Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Marriage, Family & Sexuality Conference: Register Now!

Although the Early Bird rate deadline is now past, you can still save by registering are now open for Greenville Seminary's annual Spring Theology Conference to be held on March 8-10, 2016. The conference will address the highly charged contemporary subject of "Marriage, Family and Sexuality."

With marriage, family and sexuality severely under attack in America, Greenville Seminary has never offered a more timely conference. The church and the world need biblical answers to the sexual perversions rampant in our culture. More importantly, the church needs to demonstrate the powerful, biblical alternative.

In this conference, we will deal with some of the difficulties faced today: homosexuality, transgenderism, and pornography, but our main goal is to defend the biblical standards for marriage, courting, and relationships between husband and wife and parents and children. The godly home is a powerful antidote to the perversions of our day. Of course, the greatest antidote is the Gospel, and we will review the life and something of the thought of one of the great Gospel preachers and theologians of the past.

Listen to President Dr. Joseph A. Pipa Jr. preview this conference.

The conference will be held again at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church, 2519 Woodruff Rd, Simpsonville, S.C. Register online at the GPTS web siteClick here to download a bulletin insert. Feel free to print this insert set (two per sheet) to include in your church bulletin.

Also planned is the second annual campus preview for prospective students on March 7-8. Prospective students who attend the Encounter GPTS open house may attend the Spring Theology Conference for free.

Speakers and their topics are:
  • God's Design for Marriage — Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., GPTS president
  • Gay Marriage: Right or Wrong? — Gary Bates, Creation Ministries International
  • The Maker's Instructions — Dr. Ian Hamilton, pastor Cambridge Presbyterian Church (UK), GPTS trustee and adjunct professor. (Evening worship service, free and open to the public. Live webcast on SermonAudio)
  • Nurturing Sexual Intimacy in Marriage — Dr. Joel Beeke, president, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
  • Free and Last: Counseling Those Dominated by the Sin of Pornography — Dr. Kevin Backus, pastor, Bible Presbyterian Church, Grand Island, N.Y.; Fellow - National Association of Nouthetic Counselors
  • Family Worship in the Reformed Tradition — Dr. Benjamin Shaw, GPTS associate professor
  • God's Nursery — Dr. Pipa. (Evening worship service, free and open to the public. Live webcast on SermonAudio)
  • Biblical Wisdom for Courtship and Dating — Dr. Richard Phillips, pastor, 2nd Presbyterian Church, Greenville
  • Special lecture on The Life and Theology of John Owen: A 400th Anniversary Appreciation — Dr. Ryan McGraw, GPTS associate professor and Owen scholar
Registration Rates:
  • Jan. 30-Mar. 3 - Standard rate $115, Spouse $35, Non-GPTS Student $25, Alumni $85.
  • After Mar. 3, on-site registration rate of $120 applies, GPTS, Graduate $90, Student $30.
  • Youth 12 and under attending with parents: Free; Over age 12: $20. 
  • Prospective GPTS students who attend the pre-conference open house may attend the main conference without charge.
  • Those unable to attend the entire conference may register on-site for one day. Tuesday or Thursday rate: $35; Wednesday rate: $55; student, wife and/or child: $10. 

"African Spurgeon" to Preach at Pre-conference Chapel

Dr. Conrad Mbewe, pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, will be the guest preacher during Greenville Seminary's pre-conference Chapel on March 8.

Dr. Mbewe, a former miner now widely known as the "African Spurgeon," is a prominent speaker at Christian conferences throughout the world. In addition to his outspoken leadership among the churches in Zambia, he has written two columns per week for more than a decade in the country's Daily Chronicle newspaper. One is a sermon, while the other examines popular social questions in a style tailored for the common man.

The pre-conference chapel will be held at the seminary at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 8. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. The 2016 Spring Theology Conference will follow, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville.

