Monday, August 10, 2015

GPTS Begins Twenty-ninth Year of Confessional Theological Education

Photo: 2014 Convocation Service

Fall Semester 2015 marks the beginning of the 29th year of instruction offered by one of America's most stalwartly conservative, confessional theological schools, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. With its unswerving commitment to the authority of Scripture and all of its implications for the preservation of the historic Reformed faith, Greenville Seminary stands in the vanguard of Biblical orthodoxy in a world of drifting theological education and efficacious preaching.

Orientation for the new semester includes a number of kick-off events. New student orientation and class registrations will be held on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 20-21. A new student welcome banquet will be held on Thursday evening in the Student Commons. The annual Faculty Retreat is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of Orientation Week. The annual Fall Seminary-wide Picnic will be held on Saturday, Aug. 22, at the Taylors First Baptist Church recreation area near the seminary.

Dr. McGraw
The 2015 Convocation ceremony will be held Friday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Academy of Arts Auditorium adjacent to the seminary, followed by a reception. Dr. Ryan M. McGraw, the seminary's new Systematic Theology professor, will deliver the convocation address. Student Michael Spangler will deliver the charge to students. The convocation ceremony includes the affirmation of the seminary's Statement of Belief and Covenant pledging full subscription to the Westminster Standards by the faculty (see below). Students also affirm a statement of commitment to seminary standards of academic diligence and conduct.

Classes begin Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Dr. Morales
Dr. L. Michael Morales, the seminary's new professor of Biblical Studies, will deliver his inaugural lecture on "The Burnt Offering and Christ's Fulfillment" on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. at Covenant Community Presbyterian Church, 418 East Main Street, Taylors, South Carolina (just east of the seminary). The public is invited. A reception will follow.

The incoming class includes 17 freshman students, including Master of Divinity students Michael Anderson, John Clair, Gil Garcia, Seth Gesin, Zachery Groff, Bradney Lopez, Ryan Klemmer, Shawn Spalti, Stephen Spinnenweber, and Curt Straeter; Master of Arts students Laura Cliff and Christopher Williams; Bachelor of Divinity students Jeremy Colon, Rick Hale and Justin Magdellini; and Doctor of Theology student Charles Oliveira and Master of Theology student Samuel Vitalino. International students in the group include Messers. Vitalino and Oliveira, from Brazil, on campus. Messrs. Lopez and Colon are distance-learning students from Puerto Rico. Two previously enrolled distance students, Michael Grasso of Cummings, Ga. and lately from work in China; and Benjamin Wontrop from Gateshead, England, will be transferring to on-campus studies. Additional applications for the Fall Semester are still in processing.

Overall enrollment for the Fall Semester in our Greenville-based program stands at 71, including 10 international students. Thirty-five are on-campus students, and 36 are studying through the seminary's state-of-the-art mentored distance-learning program which allows students to participate in classes in real time via video conferencing over the Internet as if they were sitting in the classroom or by downloading recorded class lectures. In addition, GPTS has nine master of arts students enrolled in our extension program at John Wycliffe Theological College in South Africa, bringing the total to 80 students.

* * * * *

Statement of Belief and Covenant

To guarantee that Greenville Seminary will maintain its theological position, each member of the Board of Trustees, Faculty, and Teaching Staff is required initially and annually to subscribe to the following Statement of Belief and Covenant:

“Believing that there is but one, the living and true God, and that there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and that these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory, and with solemn awareness of the accountability to Him in all that we feel, think, say, and do, the undersigned engages in and subscribes to this declaration:
  • “All Scripture is self-attesting, and being Truth, requires the human mind whole-heartedly to subject itself in all its activities to the authority of Scripture complete as the Word of God, standing written in the 66 books of the Holy Bible, all therein being verbally inspired by Almighty God, and therefore without error in the original autographs.
  • “Reformed Theology as set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith & the Larger and Shorter Catechisms as adopted by the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, is the system of doctrine taught in Scripture, and therefore is to be learned, taught, and proclaimed for the edification and government of Christian people, for the propagation of the faith and for the evangelization of the world by the power of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • “And I do solemnly promise and engage not to inculcate, sanction, teach or insinuate anything which shall appear to me to contradict or contravene, either directly or implicitly, any element in that system of doctrine.
  • “Now, therefore, the undersigned, in the presence of God, states and signifies that he consents, agrees, and binds himself to all of the foregoing without any reservation whatsoever, and that he further obligates himself immediately to notify in writing the Board of Trustees should a change of any kind take place in his belief and feeling not in accord with this Statement. AMEN.”

