Seminary Stories 2021

In early 2021, we visited with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminaries to create a series of four stories that include interviews, taking a look at how the COVID-19 pandemic challenged and changed seminary learning environments.

Series of Stories

PC(USA) seminaries adapt to remote learning

In this first story, we interviewed Dr. Annette Bourland Huizenga of University of Dubuque Theological Seminary and Rev. Dr. Ted Wardlaw of Austin Prebyterian Theological Seminary.

Presbyterian seminaries look to partnerships to fulfill mission

In this second story, we interviewed David Crawford of McCormick Theological Seminary and Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.



PC(USA) seminaries advance curriculum to match the needs of the church and society

In this third story, we interviewed Jacqueline Lapsley of Princeton Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Brian Blount of Union Presbyterian Seminary, and Dr. Leanne Van Dyk of Columbia Theological Seminary.

Presbyterian seminaries explore definitions of ‘call’ and ‘ministry’ in the 21st century

In this fourth story, we interviewed Rev. Dr. R. Drew Smith of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Dr. Keisha E. McKenzie of Auburn Seminary, and Rev. Paul Timothy Roberts, Sr. of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary.

Video Interviews

Auburn Seminary Austin Seminary
A Fulsome Vision

Thirty years after the birth of the Internet, Dr. Keisha E. McKenzie considers what the technology of connection can do and how it can bring us closer together. She serves as Senior Vice President of Programs at Auburn Seminary in New York. These shared digital spaces allow those who are disempowered to gather, share strength and enable them to create change. The technology is neutral; what we bring to it is what matters. Hear more in this short video interview filmed in mid-2021 via Zoom.

Hearing the Call

Should you encourage someone to go to seminary if you believe they have the gifts for ministry? Rev. Dr. Ted Wardlaw, President of Austin Seminary, says absolutely. The Church of Christ is facing huge challenges, and we need the next generation of pastors to lead in our churches, our communities and our world. Wardlaw discusses why he believes Presbyterian seminaries are well-equipped to train these leaders in this short video. Share with someone who you believe has gifts for ministry!



Columbia Seminary Dubuque Seminary
Building Relationships

This time of re-entry into the world after the pandemic of COVID-19 is a gift to the church, says Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, President of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. This is a time of rebuilding relationships and working together, and paying attention to the fundamentals. Listen to an excerpt of her interview from mid-2021 via Zoom.

Closely Connected

Adaptability and flexibility became the hallmarks of education in 2020 at Dubuque Seminary. Dr. Annette Huizenga, Dean, says students and faculty became closely connected as they navigated the pandemic together. Hear more about the seminary’s experiences in this short video interview with her recorded via Zoom in spring 2021.



Johnson C. Smith Seminary Louisville Seminary
Nothing Stays the Same

To experience true resurrection, sometimes things must die, says Rev. Paul Roberts Sr., President of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Atlanta. The seminary has undergone a radical change, and has moved towards an educational model that helps its students find paths towards courageous leadership. Roberts challenges the Church to be bold in sharing our witness. Hear more of what he has to share in this short video interview filmed in mid-2021 via Zoom.

Never the Same

Theological education will never be the same following 2020 – nor should it, says Rev. Dr. Alton Pollard III, President of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Theological education’s mission is to shape theological leaders for the church, communities and beyond, and that mission changed drastically as we battled COVID-19 and as a groundswell of protests called each of us to fight systemic racism. Listen to a short video interview with Pollard filmed in mid-2021 via Zoom.



McCormick Seminary Pittsburgh Seminary
Full of Hope

Every time Dr. David Crawford sees a McCormick Seminary student – whether that’s virtually or socially distanced in person – he knows that person will go out and make the world a better place. It is these interactions that give him hope for a better world, and gives the Church great hope as well. The challenge will be continuing to push people out beyond their walls and boundaries, Crawford says. Watch this short video filmed with Crawford in mid-2021 via Zoom.

Pushing Beyond Boundaries

The resurrection power of Jesus Christ is moving in our everyday lives, says Rev. Dr. R. Drew Smith, Professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He sees it happen in the lives of students, including one who was deeply immersed in gang culture and was transformed by Jesus. That student is now living a life of ministry. Can we continue to push beyond our usual boundaries? Find out what Smith believes in this short video interview filmed in mid-2021 via Zoom.



Princeton Seminary Union Presbyterian Seminary
Holistic Formation

What kind of students does Princeton Theological Seminary want to send out into the world? That’s the central question Dean Jacqueline Lapsley wanted to answer when Princeton began its curriculum review. Find out more in this short video interview with her, recorded via Zoom in spring 2021.

The Future Present

The gospel of John and the realities of providing education in 2020 had some surprising parallels, says Rev. Dr. Brian Blount, President, Union Presbyterian Seminary (campuses in Richmond and Charlotte). While the teacher/scholar remains critical to the process, Blount says the seminary is now more closely considering what brings students to seminary – what they need and want from the educational experience. Listen to this video, filmed in mid-2021 via Zoom.