Called by History to Proclaim God’s Presence Today
During my seven years as president of Columbia, I have come to love its story and to be inspired by the courage of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have proclaimed the reign of God in era after era of “wilderness.”
In 1828 in Lexington, Georgia, a Presbyterian pastor by the name of Thomas Goulding gathered five young men around his dining room table and began to prepare them to be pastors in a frontier wilderness where the future was deeply uncertain.
Two years later when Rev. Goulding was called to a church in Columbia, SC, his students followed him, and Presbyterians raised the money to support a seminary there. They knew they needed pastors to proclaim the reality of God’s presence and to call God’s people together into Christ’s ministry.
During those fragile early years, the Civil War left our country in shambles and our denomination fractured. Yet this seminary continued its mission. In 1928, with economic depression threatening to shut its doors, Presbyterians moved their seminary to Atlanta to continue to provide pastors and leaders for the needs of emerging communities.
Through times of uncertainty, through world wars, civil unrest and global change, and to this day, Columbia Seminary has kept at its mission, and we are still at it. Columbia Theological Seminary continues to prepare pastors and leaders for Christ’s ministry because, in today’s wilderness, we still face the unknown of a frontier.
Today, as always, we need pastors to proclaim the reign of Christ, to help us understand that the fullness of life comes in being part of what God is doing here, now,
• to bring good news to the poor,
• to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
• to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
• to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. [Luke 4:18-19]
History calls us to see that today’s wilderness is not the biggest challenge God has faced, and that this is not the first time the church has been in crisis. History calls us to come together in these frontier days to prepare pastors who lead us all to proclaim the reality of God’s presence and who call us all to offer our lives to that reality, knowing that we are privileged to be part of what God is doing, especially in times of deep uncertainty.
God is here—still, now, always. The Holy Spirit continues to lead us forward for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—life abundant and life eternal for all creation.
Thanks be to God!