Dr. Stephen A. Hayner Named President of Columbia Theological Seminary
DECATUR, GA—The Board of Trustees of Columbia Theological Seminary voted unanimously today to appoint Stephen A. Hayner as the school’s ninth president, following a nationwide search. Dr. Hayner succeeds Laura S. Mendenhall, who has served Columbia since 2000. His appointment is effective July 1, 2009.
William E. Scheu, chair of Columbia’s Board of Trustees, said, “God has called a person of integrity, vision and joy to this office. The trustees are grateful for the search committee’s expansive and diligent process that led them to discern God’s call and recommend Steve to the Board.”
“I want to thank the Board members for their trust and vision,” Dr. Hayner said. “I am enthusiastic about devoting all that I am to helping our students, staff, faculty and everyone associated with Columbia—both past and present—fulfill Christ's purposes for us.”
Commenting on the search, the Rev. Lee Bowman, search committee chair and trustee, said that Dr. Hayner was an ideal candidate. “From the very beginning, the search committee wanted a person who could see around the corner to a future that none of us can yet envision. The church is changing, and we want to be faithful to the future to which God is calling us.” She added, “Steve is the person who best articulates the mission of the seminary and its place in that future.”
“Steve's dedication to theological inquiry and alertness to the shifting landscapes of higher education and the global church will serve Columbia Theological Seminary very well in the years ahead,” said Christine Yoder, search committee member and associate professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary.
“Steve is a bridge-builder, said Rodger Nishioka, search committee member and Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education at Columbia. He added, “Through his varied life experiences, he bridges the natural tensions between the classroom and the congregation, the rich history and practices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the innovation and creativity of parachurch organizations, Columbia Seminary's historic roots in the American South and the dynamism of the global Church, as well as the ongoing struggles between those who claim a more evangelical and conservative theology and those who claim a more liberal and progressive one.
“Through his remarkable and authentic humility, a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ, and a love of Christ's Church,” Dr. Nishioka continued, “Steve calls everyone to participate in building the reign of God for the glory of God. I look forward to serving on the faculty under his bridge-building leadership.”
Steve Montgomery, a trustee who also served on the search committee, said, “Steve Hayner has vitally important parish, academic, and administrative experience, but what strikes me most emphatically is the way he combines a strong personal faith with a passionate concern for the role of the global church in social outreach and justice. I think he will be a magnet for a wider and more diverse student body than Columbia has ever known.”
As a search committee member, two-time graduate of Columbia and former president of the seminary’s alumni council, Todd Speed commented, “Steve’s breadth and depth as a pastor, professor, family member, and friend are remarkable. He brings to Columbia a worthy combination of significant institutional leadership experience and a long-term commitment to ministry with a broad spectrum of Presbyterian Churches and their people.”
Master of Divinity student Jamison Collier, a search committee member and trustee, emphasized Dr. Hayner’s commitment to students. “Steve is a connected and accessible teacher. Students appreciate that he not only relates well in person but is also a sophisticated user of technology and the many ways people communicate today.”
Columbia Theological Seminary, located in Decatur, GA, was established in 1828 and is one of 10 theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA).