Monday, April 6, 2015

Opportunities for Families and Women at GPTS

Seminary Ladies Fellowship


This group for GPTS women fills the need for a prospective pastor's wife to be prepared for life after her husband's graduation. The seminary wives have created a four-year curriculum that is presented by those who share their experience, insights, and biblical perspective for equipping our seminary wives for their future roles. If you are married to a GPTS student, your time in the seminary community will be greatly enhanced through the program and activities of this group, which meets periodically throughout the school year. The Ladies Fellowship is also open to female students, staffers and other women associated with the seminary.


Chapel Services


Services are held on campus on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The services are designed primarily to assist students, faculty, and staff in their spiritual growth and to expose students to various types of preachers and preaching. These services also provide an excellent opportunity for seminary families to grow spiritually and to be regularly exposed to the great benefits of the Word of God throughout the week, in addition to worship on the Lord's Day. On Tuesdays, Reformed pastors from the community and region offer messages. On Wednesdays, President Joseph Pipa Jr. regularly preaches a series of sermons from the Scriptures. (Candy for kids, too!) On Thursdays, faculty members and students rotate in the chapel pulpit.

Recreation and Fellowship


A number of opportunities are offered throughout the year for fellowship and recreation for seminary families. Students, faculty and staff of the seminary enjoy a delightful time of fellowship during an annual fall seminary picnic. This is an opportunity for new students and their families to be knit together with the seminary family. There are games, food, and time to sit and talk. Every year the Seminary Student Body Association hosts a winter dinner the first Friday of the spring semester for the seminary community, offering great food and a talent show for entertainment. Special breakfasts have been offered annually during the Fall and Spring Semesters. A wives graduation brunch is offered around Commencement time, and a dinner for new students and their families is held each Fall. A variety of receptions are held from time to time in conjunction with special seminary events such as convocations and graduations. A child-care room is available on the first floor of the seminary building as needed.

The Master of Arts Degree Program


Greenville Seminary's primary purpose is to prepare men for ministry in the biblical offices of the church. The seminary recognizes, however, the benefits of offering a degree program for those who desire a theological education but do not need or qualify for the ministerial Master of Divinity program. The Master of Arts degree is offered, emphasizing Biblical and doctrinal studies, apologetics and personal piety. The M.A. program can be an excellent opportunity for women in non-church professions to deepen their understanding of the Christian faith. Concentrations are offered in Biblical Languages, Church History, Systematic Theological, and Apologetics & Islam. The M.A. program will ground the candidate in the content and interpretation of the Bible, allow her or him to deal systematically with the doctrines of the Bible and with the rich history of the church. It pays particular attention to the development of doctrine and to the Reformed tradition. All women registering for courses at GPTS are required to affirm that they will not use credits earned at the seminary in future pursuit of any program leading to ordination to the offices of minister, elder or deacon in any church. (See the GPTS Academic Catalog, pp. 65-66 for details.)

GPTS Response on Biblical Marriage

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, throughout its history, has adopted and subscribed to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as its doctrinal standards, in the sincerely held belief that they accurately represent the teaching of Christian Scriptures on major points of Christian doctrine. Among the tenets of faith described in the Westminster Confession (A.D. 1647) is its Chapter 24: “Of Marriage and Divorce.”

This confession states in part:
  1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.
  2. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with legitimate issue, and of the church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.
  3. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord….

The Bible itself declares the commandment of God at the beginning of the human race as He instituted human marriage with these words: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Numerous Scriptures condemn homosexual relations, along with other impure and perverted thoughts and actions, as "abominations" before God.

Greenville Seminary thereby seeks to distinguish its long-held beliefs from the position of another Presbyterian body known as the Presbyterian Church (USA) which on March 17, 2015 adopted a change to its historic Book of Order concerning marriage. By this change, the PCUSA took the unbiblical position that marriage is “a unique relationship between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” This new position was set forth as a means of sanctioning so-called marital unions of persons of the same sex.

