Current Activity


Columbia in the News

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Faculty & Staff Activity as of July 2017

JOHN AZUMAH, Professor of World Christianity and Islam, Director of International Programs, attended the second of a two-part consultation in Beirut on “Theological Education in the Context of Islam in the Majority World” organized by the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury during April 1-7. The Presbyterian College, Montreal, Canada, invited him as Convocation Speaker on May 11. During June 17-30, John was in Australia to speak in Sydney at the Annual Bishops Conference of the Anglican Church, and to give lectures on Islam at Moore Theological College in Sydney and at the Brisbane School of Theology in Brisbane.

RYAN BONFIGLIO, Lecturer in Old Testament, designed and taught a six-week Lenten lecture series called “Praying the Psalms” at the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, where he serves as the John H. Stembler Scholar in Residence. In commemoration of the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation, Ryan delivered a lecture on June 11 entitled “Defacing Art: Images and Iconoclasm in the Reformation.” This summer, Ryan will also be leading a nine-week lecture series at First Presbyterian Church on “Great Figures of the Pentateuch” and will be teaching a four-week course called “The Bible in Translation: A Brief History” (August). In May, Ryan led 35 members of Atlanta area churches on a Study Abroad trip to Switzerland that explored the history, theology, and legacy of John Calvin. Several articles will be published this summer including, “Visualizing Literacy: Images, Media, and Method” (Biblical Interpretation) and “Art, Agency, and Anti-Idol Polemics in the Hebrew Bible” (Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East), and an entry on “Religious Visual Culture” in The Dictionary of the Bible in Ancient Media (T&T Clark).

BRENNAN BREED, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, is teaching Sunday school classes on the history of Christology at Church of the Epiphany in Decatur, where he serves as Wister Cook Theologian-in-Residence on most Sundays during the spring.

WILLIAM BROWN, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, brought the AAAS “Science for Seminaries” program for CTS to completion with a special reception this May. He published his new book, A Handbook to Old Testament Exegesis (Westminster John Knox). During March 17-18, Bill gave a series of lectures at Covenant Shores Retirement Center at Mercer Island, Washington, on wonder and the biblical accounts of creation: the Temple of Life, the Tree of life, and the Tempest of Life. He wrote a blog for ON Scripture for April 23, titled “Wounded Resurrection: The Body of Christ for the Body of Earth.” Bill preached at North Decatur Presbyterian Church on April 23, and taught Sunday School at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Atlanta in March and April. He has served as a confirmation leader at North Decatur Presbyterian Church throughout the year.

KATHY DAWSON, Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education, Director of the MAPT Program, did a workshop consultation with Central Presbyterian Church on children and worship issues. She attended a gathering for children’s ministry professionals at Decatur Presbyterian Church and an ATS Mid-career Faculty Conference in Orlando. In April, she led a church retreat for Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian Church at Montreat on the topic, “When God breaks in. . . ” There is also a new “Gracie the Fish” story out this spring, available at

SARAH ERICKSON, Director for Lifelong Learning, visited the JOY (Just Older Youth) of older adults at Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in April, sharing information about the Center for Lifelong Learning and the seminary in general. Alumni Jody Reed Andrade, Andy Acton, and Jennifer Sankey all serve on staff at PHPC. She participated in “Come See Columbia Day” on campus as one of two break-out presentations. Sarah represented the Center for Lifelong Learning at the 7th Annual Conference on Ageing and Spirituality in Chicago in June as a partner with POAMN (Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network), a conference partner. Invitations to preach took her to Acworth Presbyterian, where Greg Moore MDiv ’04 is pastor in April; to Ray Thomas Memorial Presbyterian, Marietta, GA in May; and to Northminster Presbyterian, Macon, in June.

