Friday, August 9, 2013

Convocation 2013 Kicks off New Academic Year with Enrollment Increase

Dr. Joseph Pipa Jr.
The seminary's 27th Convocation will be held on August 27 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Academy of Arts adjacent to the seminary building. This year's convocation address will be delivered by Rev. Peter Van Doodewaard, an alumnus of GPTS and pastor of nearby Covenant Community Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Taylors, S.C.
Peter Van Doodewaard

Eight students were graduated last spring. For the Fall semester, GPTS welcomes 16 new students plus three students who formerly studied through our distance program but are now attending classes on campus. At this writing, four other applications were still being processed and five applicants have been accepted but have deferred start of classes until a later date. Of the 16 new students, 10 will be studying on campus, five are included in our distance/mentor program and one student will use both methods. One former student is also returning to his studies.

New students for the Fall Semester are Michael Spangler (M.Div.), Steven Cliff (B.D.), Danny McDaniel (MMRE), Thomas Booher (M.Div.), Caleb Bouma (M.Div.), J.R. McCravy (M.Div.), Trevor Setzer (M.Div.), Steve McCullough (M.Div.), Benjamin Wintrop (M.Div.), Nathan Hilton (M.Div.), Stephen Bryant (MMRE), Duncan Hoopes (M.Div.), Christopher Colby (M.Div.), Douglas Helton (M.Div.), Don Welker (M.Div.) and recent M.A. graduate Caleb Nelson, now enrolled in the M.Div. program. Former distance students studying in residence this Fall are Sam Ketcham, Vern Shoaf and Brewer Ames. Returning to his studies after a recent hiatus is Jason Short.

Dr. Smith Given Emeritus Status

The Greenville Seminary Board of Trustees has granted emeritus status to Dr. Morton H. Smith, professor of systematic theology, one of the co-founders of the seminary, and a legendary stalwart of modern Southern Presbyterianism. Dr. Smith will celebrate his 90th birthday on Dec. 11, D.V.

Dr. Smith will continue as an adjunct professor, teaching his Introduction to Reformed Theology course. The board has asked him to consider some writing projects. Trustees have also authorized the creation of a permanent Morton H. Smith Chair in Systematic Theology in his honor. The seminary's Development Office has been asked to create a campaign to endow that chair, with a goal of $700,000 to $1 million. A formal banquet and celebration of Dr. Smith's retirement will be held in the Greenville area on the Monday evening preceding our 2014 Spring Theology Conference. Admirers of Dr. Smith are encouraged to consider long-term endowment of the Systematics Chair by including a gift in their last will and testament or other planned giving instrument.

Dr. Smith has taught Biblical and Systematic theology at the college and seminary level for nearly 60 years. He was instrumental in the founding of the Presbyterian Church in America and served that denomination as stated clerk for 15 years. He was moderator of the PCA General Assembly in 2000. In 1966, he was instrumental in the founding of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., and in 1987 he joined others in creating Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where he served as dean of faculty until 1998. He served as pastor in Maryland in the mid-1950's and later taught at Belhaven College, Reformed Theological Institute, Reformed Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Seminary and Covenant Theological Seminary.

He received his B.A. from the University of Michigan, B.D. from Columbia Theological Seminary, and Th.D. from the Free Reformed University of Amsterdam. He did additional graduate studies at Westminster Theological Seminary and the University of Michigan. He has faithfully served the church as pastor, stated supply, guest preacher and teacher. He is widely regarded as an expert in Southern Presbyterian history and has taught a popular summer course on that subject at Greenville Seminary for several years.

He lives in Brevard, N.C. with his wife Lois, whom he married in June 1944. He served as a pilot and flight instructor in the Army Air Corps during World War II and continued his love of flying late into his life. Dr. Smith has had a lifelong love of the outdoors, especially the Southern Appalachians where he lives.

Dr. Smith is the author of nine books, including his two-volume Systematic Theology and his popular works, Harmony of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms (newly reprinted) and Commentary on the Book of Church Order (out of print). In addition, he has written four booklets, chapters in seven anthologies, and introductions to two works. He has contributed to four religious reference works.