Although Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is not an official institutional affiliate of any of the several existing Presbyterian denominations, it aligns its beliefs and positions with those of a number of conservative, evangelical, and orthodox churches holding to the absolute authority of the Bible and the teachings of the Protestant Reformation. The following response by this seminary on Biblical marriage is adapted from a statement issued by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in response to the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s departure from Biblical requirements for marriage:

We, like other evangelical, conservative, orthodox, and traditional Christians from many branches of the Christian faith, believe that, from creation, God ordained the marriage covenant to be a unique bond between one man and one woman. This biblical understanding is what the Church has always believed, taught, and confessed. Therefore, we believe that the divinely sanctioned standard for sexual activity is fidelity within a marriage between one man and one woman or chastity outside of such a marriage.

Throughout history, there has often been a conflict between what the Church has believed, taught, and confessed and the society to which the Church ministers. The Church, in contrast to the broader culture, is to base her views and practices on authoritative and timeless divine revelation found in the Holy Scriptures, and not on the changing and frequently subjective social practices within the society. The Church, therefore, has certain unchanging objective standards of biblical ethics.

This is especially challenging in this post-modern era of relativism. We think that the comparatively recent interpretation that biblical prohibitions against same-sex intimacy do not apply to “a same-sex marriage” is based on false premises and faulty reasoning and, therefore, is erroneous – no matter how well-intentioned.
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As we affirm what is sometimes called a traditional view of marriage, which we prefer to call biblical marriage, we seek to follow the apostolic practice of “speaking the truth in love.” We reach out to all persons with the Good News by which we are being saved that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”


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NOTE: The GPTS 2016 Spring Theology Conference will explore the subject of Marriage, Family and Sexuality. Plan now to attend during the 2nd week of March.

Robertson and Pipa Team Up for Summer Institute Teaching on the Psalms


Find it difficult to grasp any sense of order in the Psalter? Have trouble locating the right psalm for a particular need? Since the time of Augustine until today, the Psalms have been read as individually wrapped treasures that stand alone rather than having inner connections within the book as a whole.

Greenville Seminary's 2015 Summer Institute will provide an in-depth look at "The Flow of the Psalms," with teaching by Dr. O. Palmer Robertson, Aug. 3-7 at the seminary. This week-long seminar is a greatly expanded version of a lecture presented by Dr. Robertson prior to our 2014 Spring Theology Conference. Dr. Palmer's lectures will take place during the morning sessions daily; during the afternoon sessions, Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., will be lecturing on Preaching the Psalms. Pastors attending will be given the opportunity to submit sermons on the Psalms for critiquing.

The Flow of the Psalms explores the fascinating structures of psalm groupings that will enable you to place as many as 80 per cent of the psalms in their relationship to the whole of the book. Discovering groupings that feature psalms celebrating creation, psalms of corporate praise, psalms of the innocent sufferer, psalms of the guilty sufferer, psalms anticipating prosperity and long life, psalms of personal and national disaster, will enable you to “find your way” to the right psalm for a specific occasion. Understanding these inherent connections can only enrich the understanding of each individual psalm.

Throughout the whole, the promised Messiah and his universal reign provide a unifying focus. Charts displaying the structure inherent in each of the five Books of the Psalter make it possible to visualize the progression in redemptive truth from Psalm 1 to Psalm 150.

Registration opportunities will be available soon. Watch this newsletter for further announcements.

Why GPTS Tuition Is So Low

The founders and trustees of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary have always believed that men called to the ministry should not have to leave seminary with a mountain of debt. Therefore, our tuition is one-half to one-third less than other historically Presbyterian seminaries. Moreover, students who come from GPTS-supporting churches or Presbyteries often have their tuition waived.

