Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Meditation on the Incarnation

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Students, Faculty and Staff Extend Our Appreciation to All Who Have Made 2016 a Year of Blessing and Joy in the Service of Our Incarnate Lord and His Church!


From "St. Athanasius: On the Incarnation":

"This is the further kindness of the Saviour that, having become man for our sake, He not only offered His own body to death on our behalf, that He might redeem all from death, but also, desiring to display to us His own heavenly and perfect way of living, He expressed this in His very self. It was as knowing how easily the devil might deceive us, that He gave us, for our peace of mind, the pledge of His own victory that He had won on our behalf. But He did not stop there: He went still further, and His own self performed the things He had enjoined us on us. Every man therefore may both hear Him speaking and at the same time see in His behavior the pattern for his own, even as he himself has bidden, saying, 'Learn of Me, for I am meet and lowly of heart.' Nowhere is more perfect teaching of virtue to be found than in the Lord's own life. Forbearance, love of men, goodness, courage, mercy, righteousness, all are fond in Him; and in the same way no virtue will be lacking to him who fully contemplates this human life of Christ."

Enlist in Mission 30: Its Vision and Objectives

Mission 30 Progress - $250,438
$0 $250,000

We need your help to advance Mission 30 during the coming 30th Anniversary year of service for Christ and His Church. Will you partner with us in this vital cause by increasing your usual level of support? If you have not yet joined the cause, won't you give $25, $50, $100, $500 or more now

Challenge Grants: A group of key individuals within the seminary family have pledged gifts totaling $28,000 and are challenging you to join them in supporting Mission 30!  

Scroll down to see examples of what your gift will accomplish in the lives and ministries of our students.

Mission 30 Vital Statistics:

  • $19,000: Annual cost to educate each student. 
  • $5,900: Average tuition paid per student (30%)
  • $13,100: Average difference met by supporters (70%)

VISION: As we enter our 30th year of training men for the Gospel ministry, we must lay a solid base of financial support to advance the mission to which God has called us — building on an old foundation an educational edifice structured to meet the spiritual needs of the 21st century church. Our long-term needs include future faculty expansion, amortizing capital debt, building an academic chair endowment, and stimulating our international outreach.

FISCAL FACTS: More immediately, the Fiscal Year 2016-17 seminary budget contemplates income of $1.28 million, including $1 million in general fund gifts from individuals and churches. The budget anticipates $1.27 million in expenses. 

OBJECTIVE: To achieve our budgeted needs and build a safety reserve for the second half of our 2016-17 fiscal and academic year, we have set the Mission 30 goal at $250,000 to be raised by the end of December 2016. We ask you to prayerfully consider a gift at this critical hour.

In 1987, three students entered the doors of a new theological school in downtown Greenville, South Carolina, to sit under the instruction of scholars committed to the guardianship of the Truth Delivered — the authoritative, inspired Word of God contained in the Bible. The venue has since changed, but the commitment has not.

From the beginning, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has been organically connected to the historic confessions of the Great Reformation, particularly the Westminster Standards, to which all faculty members annually subscribe. These are the Framework for all of our teaching — with the Bible our one sure Foundation and the preaching of the Gospel our first Focus.

For three decades, God has graciously endowed us with the high calling of training men for the timeless task of teaching and preaching His Truth to all the world. Mission 30 acknowledges His marching orders to carry on until we can lay our work before His throne and say, "By Your Grace, Mission Accomplished."

What Your Support Accomplishes

GPTS has more than 200 alumni ministering around the world in churches, mission fields, chaplaincies, Christian education, and other Kingdom endeavors. Here are some testimonies from recent, current and past students relating what their GPTS education has accomplished in their lives and ministries.

“I am profoundly grateful for my time at GPTS. I am thankful for the camaraderie of classmates, the conversations, and the constructive sharpening of one another. I am thankful for the seminary's unwavering commitment to the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith. I am thankful for the level of godliness and academic excellence in my professors.  I am grateful for the professors’ personal investment in me. I am thankful that GPTS trains men to preach!”
 ~ Steven Cook, Class of ‘16

“I eagerly and proudly own my association with GPTS and love her dearly. I wouldn’t be who I am without my time as a student and staff member there — some of my happiest days of employment and Christian fellowship.”
 ~ Chris Larson, President & CEO, Ligonier Ministries

“GPTS taught me how to preach Christ passionately, to love of Reformed Confessions, and to pursue personal godliness by the Spirit’s power, all of which have enabled me to pastor and to teach better to the glory of God. As a minister of the gospel and a seminary professor, I am grateful to experience the generosity of God’s people, which enables me to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ to a new generation of ministers. I and my colleagues labor through the church and for the church, and we would not have it any other way.”
~ Dr. Ryan McGraw, Professor of Systematic Theology, Class of '08.