Dr. Mbewe has been the principal of the Lusaka Ministerial College during various periods of its existence. He is a graduate of the Cape Town Baptist Seminary in South Africa. He holds an Master of Arts (M.A.) in Pastoral Theology and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Missions. He is the chancellor of the African Christian University, chairs the board of trustees of the African Renaissance University of the African Alliance of YMCAs, and is a board member of the Central Africa Baptist College and the Covenant College Zambia. He is the author of Maintaining Sexual Purity (2008), Foundations for the Flock (2011), and Insights from the Lives of Olive Doke and Paul Kasonga for Pioneer Church Planting and Mission Today (2014). He is also the editor of Reformation Zambia.

He writes a popular blog called A Letter from Kabwatawhere he addresses a wide variety of theological and cultural issues, calling it "A peep into life in Africa through the eyes of an African Reformed Baptist pastor."

In addition to his many comparisons to Spurgeon, one source has likened him to even more foundational historic theologian: "This statesman, scholar, preacher, writer is Africa's premier expository export. He ranks as one of the most influential Reformed preachers and writers to come out of Africa since Augustine."

"Mbewe's fearless confrontation of the shallow theology and unbiblical practices endemic to African denominations has been credited with (blamed for) the widespread migration of Zambian Christians from their erstwhile Arminian, Pentecostal, seeker-sensitive allegiances, to the bourgeoning Calvinistic, Cessationist, expository ministries," according to Clint Archer at Cripplegate.

Encounter GPTS: A Campus Preview for Prospective Students

For those perceiving the call of God to Christian service, choosing a seminary that will provide a biblically faithful, theologically sound education is critical. Greenville Seminary would like to show you how we strive to meet these and other vital objectives.

On the eve of its 2016 Spring Conference, Greenville Seminary will again host an open house for prospective students. Encounter GPTS 2016 will be held on March 7 and 8.

The event will again include opportunities for would-be students to tour the campus, attend classes and a special chapel service, meet faculty and students, and participate in a panel discussion. As an added perk, first-time prospective students who participate in the campus preview events will be allowed to attend the main Spring Conference free as a guest of the seminary. That's a $115 value! If you eventually enroll, you may be able to recover your travel expenses as well.

Prospective students and their guests are invited to a special lunch in the Student Commons on Monday, March 7, at 11:30 a.m. This is a great time to mingle and fellowship with current students, faculty and staff of the seminary.

Last year, a prospective student who attended the campus preview event and is now a student at GPTS, had this to say:

"Upon searching for a suitable and affordable Reformed education, and finding the field wanting, I applied to [another seminary, but this application] was purely a measure of convenience, and not indicative of any theological sympathy towards a dispensational understanding of the Scripture. However, I then was made aware of the work being done at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and immediately knew your institution to be the most appropriate place to obtain a proper old school Presbyterian education.  I’m constantly driven towards a fuller and more accurate understanding of the work and person of Christ, that I may be a more useful instrument in the hands of God. I desire a theological education which equips me for the purpose of discovering the elect, and makes the Word of God mighty in my heart and mouth. I feel called without reservation to the ministry of the Word and Sacrament, and should the Lord bless my work in furthering my knowledge, I intend to purse the ministry full-time."

Seminary Recruiter Garry Moes briefing student prospects
If you are considering a seminary education, this is an excellent opportunity to learn more about GPTS, enhance your understanding about a theological education, and guide your decision-making about a seminary. Register now to attend. Be sure to follow the special instructions in the confirmation notice for registering for the main Spring Theology Conference for free.

To download a printable brochure, go here.

GPTS Impact 2015 Sets Record

Our Provident God richly blessed Greenville Seminary's 2015 year-end fund-raising campaign by leading His people to contribute a record $251,406, breaking the previous high mark set in 2012, when $174,899 was contributed by our faithful partners.

Our 2015 goal had been set at $180,000, which was exceeded by $71,406. Individual gifts dated during the campaign period of late November through Dec. 31 ranged from a few precious dollars to $40,000.