A recent article in The Acton Institute’s “power blog” typifies the ungodly results of seeking to enter ministry with a massive debt burden. The article chronicles the experience of a student about to graduate from a prestigious liberal divinity school after amassing more than $100,000 in student debt. The student is quoted as arguing that society and the government need to subsidize his “calling” to the ministry. Article author Joe Carter responds, however,

“The main thing that needs to be said is that if you take out a loan to buy luxury goods (like expensive colleges) you have a moral obligation to repay it. It’s time we start expecting that all Americans—especially those who want to lead our churches— to start acting like adults instead of whiny, entitled children.

“There are many issues of economic and social justice that should be of concern for Christians. Paying back the student loans of middle-class snowflakes who feel ‘called’ to make bad decisions is not one of them.”

At GPTS, tuition currently costs $180 per credit hour. This makes the full cost of our 4-year M.Div. degree (124 credit hours) to be $22,300. This is only a fraction of the cost of comparable seminaries in North America. Our tuition is kept low because 70 percent of our operating costs are paid by sponsoring churches and individual donors.

The tuition charges and fees represent only a fraction of the cost of operating Greenville Seminary. Individuals, churches, and presbyteries that have chosen to underwrite the work of the Seminary provide most of the funding and support. Through their continued generosity, the cost of the education offered by Greenville Seminary is being kept to a minimum.

Levites leading worship
God established a Biblical pattern for the support of those who minister in His name. We see that principle demonstrated in the pattern of support for the Levites by the Israelites. This principle encourages the Seminary to ask that the churches and/or presbyteries that endorse men for the Gospel ministry support their candidates financially. In the light of this biblical principle and in order to foster a closer working relationship among the students, the sending bodies, and the Seminary, the Board of Trustees has determined that a student under care of a presbytery or session of the PCA, OPC, or any other approved denomination may have a full tuition waiver if:

  1. the sending church or presbytery supports the Seminary at the level of the student's actual tuition costs (approximately $5,000.00 per year for a full-time student); or
  2. the sending presbytery supports the Seminary at $1.50 per communicant member per year per student with the minimum of $1,500.00 per year per student; or
  3. the sending church supports the Seminary at $20.00 per communicant member per year per student with the minimum of $1000.00 per year per student (effective for new students enrolled on or after July 1, 2015).
Note: Students are expected to pay any portion of the tuition not so covered. Thus, if the Seminary receives one-half of the above amounts from a student's presbytery or congregation, he will be charged only one-half of his tuition. This will encourage sessions and presbyteries to take seriously their commitment to their candidates, and in turn the candidates will be encouraged by the support of their sessions and/or presbyteries. Students are responsible for all fees (including audit fees).

The Seminary requires the sending church/presbytery to support the Seminary for at least one year prior to a particular student's matriculation. Also, in order to help keep the cost of administrative, janitorial, and clerical help to a minimum, it requires students whose tuition is waived due to ecclesiastical support to work for the Seminary at least one hour per week for every three credit hours taken, not to exceed four hours/week. These work hours must be satisfied during the normal semester unless other arrangements are made.

Financial Report for March 2015

The tables below indicate our financial situation as of the end of March 2015 and the first three quarters our 2014-15 fiscal year. Unrestricted general fund donations from churches and individuals during March totaled $42,625, which was $21,234 below the $63,859 budgeted for such income. Expenses of $81,653 were $8,262 below the $89,915 budgeted for expenses. In addition, we received $583 toward our Capital Fund in March.

Net income for the fiscal year remains in positive territory. Repayment from the General Fund of a $35,000 long-term loan to the Capital Fund substantially eroded our reserves in the third quarter. Changing support patterns from several major donor sources impacted cash flow during the past quarter. On the other hand, the seminary has successfully kept expenses below budget for the past three months.

We covet your earnest prayers and gifts during the final quarter of the fiscal year, without which our ministry will be threatened.