"GPTS has taught me the vital importance of wedding confessional theology and experiential piety—light and heat, head and heart, doctrine and life. This balanced approach has equipped me for the pastoral ministry in numerous ways. First, I’ve learned the primacy of expository preaching with practical application. Whether from the Hebrew OT or the Greek NT, preaching Christ is the central hub from which all other gospel endeavors flow. Second, I’ve learned the priority of public worship. It is through the ordinary means of grace—the Word, sacraments, and prayer—that the Lord builds up His church. Third, I’ve learned the privilege and responsibility of communion with the Triune God. It is only by personally knowing the Lord that I can pastor His flock."
~ Ethan Bolyard, third-year student 

Save on Early-bird Registration for the GPTS Reformation Conference

"Martin Luther's thought continues to challenge people throughout the world in the twenty-first century. His paradigmatic shift in defining God and what it means to be human left behind a foundation for viewing human creatures that was anchored in Aristotle's anthropology. Luther defined the Revealed God in terms of his mercy and love for human beings, based not on their merit and performance but rather on his unconditioned grace. He placed 'fearing, loving, and trusting God above all else' at the heart of his definition of being human." — From a description of Robert Kolb's book, Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith (Christian Theology in Context)

* * * * * 

Registrations are now open for the 2017 Greenville Seminary Spring Theology Conference to be held March 14-16 next year. The conference will commemorate the 500th anniversary Martin Luther's initiation of the Protestant Reformation under the theme “Trumpet Call: 500 years of Gospel Freedom.” 

Three Luther scholars are slated to deliver four lectures during the conference, including Greenville Seminary's own Dr. James McGoldrick, professor of church history.
Planned lectures include:

  • Luther’s Providential God (Dr. Robert Kolb)
  • Luther’s Preaching on the Parables (Dr. Robert Kolb)
  • The Law as Friend and Foe in the Theology of Luther (Dr. Michael Whiting)
  • Luther on Life without Dichotomy (Dr. James McGoldrick)
  • The “Solas” of the Reformation (Dr. Michael Morales, Rev. Cliff Blair, Dr. Joseph Pipa, Dr. Joel Beeke, and Rev. Carl Robbins)

Luther expert Dr. Robert Kolb is emeritus missions professor of systematic theology and director of the Institute for Mission Studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo. His publications include some twenty-five books, including Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith; Luther and the Stories of God; and Martin Luther and the Enduring Word of God.

Dr. Michael Whiting is author of Luther in English, in which he argues that scholars have often oversimplified Luther's theology of Law and Gospel and have thus wrongly diminished his very significant, even principal, influence upon first-generation evangelicals William Tyndale, John Frith, and Robert Barnes during the English Reformation.

Dr. James McGoldrick will focus on Luther's doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, which, he says, Luther regarded as the proper basis for the understanding of the Christian life. Among Dr. McGoldrick's many publications is Luther's English Connection and Luther's Scottish Connection.

Addressing the so-called "Five Solas" of the Reformation are:
  • Soli Deo Gloria: Life that Glorifies God — Dr. Michael Morales, professor of biblical studies at Greenville Seminary.
  • Sola Gratia — Dr. Joseph Pipa, Jr., president of Greenville Seminary.
  • Sola Scriptura — Dr. Joel Beeke, president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
  • Solus Christus — Rev. Cliff Blair, GPTS alumnus; pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, N.C.; and faculty member of Greyfriars Classical Academy, Matthews, N.C.
  • Sola Fide: What Saving Faith Will Do — Rev. Carl Robbins, pastor of conference host church Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church, Simpsonville, S.C.
Visit the GPTS web site for full details and registration opportunities. "Early bird" discounted registration fees are available to those who register on or before January 17. Discounts are also available to members of churches that support Greenville Seminary (special discount code required).

Prospective students who attend the pre-conference GPTS Encounter 2017 open house may attend the main conference free (See story in this E-newsletter). Register here.

Be a Seminarian for a Week! Encounter GPTS 2017

Thinking about a theological education?

Each year in advance of the seminary’s annual Spring Theology Conference, we set aside some time to welcome and orient prospective students who may be considering GPTS for their theological education.

In 2017, we are again offering activities and opportunities to learn what GPTS is all about. Attending Encounter GPTS on March 13-14 also entitles prospective students to participate in the main conference as our special guests with complimentary registration. This is a unique opportunity to enhance your understanding about a seminary education, aid in your decision-making. and renew your mind.

This pre-conference gathering for prospective students includes:

    ~ Campus Tour and Luncheon
    ~ Opportunities to Attend Classes
    ~ Meetings with Faculty and Students
    ~ An Informative Panel Discussion
    ~ Special Chapel Service
    ~ Spring Theology Conference Attendance

Why Should You Consider GPTS?

