Monday, June 8, 2015

Standing in the Gap

A Mid-year Report from the President

Greenville Seminary has just completed her 28th academic year, and we are very excited about the things God has done for us, as well as what lies ahead. We have enjoyed a good year. We are pleased with the spiritual maturity manifested in our students; we have enjoyed a harmony in our community; and we have just graduated ten men.

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, along with a few other like-minded faithful schools, is filling a unique niche in theological education and the defense of historic faith in the authoritative scriptures and time-honored confessions that so clearly systematize the inspired Truth of the Bible.  The coming academic year is brimming with potential. We already have accepted 10 new students and have several more in process. As announced last year, we are preparing to welcome one of our alumni, Dr. Ryan McGraw, to the full-time faculty this fall.

As you know, we deliberately keep our tuition and fees as low as feasible; yet training one man for ministry requires donor investment of approximately $10,000 a year per student. Thank you for your support; your partnership with us enables us to pursue our mission. I am reporting to you at this time with two important goals. First, as you may know, our new fiscal year begins on July 1. Your June donation helps us greatly during the normally meager summer months. And second, our budgeted benevolence income for the next fiscal year is based on what we have received the previous fiscal year. 

With these two goals in mind, we are seeking $71,000  by the end of June ($17,000 from churches and $54,000 from individuals). We appreciate what many have already done in partnering with us financially and in prayer.  

Whether or not you are able to send a gift at this time, please pray that the Lord will provide for all essentials. Please also pray for our students and alumni, including the ten new graduates. Please pray that they will continue to grow in faithfulness to the Word of God.  God uses the prayers and gifts of His people to sustain this work. We hope that you will continue to participate with us and to rejoice in that work, for which we desire to give Him all glory and honor. With warm regards, I am... 

Yours in Christ,

Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.



Navigating the Psalter: The GPTS Summer Institute

Register now for the August 3-7 Greenville Seminary Summer Institute mapping out the "Flow of the Psalms."

The Institute will focus on understanding and preaching the richness of the Book of Psalms. Do you 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.

The Institute is designed to provide those in church leadership with an opportunity for instruction in key areas of ministry and on topics of unique and timely interest. Pastors may find it useful for satisfying requirements for continuing education. For laymen, it serves as a special opportunity for enrichment in their spiritual and intellectual lives. The annual five-day seminar also offers participants a time of inspirational fellowship with other serious Christians in a seminary setting.

The 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 an 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. and Dr. Michael Morales 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 is now available on the GPTS web siteYou may also register by phoning (864) 322-2717 ext. 302. Tuition for the Summer Institute is $225. Please register by Friday, June 26th. After June 26th, a $25 late registration fee will be applied. Take $25 off of additional registrations, should others in your church register to attend with you.

GPTS students who want to take the course for graduate level (MDiv) credit must register by May 8th. Non-GPTS students who want to register for credit must do so by June 26th. Pastors who take the course are eligible for 30 continuing education units.

Download a brochure (PDF) here for information on lodging and more.

Book Note

Books of interest in connection with the Summer Institute make be found here at the seminary's online bookshop.

Summer Theology Course

The GPTS Summer Program also includes an elective course on the Septuagint. The course will be taught on July 20, 22, 24, 27, and 29. Prerequisites for this class taught by Dr. Sidney Dyer, GPTS professor of Greek and New Testament, are Beginning Greek II and Hebrew II. The course is an introduction to the vocabulary, grammar and syntax of the Septuagint. Special emphasis is upon the use of the Old Testament by the New Testament writers. The course is highly recommended for those pursuing Th.M. and Th.D. degrees.

Tuition and fees are $428. The class may be audited for $60. To register, contact the Registrar's Office at 864-322-2717 ext 302 or email

Debt and Destruction in American Churches

If you regularly read the admittedly boring financial reports we post in this e-newsletter each month for the sake of accountability, you may have noticed that GPTS experiences sometimes wild cash-flow fluctuations during the year and reports deficit net income during many months.

You may have asked yourself why this is: Why doesn't the seminary cover its costs through tuition and fees paid by those who receive their theological education there? Why does the seminary regularly report that it depends on donations from individuals and churches for 70 per cent of its annual general fund budget? Why on earth does it have a tuition-waiver program allowing some students to attend for "free"?

That financial mix, as we have frequently reported, is the result of a deliberate decision made by our trustees from the beginning and carried forward to today. Affordable tuition is, in fact, on the list of our top "distinctives" — along with our commitments to the authority of Scripture, confessional/doctrinal integrity, preservation of our Christian heritage, use of original languages of the Bible, Christ-centered heartfelt preaching, a classical curriculum, and accountability to the church.

The trustees of Greenville Seminary firmly believe that men who are called to the ministry should not be forced to pursue their calling by accumulating a mountain of debt. More and more evidence is emerging that men who enter the ministry, and the churches they serve, are facing financial obstacles that can destroy their ministries.

Blogger Nicholas McDonald, an M.Div. student at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, who admits to nearly giving up the ministry at the prospect of entering it with insurmountable debt, says that "paying off [student] debt in this life, for most pastors, is about as likely as shooting a nerf-ball into outer space and hitting the moon."

McDonald notes that it is not usual for seminarians to accumulate $60,000 or more in student debt, yet begin their ministry in a small church that pays poorly.

"Now think about that. 20 years ago, it was considered a crisis that 30% of seminarians were graduating with $10,000 of debt." he says. "A crisis. Why? Because 50 years ago, denominations largely bore the brunt of paying for theological training, and to this day, most parishioners assume that’s just what happens: seminary gets paid for. Somehow. By someone."