ANNA CARTER FLORENCE, Peter Marshall Professor of Preaching, once again gave a lecture and a sermon at the Festival of Homiletics in May this year, in San Antonio, TX. In May, Anna traveled to Calgary, Alberta, to lecture and preach at Grace Presbyterian Church for a weekend event entitled, “Preaching Grace.” In July, Anna will be a preacher and lecturer for a week at the Bay View Association Chautauqua on Northern Lake Michigan. She will also be preaching for two Sundays at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, NY. In September, she will visit two churches for weekend events: The Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, Virginia, and St. Simon’s Presbyterian Church in St. Simon’s Island, GA where Alan Dyer ’13 is a co-pastor.

ISRAEL GALINDO, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning, Director of Online Education, published “The Arc of Stewardship in An Age of Abundance and Debt,” for the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, Lent 2017. In February, he attended the Center for the Study of Natural Systems Symposium, Houston, TX. Israel presented “Reciprocity in Emotional Systems,” at the Leadership in Ministry workshops in Boston, Portland, and West Virginia. In March, he attended the Advisory Committee of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. For Come See Columbia Day in April, Israel delivered the message “Four Necessary Things I Will Not Teach Seminarians: Contrarian Thoughts From a Seminary Inmate.” Currently, he is editing a volume titled Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context to be released fall 2017. In June, Israel taught the online DMin course “A Systems Approach to Congregational Leadership. He wrote several blog posts for Columbia Connections, including “Truisms in an Anxious System,” “For the Bookshelf: Can Christians be Educated?” “For the Bookshelf: Five Worthwhile Books on Youth Ministry,” “For the Bookshelf: Cultivating Perennial Churches,” “Yes, But is It Valid?,” “Cognition and Faith,” and “For the Bookshelf: Women’s Lives in Biblical Times.” He also wrote “The Dean Unravels Wicked Problems,” in the Blog for Theological School Deans of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. Israel continues to consult with theological schools on curriculum development, design, and assessment. He attended a consultation for the Studying Congregations project in Boston during June 2017.

BILL HARKINS, Senior Lecturer of Pastoral Theology and Care, Director of the ThD Program, led the men’s retreat for Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church May 5-7 at Lake Logan Episcopal Conference Center near Canton, North Carolina; he was the Psychological Health faculty for the Episcopal Church Foundation Boot Camp at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, June 7-10; he served as Psychological Health faculty for CREDO ROC (newly ordained clergy) at Duncan Episcopal Conference Center, Delray Beach, Florida, June 12-19; Bill was a guest lecturer for the Doctor of Ministry seminar at the School of Theology, Sewanee, The University of the South, June 21-22; Bill served on the CREDO Health faculty working group on curricula in Memphis, June 26-28. He has authored a number of articles on staying healthy in ministry published in CPG and CREDO websites:; Bill will lead the men’s retreat for Vanderbilt Divinity School alumni at Pingree Park, Colorado, July 22-29; he will serve as Psychological Health Faculty for a CREDO Hybrid conference at Beckwith Conference Center, in September 2017.

JAKE MYERS, Assistant Professor of Homiletics, will be leading a conference for pastors at Ghost Ranch, NM during July 24-19 titled “Preaching for the Love of God.”

RAJ NADELLA, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Director of the MATS Program, was in Puerto Rico March 23-26 as part of his work with PC(USA)’s General Assembly Committee on Representation (GACOR). Raj was in Thailand (Bangkok) May 29-June 2 and presented at a forum on Land, Empire and People. The forum, organized by the Council for World Mission (CWM), brought together scholars from around the world working on issues of empire and immigration. Raj will travel to Bangalore in late July to give a public lecture at the United Theological College. He will also facilitate a planning meeting for the 2019 International SBL Meeting in India that Columbia Seminary is sponsoring. The planning meeting will be attended by heads of several theological institutions and Christian organizations in Bangalore. Raj will be in Berlin August 7-11 to present two papers at the International SBL meeting. On August 20, he will preach at Alpharetta Presbyterian Church. This summer, he will publish a piece titled, “What Presbyterians believe about the Bible” in Presbyterians Today. Recently, Raj also contributed to the American Values, Religious Voices project, a national campaign that features letters from 100 scholars of religion to the current administration and members of the Congress.

