November 17, 2017 — President M. Craig Barnes recently returned from a trip to Seoul and Daegu, South Korea to strengthen the Seminary's historic ties with Korean churches and seminaries and to expand exchange and cooperation.
“The emphasis of Princeton Seminary for both professors and students has been global theological education, which perceives the world while practicing community life on campus,” said Barnes in an interview with The Kukmin Daily. “This era needs pastors who not only have the theological capacity to interpret Biblical truths but also understand and practice the value of faith.”
This expansive vision for theological education was the focus of a meeting arranged by the Rev. Dr. Hana Kim, a trustee of Princeton Seminary, who convened a group of ten young pastors to talk with President Barnes and several other PTS administrators about how Princeton Seminary and Korean churches can partner in global ministry.
“Our seminary has had close ties to Korea since the end of the 19th century when we were sending missionaries there,” Barnes noted. “Now we return as partners and learners with the thriving churches and universities there. And along the way we discover more of Jesus Christ as we see him at work in a different place and in different faces. This is part of what it means for the Seminary to keep turning its face to the world Jesus was dying to love.”
While in Seoul, President Barnes joined with President Yong-Hak Kim of Yonsei University in signing a new Memorandum of Agreement between the two schools. The agreement enables graduates of Yonsei University to pursue either an MA(TS) or ThM degree at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) before returning to Yonsei to complete their ThD degrees.
“We return as partners and learners with the thriving churches and universities there. And along the way we discover more of Jesus Christ.”
— M. Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Theological Seminary
During his visit, President Barnes had the opportunity to meet with a diverse group of Christian leaders and preached at the Yoido Full Gospel Church. Affiliated with the Assembly of God of Korea, and with over 500,000 members, this congregation is believed to be the largest in the world. Barnes also preached sermons at Onnuri Community Church and Myung Sung Presbyterian Church.
Dr. Timothy D. Son, Director of the Asian American Program at Princeton Seminary, accompanied President Barnes on the trip and sees the partnership with Korean Christians as a witness to God's work in the world.
“Our partnership with Korean Christians will make our joint missional endeavor more effective as we utilize the unique gifts and talents God has entrusted to us.”
On a second leg of the trip, Barnes traveled to Daegu where he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Keimyung University, in recognition of his longstanding commitment to theological education and the Presbyterian Church in Korea.
Sung Bihn Yim, President of Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary and a trustee of Princeton Seminary, shared words of gratitude for Barnes’ service to the global church.
“Your lifetime of ministry and service to theological education at the intersection of pastoral ministry, ecumenism, and the role of the church in the local and national contexts offer a shining example to us as we endeavor to renew the power of the Holy Spirit through our church at these critical changing times.”
After the ceremony, Barnes delivered the keynote address at the Dongcheon International Forum. His lecture, entitled “...Always being Reformed” in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, highlighted Princeton Seminary's over one hundred year relationship with the Korean church and historic devotion to Korea's churches, schools, and hospitals.
“This is my fifth visit to Korea since I became president in 2013," Barnes said. “Observing the Korean churches and their worship, my understanding of faith has broadened. Listening to the confessions of faith of the world church and the people of many countries, my worship experience has become much more abundant, and I can understand God’s presence in the world. In the early 20th century the U.S. was a country that dispatched missionaries overseas and exerted influence on many nations, but now it has become a country that is learning new ways from world Christianity and the churches of the world.”
“Informal time in discussion groups with faculty and students discussing feminist theological literature, altered my views, excited my spirit, and greatly influenced my teaching.”