In his recent article, McDonald listed a number of typical adverse consequences for young ministers and churches:
  1. Churches decide theological training is unimportant. Or,
  2. Pastors are forced to view ministry as a career, climbing from one position to another. Or,
  3. Pastors become embittered against the seminary/church for financial woes, and drop out. Or,
  4. Pastors succumb to the pressure of “church growth,” and effectively sell their ministry out to corporate tactics.
GPTS is firmly committed to help its students avoid these and other pitfalls as they go forth to labor in the vineyard of the Lord. But we can only do this if God's people underwrite what we do and churches, presbyteries/classes, and denominations fund the seminary as their agent in training future generations of their ministers.

June marks the last month of our 2014-15 fiscal year. During this month, we conduct our annual "end-of-fiscal-year" appeal. We need to raise $71,000 by June 30 to provide a solid footing for the summer months when no tuition income is available. Please help us with your best possible contribution.


Financial Report for May 2015

The tables below indicate our financial situation as of the end of May 2015 and the 2014-15 fiscal year to date (ends June 30). Unrestricted general fund donations from churches and individuals during May totaled $258,120, which was $194,261 above the $63,859 budgeted for such income. The month's income included a $203,202 bequest from a benefactor in New York. Expenses of $63,853 were $23,737 below the $87,590 budgeted for expenses. In addition, we received $1,779 toward our Capital Fund in May, and $95 was given for scholarships.

Fiscal year ends this month

June is the last month of our current fiscal year. During this month, your contribution and friend-raising for the GPTS Advancement Initiative is especially important as we move into the summer months and prepare for a new budget and academic year with additional faculty. See the lead story in this e-newsletter for a special message from President Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. concerning our financial needs for the coming months.

fundraising ideas for schools, churches, and youth sports teams
Graph shows May
contributions vs. Budget 
(lower number)

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Donation Income
Other Income
Total Income
Net Income

 Capital Campaign Goal
 Long-term Pledges Outstanding
 Total Received and Pledged
 Outstanding Obligations
 Monthly Interest Payment
 Remaining Mortgage


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.

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.

Pipa Receives Honorary Doctorate

Dr. Pipa receives hood as Board
President Jeff Kingswood and Mrs.
Pipa look on.
The Board of Trustees conferred an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree upon GPTS President Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. at the 2015 Commencement Ceremony. During its May meeting, the board approved a motion to award the honorary title "in recognition of his exemplary service to the Seminary and to Christ’s church." Dr. Pipa has served as GPTS's one and only president since his inauguration in 1998.

On the eve of the Commencement, during the annual graduation banquet, Dr. Pipa received an academic hood with Greenville Seminary's official colors — green and silver. The hood was donated by an anonymous supporter.

During the Commencement Ceremony, Board President Jeff Kingswood preceded the 2015-16 faculty appointments with this announcement: "Those of you who understand the nuances of academic regalia will have noted that Dr. Pipa is not wearing his doctoral hood from Westminster but rather the doctoral hood of GPTS. This morning the Board of Trustees met, and it was unanimously agreed to confer upon Dr. Pipa the degree of Doctor of Divinity. This is not an academic degree. In years past it was conferred by the church on those who had made a significant and lasting contribution to the life of the Church of Jesus Christ. This would include unusual contributions in writing, leadership in the courts of the church, and in the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. In the opinion of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Pipa has made such contribution in all three of these areas and as such it is our real pleasure to confer upon him the degree; Doctor of Divinity."

Dr. Pipa received his B.A. from Belhaven College in 1968; M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary in 1971; and Ph.D. from Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia in 1985.

Lowell and Mae Ivey, with daughter Geneva
Also announced during the Commencement Ceremony was the Mary Ann Clay Award, a special recognition given each year to a graduate's wife who has served in an exemplary fashion on campus for the previous academic year. This year's award went to Mae Ivey, wife of graduate Lowell Ivey, the outgoing Student Body Association president. Mae, a professional artist, could not be present to receive the award on May 22, due to a serious health issue in Lowell's extended family. The award is named after the late wife of Pastor W. Rodney Clay, former pastor at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville and former GPTS board member. The Clays were faithful, generous supporters of the seminary for many years.

Commencement Address

Go here to listen to Dr. David Hall's commencement address: The Divine Calling for Pastors to Pastures in the First and Twenty-first Centuries. Dr. Hall is senior pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church in Powder Springs, Ga.

Confessing Our Hope Podcast

New programs are now available at Confessing Our Hope, the web broadcast of Greenville Seminary, hosted by William Hill.

New editions include:

The Foundation of Communion with God” introduces readers to the Trinitarian piety of John Owen (1616–1683). This broadcast features an interview with editor Ryan McGraw, whose introduction sketches the major events of this important theologian’s life and shows how his circumstances shaped his thought on the themes of the Trinity and public worship. Dr. McGraw is a new member of the faculty at GPTS.

"Faith and Practice #13" — GPTS President Dr. Joseph Pipa Jr. answers listeners' questions on the law of God, children and birth control, The Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity, head coverings, spousal abuse and more.

"The New Testament Use of the Old Testament" was the topic in this interview with Dr. Benjamin Shaw, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at GPTS.

"An Evening of Confessional Prayer and Concern" — Pastor Geoff Gleason (Cliffwood Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Ga.) and Pastor Ken Pierce (Trinity Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Miss.) joined us for a candid discussion about an event that is scheduled to be held prior to this year’s 43rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Host Bill Hill