Our unique programs are designed to train passionate, articulate preachers of the Gospel in the doctrinal traditions of the historic faith of the Reformation. We train new generations to preach without compromising the claims of the Word of God and the time-honored Presbyterian and Reformed Confessions. Our distinctives include unswerving commitments to the Authority of Scripture, Doctrinal Integrity, Immersion in the Original Languages of the Bible, Preservation of our Christian Heritage, Christ-centered and Heartfelt Preaching, and Affordable Tuition.

Encounter GPTS Schedule

Monday, March 13

11:30 a.m. – Welcome Luncheon in the Student Commons
1:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Attend Classes
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion with Faculty and Leadership
6:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Evening Class

Tuesday, March 14

9:00 – 10:45 a.m. – Attend Classes
11:00 – 11:45 a.m. – Pre-conference Chapel
1:00 p.m. – Theology Conference at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church Starts

To register, go here

To register for the main conference for free, follow the instructions in the confirmation message you will receive after submitting your Encounter GPTS 2017 registration.

Meanwhile, watch this brief video explaining why you should explore GPTS.

Refer a Student

Stewardship Report: God's Provision as Time Rolls On

We are mindful at this time of year of the thoughts expressed by an 18th century hymn writer: "Hours and days and years and ages swift as moving shadows flee...."

In his hymn, Rhijnvis Feith (1753-1824), went on to write this prayer:
Though swift time keeps marching onward, it will not decide our end.
You will always be our Father, loving God, eternal Friend.
When life's dangers overwhelm us, you will ever be our stay;
Through your Son you are our Father, always changeless, come what may. 

In the Year of our Lord 2016

We thank God that during 2016 He has been "our stay" through the help of our co-laborers in ministry, who have so generously given of their substance to underwrite the work of Greenville Seminary. A total of $778,253 had been contributed in 2016 as we entered this final month of the year. Our budget for calendar year 2016 through the end of November anticipated non-earmarked contributions of $797,748. The budget calls for an additional $78,000 in unrestricted donations in December. By the end of this calendar year, our budgeted expenses are projected to total $1.2 million, with 73 per cent (or $876,000) to be covered by general gifts from supporters and the balance by earmarked gifts, tuition, sales, and other sources. These figures illustrate why our Mission 30 year-end financial campaign is such a vital prescription for our fiscal health.

As President Pipa noted last month, we usually receive a critical share of our gifts from late November through December each year. It's somewhat like the "Black Friday" period retailers experience when a major portion of their profits for the year are realized. We, of course, do not see ministry support in such crass commercial terms; nevertheless, this year-end period is a vital time in our ability to carry on with our vital work in the Kingdom of God.

We hope that you will take time to read about Mission 30, our annual year-end financial campaign for 2016, elsewhere in this newsletter. If you are on our e-mail distribution list and/or are a recipient of regular mailings from GPTS, you will be receiving more information about Mission 30 and what your support is accomplishing toward reformation of the church through our work, now entering its 30th year.

Financial Report for November 2016

The tables below indicate our monthly general operating fund financial situation as of the end of November and thus far in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Budget Performance:

Unrestricted general fund donations from churches ($9,938) and individuals ($64,378) in November totaled $74,316, which was $3,744 below the $79,042 budgeted for such income. Expenses of $92,181 in November were $7,396 below the $99,577 budgeted for expenses.

Actual Income and Expenses:

Donation Income (Unrestricted)
Other Income
Total Income
Net Income
Donation Income (Unrestricted)
Other Income
Total Income
Net Income

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

Donate to GPTS through the PayPal Giving Fund. Giving through this Fund means 100% of your gift will reach GPTS, without the usual processing fees deducted. You can also support the seminary by buying and selling through the eBay for Charity system. So far this calendar year, more than $15,758 has been donated fee-free through PayPal Giving Fund, some anonymously. Thank you so much!
Gifts may also be mailed to: Greenville Seminary, PO Box 690, Taylors SC 29687.

And don't forget to do your online shopping at AmazonSmile. Log on to smile.amazon.com and select Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary as your charity. Or click on the AmazonSmile banner at the very bottom of this e-newsletter. 

Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable clients: Click here for Donor-Advised Fund direct deposit. Wells Fargo employees: check with your company about matching gifts to GPTS.
Do you work for a company that offers matching gifts when you contribute to a charity? Why not ask your employer about whether your gifts to GPTS can be matched. Here is a list of some of the top companies that offer matching gifts or reward your volunteer work for your charity. Many other companies do as well, to support employee charitable giving and extend corporate philanthropy.

In 2015, Congress passed a law permanently allowing taxpayers age 70½ or older to transfer up to $100,000 annually from their IRA accounts directly to qualified charities (such as GPTS) without first having to recognize the distribution as income. For more information about this tax-saving option, go here or see your financial adviser. Clients using Donor Advised Funds, including those offered by the PCA Foundation, should read about conditions and limitations on this program.