Pipa Offers Fasting and Prayer Resolution Over Same-sex Marriage

At its summer meeting on July 25th, Calvary Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America approved a resolution offered by Greenville Seminary President Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. calling for a day of fasting and prayer concerning the "perversion of God's biblical pattern of marriage and sexuality." The resolution comes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court recent legalization of same-sex marriage.

The resolution calls on churches of the Upstate South Carolina presbytery to fast and pray on Aug. 26, bringing before the Lord the special challenges Christians, churches and Christian organization are facing and will likely face in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling.

Greenville Seminary is not officially affiliated with the PCA or any other denomination, but Dr. Pipa is an ordained minister member of Calvary Presbytery, which met at Eastside Presbyterian Church (above) in Greenville.

The resolution was originally authored by Pastor Geoffrey Gleason and sent by his Session at Cliffwood Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Ga. to the Savannah River Presbytery, where it was adopted. Dr. Pipa offered a slight modified and strengthened version as a personal resolution to Calvary Presbytery.

The Calvary resolution reads as follows:

“A Call for a Day of Fasting and Prayer”

Whereas, the June 26, 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America opposes God’s creation mandate of marriage established in Genesis 2:18-24 and thereby greatly dishonors our Creator and Redeemer; and,

Whereas, this decision establishes as constitutional right a perversion of God’s biblical pattern of marriage and human sexuality and places the church at odds with the laws of the civil magistrate of our land; and,

Whereas, the biblical position of marriage may cause the civil magistrate to spurn the church’s name as evil, on account of the Son of Man (Cf. Luke 6:22); and,

Whereas, the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches that prayer and solemn fastings upon special occasions are an appropriate expression of corporate worship to our Lord and God (WCF 21.5); and,

Whereas, the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States will have a significant impact on the moral climate of our nation and, potentially, the freedom of the church and thereby should be considered a special occasion; and,

Whereas, the Directory for Worship of our Book of Church Order recommends that Presbyteries should determine the propriety of observing special days of prayer and fasting for larger districts (BCO 62-3); and,

Whereas, the BCO further recommends public notice should be given a sufficient time “before the appointed day of fasting…, that persons may so order their affairs as to allow them to attend properly to the duties of the day” (BCO 62-4),

Therefore, Calvary Presbytery declares Wednesday, August 26, 2015 as a special day of fasting and prayer for the congregations within her bounds to be used, among other things, to:
  • express our shame and contrition for our nation’s embracing perverse and rebellious marital relations in our land; and,
  • implore our God for the protection of his church in our nation; and,
  • confess our  failure fully to embrace the covenant of marriage as expounded in Scripture and recommit ourselves to marital fidelity and love as an example to our culture; and,
  • express our thanks to our gracious God for his providential ordering of all history including the sinful decision of our Supreme Court on June 26, 2015; and,
  • ask the Lord to instill a fervent spirit of prayer in the hearts of his people; and,
  • plead with God to make effective our feeble efforts in personal and corporate evangelism, that he would be pleased to draw many sinners to himself through his Holy Spirit that thereby our churches and rulers would rightly honor and glorify him.

Financial Report for July 2015

The tables below indicate our financial situation as of the end of July 2015, the first month of our 2015-16 fiscal year. Unrestricted general fund donations from churches and individuals during July totaled $45,578, which was $22,338 below the $67,916 budgeted for such income. Expenses of $112,114 were $6,112 above the $106,002 budgeted for expenses. In addition, we received $1,243 toward our Capital Fund in July, and $5,725 was given for scholarships.

The 2015-16 Budget

The seminary's budget for the 2015-fiscal year contemplates unrestricted general fund donation income of $815,500. Unrestricted donations are those from individuals and churches which are not designated for some special purpose, such as scholarships, special projects, the capital fund, faculty travel, etc. The budget for this category was increased by $49,192 over last fiscal year's budget of $766,308. Actual income in this category last fiscal year totaled $1,042,660, owing in part to two very substantial individual gifts and a bequest. GPTS has budgeted total income from all sources at $1,228,613 for FY15-16. This fiscal year's expense budget is $1,272,018, compared to last year's $1,051,080, for an increase of $220,938. Actual expenses in FY14-15 were under budget at $1,040,733,


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

 Donation Income (unrestricted)
 Other Income
 Total Income
 Net Income
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.


