reflecting on the importance of the discussion, “but this initiative is thoughtfully designed and may provide an enriching resource for those in our country looking for a higher level of dialogue about such things.”

“This political season has been bruising and vicious, and has uncovered deep cultural divisions,” said Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, President of Columbia Theological Seminary. “I am proud of the many constructive ways our faculty, and even our students, are engaging the culture around them in an effort to transform our communities for God’s purposes.”

Immediately following the Inauguration, a new letter is being posted each day at All of the previous letters will be archived there as well.

Columbia Theological Seminary is “Cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit

Columbia Seminary Accepting Applications for 2017 Thompson Scholars

Decatur, GA—Thompson Scholars 2017, Evangelism and Social Justice, will take place May 2-5, 2017 at the Center for Lifelong Learning on the Columbia Theological Seminary campus.

The United States and the global community have recently witnessed an amplified outcry for justice. This seminar will address the issues of social justice and evangelism as intersecting points for addressing this outcry. The call and role of the Church as a witness in this age, along with how we are to witness, become critical questions.

Adam L. Bond, Associate Professor of Historical Studies and American Baptist Liaison at The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University; andMark Whitlock, pastor of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church and Director of Community Initiatives at University of Southern California, Center for Religion and Civic Culture will be keynote speakers. Local pastors and community leaders will serve as panelists and workshop leaders. Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins, the Peachtree Associate professor of evangelism and church growth at Columbia Theological Seminary will serve as organizer, moderator and opening speaker.

“The seminar will empower church leaders to explore ways their churches can have conversations around evangelism and social justice, and equip them with the theological resources to guide this work,” states Watkins. “We’ll look at practical models that support congregations and faith communities as they seek to make a real difference in their communities in ways that are directly linked to their presence within those communities.”

To complete an application, click here. The application deadline is February 15, 2017 and applicants will be notified before the end of the month. Preference will be given to applicants who have not participated in previous Thompson Scholar seminars. For additional information, including a link to the application, click here.

A program fee of $150 covers all course-related fees, eight meals on campus during the event, refreshments, and access to the online course site. Pre-course preparation will include required reading and participation in online discussions. Participants are responsible for their housing and transportation; on campus housing is available.

The Thompson Scholars program is generously supported by an endowment in honor of Cecil Thompson, former professor of evangelism at Columbia, making it possible to offer the seminar at a lower cost to participants than comparable programs at the Center for Lifelong Learning.

Columbia Theological Seminary is “Cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit

Ben Campbell Johnson, Professor Emeritus Dies at Age 84

Decatur, GA—Dr. Ben Campbell Johnson, Professor Emeritus of Evangelism at Columbia Theological Seminary and the founding Director of the Spirituality program at The Center for Lifelong Learning passed away Thursday afternoon. A memorial service will be held on Friday, June 17 at 2:00 pm, at Shallowford Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.

“May Ben rest in peace in the blessed assurance that he lived his life faithfully serving the Lord he so dearly loved,” said Deborah Flemister Mullen, Executive Vice President and Dean of Faculty in a statement to the seminary community. “Thanks be to God for the life of our brother Ben Johnson!”

Dr. Johnson was born in March of 1932 in Elba, Alabama. He received a B.A. from Asbury College in 1953, a B.D. from Asbury Seminary in 1955, a Th.M. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1957, a D.Min. from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1978, and a Ph.D. from Emory University in 1980.

As an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Dr. Johnson was widely known for his work in church renewal movements and on interfaith relations between diverse faith traditions. He was pastor of United Methodist Churches in Kentucky and Alabama and served in interim roles at Salem Presbyterian Church in Lithonia, GA and North Avenue Presbyterian Church, Atlanta. Dr. Johnson founded and served as the Executive Director of the Institute for Church Renewal (ICR) in Atlanta starting in 1963 which developed a number of programs and resources for congregations aimed to promote growth and vitality. This past year, Dr. Johnson focused on reshaping the role of the Institute for Church Renewal for the 21st century local congregation. His efforts continue through the work of ICR in a supporting relationship with The Presbyterian Foundation.

Beginning in 1981, Dr. Johnson served as the Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Columbia Theological Seminary and in 1995 became the Professor of Spirituality. In 2000, when Dr. Johnson retired from Columbia Theological Seminary, he was named Professor Emeritus by the Board of Trustees. Johnson devoted much of his work to church growth and spiritual formation. He furthered this work by founding the CTS Press, enabling the publishing of many books and articles intended to educate all church leaders. He created the Certificate in Spiritual Formation program at The Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary extending the education of spiritual development to lay and clergy to encourage church growth in a variety of ways.

Dr. Johnson was a prolific writer of more than forty books concentrating on evangelism, prayer and spirituality. His most recent work focused on creating interfaith relationships between different faith traditions. He fostered these relations through Interfaith Community Initiatives, where he served as an advisory board member and program director of the immersion experience. He concentrated particularly on Christian and Muslim relations, publishing Beyond 9/11: Christians and Muslims Together: An Invitation to Conversation (2009).

Columbia Theological Seminary is “Cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit

Union Presbyterian Seminary Offers course in Presbyterian Polity, Program, and Mission

The Leadership Institute at Union Presbyterian Seminary is offering a 30-hour non-credit hybrid course in Presbyterian Polity, Program, and Mission, beginning AT HOME on January 4, 2016, and ending with three days ON-CAMPUS in Richmond, February 1-3.  There will be approximately 18 hours of work at home and 12 hours on campus.

The course meets the requirements of Christian Educator Certification, but is also a great opportunity for elders and deacons, DCEs who are not seeking certification, Christian education committee members, CRE trainees, pastors, and interested church members.  It will be taught by the Rev. H. Carson Rhyne, Jr., General Presbyter and Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the James.

Go to: for full information and instructions on how to register.  The cost of the class is $295, which includes lunch on campus on Tuesday, February 2.  Campus guest housing is available at $40 per night ($50 for two people sharing a room) but fills quickly.