In a 2004 festschrift celebrating his 80th birthday, Confessing our HopeGPTS President Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. wrote:
What does one say about a man like this? One is immediately impressed with his gentleness. Strangers as well as those who know him well comment that he is a true Christian gentleman, always polite and unassuming. He is a quiet man, and by his own admission a shy man. Though he would prefer to remain in the background, because of his responsibilities he does not give place to his natural shyness.
He is a godly man. He has a burning love for the Lord Jesus Christ and a high regard for the Scriptures, and he inspires those around him with such love and regard. His is a simple faith, which has been tested and shaped in the refiner's fire. He has regular daily worship with his wife, reading through books of the Bible in various translations. For private reading he prefers to focus his Bible reading on topics he desires to study in more detail, as well as the passages he will preach and teach on the Lord's Day. It is his custom to consult the original languages as part of his reading. For further edification he reads in systematic theology and church history, as well as biographies.
Dr. Smith's other courses at GPTS for the next academic year will be taught by the following instructors:

  • Prolegomena & Theology: Dr. Pipa
  • Eschatology: Dr. Pipa
  • Ecclesiology & Polity: Rev. Ryan McGraw
Please join us in thanking God for the life and ministry of Dr. Smith, for continued good health and strength for him, and for blessings on those who are taking on added teaching duties in the wake of his retirement.

Trustee Douglas Clark Called to Glory

The Greenville Seminary community mourns the sudden passing of Trustee Douglas M. Clark of Charlotte, N.C., who died on the Lord's Day, August 4, following emergency surgery. He was 58 years old.

Mr. Clark had been a member of the seminary Board of Trustees since 2008. Board Vice Chairman John Van Voorhis reacted to Mr. Clark's unexpected death, saying, "Sad – and shocking. Doug was a good man. We will miss him on the Board."

Throughout his adult life, Mr. Clark was an influential figure in the church. He was an elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church for 30 years, serving most recently as ruling elder at the Matthews Orthodox Presbyterian Church in suburban Charlotte. He served the church tirelessly with warm compassion, godly wisdom and fidelity to the gospel. He was a devoted Christian son, brother, husband, father, church leader, friend and, above all, servant of God. His greatest love was and is his Lord, Jesus Christ. 

Born in Montezuma, Ga. in 1954, Mr. Clark excelled in academics and swimming in his youth. He often cited swimming as a tool God used to form his constant personal discipline. He graduated from Dayton College in Tennessee, where he met his wife Tricia. During his college years, he began to love the Gospel in fresh ways; he was reinvigorated in his love for God and the things of God.

Mr. Clark is survived by his mother, Joyce Mathews Miller, his beloved wife, Tricia Poland Clark, and three children with their spouses: Justin and Kelly Clark, Calvin and Jennifer DeBoer, and Jordan and Katelyn Clark. He also is survived by eight grandchildren: Izzy, Clara, Joel, Jack, Miles, Walker and two expected in the Spring.

Funeral services were held August 9 at Philadelphia Presbyterian Church in Mint Hill, N.C.Click here to listen to an audio recording of the service.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Memorial gifts may be contributed through the seminary web site ( or by mail to P.O. Box 690, Taylors SC 29651. The seminary expresses thanks to those who have already given such gifts.

Scholarship Available for New Apologetics & Islam Program

Greenville Seminary has received an anonymous donation of $2,500 to fund a scholarship for a second-year student enrolled in the new Master of Arts in Apologetics and Islam degree program.

The degree was first offered in our new 2013-2016 Academic Catalog. To date, no applications have been received for admission to the program.

The purpose of the two-year M.A. in Apologetics and Islam program is to ground the student in the content and interpretation of the Bible, allowing him or her to deal systematically with the doctrines of the Bible, with the rich history of the church, and with the challenges to Christianity posed by Islam. The four-course Islam component of the program is designed to educate the student in ways to witness and minister to Muslims with civility and integrity for the glory of the Triune God.

The course of study includes 44 credit hours of studies in the following courses:

SEGMENT ONE (20 hours)
  • Introduction to Reformed Theology
  • Prolegomena and Theology
  • Life of Muhammad
  • Apologetics
  • Advanced Apologetics
  • Introduction to Islam

SEGMENT TWO (24 hours)
  • Reformation Church History
  • Christ & Salvation
  • Evangelism
  • Introduction to the Qur'an
  • Ecclesiology & Polity
  • Eschatology
  • Missions
  • Exegesis of the Qur'an
  • Ethics

In order to receive an award of scholarship funds, candidates for the Islamic Studies Scholarship must complete one year as a full-time student in the GPTS Master of Arts in Apologetics and Islam degree program. Awarded funds will be applied directly to the student's tuition and fee obligations.

As part of the scholarship application process, candidates must satisfactorily complete an application form requiring a written explanation of their rationale for seeking an M.A. in Apologetics and Islam degree, with emphasis on their desire for training in understanding and witnessing to Muslims. The narrative should include a satisfactory explanation, also on the form, of the candidate’s financial need for the scholarship funds.

An online application is located here. Contact the seminary's Development & Recruiting Office or click here for full information about scholarship application requirements, use of scholarship funds, and obligations of award recipients.