 GENERAL OPERATING FUND - MARCH 2015
fundraising ideas for schools, churches, and youth sports teams
Graph shows March
contributions vs. Budget 
(upper number)

 Donation Income (unrestricted)
$42,625 
 Other Income
$16,799 
 Total Income
$59,424 
 Expenses
$81,653 
 Net Income
–$22,229 
 GENERAL OPERATING FUND -  FISCAL 2014-15
Donation Income
$569,330 
Other Income
$249,316 
Total Income
$818,646 
Expenses
$762,095 
Net Income
$56,551 

 CAPITAL FUND
 Capital Campaign Goal
$3,500,000 
 Received
$3,397,590 
 Long-term Pledges Outstanding
$285,378 
 Total Received and Pledged
$3,682,968 
 Outstanding Obligations
$0 
 Monthly Interest Payment
$2,412 
 Remaining Mortgage
$580,817 



 

If you would like to make a convenient online donation to Greenville Seminary, click the "Donate" button above. Gifts may also be mailed to: Greenville Seminary, PO Box 690, Taylors SC 29687.


THE GPTS ADVANCEMENT INITIATIVE

From now until the end of 2015, Greenville Seminary urges you to join in our critical-needs Advancement Initiative by donating and enlisting a team of fellow supporters. Here's how it works:

Click on this link and then either select the orange DONATE TO YOUR CHARITY box to make a donation or, better yet, click on the black FUNDRAISE FOR YOUR CHARITY box to start your own peer-to-peer fund-raising campaign on behalf of GPTS. Once you have created your campaign, click on the "Manage Team" tab on your fund-raiser campaign page, then on the "Invite Team Members" box to create an e-mail message notifying your contacts about your fund-raising efforts on behalf of Greenville Seminary. In turn, they will have the opportunity to give or start a campaign of their own.


As you reach out, or even if you do not participate in this Crowdrise.com effort, we would appreciate knowing about your contacts. We are asking you to provide the names of five prospective donors from among your friends and acquaintances. To make your pledge and referrals, please fill out and submit the form here.
  
Most of all, be fervent in prayer that God would provide all that is needed for us to do what He has called us to do in this ministry which the church so badly needs in these uncommon times.

Remember, gifts to GPTS are tax-deductible and may include cash, securities, property or a variety of planned giving instruments. (The tax deduction is reduced by the fair market value of any premium received in return for a donation.) See here for information about planning your last will and testament with the Kingdom of God in mind.



Whether or not you can contribute financially, here is another way you can help the seminary: Spread the Word! Do you know someone that would be interested in learning more about our organization or supporting us? If so, share a link to this newsletter. (Click the tiny "M" e-mail icon at the bottom of this post.) Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

From Gutenberg to Gates: The GPTS Electronic Classroom

It has been said that the Protestant Reformation may have never happened had it not been for Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press at roughly the moment of Luther’s famous theses on indulgences and his other break-through writings. World-changing ideas often depend providentially on the means for their dissemination.

Once again in our age, technology is being touted as the essential need of the hour. As one writer in the field has noted, technology is the quintessential component having a major role in modern-day education. The importance of technology in education can be seen in rapidly increasing access to a wide variety of learning resources. Things which one previously thought would remain unexplored are now well within reach.

Distant education, especially — which allows students around the world to tap into a unique educational institution’s programs in real time — is something we owe to technology. Technology has given us multiple channels of communicating with the world at large. It has expanded the power of education and unlocked the potential of students, educators and schools alike.

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has sought to keep pace with the state of the art with its electronic classrooms and distance learning programs, which are used by students around North America and a variety of foreign countries, including those in the Third World. Students logging in over the Internet are able to participate just as if they were sitting in our classrooms. Interactive meeting programs have been recently upgraded, giving our distance students an enhanced real-time experience.

GPTS is now pursuing further upgrades which will make the learning experience even more effective. It is our objective to provide our professors with high-end tablet computers — namely Microsoft Corp.’s Surface Pro tablets — which will equip them to more effectively communicate lesson components to distance students. These devices, for example, will allow professors to transmit hand-written “whiteboard” content directly to distant students’ computers. Currently, professors use standard classroom whiteboards for diagrams or other lesson content; but classroom cameras do not adequately capture and transmit whiteboard images to distance students. The new tablets would greatly enhance these teaching techniques, especially in our Greek and Hebrew courses which depend so heavily on visualizations.

