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The impact of COVID-19 has caused the Seminary to take unprecedented steps to balance our educational mission with the duty to protect the health and well-being of the Seminary community, our neighbors, and vulnerable populations. While there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 on our campus, we feel that we should do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus as well as protect the health of our Seminary community and our neighborhood. To this end, we will implement new policies based on social distancing strategies that health experts recommend. What does this mean for Continuing Education? Until May 31, 2020, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has suspended all its public face-to-face events. The decision regarding Henderson Summer Leadership is pending. If you have already registered for a program, we will be processing your refund as soon as we are able. We do have a couple of online offerings that will proceed as planned, and we are trying to determine what (if anything) can be adapted to an online environment. We are also discerning how else we can support our faithful community leaders in the hard space they are called to occupy. Numerous judicatories and denominational bodies have provided online resources to help with the logistics of worship, pastoral care, and other responsibilities. How is God calling us to broaden our pastoral imagination in these times? This is neither the time to be lost in lament for what is missing nor to be asserting the way we always do things. There are beloved children of God who are at risk! This is, however, the time to wash our hands, engage spiritual practices that help us be less anxious and more wise, and explore with holy curiosity new ways of (prudently!) accompanying each other in isolating times. Be gentle with each other, friends. We join you in prayer and compassion for those who are sick and scared.


At Pittsburgh Seminary we know that preparation for ministry requires understanding the context of ministry—and that such understanding comes not only through theory and analysis, but also through experience and engagement. A central piece of our strategic plan is the expansion of experiential learning through the Metro-Urban Institute and increased collaboration with partners in Pittsburgh. And beyond Pittsburgh, learning through experience and engagement is at the heart of the World Mission Initiative—part of our vision is to be engaged "in the complex realities of this world that God loves, from our neighborhood to the ends of the earth."


I invite you to join us in praying, learning, and acting for the welfare of the cities of the world that God loves so much.
David Esterline
President and Professor of Cross-Cultural Theological Education

Ministry and Context - An Online Class: Grow your skill set and knowledge at a convenient pace! Dear Ministry Colleagues, Ministry always happens in a specific time and place, and learning how to read context is crucial for the practice of effective ministry. Drawing on resources from sociology and theology, participants will learn basic skills for reading context and discerning the impact ministry and communities can have on each other. This class will address context for lay and ordained community leaders in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Instructor: R. Drew Smith, Professor of Urban Ministry, PTS. The class will be self-paced and available for participants to engage with the instruction at their own convenience, i.e., offered asynchronously. Co-sponsored with the Metro-Urban Institute, PTS. Questions? E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 412-924-1345.

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Reconciliation. By the time this newsletter appears in your inbox, we will have ended our Lenten disciplines and entered headlong into Holy Week—a time when we revisit the story of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. This time of year marks the apex of our liturgical life as Christians and provides the ground for our identity and theology. Recently Pittsburgh made national news headlines when a police officer was exonerated after killing an unarmed black boy. Once again, a mother grieves her son, a community’s divisions are thrown into high relief, and we realize anew how deep the schisms are in our communities, making the promise of the Beloved Community even more distant. As Christians, we are called to have a different imagination, a different way of engaging each other, rooted in the love of God incarnated in Christ —the same Christ who was crucified. We are called to wrestle in the space between the world saved and reconciled and the "not yet" of God’s reign. And this isn’t an abstract theological concept. This requires us to take head on the work of dismantling the sinful structures, like systemic institutional racism, that are utterly wrong and contrary to the flourishing God desires for all God’s children. Different imagination means confronting the ways in which even the Church itself is implicated in the sin of racism.

Barbara Blodgett, associate dean for academic programs and assessment at PTS, will lead Collective Decision Making: Beyond Robert's Rules,” March 9-April 3, 2020. Do you tire of church meetings where decision making is tedious or contentious? Have you ever wished to try a different way? In this course, students will learn decision methods that are at the same time slower and wiser, respectful and goal-oriented. Experiment with consensus processes, prayerful processes, and more. Churches will register as “one person” and send two representatives (ideally, a clergy leader and a lay leader). Learn more online.

Panorama Magazine Available Online. The Seminary’s latest Panorama magazine focuses on avenues of ministry in the way of Jesus and is now available online. In this issue, faculty members write about the way of Jesus in the New Testament and everyday life. Read more about how our reimagined curriculum and resource programs prepare students for ministry in the way of Jesus. Other highlights in this issue include updates on our faculty and alums. If you don’t already receive the Seminary’s magazine in your mailbox, let us know!