KEVIN PARK, Associate Dean for Advanced Professional Studies, Assistant Professor of Theology, and Interim Director of KAM, wrote an article for Presbyterians Today in March titled “Korean-American churches navigate cultural changes.”

REBECCA F. SPURRIER, Associate Dean for Worship Life and Assistant Professor of Worship, participated in a collaborative learning and writing project with 14 other worship scholars during the 2016-17 academic year on a set of questions about diverse methods and approaches to the study of worship. This collaboration, sponsored by Liturgical Press, is called Liturgical Awakening, and it culminated in a three-day workshop at St. John’s Abbey, in Collegeville, MN, in May 2017. In April 2017 her review of Christian Scharen’s Fieldwork in Theology was published in the Practical Matters Journal. In June 2017 she attended the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability at Azusa Pacific University and lead a workshop entitled, “The Mouth of a Labyrinth: Beauty, Theology, and Disability Justice.”

JEFFERY L. TRIBBLE, SR., Associate Professor of Ministry, preached Palm Sunday at New Life A.M.E. Zion Church (College Park, GA) as well as Easter Sunday at Faith A.M.E. Zion Church (Atlanta, GA). He attended the Academy of Religious Leadership April 20-22 in Chicago, IL. He preached the ordination sermon for CTS graduate, Rev. Coenraad Brand ’12, pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church, ECO in Logansport, Indiana. He was honored by the Church and the Black Experience of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary as one of “45 outstanding Black Alums” May 10 in Evanston, IL. Jeffery was selected by President Van Dyk to join a cohort of divinity school leaders and scholars to meet Israelis and Palestinians, to hear their stories, and study the Land and the sacred texts that emerge from it. This journey is sponsored by Interfaith Partners for Peace, which reaches across religious and cultural divides. This educational journey will take place August 2-11. Jeffery will preside over the Atlanta District Conference and Christian Education Convention of the A.M.E. Zion Church August 25-26 at New Life A.M.E. Zion Church (College Park, GA). On June 12, Jeffery was invited to a consultation of a diverse group of practical theologians working at the intersections of theology and the social sciences, and are interested in forming faith leaders for public ministry today. This theological research consultation was convened by Christian Scharen and Auburn’s Center for the Study of Theological Education.

LEANNE VAN DYK, President and Professor of Theology, gave a lecture entitled, “Does Christian Unity Matter Anymore?” at the June meeting of the Reformed Institute of Metropolitan Washington in Washington, DC.

DEBRA WEIR, Associate Director Spirituality and Lifelong Learning, served as Co-leader with Jim Dant and practice group supervisor for the Certificate in Spiritual Direction program residency, Spiritual Direction, Discerned Action and Social Transformation, March 12-17, 2017. April 2-5, 2017, she co-taught with Carl McColman and Jim Dant the Certificate in Spiritual Formation course, Immersion Experience: An Invitation to a Deeper Spiritual Life at Montreat Conference Center. Debra was accepted to the Duke Divinity School Foundations of Christian Leadership program. Debra co-taught with Maria Tattu-Bowen, Together in the Mystery Supervisor, Training for Spiritual Directors May 12-14, 2017.

WILLIAM YOO, Assistant Professor of American Religious and Cultural History, received the 2017-18 Florence Ellen Bell Scholar Award to support his archival research on “American Protestant Missions in a Changing World: New Transnational Partnerships and Uneasy Transitions at Home and Abroad, 1945-1965” at the United Methodist Archives and History Center at Drew University in Madison, NJ. He will co-lead with Rev. Dr. Beth Hessel, Executive Director of the Presbyterian Historical Society, a workshop on “Presbyterian History, Racial Reconciliation, and the Most Segregated Day of the Week: Exploring our Past, Present, and Future” at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Big Tent national meeting from July 6 to 8 in St. Louis, MO. His edited volume, The Presbyterian Experience in the United States: A Sourcebook (Westminster John Knox Press), will be published in August.