Financial Report for July 2013

July 2013 Performance
Greenville Seminary began its 2013-14 fiscal year on July 1. The tables below show our overall financial condition as of the end of July. Donations of $43,276 from churches and individuals were $18,197 below the $61,473 July budget for unrestricted contributions. Expenses of $87,881 were $424 below the $88,305 budgeted for expenses.

The New Budget
The 2013-2014 budget calls for total income of $1.14 million, down from last fiscal year's budget of $1.3 million and actual income of $1.2 million. The new budget's income figure anticipates $737,675 in contributions from churches and individuals, which constitutes 65 per cent of budgeted income. Tuition income is budgeted at $169,988, up from last fiscal years actual tuition income of $128.125, owing mostly to larger enrollment for the coming academic year. Total expenses for the new fiscal year are budgeted at nearly $1.03 million, compared to last fiscal year's budget of $1.1 million and actual expense of $821,967. A significant increase was budgeted for the seminary's Office of Development and Recruiting, a major component of which is a large anticipated increase in dues to the Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries as ARTS seeks full status as a nationally recognized accrediting agency through the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

With the our new academic year looming, your gifts during this month are crucial to our financial stability and for our operations during the summer months. Typically, with common summertime downturns in charitable giving and an absence of tuition income, these months are a critical period for meeting our ongoing financial obligations. We need your help.

Remember, gifts to GPTS are tax-deductible and may include cash, securities, property or a variety of planned giving instruments. SENIORS PLEASE NOTE information about IRA Charitable Rollovers in 2013, as explained here.

Donation Income (unrestricted)$43,276
Other Income$23,360
Total Income$66,636
Net Income-$21,245

Donation Income$43,276
Other Income$23,360
Total Income$66,636
Net Income-$21,245

Capital Campaign Goal*$3,500,000
Long-term Pledges Outstanding$583,294
Total Received and Pledged$3,848,413
Outstanding Obligations$35,000
Monthly Interest Payment$3,259
Remaining Mortgage$691,442

*Although the formal fund-raising campaign goal has been more than realized when combining receipts to date with pledges outstanding, additional funds are needed to amortize the balance of our mortgage.

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, share a link to this newsletter or our website. Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. 

Fall Semester Intensive Classes Open for Audit

Each semester Greenville Seminary offers a handful of classes on what we call an "intensive schedule" — full courses offered in concentrated time periods by visiting adjunct faculty.

These classes offer an excellent opportunity for pastors and other non-regular students to acquire specialized knowledge or continuing education enhancements. Such individuals may "audit" classes as they are presented on campus or may purchase recordings of the classes through the seminary Bookstore. Pastors may receive continuing education credits for classes completed.

The Fall 2013 Semester intensive classes are:

  • AP11 History of Philosophy. Instructor James D. "Bebo" Elkin. Dates: August 19-24. Times: Monday 6 p.m.-10 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-11 a.m. & 1 p.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Three credit hours.
  • HT21 Ancient Church History. Instructor Dr. C.N. Willborn. Dates: September 2-3,16-17,30-October 1,21-22; November 4-5,18-19; December 2-3. Times: Monday 6-9 p.m., Tuesday 1-4 p.m. Three credit hours.
  • NT41 New Testament Biblical Theology. Instructor Dr. Mark Herzer. Dates: September 16,23,30; October 7,21,28, Nov. 4,11,18,25. Times: Monday 6-10 p.m. Three credit hours.
For information on enrolling for these classes and/or purchasing the MP3 audio, contact Registrar Kathleen Curto ( or 864-322-2717 ext. 302.) Listener (auditing) fees are $30 per credit hour. Courses may be audited for the standard audit fee, plus $20 for the CD, production, and handling charges, subject to the faculty member's approval of availability.

For a complete Fall Semester 2013 Class Schedule, go 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:

#37 – The 41st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America: An Assessment 

GPTS Professor Benjamin Shaw provides an analysis of actions taken during the recent G.A. held in Greenville, S.C., including the Assembly's dealings on paedocommunion, the "Federal Vision" doctrinal controversy, and ministry to Muslims.

#38 – Faith and Practice, Segment 2

GPTS President Dr. Joseph Pipa Jr. answers listeners' questions in this second edition of "Faith and Practice."

#39 – A Philosophy of Missions

In this broadcast, we sit down with Dr. Tony Curto, associate professor of practical theology in missions and apologetics, to discuss a "philosophy of missions." This was a high-powered discussion that you will not want to miss.

#40 – Christ's Glory, Your Good

In this broadcast, Ryan McGraw was our guest as we discussed his book Christ’s Glory, Your Good: Salvation Planned, Promised, Accomplished and Applied. This was a very helpful, encouraging and edifying interview.

