The “C” Word

By Claudia Aguilar, MDiv ’11 Associate Director of Recruitment and Student Services

If you ask around campus: “what’s the best thing about Columbia?,” I am almost sure that the majority will say “community.” I am not really sure if that is the answer we have all learned to give when that question is asked (habit is a powerful thing) or if people really mean it, but I know that we use it way too much around here and that dilutes the meaning of the word. But if you ask me the same question, my answer would be “community.” Why? I could start by talking about Columbia’s spiritual life: we hold chapel services four times per week, we have student-led spirituality workshops and prayer time, we break bread together during communion every Friday, every school year begins and ends with worship, reminding us that everything we do during the school year is worship. Our love for God is at the heart of our life together.  Continue reading The “C” Word

Growing Through Mission

By Donald R. Frampton (DMin ’82), Senior Pastor, St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church, New Orleans

I am tired of closing down churches!  As the pastor of a congregation that enjoys great health, I am too often called upon by Presbytery to assist with the closing of churches in our area. What can healthy congregations do to stem this tide, even turn things around?  If starting a new church is the most obvious answer, what would it look like?  In our diverse city of New Orleans, where the racial mix is approximately 55% African American, 35 % White, and 10% Hispanic, likely nothing akin to my mostly white church! Rather, it would reflect the unique demographic of its own neighborhood. But how to begin? Continue reading Growing Through Mission

Our Witness to Christian Love: A Call to the PC(USA)

By the Faculty of Columbia Theological Seminary

In 1861, a group of Presbyteries in the American south broke off from the denomination, primarily over the issue of slavery, in order to form the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America.  In 1973, a group of Presbyterian churches in the American south broke off from the denomination, primarily over the ordination of women, in order to form the Presbyterian Church in America.  Columbia Theological Seminary was at the center of both those schisms and it continues to carry institutional memories of deep pain over them.  Today, the faculty of Columbia Theological Seminary watches with increasing alarm as new schisms in the church unfold. 

Though proudly a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we are not only Presbyterians.  We speak as one faculty composed of members of many communions and within hearing of the wider church, even though our primary audience is the PC(USA).   Indeed, we believe that our diversity in denominational affiliation, theological conviction, and personal perspective, when joined to our commitment to work together, has helped us develop the resilience necessary to wrestle faithfully with the very questions of identity, unity, and mission that so trouble many contemporary American Christians and will so mark the future of the American church.  This diversity also shapes our conviction that schism is a profound theological and pastoral problem.  Remembering, therefore, the pain of former schisms and attentive to the pain that current schisms are causing for our students and the church we have taken vows to serve, we now issue the following statement. Continue reading Our Witness to Christian Love: A Call to the PC(USA)

Characteristics of Effective Learning Groups

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

We have all experienced effective and non-effective learning groups. Why is it that some are effective and others are not? I would argue that learning experiences that provide more time for critical reflection and dialogue result in more effective learning. Peruse the Christian bookstores and take note of how many resources are now encouraging at least a ninety-minute time frame for group study. There’s a reason for that: learning takes time! It takes time to provide the kind of process-learning that yields meaningful outcomes. Continue reading Characteristics of Effective Learning Groups

Columbia Connects…The Classroom and the Table

By Claudia Aguilar, MDiv ‘11, Associate Director of Recruitment and Student Services

Columbia has had a community garden for a few years. Until very recently, a nearby congregation took care of the majority of the garden. Last year, we were on our own. Some students took initiative and were excited enough to plan and plant a garden. A group of Columbia Seminary faculty, staff, and students weeded, planted, and watered. We had great plans for the garden: we were going to share our abundant crops with Mercy Community Church, an Atlanta congregation that serves mostly homeless men and women. The majority of us had no idea about gardening and many mistakes were made: we caged weeds instead of tomatoes which took us a couple of days to figure out, we weeded out some fresh herbs, and we let a cucumber spoil on the vine thinking it was not ripe. Continue reading Columbia Connects…The Classroom and the Table

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