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.

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.

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

Choosing the Good Portion: Women in the OPC

Greenville Seminary Registrar Kathleen Curto and Tricia Stevenson, wife of the GPTS Alumni Association president, have contributed chapters to a new book on the lives of women who have played a key role in the history of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The book, Choosing the Good Portion: Women of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, has been published by Orthodox Presbyterian Publications.

The book tells the story of the OPC through profiles of more than 90 women who sacrificed and served during the last 80 years to help mold the OPC into what it is today, according to the publisher. The 480-page hardback includes photographs of nearly all the women. Fifty-five women contributed to this volume, among them Mrs. Curto and Mrs. Stevenson. Mrs. Curto, in addition to serving as GPTS registrar, is the wife of Dr. Tony Curto, associate professor of practical theology in missions and apologetics at GPTS. Mrs. Stevenson is the wife of Jim Stephenson, a 2012 GPTS graduate and founding pastor of Providence OPC in Tulsa, Okla.

Kathleen Curto
"A little over a year and a half ago I was contacted by Patricia Clawson, the co-editor of a book that was in the formative stages," Mrs. Curto says. "My assignment was to highlight the lives of four women, Ruth Morton, Jane Crum, Marieta Laranjo, and Diana Cruz who 'have or are currently reaching the world in their backyards.' I accepted this request with fear and trembling, but was immediately  captivated as I began to interview each of these ladies and write their stories.

"What stood out to me in every case, was each woman’s commitment to serve her Lord and Savior by serving faithfully to support the work of her husband," she says. "These women faced trials and tribulations, but witnessed joys and blessings as God used them as help-meets to their husbands."

Mrs. Curto, a frequent speaker at women's conferences and retreats, says the book, particularly the chapters about the early days of the OPC, "has caused me to wonder at the Lord’s kindness to the OPC in giving this church women who, as Mary did in the New Testament, chose the good portion. There are stories of mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, widows, missionaries, school teachers, pastors’ wives, and the list could go on and on.

"I commend this book to your reading and pray that it might, as Mrs. Clawson and co-editor Diane Olinger desire, 'cause you to give thanks to our Lord who has lavished upon us this wonderful denomination!'”

Mrs. Curto is a member of Covenant Community Church (OPC) in Taylors, S.C.

Tricia & Jim Stephenson
Mrs. Stephenson describes her contribution to the book, saying, "I was asked to interview four ladies in the OPC who have practiced hospitality in their homes and churches over the years. It was a delight to speak with each of them and hear first hand the variety of stories, creative tips, and familiar situations pastors' and elders' wives face when hosting others.

"Each woman came from a different background, but each had to overcome trials, needs, and stresses. They all knew it was the Lord that gives us what we need when hosting others. It is out of a heart for people and a heart of gratitude for what the Lord gives us that we extend our time, our services, and our goods to others," she says.

"Hospitality is modeled best to other women while putting it into practice in our own homes. Some of us learned how to do this simply by being hosted. Simple food or using our favorite go-to recipes along with fellowship around a table can create a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel and be an encouragement to fellow believers," she says.

"It was such a blessing to interview and get know a little better some of the women in our denomination. This book as a whole contains a beautiful collection of stories and testimonies from the lives of many women, and I hope it will be a wonderful encouragement to future generations of ladies in the OPC."

Podcast News

New broadcasts are regularly aired and posted at Greenville Seminary's Confessing Our Hope internet radio program. Here is the latest edition hosted by our podcaster Bill Hill.

Dr. Nick Willborn, adjunct professor of church history at Greenville Seminary, is our guest as we talk about the “Confessional Presbyterian.”

Upcoming: More "Faith and Practice" broadcasts in which GPTS President Joseph Pipa answers listener questions.

Podcast Host Bill Hill Shares His New Pastoral Ministry in Newspaper Interview

"There is a new man of God in town, and he is providing leadership to a church that has long needed it."

That's the lead paragraph of a story in The McDowell News online edition featuring an interview with 2016 GPTS graduate and COH podcast host William Hill. In the article, Rev. Hill discusses his ministry at Landis Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Marion, N.C., a small church that had a vacant pulpit for six years before he accepted the call there. 

“Our core mission as a church is what I call historic Christianity. Our central issue in worship every week is the unapologetic preaching of God’s word. We live in a society where everything is so informal that it’s a shock for some to come here because we are very formal. But, we are very friendly and very loving and reach out to people as much as we can,” he said.

Read full article here.

Other Podcasting News

Dr. Michael Morales, GPTS professor of biblical studies, hosted an edition of the New Books Network podcast recently, interviewing the co-author of Making All Things New, Benjamin L. Gladd. The book investigates the interface between eschatology (the study of last things) and pastoral ministry, and demonstrates how biblical theology applies to the church.

Year in Review: Photo Gallery