Fidelity Charitable Clients: Click here for Donor-Advised Fund direct deposit (available soon)

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.

Meeting the Needs of our International Students

The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established so that it cannot be moved. Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, The floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea. Your testimonies are very sure: Holiness adorns your house, O Lord, forever.
Psalm 93: 1 – 5

By Kathleen Curto

Why can we at Greenville Seminary rejoice even in the midst of a world that is lifting up its fist and shaking it in rebellion at the Lord Jehovah, Creator of heaven and earth?  It is because of God’s promise to us in Psalm 93. Dr. Pipa read Psalm 93 to us at our recent staff meeting and explained that the first verse describes Christ’s coronation after his Ascension. The Lord Jesus reigns! He is clothed with majesty! He is reigning…and though the earth (pictured here as the floods) lifts up its voice, God is mightier than the noise of many waters!    We at Greenville Seminary are confident in the success of our labors because we serve the Lord and King to whom the nations have been given.
As I do each summer, I am writing to you, our supporters, to highlight for you the opportunities that God has given to Greenville Seminary to train men from many different countries. An international student studying for four years here at GPTS costs less than what a denomination has to budget for just the first year of expenses for a new American minssionary on a foreign field. You may remember that we have had several students with us in the past few years: Edward Liu and his family from China, Steve Cliff and his wife from New Zealand, Melwin Isaac from India and our two dear brothers from Africa, all of whom are receiving a sound theological education because of the generous gifts we have received on their behalf. Joining the ranks of these current students are five more. Three men from Bible-believing churches in Puerto Rico are joining our student body. Each will be studying by distance, hoping to visit the campus from time to time to take classes on site. Their names are Dennis (Miguel) Flower, Jeremy Colon and Bradney Lopez. We also have the privilege of having two men from Brazil. Samuel Vitalino is finishing up his Master of Theology degree and Charles Melo de Oliveira will be working on his Doctor of Theology degree. Both of these men are Ministers of the Word in the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPB). It has been our pleasure in the past to train five other Brazilian men who are now serving in the IPB.
Greenville Seminary has also been able to send our professors to teach in foreign countries where men are either not able to afford to come to the states to study or who are unable to procure visas to come even if they have the support they need. Part of our international fund includes an amount that allows one or two of our professors to travel each year. We are seeking $5,130 for this budget item. If you feel this is a need to which you would like to contribute, it would be a great help to our work with our international students.
Many of you have given so wholeheartedly in the past, and we want to express our appreciation for these special gifts given to our foreign students’ needs. We know you are motivated to give by those same truths that Psalm 93 expresses.  We live in a “world falling apart,” and yet we labor on, we persevere, because we know that God is in control and that His will is never thwarted. We are comforted in the knowledge that his testimonies are sure, making wise the simple. Please consider giving to the needs of these young men as they prepare to serve their Savior and King, whose throne is established forever.
Here are the current needs:
Edward Liu, China
4th-year student  $4,000 for tuition and fees
On Campus

Steve Cliff, New Zealand
3rd-year student
$8,800 for tuition, fees and work/study compensation
On Campus

Isaac Koko, Nigeria
1st-year student   $1,000 for tuition and fees
Distance Learning

Melwin Isaac, India
2nd-year student $4,000 for tuition and fees
On Campus

Jeremy Colon, Puerto Rico
1st-year student   $2,500 for tuition and fees
Distance Learning

Miguel Flower, Puerto Rico
1st-year student  $2,500 for tuition and fees
Distance Learning

Bradney Lopez, Puerto Rico
1st-year student   $2,500 for tuition and fees
Distance Learning

Samuel Vitalino, Brazil
$1,000 for tuition
Th.M. Student
On Campus

Charles Melo de Oliveira, Brazil
$1,000 for tuition
Th.D. Student
On Campus

President Pipa Extends GPTS Influence Internationally

The summer of 2015 has provided occasion for an extensive "world tour" for Greenville Seminary President Joseph A. Pipa Jr. as he journeys in Asia, Europe and Africa developing the influence of GPTS and its ministry around the globe.