"Confessing our Hope" is now on Facebook. Find it here: Check it out. Podcasts and other audio resources are also available for listening directly from the seminary's Facebook page. Look for the "Sermons/Lectures" link near the top of the page.

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.

New Addition to GPTS Family

Proud Papa Lowell Ivey welcomes daughter Geneva Mae

The seminary community rejoices with student Lowell Ivey and his wife Mae at the birth of their daughter, Geneva Mae, on July 27th.

Geneva debuted at 7 pounds, 15 ounces, and measured 20.75 inches.

"We are truly thankful to the Lord for His covenant faithfulness to us in the birth of our daughter, Geneva Mae," says Lowell. "Mae was especially encouraged to know that so many people were praying for her while she was in labor. She and Geneva are both doing well."

The Year of the Heidelberger: 450th Anniversary of Great Catechism

"In 1563 the Lord blessed His church with a remarkably clear and warm-hearted statement of biblical Christianity," writes Dr. Joel Beeke, one of today's leading admirers of the Heidelberg Catechism. "The Heidelberg Catechism was written by two men in their twenties, yet it has served as a book of comfort to the international Reformed movement for four-and-a-half centuries. It is doctrinal, experiential, Christ-centered, and practical."

2013 is the 450th anniversary of the writing of the Heidelberg Catechism. It was published on Jan. 19, 1563; and this year a number of commemorative events have been held, including one in mid-July attended by recent GPTS graduate Rev. Steve Walton, now ministering in Stuttgart, Germany, who described the event as "Good fellowship, great lectures, and much encouragement."

The Catechism was commissioned by Elector Frederick III of the Palatinate. The commission was given to Heidelberg University Theology Professor Zacharius Ursinus, age 28, and 26-year-old Casper Olevianus, Frederick's court preacher. It was designed to serve as a guide for religious instruction of young people in the church, to provide a confessional framework for Sunday worship (hence its 52 "Lord's Days"), and to help settle controversies between Lutherans and Calvinists concerning the meaning of the Lord's Supper.

Church historian Philip Schaaf once called it "a product of the heart as well as the head." The description is no doubt a reflection of the fact that while the Catechism is intensely theological, it is also deeply devotional. 

These two faces of the work are visible in its famous opening questions and answers: 
1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death? A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
2. Q. What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?. First, how great my sins and misery are; second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.
Dr. Don Sweeting, president and church history profession at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, says, of the Catechism, "What is unique about the Heidelberg Catechism is its warm and personal tone. ... It presents pastoral guidance that is robustly theological. Unlike some other confessions of the period, it is nearly devoid of polemics. Its tone is irenic."

While Greenville Seminary gives primacy to the Westminster Standards, it includes the Continental Reformed churches' "Three Forms of Unity," of which the Heidelberg is a component, in its endorsed list of historic Reformed confessions (see 2013-2016 Academic Catalog, p. 7). Go here to read the Heidelberg Catechsim on the GPTS web site.

Pastoral Visitation: The Lost Work of Shepherding

GPTS President Joseph A. Pipa Jr. has written a series of two articles on Pastoral Visitation, now posted at Reformation 21:

"Pastoral Visitation: The God-Given Responsibility to Shepherd":
God has given to the elders of His Church the responsibility to shepherd His flock. Paul says in Acts 20:28, "Pay attention to yourselves and to all of the flock among which the Holy Spirit has set you to be overseers to shepherd God's church, that He acquired with His own blood." Similarly, Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:1-3, "Therefore, I urge the elders among you, as a fellow elder and witness of Christ's sufferings and as a sharer of the glory that is going to be revealed, to shepherd God's flock among you, exercising shepherdly care over it, not out of obligation but willingly, as God would have you do it; not out of eagerness to make a personal profit, but out of eagerness to serve; not lording it over those allotted to your charge, but by becoming models for the flock." Read full article
"The Lost Work of Pastoral Visitation":
My first pastoral visit was the first one I made as a young pastor. By that time, I had been in the church eleven years. My case was not unique then or now. I am certain that many of you identify with my experience. In fact, many readers will not recognize that they are being deprived of something that was an essential part of church experience. In our day, the work of the pastor is greatly neglected. Many would-be pastors fill up their lives with administration or study so that they have little time for the people of the flock. Others have churches so large they cannot begin to pastor the members of their congregations. Increasingly, such men are adopting the Chief Executive Officer approach to congregational oversight. But even in our smaller reformed churches the minister often neglects the important work of pastoring. Many church members only receive a visit when they are ill (if then). We cannot know the condition of our flock or minister effectively to them without carefully doing the work of family visitation. Furthermore, this work is necessary for the cementing of truth and its results in the lives of our people. Read full article.