Learning a language that isn't your native tongue is hard, particularly one that uses unfamiliar alphabets. Anyone who's had the experience of sitting in the back of a classroom only catching a few words as the teacher explains a concept, and seeing the rest of the class nodding their heads, knows what we mean. One of the benefits of technology in the classroom is helping language learners assimilate class instruction more quickly and effectively.

For the benefit of students in classroom, we also need additional projection equipment. Four ceiling-mounted digital projectors are required, one for each of our four classrooms.

We have identified sources for discounts on Surface Pro tablets and projectors. Still these devices are not inexpensive. We are therefore initiating an off-budget fund-raising effort to make this technological upgrade possible. We are seeking to raise $9,650 as soon as possible to purchase and integrate these devices into our program in time for the 2015-16 academic year.

Breakfast at PCA and OPC General Assemblies

Greenville Seminary will be hosting breakfasts at two major denominational general assemblies in June.

Reserve a spot for breakfast at the annual General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Greenville Seminary is hosting a morning get-together on Wednesday, June 10, at 7 a.m. in Banquet Room H of the Chattanooga Convention Center, site of the 2015 GA. If you're a commissioner or guest, we cordially invite you to join us for breakfast, fellowship and an update on our ministry.

The breakfast is free, but we need reservations. You may submit a reservation online here: bit.ly/gptsbreakfast. The reservation form has spaces for you to indicate guests who may be attending with you.




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On Saturday, June 6, Dr. Tony Curto will host a breakfast for commissioners and guests attending the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. The breakfast will be held during the scheduled breakfast hour. Commissioners should obtain their meal in the usual manner and proceed to the designated room for GPTS.


Special Creation Lecture at GPTS April 10

Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International will make a special presentation at Greenville Seminary on April 10, 2015, beginning at 11 a.m. The public is invited to attend.

Dr. Sarfati will be speaking on Genesis Chapter 1 -2: Contradictory or Complementary. The 60-minute event will include book tables with creationism resources and CMI's new commentary on Genesis.

The presentation will be followed by a "bag lunch" (bring your own) and extended question & answer session.

video

Podcast and Conference Audio/Video


Audio Resources on the GPTS Web Site

Visit our Mt. Olive Audio Library Media Page for all the latest recordings from our chapel services, podcast, special lectures and more. The Mt. Olive Audio Library has a wealth of material for your spiritual edification. We pray these media resources will be a blessing to many! The Media page integrates in one place the resources from our SermonAudio channel and our Confessing Our Hope podcast and more.



Confessing Our Hope Podcast


Another new program is available at Confessing Our Hope, the web broadcast of Greenville Seminary, hosted by William Hill.

"Faith and Practice #12" — GPTS President Joseph Pipa Jr. answers listeners' questions on the double imputation of Christ, intimacy in marriage on the Lord's Day, theonomy, sexual abuse and other sin in the church, and others.




Banner of Truth Conference

GPTS Trustee and adjunct professor Dr. Ian Hamilton speaks below about the importance of The Banner of Truth's pastors conference, which is endorsed by the seminary.






GPTS 2015 Theology Conference Audio/Video



Video recordings of the lectures from the GPTS 2015 Spring Theology Conference on "The Law of God in a Lawless Age" are available now for purchase from the seminary bookshop. Please call Librarian Andy Wortman at 864-322-2717 ext.308 to order. Or e-mail him at awortman@gpts.edu. The price for a complete set of lectures on DVD is $55. These would be ideal for a Sunday school class or adult study group, or for your personal and family edification.

Audio recordings of the lectures are now available on the seminary's SermonAudio page. If you would like to have your own permanent copies, you may order as follows:

MP3 (digital file set) — $25
Full audio CD set — $55