Monday, January 7, 2013

Drawing Aside the Curtain of a New Year

Forgetting the past ... I press onward. — Phil. 3:13,14
One of God's glorious gifts to mankind is to bestow upon him the dawn of a new year. New opportunities and challenges are before him. A chance to try again to make another endeavor to successfully accomplish the ambitions which were perhaps cast aside with discouragement in the year past. Life is full of beginnings. As one stands a the gate and with doubtful hand draws aside the curtain and peers into the unknown, he begins today by making his first step across the threshold of the new year. It is already a beautiful  year because it another year of Our Lord. 
Gazing at the far horizons and half wondering what the coming months will bring, pause but a moment to reflect over the old volume of three hundred and sixty five days just ended. The pages may have been marred by mistakes and torn by intentions, but a few more miles have been covered on the upward climb, pressing toward the mark. 
Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come,
'Twas grace that brought us safe thus far,
And grace will lead us Home. 
It has not been our own achievement. Great has been our Father's faithfulness; new every morning have been  His mercies. He faileth never! 
Excerpt from Streams in the Desert, Vol. 2, Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

To help you grow in grace this year, we offer these recommendations from Dr. Benjamin Shaw, academic dean and professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at GPTS:

“I recommend ... a regular program of reading through the Bible (I especially recommend Grant Horner's system, found online here. ... I also recommend ... a program of reading regularly through the Westminster Standards. As a suggestion here, I recommend one chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith per day, and four questions in each of the Larger and Shorter Catechisms per day. When you get to the end of each, simply start over again. The WCF takes 33 days. The LC takes 49 days, and the SC takes 27 days. Thus, in a year, one would read through the WCF 11+ times, the LC 7+ times, and the SC 14+ times. I also suggest ... memorizing the Shorter Catechism. The repeated reading through the Bible acquaints one with the Bible, while the repeated reading through the Standards acquaints one with Reformed theology.”

Here are some additional resources to help you read through the Bible and/or the Westminster Standards this year:

Calendar Readings in the Westminster Standards
Bible Reading Schedule
M'Cheyne's Bible Reading Calendar

iPhone users: Here's a free app to help you set and track your goals for the new year.

Thanks for Blessing GPTS with Your Support!

Financial Report for December 2012

Plus: Report on Charitable Giving in Light of the "Fiscal Cliff" Compromise Legislation

"IMPACT 2012 Challenge" Sets Record!

We are pleased to report that response to our year-end "Impact 2012 Challenge" was favorable; indeed, it was the largest ever! Acting in faith, we set our 2012 goal at $180,000 — some $55,000 higher than the $125,000 goal set in 2011. We are pleased to report receipts for the 2012 year-end campaign of $174,899, which was $41,429 higher than the $133,470 received during the comparable effort in 2011. Glory to God and thanks to His faithful people! 

Below is a graph showing results of during 2012 Challenge period of late November through December, including December-dated gifts received in early January. (Another $10,000 gift was received shortly after the campaign period.) We are humbled and most grateful for the large outpouring of support received during this period. Gifts included numerous small-to-large one-time donations; monthly, quarterly and annual gifts; corporate matching donations; and a sizable stock donation. 

fundraiser ideas
The GPTS "Impact 2012" Challenge — Goal: $180,000

The tables below show our overall financial condition as of the end of December 2012, marking the end of the first half of our 2012-2013 fiscal year. For the month of December, contributions totaling $147,130 from churches and individuals were $73,047 above what was budgeted ($74,083). Expenses were $14,413 above budget ($91,946). 

For the 2012 calendar year, unrestricted general fund contributions from individuals and churches totaled $991,814, an increase of $168,158 over the $823,656 received in calendar year 2011 ($730,027 was received in 2010). The 2012 total, which included a $288,788 bequest, was $180,262 over the budgeted amount. Total income from all sources in 2012 was $1.06 million.

Donation Income$147,130
Other Income$16,176
Total Income$163,306
Net Income+$56,947

Donation Income$427,853
Other Income$128,353
Total Income$556,206
Net Income-$443

Capital Campaign Goal*$3,500,000
Long-term Pledges Outstanding$588,824
Total Received and Pledged$3,640,799
Outstanding Obligations$35,000
Monthly Note$4,264
Remaining Mortgage$889,794

*Although the formal fund-raising campaign goal has been more than realized, additional funds are needed to amortize the balance of our mortgage.

