Friday, May 6, 2016

Twenty-sixth Commencement May 20

Dr. Terry Johnson is the keynote speaker for the 29th Commencement at GPTS

Degrees were be conferred upon 11 senior students during the 29th Greenville Seminary Commencement Ceremony on May 20.

The ceremony was held at 6 p.m. at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church, 2519 Woodruff Road Simpsonville, S.C. A reception followed. Dr. Terry Johnson, pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church, Savannah, Ga. was the speaker, delivering an address on "Discipline for Godliness." Dr. Johnson is a prolific author. For a list of his books, go here.

Hear the testimonies of two graduates about their experience at GPTS.

Presenting the Graduating Class of 2016:

Stephen Alan Cook, M.Div.

Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas
College of Prior Study: Covenant Collage, BA; Converse College, Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
Spouse: Rachel
Children: Quincy, Adelyn, Ellie (triplets)

Memories of GPTS: 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!
  Plans: I am currently planning to come under care in the OPC. In the short term, I will continue to teach at a private school and seek to serve in my local church.  I will also continue a prison ministry.

Jesse Michael Crutchley, M.Div.

Hometown: Severna Park, Maryland
Position: Pastor of Severn Run Church (PCA)
Spouse: Holly
Children: Ellie, Jack, Nora, Addison

Memories of GPTS: I am 39, and began attending GPTS 3 years ago. As an older student with a full family, it was implausible that I pack them up and head off to seminary. Local seminaries were no option, because they lacked the Reformed perspective I desired. Yet, I still believed that God was calling me to ministry. I am so thankful that my former pastor recommended the GPTS distance-learning program to me. Greenville has trained us as pastor-scholars from a truly Reformed Presbyterian heritage. I consider my time at GPTS as an ascension gift of Christ to me and through me to His Church at Severn Run. I can’t wait to begin my Th.M.!

Plans: I will continue pastoring Severn Run (PCA) and pursue my Th.M. on "John Owen and the Beatific Vision” under the mentorship of Greenville Professor, Dr. Ryan McGraw.

Adam Harris, M.Div.

Hometown: Belleville, Ontario
College of Prior Study: Redeemer University
Spouse: Joy
Children: Jonathan, Abigail

Memories of GPTS: I still remember my first convocation at GPTS. The ceremony as a whole struck me as a solemn and weighty charge to a few good men to take up the cause of the gospel and fight the good fight of the faith. Seminary would be a boot-camp; your friends would be your comrades on the battlefield; Christ would be your gracious captain; Scripture would be your marching orders. I've had a lot of fun at seminary, but when it comes to gospel ministry, there is no playing around at GPTS — you're no longer a civilian but an officer-in-training and a soldier in the great spiritual battle of the ages (2 Timothy 2:4). May the Lord grant his officers grace to defend the church and advance the Kingdom of Christ.

Plans: I am currently pursuing a call within the Canadian presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Xing Liu, M.Div.

Hometown: BaoTou, Inner Mongolia, China
College of Prior Study: Inner Mongolia Normal University
Spouse: Jinjing
Children: Jesse, Grace

Memories of GPTS:  I joined the family of GPTS in Fall 2011. During the five-year life and study, I not only learned  precious knowledge of theology but also understood and practiced how to be the Lord's bond-servant. Many godly professors and students are my example to follow. I am so grateful for all staff and students of the seminary for their love, kindness, and patience on me. Although I am a foreigner here, I can feel warm as in a big family.

Plans: God willing, I will serve in my home church Minnesota Mandarin Christian Church in Edina, Minnesota, which has extended me a call after graduation.

James Norris, M.Div.

Hometown: Watkinsville, Georgia
College of Prior Study: Covenant College
Spouse: Elizabeth

Memories of GPTS: When I first began to consider seminary I did not even know the depth of wisdom I received when I was counseled to put GPTS at the top of my list. I remember one class where the professor declared that if King Jesus commands us to jump, then it is our duty to ask “how high?” I have gratefully found this to be the attitude at GPTS in its desire to seek out and implement nothing short of the full council of God. GPTS is challenging and not at all for the faint of heart, but as that is what ministry shall be, then this institution is only preparing men all the more for a lifetime of kingdom service. I will be forever grateful for my professors who have strived to see me grow, classmates who became lifelong friends, the tools with which I have been equipped, and the love for Christ that permeates this place and all who grace its halls.

Plans: I plan to continue serving as an intern at Fellowship Presbyterian Church in Greer. S.C. through next year. Long term, I hope to be ordained and serve as an overseas missionary.

Nathan Samuel Riese, M.Div.

Hometown: Peoria, Illinois
College of Prior Study: Maranatha Bible University
Spouse: Kelli
Children: Ella, Dorothea, another due in August.