We call our year-end appeal GPTS Impact because it provides so much of the means through which our students are impacted by what this unique school offers. During our recent winter term, for example, one our most unusual courses, a church history class taught by Adjunct Professor Dr. C.N. Willborn, includes a tour of Presbyterian heritage sites in South Carolina. One student, Zack Groff, who took the most recent tour had this to say about how the class impacted him:

Zack (background arms raised) shows his enthusiasm during tour
of historic Johns Island Presbyterian Church near Charleston.
"I recently took part in Dr. Willborn's Presbyterian Church History course in which we toured parts of Columbia and Charleston to supplement our time in the classroom. The phrase that continually came to mind as I was experiencing the class was 'incredibly special,' and I can't shake those words out of my head. The class provides an incredibly special experience. Unlike any other trip I've been on, or lecture series I've heard, this class has clearly showed me the rich Presbyterian heritage which we have in our possession. Visiting what was formerly the Anson Street Mission in Charleston, where God used John Lafayette Girardeau to build up the Church among black and white brothers and sisters, was especially impacting for me. The account provided to us a beautiful picture of an ethnically integrated Church, united around the Word of God — taking place in the Antebellum South! This class is 'something special,' and I am so glad that I got to experience it."

Financial Report for January 2016

The tables below indicate our general operating fund financial situation as of the end of January 2015 and for the 2015-16 fiscal year through Jan. 31. Unrestricted general fund donations from churches and individuals during January totaled $28,611, which was $39,347 below the $67,958 budgeted for such income. Total income for January was $92,546, including $16,667 from a reserve stemming from an unbudgeted bequest. Expenses of $65,540 were $35,946 below the $101,486 budgeted for expenses. During January, we also received a $10,000 gift to reduce the principle of the mortgage on our campus. Thank you, again!

Still, we rely on our partners for 70 per cent of our operating needs, and we therefore continue to depend on your help as the second semester proceeds! Your gifts and prayers are vital to the accomplishment of our mission.

Will you give generously and pray earnestly for a continued strong financial foundation this month? We express our thanks to those who have already given.

GPTS Impact 2015

fundraising ideas for schools, churches, and youth sports teams

Graph shows progress 
toward the GPTS Impact
2015 Year-End Fund Goal

 Donation Income (unrestricted)
 Other Income
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 Net Income
Donation Income
Other Income (see note below)*
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.

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 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

"A Faithful Seminary"

Few things encourage a faculty and staff of a seminary more than a strong endorsement from one of its alumni. Such was the case when Nicholas Batzig, organizing pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Richmond Hill, Georgia, posted an unsolicited testimonial at his Feeding On Christ blog in late January.

“I am grateful for the many faithful seminaries that the Lord has raised up in the United States to help train men for pastoral ministry,” he wrote, naming a number of institutions with which he has had favorable interaction.

“Over the years, I have spoken little and written nothing about which seminary I would recommend – when individuals have asked me. Truth be told, I would recommend a number of the schools listed above based on who a particular individual is and where that person is seeking to serve in the future. I happened to go to a seminary that is not as well-known as those mentioned above. Despite the fact that I rarely promote a single theological seminary, I wanted to take a moment to give an unelicited hat tip to my alma mater – Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary – for their faithfulness in preparing men for Gospel ministry.”

Mr. Batzig went on to list and explain six key reasons why he recommends GPTS:

  • Love of Scripture
  • Love of the Gospel
  • Love of the Confessions
  • Love of the Church
  • Love of Preaching
  • Love of Reformed Traditions

We encourage you to read the full details here. GPTS expresses its thanks to Mr. Batzig for his kind words. We believe such testimonials reflect "our story" as an institution and remind us to be faithful to the mission to which God has called us.

GPTS: Mapping My Theological Journey

By Scott J. Hatch

I want to take a moment to express my appreciation for what the work of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has meant to me. I have never been a student at GPTS, but this seminary has nonetheless influenced my journey into theological understanding in many ways.

What consistently has impressed me about GPTS over the years is its unapologetic commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ, and by extension, to His Church and to His Word (embodied in a full subscription to the Westminster Standards). I wish such commitment were more widespread throughout the church today, and reading the various materials I have gotten from Greenville Seminary has strengthened my own convictions along these same lines.

I first heard of GPTS when I attended a church in Fairfax, Virginia from 2000-2003, as that church was providing financial support to the seminary. To be honest, at the time, I did not think about going to GPTS, since my work in the foreign and security policy community of the federal government tied me to the Washington, D.C. area; and in any event, I was already pursuing my interest in theological training at another school in the D.C. area.