A new year is a great time to review your will, life insurance and/or retirement plans. We work with the PCA Foundation, whose professionals can help you with this review and suggest options that will help keep less of your money from going to the government while possibly also benefiting your favorite charitable causes, including Greenville Seminary. See the "Planned Giving and Estate Planning" section on this page of our web site. We recommend that your consider any of a variety of charitable giving instruments (if qualified), including a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust, a Charitable IRA Rollover, Charitable Gift Life Insurance, or a Charitable Lead Trust.

If you have or plan to name GPTS in your will or as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy, we would be grateful to know about this for the benefit of our records and planning. Contact

The "Fiscal Cliff" Compromise and Charitable Giving

GPTS has a faithful core of supporters highly committed to our mission, and thus we trust that we may not face some of the potential detriments that other charities are facing as a result of the New Year's Day "fiscal cliff" compromise, the so-called "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012," enacted by Congress. Among the key provisions is a limit on charitable deductions by wealthy individuals. Write-offs grow more limited the more taxable income a person has and could reduce the value of deductions by up to 80 percent for the highest-income taxpayers, according to the Tax Policy Center.

"When surveyed, the majority of charitably-minded individuals indicate that they give because of the mission of the charity, not because of tax law incentives. However, these individuals also share that they want their charitable gifts to be as tax-efficient as possible and do seek out ways to lower their tax bill using charitable gifts," says attorney Brian Sagrestano, CEO of Gift Planning Development, LLC.

"So there are concerns that additional changes to the tax code could impact charitable giving in the future – not necessarily on the decision of whether or not to give, but on the choice of gift type and gift amount. Some groups, on the other hand, may find new incentives to give in such changes....

"The salient implications of the Act are as follows:

  1. High Income Earners: Those exceeding the $200,000/$250,000 and/or the $400,000/$450,000 income threshold levels will see their taxes increase in 2013. The deduction available for charitable gifts may help to offset some of these additional taxes. However, this same group likely will be subject to the new income phase-outs on itemized deductions, so the value of their charitable deduction could be slightly reduced. Each individual will need to check with his/her tax preparer.
  2. Those Formerly Subject to the AMT: The AMT stripped away the benefits of many income tax deductions and exemptions. For those no longer subject to the AMT, charitable gifts may prove to be an effective way to lower their tax bill.
  3. Investors: Gifts of highly appreciated assets continue to make sense for everyone, as the donor benefits from both an income tax deduction and avoidance of capital gains tax. For people above the $200,000/$250,000 and $400,000/$450,000 thresholds, these gifts are even more effective at      lowering the tax bite.
  4. Those with Overfunded IRAs: The extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover will allow individuals who are required to take distributions from their IRA accounts to once again directly transfer some of those assets to charity. In so doing, they avoid the IRA distribution being added to their adjusted gross income for the year, which can trigger many of the new taxes for higher income earners."
For Sagrestano's complete analysis of the "fiscal cliff" compromise and its effect on your charitable giving, go here.

Another summary of the legislation and its effects by the Barnabas Foundation can be found here. Read The Chronicle of Philanthropy article on the legislation here.

Our affiliate, the PCA Foundation, has a bulletin concerning congressional approval of an extension of the IRA Rollover Provision for retirees. Read the bulletin here.

If you would like to make a convenient online donation to Greenville Seminary, click the  "Donate Online" button above. 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, fill out the form here and an e-mail message with a link to our website will be sent to them. Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. 

Sharing in the Advancement of GPTS

Visit the GPTS Development Office web site for information on ways to support and spread the word about Greenville Seminary.

Conference "Early Bird" Deadline Looms

Theories of human origin put forth by theistic evolutionists will be examined in light of Genesis 2:7 by Dr. Richard P. Belcher Jr., Old Testament professor at Reformed Theological Seminary-Charlotte, during the 2013 GPTS Spring Theology Conference on "The Doctrine of Man."

Dr. Belcher will examine theistic evolution theories with an emphasis on the hermeneutical approach that seeks to make Genesis 2:7 fit an evolutionary view. Historically, creationists have held that God created the world and all within it "out of nothing" by His verbal decree. Genesis 2:7 states: "...then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature" (ESV). Dr. Belcher's lecture will kick off the conference, which opens at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 12.