Memories of GPTS: I'll never forget how nervous I was to go from graduating with my B.A. in December 2009, to only a few weeks later driving 13 hours with my wife from western Illinois to GPTS for the Winter term's Presbyterian Church History intensive course. What a great way to transition from college to seminary! It was wonderful to be able to take my new bride with me on the "Presbyterian Historical Tour" with Dr. Willborn. He treated my wife and me to dinner in Charleston on that trip. That first class made a lasting impression on us. One of my other favorite memories from GPTS is Dr. Curto's unparalleled enthusiasm in his teaching. When he gets into it, he really gets into it. His "lectures" are the best preaching I've heard! The Lord used GPTS greatly, not only in academic training, but especially in my sanctification. I thank God for GPTS!

Plans: I am presently interning at a Reformed Presbyterian Church - Hanover Presbytery church plant in Peoria, Ill., from which I hope to receive a call in the near future.

Matthew Paul Siple, M.Div.

Hometown: Athens, Georgia
College of Prior Study: University of Georgia
Spouse: Nan
Children: Lelia, Matthew, John, Sam

Memories of GPTS:  I'm very grateful for my time at GPTS. I was able to attend Dr. Pipa's final homiletics course and Dr. Smith's last Introduction to Reformed Theology course. But my favorite time at GPTS was the Reformed Pastor class with Pastor Shishko (which happened to be his last as well). That week, the emphases on piety and theology really came together as we discussed life in the church as shepherds.

Plans:  I am pursuing ordination this summer in the PCA and plan to join the pastoral staff at Redeemer Presbyterian, my home church in Athens, Ga.

William M. Watson III, M.Div.

Hometown: Pompano Beach, Florida
College of Prior Study: Michigan State University
Spouse: Connie

Memories of GPTS: I have been a part-time distance student at GPTS since 2009. The flexibility of the distance program has been a great blessing. But I also appreciate the clear boundaries within which the distance education program operates. It has enabled me to complete a very high quality degree program that would not have been available to me otherwise. I deeply appreciate the faculty, staff, and student body at GPTS. There is an appropriate seriousness in the educational endeavors that take place at GPTS that is well seasoned with love, joy, and optimism because Christ by His Spirit is at work building His kingdom. It has been a great blessing to be a part of the GPTS community.

Plans:  I plan to continue serving as a ruling elder with an eye toward being ordained as a teaching elder.

Benjamin Peter Wontrop, M.Div.

Hometown: Blacksburg, Virginia
College of Prior Study: Virginia Tech
Spouse: Anna

Memories of GPTS: I still remember picking up the promotional DVD from the GPTS booth at General Assembly several years ago, and the sense I had after watching it was that this was the place for me! GPTS's unwavering commitment to the Westminster Standards, emphasis on personal piety and dedication to the centrality of preaching stood out to me at the time; and I have not been disappointed. I first studied at the UK extension campus, and finished my final year back in the United States, where my wife and I have been extremely blessed to have experienced the wonderful fellowship of the seminary community and developed many good friendships that we pray will last many years into ministry.

Plans: Lord willing, I will be ministering as an associate pastor at Bury St. Edmunds Presbyterian Church (EPCEW), Bury St. Edmunds, England.

Zecharias Abraham, M.A.

Home Country: Eritrea
College of Prior Study: Kyihdega
Spouse: Bethel
Children: Jokabed, Yafet, Yosias, Miriam, Senay

Memories of GPTS: My time in GPTS has been a God-given blessed and rich time of learning and friendship. Every course I took and every interaction that I had with my professors has been edifying, enlightening and valuable for anyone preparing for Gospel ministry and those who are already ordained for Christian ministry such as myself. From how GPTS equipped, challenged, and empowered me to fulfill my God given pastoral ministry, I am completely convinced that anyone who wants to serve the Church of Jesus Christ with a sound, healthy, Christ-centered, and Christ-like theology and ministry should study in this Seminary. If you come to GPTS, I can guarantee you that you will be trained under faithful Bible scholars who love the Word and the Church of Jesus Christ and men who will become both your spiritual mentors and fathers. I will continue to be thankful to the Lord for GPTS which has been both the fountain of my theological knowledge and a a source of solace to me and my family who by God's providence went through a strenuous path of religious persecution until we landed in the United States of America. Thank you GPTS!

Plans: I have become pastor of Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Atlanta (Doraville), Georgia.

William F. Hill, Jr., B.Div.

Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina. (Rochester, N.Y. originally)
Spouse: Gwen
Children: Danielle, Jennifer, Bryan

Memories of GPTS: My fondest memory of Greenville Seminary is the commitment she has to the task of preaching God’s Word and an unswerving allegiance to the Scriptures and the Westminster Standards. The unapologetic approach to teaching the Reformed Faith in a way that is experiential, loving and clear will go with me for the rest of my life.

Plans: I have been offered, and have accepted a call to serve as pastor of Landis Presbyterian Church in Marion N.C.