Nevertheless, GPTS encouraged me to think in terms of service to the church and to go further in my theological education. I earned a Master of Arts in Religion in 2007, but I was not sure what the Lord would have me do next. In late 2011, I decided out of curiosity to check out the GPTS web site and discovered that the seminary was planning its 2012 Theology Conference as a commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Old Princeton Seminary. As J. Gresham Machen and Old Princeton were inspirations to me in my own theological development, I felt I had to go to the conference — and I did.

The speakers were excellent and the booksellers were awesome, but at the end of the conference I had a conversation with GPTS President Dr. Joseph Pipa about ministry that spurred me to think through more definitively how I may serve the church.

As I worked through the issue of whether I was being called to vocational Christian ministry, I decided to go back and take Greek and Hebrew courses which my previous degree did not require. After much reflection, prayer and discussion with a mentor and pastors and elders in my church, I came to the conclusions that the Lord has positioned me well to minister to those working in government. To further prepare me for grappling with the theological issues facing this field, I decided to seek a Master of Theology degree.

GPTS encouraged me to re-examine some long held views and challenged my presuppositions. As I thought through the issue of vocational ministry, I felt I needed to address what was meant by confessional subscription and whether I could agree with the Westminster Confession’s position on creation being done in six days. Even though a previous professor who taught my Genesis-Joshua course came himself from the Six-Day Creation position, I was skeptical. I knew, however, that I needed to give a fair hearing to that position, and I knew that GPTS would give the best defense of it. So I bought the book, Did God Create in Six Days? The contributors to that book did not disappoint, and I came away very impressed with how that position is the most internally consistent with Scripture. There are still some issues that I continue to work through regarding the days of creation, but I do have to credit GPTS with changing my thinking on this score.

GPTS also has supplied me with explanations on sanctification that not only corrected some things I had been taught earlier in life but also spurred me to communicate those things to those to whom I was ministering in my church. In the 1990s, when I began attending a suburban Washington Presbyterian church, I went through the church’s Sonship-based discipleship program. There was always something kind of unsettling to me about the program that I could never put my finger on, and I just assumed the problem was with me, since others seemed to be really enthusiastic about the program.

In 2015, I came to the GPTS Spring Theological Conference on "The Law of God in an Age of Lawlessness," and the speakers helped me to put a lot of things into context about the Law of God and its role in our sanctification. While at the conference, I decided to buy the book, Sanctification: Growing in Grace, that contained papers presented at an earlier GPTS conference. Dr. Pipa’s critique of the Sonship program hit the mark and supplied the explanation for what I had intuitively sensed but had not been able to articulate. The other papers in the book also gave me a fuller understanding of what sanctification is really about and how it works.

I currently co-lead an adult education class of 40-50 people at church, and reading Sanctification moved me to put together a class last summer on the full scope of salvation as articulated in the Westminster Confession.

My thanks go to the faculty, students and staff of Greenville Seminary for the blessing they have been to me and my family, and may our Lord bless this institution as it continues to serve Christ through its ministry.

Scott J. Hatch is an analytic manager in the foreign and security affairs community of the U.S. Government and previously directed training courses within the government on critical thinking and analytic successes and failures. He also serves as co-leader of the Berean Servants class, a Christian adult education class and care community at his suburban Washington D.C. church. He is on the Steering Board of the Capital Fellows program and is the Executive Director of The Philippine Ministry, a ministry focused on transforming the Philippines into a godly nation by providing churches and schools with free training materials promoting biblical values.

GPTS Summer Institute: Save the Date

Greenville Seminary has announced preliminary details for its 2016 Summer Institute, a week-long seminar for pastors and Christian laymen.

Dr. Chad B. Van Dixhoorn will lecture on "The Westminster Confession and Pastoral Care." The study will be held on the GPTS campus Aug. 1-5.

Pastors who take the course are eligible for 30 continuing education units. Tuition for the institute is $225. Take $25 off additional registrations should anyone from your church attend with you.