A journal of his travels in June and July, along with his wife Sissy, can be viewed here. Having traveled to Korea earlier in the year, Dr. Pipa has been teaching, preaching and speaking at conferences in Singapore, Italy and England. He is currently in South Africa for more teaching and liaison with Greenville Seminary's affiliate program at John Wycliffe Theological College there. Most stops have included contacts and ministry with GPTS alumni serving in these nations. GPTS has students on sister campuses in England and South Africa. The GPTS extension program in England is located in Gateshead in the northeast area of the country. GPTS adjunct faculty member William Schweitzer pastors a church there.

Pray that God will richly bless this international outreach to the end that the historic faith of the Reformation will be re-established and reinforced around the globe.

James the Tekton

Student James Clark
It is widely supposed, on the basis of Biblical passages such as Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55 and ancient tradition, that Jesus was a carpenter, following the trade of His earthly father Joseph before He began His adult ministry. To be precise, Jesus and Joseph are each described in the original language as a "tekton," which may be translated "handyman" or simply "one who works with his hands."

Greenville Seminary Student James Clark is following in the footsteps of his Master in more ways than one. While studying for his master of divinity degree, Mr. Clark earns some educational support with his carpentry and handyman skills, and recently provided GPTS with some new chapel and classroom furnishings.

Mr. Clark attends GPTS as a tuition-waiver student on the basis of support provided by his sending church. Students benefiting from the tuition-waiver program are asked to supplement the cost of their education by providing the seminary with some work-study hours of staffing labor. Mr. Clark contributed his skills and time in constructing a custom pulpit for the Chapel and a lectern for one of the seminary classrooms. The latter item includes a podium and an extension on which professors may place a laptop computer for projection of lesson materials on classroom screens.

Thanks, James, for blessing your seminary through your talents and efforts, working with both hand and mind!

New Chapel Pulpit

Dr. Sid Dyer initiates new lectern for summer course on the Septuagint

SPECIAL GIVING IDEA: The seminary owns a limited number of chairs which often must be transported back and forth between our Chapel area on the second floor of the seminary building and the Student Commons on the first floor when special events are held in the Commons. Would you consider making a special donation to the seminary to furnish the Chapel with up to 50 chairs? Chapels are held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each week during the school year. That leaves little additional seating available for use in the Commons for daily student lunches, discussion get-togethers, socializing, and other typical Commons activities that enhance student life and fellowship on campus.

When this happens in the Studentt Commons....

...this happens in Chapel. Can you help furnish this room?

Banquet in the Commons
Student Life in the Student Commons

A Special Appeal

When GPTS purchased its building from the Academy of Arts adjacent to us more than a decade ago, the agreement provided for certain mutual use of certain respective facilities and certain obligations by the buyer and seller. Some of these obligations have been in dispute, but a settlement was reached between the parties in July.

Among other things, the seminary has agreed to bear a portion of the cost of paving a now gravel
parking lot behind our two buildings. Our cost for this unbudgeted project has been set at $35,500, and its completion is required in the next couple of months. If you can help, please consider a special gift, marked “Parking Lot Project” or use the Donate button below. Thank you!

The Academy of Arts Ministries is a Christian theater arts production group and training school connected to the seminary building by a breezeway. The academy uses the GPTS kitchen and Commons for food service to its students and for special events. The seminary uses the academy's Logos Theater on occasion for convocation and commencement ceremonies.

Leaving a Legacy for the Cause of the Kingdom

For many Americans, the dream of retirement is on the horizon. Even after decades of saving and prudently investing for retirement, many people are asking themselves if they can afford to retire and how to make their income last. This insecurity is not surprising, as people today face unique challenges, including a prolonged period of economic uncertainty and longer lives.

While there are many personal and family considerations in estate and retirement planning, high in the list of purposes may be leaving a legacy through giving to a Christian charity or ministry such as Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Dale White
Dale White, a member of the GPTS Board of Trustees and a professional financial adviser, says that ensuring that one's accumulated wealth is used to provide for the individuals or causes that people most care about is an important part of planning for a confident retirement. After accounting for essential, lifestyle and unexpected expenses, the next step is to create a legacy plan for any remaining assets, he says.

Mr. White is available to friends of GPTS who may be seeking to establish a retirement plan that includes personal and family essentials as well as leaving a legacy through GPTS. Contact him at The seminary also works with the PCA Foundation, whose consultants can help supporters with charitable trusts, estate design, endowments, bequest processing, and planned giving.