Early-bird registration rates end Feb. 1 for the conference to be held March 12-14. For full information about the conference, visit our web site conference pages. Online registration is available at this web address. Tap the blue circle to register at Early Bird Registration Rates.

The conference will be held at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church, Simpsonville, S.C. The registration table for on-site registration at regular rates opens at 11:00 a.m. This year's events will include a return to the practice of a pre-conference chapel on the GPTS campus at 10:30 a.m. An Open House Reception in the seminary's Commons will begin at 9:30 a.m. A prospective student luncheon will be held in the Commons at 11:15 a.m. Senior students and faculty members will be on hand to greet prospective students and answer questions.

Tuesday and Wednesday evening sessions at the conference site are open to the public and will be broadcast live on the Internet through SermonAudio facilities

The full roster of conference speakers and their topics is as follows:
  • Dr. Richard Belcher — "The Supernatural Creation of Man" (including examination of modern theories of theistic evolution)
  • Dr. Guy Waters — "The Covenant of Works"
  • Dr. Joel Beeke — "Temptation and Fall" (free Tuesday evening service)
  • Mr. Matthew Holst — "Red in Tooth and Claw? An Exegetical Evaluation of the Doctrine of Death Before The Fall"
  • Dr. Bill Vandoodewaard — "Thomas Boston and the Four-fold State"
  • Dr. Nelson Kloosterman — "Imago Dei – Man, the Image of God"
  • Dr. Joseph Pipa — "Original Sin" (free Wednesday evening service)
  • Dr. Nelson Kloosterman — "The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission – An Integrationist Model"
  • Mr. Gabriel Fluhrer — "Beware Lest Any Man Spoil You: Questioning the Philosophy of Science Used to Question the Bible's Doctrine of Man"
We see the Doctrine of Man as an increasingly important topic at this time as the biblical understanding of man's origins, nature and purposes is under concerted attack. It is critical for all believers and especially leaders in the church to examine these issues thoughtfully. We hope to see many turn out for this conference and ask that you encourage your pastors and elders to consider attending. 

Calling All Golfers!

The First Annual GPTS Golf Challenge is scheduled for the afternoon of March 14, 2013, following the close of our Spring Theology Conference. The GPTS Golf Challenge will be held at The Preserve at Verdae Greens, a prestigious championship course in Greenville, S.C. Carved into a lush Carolina Forest with hills and mountain-like brooks, The Preserve at Verdae is both scenic and challenging to play.

In past years, a handful friends of the seminary have joined President Pipa for a recreational round of golf following the conference. This year we are working with a professional consultant to stage a blockbuster golf outing designed to raise both new friends and new funds for the seminary. Our goal is to net $20,000 or more!

The first step in creating this event will be identifying 5-10 select influential "Captains" with a circle of golf-enthusiast friends to invite to play in the tournament. Tournament Captains will be asked to attend an orientation meeting in the seminary Board Room at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, January 14, 2013. Captains, among other things, will recruit up to 20 players to be invited to participate in the "shotgun-style" tournament. The invited players, known as GPTS "Ambassadors," will in turn find individual and corporate sponsors for their round. The tournament may also be opened to a number of "pay-to-play" golfers.

The day's tournament will be followed by a buffet dinner at the adjacent Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort and Conference Center. Guests will have an opportunity to learn more about the ministry and impact of Greenville Seminary. Also at the dinner, valuable prizes (e.g. iPods to ocean cruises) will be awarded for top fund-raisers and for various contests which will be featured during the tournament, such as "lowest score," "longest drive" and "closest to the pin."

If you are interested in participating as a Team Captain, Player/Ambassador or sponsor (individual or business), please contact Garry Moes at

More information about the 2013 GPTS Golf Challenge will be forthcoming in the near future. If you are contacted by one of our Captains or Ambassadors, please give careful consideration to how you might be able to support this "friending and funding" effort.

Let us know whether and how you can participate. Response form here.

Crick Memorial Gift to Benefit Apologetics Program

A considerable memorial gift from Sherri Crick, widow of former GPTS student and adjunct faculty member Dr. Jerry W. Crick, has been received by Greenville Seminary to benefit the Smith-Singer Library and the seminary's Apologetics Program.