Register and pay individual tuition online here. For Group Rate registrations, call Registrar Kathleen Curto at (864) 322-2717 ext. 302.

Dr. Van Dixhoorn, a Canadian-born theologian and historian, is editor of the five-volume "The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly: 1643-1652," published by Oxford University Press in 2012.

He is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div., Th.M.) and the University of Cambridge (Ph.D,). He has taught theology at the University of Nottingham and has held three fellowships at Cambridge, where he researched the history and theology of the Westminster Assembly and taught on the subject of Puritanism.

Dr. Van Dixhoorn has lectured since 2008 at Reformed Theological Seminary - Washington, where he teaches church history and practical theology. He has served as Associate Professor of Church History at RTS-Washington since 2013 and as Chancellor's Professor of Historical Theology since 2015. He has previously lectured at Greenville Seminary.

He served as pastor at Cambridge Presbyterian Church (UK) and then as Grace Presbyterian Church in Vienna, Va. for nine years.

Join GPTS at the PCA General Assembly

Friends of Greenville Seminary attending the 2016 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America are cordially invited to join us for breakfast on Wednesday, June 22, at 7 a.m.

The General Assembly will be held in Mobile, Ala. at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center June 20-24. The breakfast will be held in Room 106 near the main GA meeting hall.

This annual breakfast is a great time to get updated on the ministry of Greenville Seminary and to meet with like-minded friends and associates. The breakfast is free, but reservations are required. You may make your reservation online here. If you would like to make a donation to help defray the cost of this event, you may do so by tapping the button below.

We hope you will join us for this time of food, fellowship and friend-raising. Also plan to visit our booth in the exhibit hall all week.

Confessing Our Hope Podcast Previews Spring Conference

New broadcasts are now available at Confessing Our Hope, Greenville Seminary's online broadcasting outreach, hosted by Bill Hill.

Mr. Hill has also announced that some future podcasts will be broadcast live. To learn more about this exciting new option, go here.

Meanwhile, tune in to listen now to these archived broadcasts:

"Courtship and Marriage" — Dr. Richard Phillips, senior pastor at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C., discusses his topic to be presented at the 2016 GPTS Spring Theology Conference.

"History of Family Worship" — GPTS Associate Professor Dr. Benjamin Shaw gives a preview of his lecture scheduled for the 2016 GPTS Spring Theology Conference.

"Marriage, Family & Sexuality" — GPTS President Dr. Joseph Pipa provides an overview of the 2016 GPTS Spring Theology Conference. Don't miss this vital conference dealing with some of the hottest issues of our day.

These broadcasts, along with a number of other recent editions, can be heard and/or downloaded at the Confessing Our Hope web site or from the GPTS channel at SermonAudio.com.

Kingdom Kids Collect for GPTS

Children at Redeemer Reformed Church, Golden Valley, Minnesota

Greenville Seminary loves and cherishes all of our wonderful supporters, but once in a while we are especially touched by friends who win a special place on our hearts.

The children of the Sunday School at Redeemer Reformed Church in Golden Valley, Minn., are such friends. During their fall semester 2015, they designated their Sunday School offering for the support of GPTS — and raised nearly $168!

"We appreciate what you do at GPTS and keep you in our prayers," Deacon John Selvestra wrote on behalf of the children. "We are also appreciative of the good training you provided for our new pastor, and recent GPTS graduate, Tim Marinelli.

Co-Pastor Tim Marinelli
GPTS Development Director Garry Moes responded, saying, "By your gifts to Greenville Seminary, you are demonstrating a wonderful love for the church of our Lord Jesus. God has called us to train new generations of pastors and preachers to serve Christ’s church. We are so happy to know Pastor Marinelli is now ministering among you, leading you in the way of the Gospel and the Holy Scriptures. We trust that the teaching you receive in your Sunday School and through the pulpit from the Word of God will shape your lives forever. This is a marvelous privilege, and we pray that you will be faithful to that Word all your days."

Redeemer Reformed Church is a congregation of the Reformed Church in the United States. Tim Marinelli became co-pastor of the Twin Cities-area church in 2015, joining veteran Pastor Jim Sawtelle.