From the President’s Desk
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Recently the Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary (PCTS) in Seoul, Korea, marked its 107th anniversary, and I was privileged to deliver the Founder’s Day address. The founder was Samuel Austin Moffett, father of our Samuel Hugh Moffett. Several PCTS professors are Princeton Seminary alumni/ae, and the two institutions have a rich relationship. PCTS and the Korean church are at the heart of the current shift of Christianity from the global North to the global South; the Korean Presbyterian Church, just past one hundred years old, is the fastest-growing Presbyterian denomination in the world and sends out missionaries around the globe. We have much to learn from the witness of the Korean church as it lives out its mission in its own context.
A constant awareness of our mission must inform every aspect of what we do. Here at Princeton Seminary we endeavor to educate and shape courageous, convicted, and compassionate leaders who can offer a coherent witness in the midst of rapid change.
To that end, in the last three years the Seminary has undertaken an intensive review and redevelopment of its curriculum. Effective in the fall of 2008, the new curriculum re-imagines the original Princeton formula, phrased then as “piety and learning,” now perhaps more precisely stated as “formational scholarship.” A Princeton education has never been about the mere accumulation of information, but about the formation of informed and faithful witnesses to the gospel.
Today the new curriculum goes about that task by creating new courses that ground learning not only in texts, but also in contexts. In addition to new courses in the Departments of Biblical Studies, History and Ecumenics, Theology, and Practical Theology, the area of Christian Education has been renamed Education and Formation, indicating an awareness that theological education and spiritual formation are inextricably linked. The new curriculum allows for more in-depth study, reducing the required number of credits from 90 to 78, by creating what we are calling “short terms” in January and May. The “short terms” are opportunities for intensive study, often with someone identified as an “outstanding practitioner.” This will improve diversity and bring us closer to the church. Some courses will involve travel. Future offerings include three-week courses in Taizé, France, with Director of Music Martin Tel, considering how that model of worship may be applied in North American contexts; in Israel/Palestine with Professors Gordon Mikoski and Chip Dobbs-Allsopp, exploring the contested geographies of that land; and in Germany with Professor Kenneth Appold, studying the sites and sources of the Reformation.
The history of the Seminary is replete with alumni/ae who, formed by their years of study and prayer at Princeton, worked to equip communities here and abroad to be witnesses for the gospel. I am proud of our students and alumni/ae learning and working in the Middle East and across the global South in places of conflict and change, places of promise. I invite you to read some of their stories in this issue of inSpire.
May God bless all of you.
Iain R. Torrance