The gift will be divided three ways for three apologetics-related purposes:

  1. Some funds will be used to purchase a selection of reference works and circulating items focused on apologetics and ethics. Items on the history of apologetics and the interaction of science and religion may also be included. A memorial plaque will be placed in the library in honor of Dr. Crick and memorial plates will be placed in each of the books.
  2. Some of the funds will be used for a series of special lectures covering some aspect of apologetics or ethics that would honor Dr. Crick's interest in presuppositional apologetics and ethics. Themes for the lectures will be chosen by the faculty.
  3. Funds will also be used to purchase textbooks on apologetics and ethics to be given to selected students. The candidate for the book scholarships must be a resident student entering a second year of study and who has shown diligence in his coursework. Student need will be assessed by the registrar in conjunction with the president. Thirty copies of each of the following books will be purchased: The Westminster Standards – Free Church Edition, Van Til's Apologetic by Greg Bahnson, The Defense of the Faith by Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics by Van Til, The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary by Johannes G. Vos, and Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics by John Murray.
In presenting the gift, Mrs. Crick noted her late husband's passion for training men for the Gospel ministry. "He had a great desire that they be instructed to defend the faith from a biblical perspective, specifically as set forth by Cornelius Van Til.

"As he has joined the 'great cloud of witnesses,' his faith is now sight," she said. "May his legacy by that, directly or indirectly, many sons may be brought to glory as Christ's ministers faithfully proclaim the whole counsel of God and burn with a holy zeal to see men and nations turn to Him.

"Above all, may all that is done as a result of these efforts be for the glory of our God, the exaltation of our Savior Jesus Christ, and the building of His glorious kingdom, all by the power of the blessed Holy Spirit," she said.

Mrs. Crick lives in Hoover, Alabama. The seminary expresses its high gratitude for this important memorial gift.

Presbyterian Church History Course and Tour Upcoming This Month

By Dr. C.N. Willborn

I don’t mind going out on a limb and saying that our churches (and our nation) suffer from a lack of knowledge when it comes to men like James Henley Thornwell, John Girardeau, and Thomas Smyth. Smyth’s monumental pastoral leadership in Charleston, S.C., included initiating the first major work among the poor and needy in Charleston. The result was that one of his young parishioners, John Girardeau, would lead an unparalleled work among the free and slave blacks of Charleston and set a standard for urban ministry that is still imitable.

James Henley Thornwell and John Girardeau, with their incisive philosophical and theological acumen, would break ground for reform in ecclesiology with their writings on the offices, giving elders and deacons their rightful standing in the church. Ecclesiology was not the only contribution they made; how about the doctrine of adoption? While the debates were raging in Scotland over the Fatherhood of God, Girardeau sifted through the biblical data and set forth a beautiful directive for understanding adoption, “the apex of the gospel” (as Professor John Murray called it). Biblical-covenantal theology was alive and well in the Palmetto State and Thornwell and Girardeau provided the pulpits of the South men able to rightly preach the redemptive message.

Anson Street Mission
On January 14-18 we explore all of this and more in Greenville Seminary’s Winter Term course on Presbyterian Church History, which includes a two-day tour of related historic sites in South Carolina. The course is a smattering of Scottish and American Presbyterianism. By week’s end we’ve rehearsed major figures, events, and theological development in our rich heritage.

Lectures are richly enhanced by two days of travel to historic Columbia and Charleston. We visit some of the best Presbyterian treasures in the United States. We begin at First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, where John Richard de Witt provides us a first-class introduction to the building and the church yard. We then visit the site of old Columbia Seminary where John Bailey Adger, Thornwell, William Plumer, and Girardeau shaped generations of young preachers and thinkers.

Johns Island
After a brief visit to the beautiful Elmwood Cemetery where Thornwell, Girardeau, R.C. Reed and William Childs Robinson await the resurrection, we move on to the historic low country of South Carolina. Stops include Johns Island (the oldest Presbyterian building in the United States), First Scots, Second Presbyterian, the famous Anson Street Mission building where both free and slave worshiped together. From the old church buildings where our fathers in the faith preached God’s unsearchable riches, to the quiet church yards and cemeteries where their dust awaits the resurrection, we step back in time to get our footing for the future. This really is my favorite week of the year. Memories both come alive and are made in South Carolina during this week in January.

