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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!

The American Religious Landscape: Conversations and Community Series: The Pew Research Center reports that the number of Christians in the U.S. is in decline, while people of other religions and those who identify as "none" are on the rise. Being an effective faith leader and a good neighbor involves knowing how to navigate this changing landscape socially and theologically. Join us for the second session of this five-part introduction to this work and to some of the faith traditions represented in our region. The November, December, and February sessions will be held at houses of worship in the Western Pennsylvania area. On Nov. 8, participants will meet at Sri Venkateswarma Temple, Monroeville, PA, to learn more about Hinduism. Future dates include Dec. 6--Judaism, Rodef Shalom, Pittsburgh; Feb. 13, 2020--Islam, Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Monroeville, PA; and March 13--Religion and the U.S. Context, Part II, PTS. This series is free, and a good-will offering will be collected at the off-site locations. Learn more online.

“In Each Other’s Steps”: Visualizing Biblical Mount Sinai: The Seminary’s next archaeology lecture will be held Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m., when Ahmed Shams, from Durham University, University of Oxford, and Royal Geographical Society, presents "'In Each Other's Steps': Visualizing Biblical Mount Sinai." Pilgrims, travelers, scholars, map-makers, and monks have traversed Sinai’s deserts and mountains in the footsteps of what―since the earliest mention of Mount Sinai in the fourth century CE―they believed to be the traditional Exodus route of the Israelites. Though these visitors, in fact, traveled only "in each other’s steps," they visualized the landscape in similar patterns of historic and scholarly account-writing, painting, and photography, as well as through topographic/paper icons and map-making. Drawing on 19 years of field survey conducted through his own Sinai Peninsula Research (SPR) project, Shams will discuss how these various accounts, maps, and photographs defined the patterns and boundaries of popular and scholarly knowledge of Mount Sinai and the southern Levant, or "biblical south," heading into 21st century CE. The Museum will be open from 6:30-7:15 p.m. and after the lecture. The lecture and reception to follow are free and open to the public. Learn more online.

Preaching a Relevant Word to a Restless People: Planning ahead, mark your calendar for Jan. 30, Feb. 27, March 26, and April 23, 2020, when Donna Giver-Johnston will lead the continuing education course "Preaching a Relevant Word to a Restless People." Preachers may be reluctant to mention current events from the pulpit. But not speaking to the concerns people bring with them into church implicitly communicates that the church—and worse, God—doesn't care. Participants will discuss both resistance and sacred calling and learn ways to preach sermons that are pastorally sensitive, prophetically challenging, and particularly relevant in the world today. Learn more online.

Seminary Releases Advent Devotional and Resources: The Seminary is pleased to offer our 2019 Advent Devotional. This free online resource provides a devotional for each day of Advent based on the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s daily lectionary. The devotionals are written by members of the John S. McMillan Planned Giving Society and Board of Directors and can be accessed in various ways: Read and listen online or print and share. Download our free Android or Apple app. Visit the store and search for "Devotions - Advent & Lent." Request your printed copy. Call 412-362-5610 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Additionally, other downloadable Advent resources include the Big Book of Advent (multiple devotions per day), Lessons and Carols service, sermons and Advent reflections, a look at the art of Advent—perfect as a multi-week Sunday School lesson—and a children’s sermon. Plus, get the "What is Advent?" video, guitar sheet music perfect for the youth in your congregation, and a customizable PowerPoint presentation.