Winter Term Underway

The 2013 Winter Term at Greenville Seminary is underway with five courses being offered from Jan. 7 through Jan. 18. Courses are offered on an intensive schedule during the two-week term, which is followed by a "reading week" before exams conclude on Jan. 25.

Courses offered this term are as follows:

AT40 - Reformed Pastor: Jan. 7, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Jan. 8-11, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Rev. William Shishko

AT20 - Introduction to Homiletics: Jan 7 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; Jan 8-11, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.-5 p.m., Dr. Joseph Pipa Jr.

OT32 - Old Testament Biblical Theology:  Jan. 7, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Jan 8-11, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Dr. L. Michael Morales.

HT10 - Presbyterian Church History:  Jan 14, 10 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Jan 15-16 travel; Jan. 17, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Jan. 18, 9:00 a.m.-12 p.m., Dr. C.N. Willborn.

AT30 - Reformed Worship: Jan. 14, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; Jan 15–17, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 and 2 p.m.-5 p.m.; Jan 18, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Dr. Pipa.

One spring semester class, AP42 - Ethics, will be taught during the intensive winter term reading week period, Jan. 21-26 by Adjunct Professor James D. "Bebo" Elkins: Jan. 21, 6-10 p.m.; Jan. 22-26, 9:00-11:00 a.m. and 1:00-5:00 p.m.; Jan. 26, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Regular spring semester classes begin Jan. 29. See the class schedule here.

Confessing Our Hope Podcast

Listen to the GPTS Web-based radio broadcasts, with new interviews weekly as we resume our schedule for 2013! New programs are now available for listening or download. Among them:

#29 - Warfield and the Christian Life Dr. Fred G. Zaspel was our guest as we took a brief but informative look at his book on the Christian life through the eyes of theologian B.B. Warfield. Listen here.

#30 - Experiences of a New Minister. Our guest for this broadcast is Rev. Seth Starkey, assistant minister at Second Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Greenville, SC. In this broadcast we discuss what ministry life is like, especially for a new minister of the gospel. Listen here.

Our GPTS "app" for smartphones and tablets provides a new avenue to access our podcast on the go. Get the app here or go to the iPhone App Store or Google Play from your device (not compatible with Amazon Kindle devices). Available also through RSS (for instance, iTunes or Google Reader).

Visit Host William Hill's Confessing Our Hope Blog for news and information about the broadcast as well as access to all program recordings. Podcasts can also be accessed through our mobile web site.

Dr. Curto's Mission Trip

Dr. Tony Curto, Greenville Seminary's associate professor of practical theology in missions and apologetics, is currently on an extended missions trip in Africa and Europe.

Dr. Curto left Greenville shortly before Christmas to visit the Orthodox Presbyterian Church missions in Ethopia through Jan. 2. Thereafter, he spent time in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, particularly working with churches of the Evangelical and Reformed Church Westminster Confession denomination in Swizterland and Austria. He will return Jan. 17.

Dr. Curto formerly served as a missionary evangelist in Uganda. His wife Kathleen serves as registrar at GPTS.

GPTS Notes the Passing of Tom Patete

GPTS notes the sudden passing of Thomas R. Patete, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and executive director of Great Commission Publications for the past 34 years. Great Commission is the joint publishing ministry of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) and PCA.
He was a close friend of GPTS President Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.

Rev. Patete died on Dec. 14 from a brain aneurysm suffered two days earlier. He was 71. He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Jane; two children, Amy and husband Tim Gresham, and Robert Patete and wife, Christine; grandchildren, Seth, Paige and Ellie Gresham, and Annalise, Carlisle and Jesse Patete; a brother, Billy; and sister, Judi (Horton).

An overflow crowd packed the sanctuary of Old Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Ga. to hear tributes to Rev. Patete and to be reminded of the Christian hope for eternal life with Christ.

Tom received his B.A. from Belhaven College in 1964 and his Master of Divinity at Columbia Theological Seminary in 1967. He began his ministry as assistant pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, Miss., and pastored churches in Winona, Miss. and Marks, Miss.